Saturday, June 30, 2007

Final Gas Stop

To let you know just how hot it is out here (111 degrees in Thousand Palms, CA), I got a whopping 19 mpg between my last gas stop and this one!

Crossing the Border

From Arizona to California at 110 degrees !!!!

Phoenix at High (& HOT!) Noon

103 Degrees !!!!!

Final Day of Driving

It's 10:00 am in Tucson and after a better night's sleep but a still yucky head, I'm going home!

See you there! Well, not really, but you know what I mean!

Friday, June 29, 2007

What A Day!

Other than the actual day of Mom's surgery, Friday was my longest day. After about 7 hours on the road, I arrived in Benson, AZ around 3:30 pm, confirmed Aunt Margaret was at home and then drove the 30 miles or so south to Sierra Vista. The picture you see here is she and Uncle Dominic. They've been married 53 years!! Aunt Margaret looks very much like my Tante (German for "Aunt") Barbara, my dad's sister who passed away in Michigan almost 5 years ago.

In two very fast hours, I learned quite a bit about the Kuzma side of the family. I have yet to confirm, but so far, it sounds like my great-grandparents Kuzma were the ones who actually came to America from either Hungary or Austria. My grandfather's oldest three siblings were born in Austria.

Here are a few other tidbits I learned:

  • My great-grandfather, Paul Kuzma, died at the young age of 59. He and my great-grandma were on the way home from a Jehovah's Witnesses Convention in Detroit when he had a heart attack and crashed the car, killing him instantly.
  • Yes, you heard right. Apparently, my great-grandparents were avid Jehovah's Witnesses.
  • All 3 Kuzma girls, including Aunt Margaret, were/are JW's.
  • Interesting my great-grandfather died in a car accident, as his son and namesake (my grandfather), Paul, died in 1948 in a trucking accident.
  • One of my great-uncles, Peter, also died in a truck driving accident.
  • Seems a love of driving runs in the family. As I shared my love of driving with Aunt Margaret, she said, "me too!". She is 85 now ... only 5 years ago, she made a trip all by herself from Arizona to Florida and back!
  • My Grandfather, Paul, was good friends with Aunt Margaret's first husband, Hank Borak. One day, Paul & Hank were chatting with a neighbor across a fence, joking about their own deaths. Within months, my grandfather accident occurred (July 20, 1948). Then, in October, Uncle Hank was killed in a hunting accident!
  • Aunt Margaret was good friends with my grandmother, Mary. Both were widows within months of each other!
Aunt Margaret encouraged me to look up one of my dad's cousins, who lives in Montana. She claims he has the family history written down pretty well. We'll see how that search pans out.

I left their house about 6:00 pm for the 70 mile drive to Tucson. After answering some emails, I was hungry. I found the nearest Cracker Barrel (probably my favorite non-California restaurant) and had a working dinner, wrapping up Sunday's message as much as possible. Like I said, long day!

I am looking forward to my arrival home tomorrow, and trying to kick this head cold that seems to be trying to work its way into my chest. Hoping for a better night's sleep!

On To A Fascinating Meeting

Last night's sleep was restless for some reason. A head cold is trying to take root, so that's nasty and unhelpful!

I am packed and walking out the door at 10:00 am CDT. I'll drive about 425 miles to Sierra Vista, AZ, where Great-Aunt Margaret and her husband, Dominick, live. I am really looking forward to hearing more about the Kuzma side of our family.

See you out there!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

FYI - Skip Van Horn, TX If At All Possible

Just a piece of advice. If you're traveling through Texas and are tempted to grab a night in Van Horn, keep going! It won't be hard, trust me. I should've kept going. It's one of those towns that derives the memories of contemporary ghost towns. Burned buildings that were never cleaned up. Car and truck parts (BIG parts) left in places they shouldn't be.

Pulled in at 7:45 pm CDT to (thankfully) a newer Holiday Inn Express and have spent most of my time here finalizing my message for Sunday. I am also mentally preparing for my visit with my great-Aunt Margaret tomorrow. Should be an exciting visit.

Blog at ya tomorrow!

Headed Home

Left Mom & Dad's at about 10:50 am CDT, stopped at Wal-Mart for gas and road snacks, and left Rockwall about 11:45 am. It's 4:35 pm, I've driven 315 miles and am in Big Springs, TX, stopped for a gas fill-up with about 225 miles to go to tonight's stop in Van Horn, TX. I'll catch up with you there!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Day To Contemplate

I use the above for the title to today's post because it's what I am studying as I prepare for Sunday's message. We are completing the series I've been teaching on Sabbath this Sunday.

God is amazing to me ... how He orders things and puts you in places (sometimes geographical, but sometimes emotional, and sometimes both) where you know you are in the exact place that you are because He ordered it that way. For whatever reason(s).

