Role Reversal (a.k.a “This Lady Used to Change My Diapers”)

Wow, what an intense ride these last several months have been. Mom has almost completed the transition of moving from Minot to Fargo. It’s shocking to look back and realize that the person I counted on to change my diapers forty-some years ago now looks to me to keep from getting swept up by the world around her.

I’ve wanted Mom (and Dad, before he passed away) to move to Fargo for quite a while now, but the timing never seemed to be quite right, Dad’s Alzheimer’s care was a complication, and perhaps more pointedly I had allowed myself to be too passive in this situation. The seeds for the thoughts of becoming more active in Mom’s transition to Fargo were planted a few years ago, in one of the best (and hardest-hitting) sermons I have ever heard: The Sanctity of Life (Dr. Matthew R. St. John, Bethel Evangelical Free Church). Please, if you have a few moments … take some focused time to listen to that message. It’s worth your time.

Last summer it became very evident to me that I needed to become more active in convincing Mom to move to Fargo. Mom is still able to live independently and her mind is still clear, but there are signs that she is not always able to make the best decisions any longer. And I certainly couldn’t allow her to spend another winter alone in Minot. So it all came down to this: I laid out a 12-point plan for Mom to follow, and told her this time I wouldn’t take “No” for an answer. I respectfully told her that I was going to be right this time, and that she needed to allow me to help her move to Fargo. And so began the process of moving Mom to Fargo, to be close to us.

There have been many landmark moments over the last three months.

The Condo in Fargo

I helped Mom find and purchase a condo that is just blocks away from work and church, and not too far away from home. It’s a great place for residents age 55 and older, and the residents there are so friendly. It’s close to work (I bring my lunch to the condo to eat with her almost every day), church, and a grocery store. She’s starting to participate in the condo’s weekly coffee times and monthly potlucks. Even though any social activity usually leads to her saying, “I miss Irvin so much…” she’s actually willing (with a well-placed jab in the ribs) to participate in the condo’s social activities. That’s big progress.

Preparing the House in Minot

This was a scary project for me. There was so much stuff that needed to be dealt with. And how am I going to move her Mom’s antique organ out of the basement? It was this part of the project that had me most often saying, “I wish I wasn’t an only child!” Thankfully I had the help of my wife, in-laws, and some cousins I hadn’t seen in way too long to get me through the projects: deciding what should go to Fargo, packing up boxes, moving boxes, and preparing for the auction in Minot. As an only child that was born to older parents, I really never had the opportunity to get close to any of my cousins. But I’m so thankful for Dennis and Verdeen, and Freddie and Rose and their willingness to help get things in order with the house. I thoroughly enjoyed getting reacquainted with these cousins again!

Selling the House in Minot

Mom had moved into the condo with enough of her stuff to feel comfortable there, and the house in Minot was starting to get to the point where it could be put on the market. With people looking for housing due to the Minot flood and the oil rush in western North Dakota I didn’t think it would be too much of an effort to get the house sold. And wow, did the right offer get presented to Mom! She was the recipient of a full-price offer (made within three days of going on the market), the buyers didn’t even blink at anything that showed up on the home inspection, and the buyers want to move quickly. We just sent the last bit of paperwork to Minot, the sale could be completed in the next few weeks, by the end of this year!

The Auction

I didn’t know how this would go. Would this be too emotional for Mom to experience? She had one emotional moment during the auction, but was able to “recover” quickly. When we reached the end of the afternoon it felt as though she had closure. The auction ended, and we left Minot for the last time. She had been living in Fargo for several weeks by the time we had the auction, but as long as she had stuff in Minot, she never really “left” Minot. Both Judy and I commented that after the auction was done and she returned to Fargo, she seemed more pleasant to be around, and at peace with the move.

For me personally the auction turned out to be a much bigger project than I had anticipated. We got the house cleaned up and everything up to the auction site with only about an hour to spare. And while I didn’t move anything particularly heavy, I did move a lot of stuff. I mean a lot! I honestly don’t remember the last time my knees felt so rubbery for so long. I really need to exercise more!

Life in Fargo

And now, after all the hard work, Mom is finally able to start experiencing all the things we had hoped for her. She goes to church with us. She comes over after church for dinner, and stays for supper. She’s experiencing her grandkids. She’s meeting neighbors at the condo. She can come over to our house whenever she wants. I can check on her just about every day during lunch. She’s going to our kids’ school concerts and programs. She’s living again!