As I have been working through this series, I knew the time was approaching for my Mom's surgery and this trip. It eventually became obvious that this 4 part series would be split up. I'd get 3 parts done before I left and have to bring the last message (on contemplation as a characteristic of Sabbath) after I got back from the trip (this Sunday).

That bothered me a bit. Those who know me realize why this would bother me some. I like to have things finished and in order. I hate to leave things hanging.

Well, as I am looking back on the process of the last 3 weeks, it has been all about contemplation. I came to spend time with my Mom before her surgery, knowing (contemplating) the possibility that the surgery could find her entering her eternal rest. And I mean that in however full of a biblical and right meaning one could communicate it with.

Sabbath is a pre-cursor, if you will, meant to be a taste of what it will be like to spend eternity with God. Hebrews 4 talks about this Sabbath-rest for the people of God having to do with Heaven.

Since Mom's surgery went so well and the Lord has seen fit to allow her more years here with us, the relief from the possible loss and grief has given me a chance to see (contemplate) how beautiful (at least in my finite mind and perspective) God wants our lives to be and to become in this present day. This is only just a piece of what I believe the Lord wants us to see about our earthly Sabbath.

I've seen Him in so much of what has occurred over the last 3 weeks, but only because I stopped (remember ... "Sabbath" means "to cease") a few things by necessity (distance from home being one) in order to be in a different place to intentionally experience whatever it was God would have (not knowing if we would be celebrating or grieving). I hope some of this makes sense!

It's pretty powerful to me, but maybe it's just me! ;^)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Rainy Day In Texas

After a late night arrival and a good night's sleep, it's now been a rainy day here in Texas. The thunder I was hoping to experience has been somewhat common throughout the day, and I do love it!

I am currently writing from what my parents call my "second office" whenever I visit them. That would be Starbucks. Easy internet access and good coffee!

Found out today that I will depart Thursday (instead of Wednesday) and return home Saturday (instead of Friday). Aunt Margaret is only available for a visit on Friday. That'll work out OK. However, I will relocate my "second office" to the Rockwall Library tomorrow so I can get Sunday's message at least MOSTLY prepared since I am now a day behind.

I will also get to spend tomorrow evening with my brother and his wife. They left yesterday morning for a visit with my sister-in-law's family and will return tomorrow afternoon. So it all works out well.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Headed Back to Texas

After a great weekend at home, I am in Terminal 1 at LAX waiting for my 5:00 pm flight back to Dallas. I am supposed to land there at 10:50 pm CDT (8:50 pm PDT). I'll spend 2 nights there and start my drive home on Wednesday.

I am excited to make a stop Thursday in Sierra Vista, AZ to meet my great-aunt Margaret. My Dad's aunt, we apparently were together when I was a very little kid, but I have no memory that far back. She is the last remaining Kuzma sibling that far back, and I hope to hear some stories about one of her brothers, who is my namesake and grandfather.

I anticipate returning home sometime Friday night.

Mom was released from the hospital yesterday (Sunday) and it sounds like she is doing well today. It will be a good feeling to start the long drive home with everything having gone so well for her!

Yesterday at church, we took the morning to hear from Johnny Cox, our Associate Pastor for the last four years, on his last "official" Sunday on Staff. We normally receive an offering to send a transitioning Pastor to their next assignment with a financial blessing. For Johnny, we received offerings of finances and support cards for Over The Top Ministries. I am excited to hear how this turned out sometime in the next few days. It was a great morning, and so good to be home to worship with the NewHeart family!

I am discovering a little bit the last few weeks of what it's like for those who have jobs that require constant travel. It's a whole different kind of mind frame it seems one has to be in to travel regularly and stay healthy mentally, physically and emotionally. Different time zones, different cultural locales, the rigors of living from a suitcase and navigating the maze of packing and airport issues.

As I woke this morning knowing today would be travel-filled, I had my mental checklist of things that needed to be done before I left. That's where my mind was, but my heart was at home, wanting to just be with Colleen and Jonathan (Joshua is off on a vacation with a friend and their family), rather than cruising the house and local streets doing stuff.

It was necessary stuff, just not what I wanted to be doing or where I wanted to be. So, it seems that the mind frame (maybe the mental game) that you have to go through to travel regularly is just more than I've realized before.

Enough driveling for now. I'll blog at you later!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Grieving the Loss of Stephen Hampton

By now, sufficient time seems to have passed to share publicly about this week's loss of Stephen Hampton. At a too young age of about 21, and recently graduated from Wheaton College in Chicago, Illinois, Stephen was apparently struck and killed by a train on Sunday, June 17 in Germany. Click here to read Wheaton's public statement on Stephen's death. (UPDATE on Wed., June 27, 2007: For some reason, Wheaton seems to have completely removed the notice about Stephen's death from their website, so the link will get you nowhere. Sorry. I have had a number of people emailing me regarding information on Stephen's memorial. As soon as I know when and where it is, I will post it on the blog.)

Stephen was practically born and raised at NewHeart. The youngest of three brothers, his parents are strong and committed believers in Jesus. The Hampton family was a vital part of NewHeart for most of Stephen's life.

I will never forget Stephen's dry and quick wit. For such a young man, Stephen was a deep thinker, always questioning and searching God's Word for Who God really is and all He really stands for. Stephen always wanted to be sure that who he was lined up with who God wanted him to be.

Stephen always struck me as someone who not only said he was going to change his world (and he did say so often!), but would actually do it. Stephen was going places!

I never questioned whether or not one place Stephen would go would be heaven, but I never would have thought he would go this early (not that any of us think such about our youngest ones). My heart has been wrenched this week, so I cannot imagine the heartbreak and loss that his parents, family, and closer friends are feeling. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to them as they deal with this senseless tragedy.

Anytime someone so young is snatched from our supposed grip in this life, we're left with the unanswerable questions. Why? Why now? Why so young? What purpose does this loss serve? I have no answers to the questions, only the questions along with those who ask them.

What I do know is that we stand on this side of eternity and God stands on the other. I believe things look completely different to Him than they do to us. His Word declares it so in Isaiah 55:8-9 ....

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.

"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts."

I don't and won't pretend to know the gravity of the loss those closer to Stephen than I am may feel or experience right now. All I CAN say is that God is with us through the darkest of days and the deepest of valleys. He stands not just upon the mountaintops waiting for us to arrive there, but walks with us through the raging rivers that threaten to steal our joy and cripple our faith.

Through the grief, I declare my stand with the Hampton's for strength, comfort, peace, grace, and courage.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Mom's Day 8.1

I am so glad to see that Mom is improving and strengthening more today! I fly home tonight, so it's comforting to see her progress. She walked all the way around the hallway loop today, which was more than expected!

My flight leaves at 4:10 pm CDT from Dallas Love Field Airport. That's the one JFK arrived at the day he was shot in Dallas. ANYwho ..... I change planes in Austin, do a 30 minute stopover in El Paso and get to LAX at 8:00 pm PDT.

I am really looking forward to seeing Colleen and the boys this weekend, and am at such peace knowing Mom is in good hands her at Baylor and is doing so well. She and I have had some really good conversations over the last couple of days.

I am also really looking forward to being with NewHeart on Sunday. I miss everyone! This should be my last post until I am on my way back to Texas Monday. Blog with you then!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mom's Day 7.1

It's about 4:00 pm CDT. Mom has done even better today. Walked about 80 feet down the hall way and back and is on orders to eat all meals from the chair instead of in bed. Talked to the surgeon today, who is strongly encouraging her to move even more and estimates she may go home on Sunday or Monday.

Arranged my travel plans today. I fly home tomorrow (Friday) night and then return back on Monday (June 25) night. I'll rest and visit Tuesday, then start my drive home on Wednesday, anticipating my arrival home on Friday night, June 29.

I am looking forward to the weekend at home and am so glad that Mom is progressing. I definitely feel at peace with my decision to stay the extra couple days, although I know it is tough for Colleen alone at home with the boys. However, as it works out, she is off work next week and one of the boys is gone with a friend's family for their vacation. I trust it will work out well, and that Mom's progress just strengthens day by day.

To day is my little sister, April's, birthday. I won't divulge her age here. She can be the one to do that. She has gone through so much in her life the last couple years. It has been good to re-connect with her. The time has been good that way. Tonight, we celebrate her birthday at Cracker Barrel.

Sounds like I missed my storm today. Steve called and said it was dumping buckets and thunder and lightning were in good supply. Not here in Dallas, a short 30 miles away. Nope, dry as a bone here, of course! Maybe my drive home will afford more. We'll see!

During my drive home, I'll make a stop Thursday in Sierra Vista, Arizona to visit my great-aunt Margaret, the last left of 9 Kuzma siblings. She is my grandfather's sister. I never got to meet him and even my Dad didn't know him well as he died in a trucking accident when Dad was 7. I have been told that she would have been the family historian, so I am looking forward to some good history and pictures.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mom's Day 6.1

It's about 3:30 CDT and I am blogging on my laptop right from Mom's room. Amazing! I've been here with her for the last 3 hours, during which we've talked about all kinds of things that people who are under the influence talk about :^) - happy things though; good and funny things. Things that shall remain between her and I. She made me promise!

After a good session of physical therapy and a good dose of her pain meds, she is now sleeping peacefully. I have made the decision to stay another couple days and fly home, probably on Friday night.