So there you have it … the quick version of the story that’s consumed my life for the last few months. Maybe now I can get back to a more frequent blog posting routine. Maybe I can start reading books again. Maybe I can play piano some more. Maybe I’ll get caught up at work. Maybe I’ll just relax for a bit! Looking back, and almost certainly looking forward, I can see God’s fingerprints over everything that’s happened with this move. I’m so glad it’s done (pending the completion of the sale of the house in Minot), and while it’s been a huge effort, I’m glad that I am in a position to help the lady that used to change my diapers.

The Ant and the Grasshopper

I’m not too keen on these type of “mass email” stories, but this one made me chuckle. Here’s the modern-day version of the Ant and the Grasshopper:

The ANT AND THE GRASSHOPPER This one is a little different …… Two Different Versions ….. Two Different Morals

OLD VERSION:

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter,so he dies out in the cold.

MORAL OF THE OLD STORY:

Be responsible for yourself!

 

MODERN VERSION:

The ant works hard in the withering heat and the rain all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while he is cold and starving.

CBS, NBC , PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. America is stunned by the sharp contrast.

How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper and everybody cries when they sing, ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green..’

ACORN stages a demonstration in front of the ant’s house where the news stations film the group singing, We shall overcome.

Then Rev. Jeremiah Wright has the group kneel down to pray for the grasshopper’s sake.

President Obama condemns the ant and blames President Bush, President Reagan, Christopher Columbus, and the Pope for the grasshopper’s plight.

Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid exclaim in an interview with Larry King that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.

Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity & Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer.

The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by theGovernment Green Czar and given to the grasshopper.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper and his free-loading friends finishing up the last bits of the ant’s food while the government house he is in, which, as you recall, just happens to be the ant’s old house, crumbles around them because the grasshopper doesn’t maintain it.

The ant has disappeared in the snow, never to be seen again.

The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident, and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize and ramshackle, the once prosperous and peaceful, neighborhood.

The entire Nation collapses bringing the rest of the free world with it.

MORAL OF THE STORY:

Be careful how you vote in 2012

Under Twenty Minutes!

Everything was working on my bike ride home tonight! During this season of biking to and from work I started to occasionally time the trip. One direction of the ride would typically would take 23 or more minutes. My goal became to get the time down to twenty minutes … just to give myself a little extra fitness push.

Today I did it! I got home in under twenty minutes! It was 19 minutes 59.72 seconds to be exact…and that was even with some bad timing at a few stoplights. Good thing for that last lunge! I think I figured out how to sit a little differently on the saddle in order to get a little more power on each stroke of the pedals.

Today’s ride felt good! Had it taken over twenty minutes it would have just felt exhausting. But under twenty minutes … it felt good!

An Amazing Weekend of Memories

Wow, what an amazing weekend. Last week I learned that Mom was having water troubles in her basement in Minot, and I started to think it was going to be an important time for me to go and help her. Andrew and I went to visit Grandma Frieda with a few goals in mind. The first goal was to make sure she was doing OK with her basement (she was, thankfully!) The second goal was to set the stage for her to move to Fargo, sooner rather than later. And now she finally is ready to make the move!!! Part of “the plan” was to start going through some of her stuff to help her be willing to part with some things that have no sentimental value. Much to my surprise, she took kindly to that plan.

But what I didn’t expect was the degree to which I was overwhelmed by all the nostalgia I would uncover. I really wasn’t prepared for that; it was such a pleasant surprise. A large part of me felt guilty for not having expressed a bigger interest in all the family history before. But I can’t rewind time, so I’ll be thankful for what I can now more fully appreciate. So … for all you young whippersnappers out there, start paying attention to your family heritage so you don’t regret it later!

Here is just a very small sampling of some of the wonderful discoveries that occurred last weekend. First, this picture was my absolute favorite discovery. It’s a photo of Dad’s parents’ wedding day, they’re the third and fourth in from the left. This photo was from 100 years ago, in 1911. Even though there aren’t many smiles in this photo (as I believe as customary for photos in this era) it looks like such a wonderfully happy photo!

John Hultin - Anna Dahl Wedding Day

Next up is a photo from Dad’s schooling at the Chicago Evangelistic Institute (later renamed Vennard college, which closed in 2008). I don’t know any of the details of this photo. I believe Dad can be found by looking at the right-most person in the front row, and then going straight up two more people. I can’t help but wonder how many lives have been touched as a result of the people trained at this institution.

Chicago Evangelistic Institute

Here’s a photo of the from Mom grew up on near Turtle Lake, ND. It just looks like a classic “let’s settle down and build America!” photo.

Bauer Farm

And here’s a photo of Mom’s family (Mom is in the back row, second from the right)

Bauer Family

There were lots of books too, including this German Bible that belonged to Mom’s parents. The outside needs some care, but the inside is still in decent shape, considering its age.

Bauer Bible

Another “book” I was so happy to take possession of is Dad’s collection of sermons. I can’t wait to pore over all the sermons he produced, to learn more about his legacy. That will, no doubt, be the subject of future blog posts…

And finally, the weekend ended with us taking a trip to Dad’s grave, to add some grass seed and say a prayer with Mom. This was the first time I’ve seen Dad’s grave with his grave marker in place. The medallion on the upper-left corner of the grave marker commemorates his service to the United Methodist Church.

Irvin Linton Hultin: 1919-2010

I have to say I was so proud of Andrew. He decided he needed to come with to help Grandma, and there was no changing his mind. He was such a good traveler, and he thoroughly enjoyed soaking in the history too … mostly by playing with my childhood toys. It’s nice to see the Erector set get some use again! Even though he didn’t move many boxes or pack mementos, he really did “help” Grandma in more ways than he’ll ever know. I really believe Andrew “helped” Grandma more clearly understand the reason she should come to Fargo.

Wow, what an amazing weekend of memories!

Fargo’s Memorial Day Storm

Wow, that was quite a storm! Straightline winds estimated to be over 70 miles per hour ripped through Fargo on the evening of Memorial Day, May 30, 2011. Here’s how it looks from my point of view:

A soffit panel on the underside of our porch was pulled away. The swingset in this view was probably one of the first things to go, so that’s hardly worth mentioning.

Here’s another view of the damaged soffit:

Our camper was lifted off the ground. At least that’s the only explanation I have for this photo of the front stabilizer jack.

I suspect the front of the camper end briefly lifted enough for the top board to blow backwards a bit, and then when the camper came down again it was “reset” in this new position.

Some shingles were loosened and repositioned.

A closer on our front storm door was bent. (I suspect this happened as we rushed to get inside and I was trying to hold the door steady for everyone else to get in without getting slapped by the door being blown into their face.)

And then my favorite … the attic access panel didn’t look quite right. It looks normal in the picture below, but when I was wrestling with the door the pressure difference must have inflated the house to the point where it “popped” the access door open. I found it resting all kittywhumpus in the access frame. I suspect that’s due in part to the super-tight nature of an ICF house.

We lost power for about three hours, and that was the worst of it.

Beyond the obvious damage I have two random comments about the storm. One of the most amazing parts to me is that while the wind was ripping shingles and lifting campers, it left other things virtually untouched. Take a look again at the first photo in this post; there’s a potted plant on a glass-topped table in the bottom-left corner. I don’t think it even moved an inch. How’d that happen? The other random comment is about the trees. I think it’s amazing and God-designed that while a powerful wind can rip off roofs and knock down trees, the individual leaves just keep on hanging on, going about their business of being a leaf.

EntreLeadership Brain Dump

Well, it’s done. The three-day EntreLeadership course is complete. Time to do a brain-dump and capture the most important takeaways from the event.

Without a doubt, the biggest takeaway for me was simply this: Scale. Huh? Scale? It wasn’t even an official lesson topic, it just showed up in a few conversations within the lessons and really stuck with me. I heard things like “Make sure you build it so it will scale.” Or “That won’t scale.”

So what does “scale” mean? To me (at least in the context of EntreLeadership) it means that you build your systems, processes, and organization so that it can easily adapt to different levels of activity, production, demand, etc. … as in “scale up to a new level.” That doesn’t mean the organization has to get bigger (scale up) in order to be successful, but it does mean that if the owner does want to allow the business to get bigger the mechanisms are in place to easily allow the change to happen. The system, process, and/or business can scale.

I took another meaning from “scale.” A good leader will train his or her employees so they can scale too. There’s only so much time in a day, and no matter what you do you won’t get more time. The solution? Don’t lead your project, lead your people so they can lead your projects. There, you’ve just scaled yourself by enabling more people to do what you were doing.

Other takeaways…

DISC profiles (a personality profile that gives insight into how people make decision and what their tendencies are) are a huge part of the Dave Ramsey organization. DISC profiles are clearly posted at everyone’s workspace so coworkers know how to best communicate with each other.

Similarly, while everyone at the Dave Ramsey organization fits into the company culture, that doesn’t mean they are cookie cutter robots, each one like the other. When touring Financial Peace Plaza (the building that houses Dave’s 300+ employees) it’s clear that everyone buys into the culture. At the same time everyone maintains their own unique personality.

Here’s a quote from the lesson on communication: “A team is not a team without a shared goal and vision.” Simple and powerful. I need to make sure the teams where I work have a shared goal and vision.