Mom is still doing well and progressing, but is not out of the woods, especially in terms of her kidney. Her kidney is doing OK, but has been a little bit sporadic today. They believe it may be simply a result of her starting solid foods today. When they do that, they usually reduce the IV fluid intake, assuming you'll get it from the solid diet. BUT, that's not happening effectively yet, so they've reintroduced the IV fluids.

Probably TMI for you ... I did just now get to watch a CareFlight helicopter land close up out the window of Mom's room ... COOL!

With my brother Steve, and his new wife, Danielle, living with my parents for now, one way they've been helping out has been by preparing meals. Neither of them are food pros, but I'm telling you, they could be! I feel like as far as food is concerned, I've been at a resort or something. It has been a joy to have the family eating around the same table again!

Before this trip, I had only met Danielle once, briefly, over a dinner with she and Steve last Fall. I don't know exactly how to describe Danielle because I don't know her well. She has quickly become a part of our family as though she has been around much longer than she has.

Danielle is funny, likes to have fun, and yet has been around the block for someone so young. She is very perceptive and is sensitive to other people. Seems to me my brother has done well in his choice of a wife.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mom's Day 5.1

It's about 2:30 pm CDT and we're in Mom's room at Baylor Medical Center. She is in room 901 in the Roberts Hospital portion, and it is a private room, which is very nice.

It is a very good step for her to be moved out of ICU and into her own room. When we arrived today, she was just finishing her first round of physical therapy.

She was in quite some pain, but the nurse has now given her a cocktail of happy juices and she seems to be resting pretty peacefully.

Today will be the day I decide what to do next with my trip. Mom is well taken care of, but still not out of the anesthesia all the way. I would share with you how I know that, and to do so would bring you some good laughs, as it has brought us, but I'll just keep that in the family for now!

Because I am driving, and have the goal of being at church Sunday for Johnny's last "official" Sunday on Staff, if I drive home, I need to leave tomorrow. I am prayerfully considering why I am not yet comfortable with a decision to leave tomorrow. I know some of it is that I want to be here when Mom is more cognizant.

My other option is to use a round trip ticket that a dear friend has offered to fly home Thursday or Friday and then figure out when to come back for my car (probably in the first week of July). I would appreciate your prayers that God would give me wisdom.

Some of me feels (not just feels, but actually knows), that I have not always been as connected to my family as Mom, or I, have wanted for me to be. I think that's some of why God has given me this trip.

I have been working the last few years to strengthen my connection with my parents, spending time with them whenever I can. It's not been the easiest thing since they have lived in other states, but I have done my best, and it has made a difference for me.

All that to say I am trying to sort this all out for myself emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally, etc. Thanks for listening, and for understanding!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Mom's Day 4.1

Headed back to Mom & Dad's house after today's hospital visit. She is at Baylor Medical Center near downtown Dallas, which is about 30 miles from Royse City, where they live.

When we got there today, they let all 5 of us in to see her at the same time. She was sitting up in a chair and was eating soft foods!

We only got to stay about 25 minutes as they have decided to keep her in ICU and reassess tomorrow morning. They want to keep a closer eye on her another day before sending her to a 6 nurse per patient care ratioon the Med/Surg floor.

For those who may be hearing news about nasty weather and flooding in NE Texas, we're OK here. We did get some cool dark clouds, a little lightning and a bunch of rain, but that's it for us. It's already all dry, hot and humid.

Probably gonna do some nostalgia today into Heath, TX, where we lived the first 2 of our 4 years here.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mom's Day 3.1

They were able to take Mom off the ventilator at about noon today! This is a big hurdle! She cannot have anything to eat for 24 hours as they have to monitor her respirations to be sure she can do her own breathing. If not, they will have to place her back on the ventilator. Please pray that she gains the strength to be able to breather healthily!

She certainly is back to my Mom! She had plenty to say about what hasn't happened well for her in ICU care-wise. She also had a finger to shake at the smoking members of our family to declare "No more smoking!!" She evidently was told that her smoking is one reason it was tough for her to breathe on her own. Her feisty-ness is a sign to me that Mom is back!

I did not ask, but am sure she will be in ICU at least until tomorrow due to the respiration monitoring. Her kidney function remains good at this point.

I will post more later as we know more.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Really Proud Dad

With Father's Day approaching tomorrow, I am really missing my boys. I am so proud, and feel tremendously unqualified to be Joshua and Jonathan's Dad. My goal is to raise two great men, but I certainly don't claim to be the best at it.

I do know that I am proud of my Dad, and that he instilled in me the value of hard work and appreciation for the good things life brings. Perusing old photos this week, I was able to grasp a deeper appreciation of the place in life God has granted me as a Kuzma.

My boys both "culminated" from their Elementary School this week, Joshua from 6th Grade and Jonathan from 5th, both headed for Valley View Middle School. I am extremely proud of both of their accomplishments, but nervous as a Dad about Middle School.

Allow me to pull out my wallet ...

Joshua Paul Kuzma (12 years old - 6th Grade)
Jonathan Pierce Kuzma (11 years old - 5th Grade)

Mom's Day 2.1

The doctor has decided to leave Mom in ICU through today (Saturday). They are still trying to wean her off of the ventilator, but she is just not ready yet. They hope for it to happen this evening.

The ICU nurses say it is a bit of a balancing act. The pain medications strong enough to ease Mom's pain have the ability to require the ventilator, yet they don't want her to take enough of the medication to keep her on the machine. For now, Mom has control of the pain medication by way of a push button. I can only imagine she is in quite a bit of pain.

The doctor originally told us that she could be in ICU for the first 2-3 days following surgery, so none of this is a surprise. It's just part of the process for now, and only Mom can do it. Only she can determine her ability and strength to battle through the process of getting off the machine.

When we saw her today, she was groggily alert and able to mouth some words. She communicated that the nurses have been "great", that she loves us, and that her pain has been somewhat moderate. She also knows the doctor said she came through surgery well.

In the meantime, we are letting her rest. They only allow 2 visitors at a time for a 15 minute slot every 2-3 hours.

Had our first thunderstorm last night. Wasn't much, but certainly more than we ever get in California. Rain has been on and off throughout the day, but we should get a few more thunderstorms in the next couple days, so they say.

More later.....

Friday, June 15, 2007

Good News on Mom

The surgeon just came out to report that surgery could not have gone any smoother than it did!! Her only kidney had to go without blood flow for about 45 minutes, but it seems OK.

He said that as soon as he reconnected it, the kidney began to produce, which is a good sign. She will be in ICU for a couple of days, but he expects she will be able to come out of the anesthesia in a few hours.

I'll keep you posted as the weekend goes by!

Update at 3.5 hours

Received a call from Mom's OR Nurse at 12:45 CDT to report she is still in surgery and Mom is doing OK. That's all for now.

Surgery Start Time

We've been here since 5:00 am CDT. Mom was wheeled down the hallway for the OR at 8:10. We just got word that surgery started at 9:12. The surgeon expects it to go about 5-6 hours. Will keep you posted as we know more.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Countdown to Mom's Surgery

Only a few hours from now, 4:00 am CDT to be exact, the family will make the trek together to Baylor Medical Center in Dallas. Mom's surgery is scheduled for 7:00 am.

Today has been one of laughs, tears, and even hard discussions. We are all praying for and believing the best. My Mom is one of the strongest people I have EVER known. And I mean EVER.

The procedure she is undergoing, however, is very high risk. She has a couple of other parallel issues that heighten the "normal" high risk. The reality that 24 hours from now, Mom could possibly be in our eternal home is sobering.

I've been around this reality with other families enough to know it's best to have tough conversations about what one's wishes are before they get to that point. It's excruciating for families to have to figure that out once someone has died.

In my heart, I just know that Mom's strength is where it needs to be for one to physically make it through such a procedure. I also know that her spirit is in the Lord's hands whatever the outcome. For that, I am so glad for the hope that God gives us in Jesus!

My phone is one of those nifty ones that gives me the ability to post to my blog quickly and easily. If you check back every few hours on Friday, I will post whatever we know as soon as I am able.

Leroy's Story

Spent last night not just reminiscing with my Mom, but actually writing down details of much of her story. It's worth its own post one day soon.

Part of her story is Leroy's story. I write about him a post or two ago and told you I would share more, so here it is. Let me cut to the chase ...

We were living here in Rockwall, Texas in August of 1977. As a matter of fact, the house we last lived in on a main street into the town square was just torn down a day or two ago. Monday night we drove by but it was too dark for pictures. Tuesday afternoon we drove by and it's now a pile of rubble. Making room for a wider street.

Anyway, I think it was August 17, 1977 when I was at home and heard the news that Elvis Presley had died. I ran down the street to The Brown Derby, a fast food restaurant my Mom was managing, to tell her. I had NO IDEA what was to come.

She was visibly upset, but I had no idea why. It was a little weird to me how upset she was at the news. Leroy's story unfolds.

We were always told that my Dad was not Leroy's real father. His birth father was apparently someone Mom had a short relationship with. Turns out that was true. What we were never told was who the person was ... until the day Elvis died.

That's right ... turns out that Mom was a night club singer in Frankfurt, Germany while Elvis was stationed there and the two hooked up. Just after Elvis left Germany, Mom found out she was pregnant with Leroy.

When Elvis died, a friend who knew my Mom in Germany and knew the story called Mom and coerced her into telling my brother that Elvis was his real father. The Midnight Globe got hold of the story and sent Mom and Leroy to Graceland to do a story on them.