The gossip policy is real and passionately defended by the Dave Ramsey employees.

Dave Ramsey’s exhortation, with a hat-tip to Winston Churchill, to “Never give up!” was definitely a high moment.

And one of the nicest surprises was the opportunity to frequently visit with Aaron West. I’ve never met him before, but I got to know his father-in-law quite well in Fargo. Aaron works for the Dave Ramsey organization on the audio-visual team. Even though I never met him until this conference he made me feel like a long-time friend.

Fargo Flood 2011 – Another One for the Record Book

The Fargo flood of 2011 looks like it will land in fourth place in the all-time record book. The water needs to get back down before we can totally get back to normal, but everything is now pointing in the right direction. Wow … when this one is done I will have experienced three of the top four top crests in Fargo.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord, over many waters.

Psalm 29:3 (http://bible.us/Ps29.3.ESV)

Learning How to Say Thank You

Judy and I feel it’s very important to teach our kids to say “Thank You.” Not just the polite “Thank You” when someone opens a door for you, but also a thoughtful “Thank You” that takes a little time and effort. It’s that approach that led me to encourage Andrew to write a thank you note when he was given an extra screwdriver. It turned out to be both a thank you note and a piece of art:

Andrew's Thank You

There’s lots of smile value in this note!

Rules for Government

Putting all partisanship aside, I think it would be good for elected officials at all levels to note these words from Proverbs 17:26:

It’s wrong to penalize good behavior, or make good citizens pay for the crimes of others. (http://read.ly/Prov17.26.MSG)

The Black Hills Passion Play is No More

Well, hopes of creating one family memory this summer have been dashed. It’s looking like this summer’s family vacation will find us heading to western South Dakota, and I was really hoping that our plans would be able to include a visit to the Passion Play in Spearfish, South Dakota. It’s one of my own earliest family vacation memories, I was looking forward to providing that experience to our kids as well. But it’s not to be.

I searched the Internet, and my searches hit dead ends. Uh Oh. Is it not in production any longer? My next step: an e-mail to someone at VisitSpearfish.com:

Hello, We are just starting to plan our summer vacation and I looked for info on the Passion Play. I remember going to that production when I was a kid, I was hoping to find info about it online, but I’m not finding anything. Is the Passion Play still in production?

The reply (in part):

Thank you for contacting Visit Spearfish, Inc. with your visitor inquiry. We regret to inform you that the Black Hills Passion Play retired August 31, 2008.

Bummer. I was really looking forward to sharing that experience.

Well, now the best I can do is use the Internet to take a stroll down memory lane. In doing so, I uncovered at least part of “the rest of the story” that I would have never known as a kid. Here are some of the interesting things I found:

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passion_play

The Black Hills Passion Play was performed every summer for almost seventy years in Spearfish, South Dakota; this production was an American version of the Lünen Passion Play that was brought over in 1932 by immigrants who claimed that it had been produced since 1242.[7] The production was Americanized by seventh-generation Passion Player Josef Meier, who toured it around the country before bringing it to Spearfish in the 1930s; until its last performance on August 31, 2008, the show was produced under the auspices of Meier’s daughter Johanna, a world-famous opera singer who had her debut in the play at the age of five weeks.

An article from Time magazine, published during World War II, gives an interesting historical perspective on the production: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,777543,00.html

And here’s a wonderful writeup of the play’s history and purpose: http://www.catholicdigest.com/articles/travel/no_sub_ministry/2009/03-31/passion-for-the-passion. This article revives some of my more vivid memories of the Passion Play:

With Lookout Mountain as a backdrop, the play’s magnificent three-block-long stage readily transports viewers back to the days of Christ. All the characters and animals of ancient Jerusalem are here: donkeys, water girls filling jugs, flocks of sheep, Roman soldiers on white horses, unscrupulous merchants, and cages of doves.

Portrayed by an interdenominational cast of more than 150 people, the play’s imagery is both simple and profound. As the Last Supper fades to black, the Lord’s chalice begins to glow, the symbol of his blood illuminating the very essence of Christianity. Each of the 22 scenes — triumphal entry to Resurrection — unfolds into the next, with no intermissions or set changes.

When the Christus is carried into the tomb, the shrouded body imparts a personal revelation for many playgoers. “The Bible was no longer words; it became flesh for me,” one viewer said.

I had really hoped to personally experience this production one more time as an adult, to fully appreciate it from both an artistic and spiritual perspective. Time moves on, but it’s a disappointment to me that this is one event that will no longer be experienced.

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