I know ... hard to believe. But there are a few people in Mom's life who attest to it. Here is a picture of them both ... you be the judge ...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Family Reconnecting

I will blog more about our reconnections as the week progresses, but want to mention an exciting reconnection that happened yesterday. Our family has a pretty extensive knowledge of my Dad's Mother's side of the family, the Barkowska's (or ...skI's, depending on who you talk to). However, we have very little knowledge and connection with his Father's side (the Kuzma's) of the family.

When my Dad was 7 years old, my Grandfather (who is my namesake ... Paul Daniel Kuzma), was killed in a truck driving accident in Indiana. My Dad and his sister were raised by my Grandmother and her side of the family. There was some contact with the Kuzma's, but not much.

When my aunt died four years ago, I went back to Mayville, Michigan to help settle matters there for my Dad. During my time there, I tracked down the closest Kuzma, my Dad's Uncle John, and spent some time with him.

While there, he mentioned that the most history would come from their sister, Margaret, who was living at the time in Arizona. These last few years, I kept meaning to look her up and visit her.

Well, we were able to find her yesterday, and I spoke with her by phone. She agreed to allow me to stop by on my way home to California. I am really looking forward to this!

The picture to the right is my Dad, FYI ...

Tonight, we are headed to get a family picture done together! First time in I don't know how long!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Family Reunited

After a really good night of sleep, I awoke this morning to a flat tire! Apparently took a nail sometime yesterday and developed a slow leak. Fortunately, my brother, Steve, has spent the last couple years in his mechanic career specializing in tires and suspensions. UNfortunately, the nail was right at the joint of the tread and the side wall of the tire (more in the sidewall than the tread), which makes for an unrepairable tire.

He received a call last night from the Rockwall Dodge dealership in response to his application there, and they set him up with an interview at 2:00 this afternoon. While Dad and Steve's wife, Danielle, went to DFW airport to pick up my sister, April, Steve went on his interview. I mowed Mom & Dad's lawn. With the heat and humidity, I think I caught up on my last few months of missed workouts!!

Steve's interview went well (he awaits return of the obligatory drug testing), April arrived in good spirits, and we all spent the evening at Casa Miguel, a Rockwall Tex/Mex restaurant that operates out of an old house with great food.

An additional and very deeply sentimental feature of this restaurant is their Rockwall sports memorabilia, which includes our older brother, Leroy's, Rockwall High School Letterman's jacket and an 8x10 of his football picture.

Some may not have heard of Leroy, who passed away in 1994. More on him later.

After a great dinner, here I am at my second office getting a few needed things taken care of, including updating you. A few have posted comments letting me know they're traveling with me in spirit. If you haven't yet, please do!

Monday, June 11, 2007

It's Monday

Last night, spent much of the evening with my brother, Steve, catching up on the events of his life. The last couple months have been somewhat chaotic. He is hopeful (as we all are) that this move to Texas will give him a chance at a new start in his life.

This morning, met he and my Dad in the city of Rockwall. That's where I spent my Middle School years, and it is just south of Royse City. They were dropping off Dad's van for some work. The three of us had breakfast at IHOP (have you tried their new Stuffed French Toast? AMAZING!) and then made runs to Wal-Mart and Lowe's.

In the parking lot of Wal-Mart, a Rockwall Police Officer noticed my brother's California license plates and asked where he was from. Turns out the Officer spent 14 years with LAPD before moving here, but was born and raised in Simi Valley! Small world!! May get to do a ride-along with him sometime this week.

We've now settled at what Dad calls my "second office", Starbucks, while we wait for his van to be finished. I've yet to make my nostalgia trips around town and into the little town of Heath, which was where we lived most of for 2 of our 4 years here.

It was at Heath Baptist Church that I started to establish my relationship with God, so it's got a special place in my heart. I also have a nephew who is buried in the cemetery there. He was my older brother, Leroy's (who passed away in '94), son who only lived for one day in 1982.

Commissioning of USS Kidd

Saturday's events were really cool. Spending the day with Matt, Kerry and Gramps was fun. Matt looks and sounds good.

Kerry and I got to take a guided tour of the ship, including the CIC (I forget what it stands for) that is the "nerve center" of the ship's defense system ... radars, computers, huge map screens, guys that sit next to each other that can't make decisions without each other to make sure people don't do anything alone that would be stupid.

Among other things, I learned ...

  • A ship is NOT an official part of the Navy until it is actually commissioned. Commissioning is NOT the same as Christening a ship.
  • Matt is now what they call a "Plankowner", since he is part of the crew when the ship is commissioned. Grampa Bill is also a "Plankowner", having commissioned a ship in 1943.
  • In the old days, when they decommissioned a ship, they would literally give a plank of that ship to each "Plankowner".
  • Babies of the crew can be christened (baptized) in the ship's bell. They talk out the hammer, turn it upside down and fill it with water. The first baby christened in a bell has their name engraved inside the bell. When that bell is taken out of service, they find the person whose name is in the bell and offer it to them.
Cool stuff! Below are some pics of the day ...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Safe Arrival

Arrived at Mom & Dad's about 5:30 pm CDT. Will blog more Monday, including some pics from Matt's ship commissioning.

Day 5

Had a late breakfast with Kerry and Gramps on their way to the airport, I left South Houston for Royse City at 12:45 pm CDT. It is now 2:25 pm and I just crossed the 2,000 mile mark. More later!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Hurricane Season Is Here ... hmmmm

Sometimes, you don't realize where you are until you're there. Driving from South Houston to Galveston today, I realized a few things ...

  • Galveston is actually an island in and of itself.
  • I've heard of Galveston lots in my lifetime.
  • The vein I've heard of Galveston in is always relative to bad weather.
  • There is only one main transportation artery onto and off the island - the I-45.
  • The I-45 was a parking lot before Hurricane Rita hit, right after Hurricane Katrina, with BOTH the north and southbound lanes opened for NORTHbound traffic.
So, on my way from Galveston back to my hotel to pick up something this afternoon, the freeway electric lighted signs read, "Hurricane Season is here. Keep your gas tank full."

At the same time, I was listening to my second book on this trip. It's called "Leading With A Limp". Been on my book radar for a while and I was able to get it cheap on CD.

Author Dan Allender asserts in the book that God always uses leaders with problems and issues in their lives. How true it is! Moses, Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Saul, David, Solomon, Peter, and Paul. Read 'em and weep!

When I saw those signs on the freeway, Allender was talking about how "busy-ness is the moral equivalent of laziness that often serves as a mask for other issues." That really strikes home for me.

You know. The phone rings, and the first question the caller asks is, "Are you busy?" What do you say? "NO! I was just sitting here waiting for you to call"? Our answer ... I'm sorry ... MY answer is usually filled with a string of recently done or almost completed projects, hoping that it gives the caller a sense of how important I am.

One result of such behavior is that we keep our wheels spinning endlessly without reprieve for fear that someone will get the idea that we don't have enough to do. God forbid that we should reserve some energy or time for family, friends, or the at times necessary emergency or unexpected occurrence.

There it is again ... "Hurricane Season is here. Keep your gas tank full." Earlier in the book, Allender talks of how filled life is with the unexpected, loss and grief. It's important to realize that we need margins in our our lives AND to live reasonably with our limitations ... our limps ... our imperfections.

Unrealistic expectations we have of ourselves and sometimes of others leads us down dangerous and painful roads. Pain, disappointment, discouragement and disillusion is inevitable in life. Not everything turns out the way we thought it would. King among them is ourselves.

In general, I think we hold expectations of ourselves that Jesus never asked us to carry. Hurricane Season is here. Sounds like LIFE to me. Life is like a never-ending Hurricane Season. That's why it's important to keep your gas tank full.

How are your expectations of yourself? What are your reserves like ... emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Welcome to Houston

WOW! It's 10:15 pm here (CST) and it is 82 degrees ("feels like 90 degrees") with a whopping 85% humidity!! Talk about sucking for air!

Total miles driven in three days - 1,655. For Day 3, still no nodding off! I do have to say that the drive is not the most scenic. I kinda expected more scenery.

Just got off the phone with my little brother, who just got married on Monday to Danielle - congratulations! They are currently living with my parents.

Steve gave me the good news that they found out my Dad's hip does NOT have muscle detaching from it. A bone density test and x-ray showed a stress fracture at the top of his thigh bone. This is good news in that there will be no surgery. He'll do physical therapy once a week for a while.

Mom's pre-op appointment today for next Friday's surgery was apparently pretty uneventful. However, Steve reports that there is a Starbucks on the bottom floor of the medical center!

Tomorrow, I'll connect with Matt, Kerry and Gramps somewhere around Galveston, where Matt's ship, the USS Kidd, will be commissioned during an evening ceremony. Hoping we'll get a tour of the ship from Matt as well.

Off to some reading and sleep....

Day 3 Layover

I'm sitting in a Borders in San Antonio, having needed to get a bit of work done. So far, it's been about 320 miles with another 250 to go.

It's a GOOD thing I like to drive. LOVE to drive actually, so it has made this somewhat of a breeze. Open road, most of the day overcast with the open sunroof for part of the way. No storms, but definitely Texas weather. While Simi Valley is enjoying a current 79 degrees with 13% humidity that "feels like 79 degrees", San Antonio is at 93 degrees with 52% humidity that "feels like 102 degrees", and it's 5:15 pm here! Let's call it "balmy".

The Honda only got me 26 mpg so far today. I think that's because I had the A/C CRANKED the last half of today's trip so far. The heat is on in Texas!

That's it for now ... headed for Houston!

Day 3

Left Ft. Stockton at 9:15 am PST. Little longer drive today to the Houston/Galveston area. Looks like I might get some of the storm weather I was hoping for today. While it's not raining, it's great sunroof weather!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Done For The Day

Arrived in Fort Stockton, Texas at about 9:00 pm PST.

Amazingly, you know how you get the "nods" when you're driving? That scary feeling that you're going to sleep and the next thing you know you're about twice the distance you thought you would be when you open your eyes? The feeling that leaves you wondering how in the world you didn't drift off the road somehow? Hasn't happened. Not even once. Just haven't gotten the least bit tired.

Not complaining, mind you. I'm glad about it and hope it lasts through the weekend.

Going to sleep. Blog tomorrow.

Central Time Zone & 1,000 Miles

Just crossed into CST at Van Horn, TX, so am now officiallly 2 hours ahead of California time. Just broke 1,000 miles too!


Crossing from New Mexico into Texas at 4:40 pm PST. Uneventful drive today so far.

Kerry called to report she and Gramps made it to Galveston and even unexpectedly ran into Matt. That's pretty cool!

New Mexico

Crossing border from Arizona into New Mexico at 2:30 pm PST.

Just finished a GREAT book on CD called "Why Do I Love These People? Honest and Amazing Stories of Real Families" by Po Bronson. Very insightful and inspiring. Little heads up on some language, but a great book.

If you're keeping up with me, let me know with a comment. l'll comment back when I'm at my computer.

So Long Tucson

Left Tucson at 12:15 pm PST. Discovered my little Prelude is getting me 28-29 mpg! Blog soon!

Day 2 Begins ... Too Early!

Crawling into bed at almost 2:00 am, I noticed that a Continental Breakfast is included at this hotel, between 6 and 9 am. "No way I'm making that!", I thought.

Well, think again, Kuzma. Woke up at 6:30, then again at 7:00, then again ... you get the story! I fell out of bed at about 8:15, threw on some clothes and went to the breakfast area, feeling the drag of wanting to stay in bed.

The Hospitality lady immediately said, "You look tired!" I WANTED to say, "Gee, really?" but instead kept it to, "Yeah, late night!"

Heard from my nephew, Matt, this morning. He's the one in the Navy whose ship, USS Kidd, is being commissioned in Galveston Saturday. The last few days he was trying to get confirmed whether or not I'd be able to get in to the ceremony. He called a few moments ago to say he was able to get it confirmed.

Glad to hear that. I am so proud of him, and looking forward to being with him. His mom, Kerry, (Colleen's sister) and their grandfather, Bill Kimmick, will be there too. They're flying in right now. Grandpa Bill served in the Navy in WW 2, and has a full arsenal of wonderful memories. I am sure he is really looking forward to this as well.

After a bit of quiet time this morning and then getting a little bit of work done ... the Internet really is quite something ... I'll run through the shower and hit the road. Should be able to start about noon, which was my target for today.

We'll see how my '89 Honda Prelude handles the heat. Yesterday's drive went very smooth.


Arrived in Tucson at 1:00 am PST. Good night!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Crossed into Arizona at 8:45 pm PST. The land of my favorite raspberry iced tea.

On The Road ... Finally

It's 4:30 pm PST and I'm leaving Costco with a full tank of gas and plenty of munchies. Stay tuned and I'll keep posting.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Highly Recommended Movie

Got to take my family to a pre-screening of "Evan Almighty". Thumbs up! Great family movie. It releases in theaters on June 22 and I HIGHLY recommend it. Very funny!

Departure Day is Here

The day has arrived. Well, almost ... as I blog, it is 11:42 PST. Joshua's DARE Graduation is at 1:30. I plan to be ready to leave right after that, which would make for about 3:00 pm PST.

If you'd like to see the route I'm taking, as well as the stopovers, click here. I plan to be in Galveston on Friday night. My nephew, Matt Suttle, is in the Navy. His ship, the USS Kidd, is being commissioned there on Saturday. His mom (Colleen's sister), Kerry, along with Grandpa Bill Kimmick, will also be there.

On Sunday, I'll head to Mom & Dad's. The only possible change at this point would happen if Matt is not able to secure a ticket for me for the commissioning. In that case, I'll just head straight for Mom & Dad's.

I'll be blogging about my trip as it happens. Blogger actually allows web-enabled phones (which mine is) to post to blogs right from the phone. If I run into anything nifty (like a good storm or tornado), you can bet I'll blog it.

Come on along, just for the fun of it, and let me know you're there with a comment or two ...