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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Final Post of 2006

I've been cranking some U2 and this song came up. Many people will be shouting many different things when the ball drops. I thought this is what I would like to shout:

Oh, and where do we go
Where do we go from here
Where to go
To the side of a hill
Blood was spilt
We were still looking
At each other

Oh, we're goin' back there
Jerusalem Jerusalem

Shout, shout
With a shout, shout it out
Shout...shout it out...

I wanna go
To the foot of the messiah
To the foot of he who made me see
To the side of a hill
Where we were still
We were filled
With our love

We're gonna be there again
Jerusalem Jerusalem

Shout, shout
With a shout
With a shout

U2 - With A Shout - October

Happy New Year! Woohoo!

My First Date

Remember your first date? I do and I will. I remember my first date ever with Stephanie Curry: Karate Kid 2 and we held hands. My palms never have sweated so much. I remember my first date with my wife, Kelly: Pray for Rain concert at BGSU. We rocked our little hearts out and the rest is history. I will remember my first date with my daughter, Sarah: Charollotte's Web. Wow. I'm not sure which I did more the movie or watch Sarah watch the movie. She sat in my lap the whole time. She asked questions out loud and I tried to answer them as softly as I could.

As we walked out of the theatre, I couldn't help but think that life was simply moving to fast. She was growing up to fast. It was just yesterday that I was bringing her home for the first time to our home in Pittsburgh. It was just yesterday that she was sitting up, crawling around, and walking here and there for the very first time. And yet yesterday I couldn't help but think that as fast as these first four years have gone by, that the next 10-15 are going to go by just as fast if not faster. And to that I say...oh, well. I will savor every moment as best as I can and every date I have with her as best as I can. What an honor God has bestowed upon me to be the daddy of a little girl.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Lights Please

Charlie Brown's Chistmas maybe some of the best 30 minutes in all of television history. This clip maybe the greatest 90 seconds of television ever. I never get tired of it. In fact, it speaks more to me now than when I was a kid. May this clip refocus your vision of Christmas and encourage your heart as you wonder at what Christmas and this Jesus is all about.

Joy and peace to you and yours this wonderous season.

Christmas Family Traditions

As Sarah and Parker grow older, Kelly and I wanted to celebrate some fun family traditions around the holidays, especially Advent. One of the really cool things that we have done is buy a cool Advent house from Costco. Everyday has been something new and special for the kids as we have tried to balance fun, family and sacred elements to this experience. Here is a list of things we have done:

Go see Christmas lights at night.
Make Christmas cookies
Watch a Christmas movie together and make popcorn.
Go buy a Christmas tree.
Decorate the Christmas tree.
Set up the Christmas train.
Read the Christmas story from the Bible and act it out.
Read Twas the Night before Christmas
Give clothes and/or toys away to Goodwill.
Serve together as a family.
Go shopping for present for Daddy from Sarah & Parker.
Go shopping for present for Mommy from Sarah & Parker.
Make Christmas cards for Granny & Grandad and Mamau & Papau.
Make Christmas ornament/craft for family.
Go downtown to see Christmas lights.
Go see Christmas lights at the zoo.
Buy a Christmas movie or music CD.
Take Christmas cookies to neighbors.
Go see Santa & tell him what you want for Christmas.
Camp out around Christmas tree.
Buy toys for needy kids/Toys for Tots.
Build a snowman (since no snow this year we substituted our small group Xmas party).
Have Christmas cookies or candy with hot chocolate.
Make a Christmas craft and color Christmas coloring sheet.

Sarah and Parker have taken turns at opening the doors of the house to see what surprise treat and experience is inside. It is just about the last thing they talk about before we put them down for bed. And it is the first thing they ask about when they wake up in the morning. Their eyes sparkle and feet dance as they tug Kelly down the hall and into the family room. It's pretty cool.

Obviously there are a ton of options you could do. If you have any ideas please leave a comment. Please use this idea if your family is searching for creative and meaningful ways to live out Christmas in your home and community. Merry Advent!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Fun New Feature

It's amazing to me all the fun techy, geeky things you can put on your blog to track stats, brighten pages, send information, or even make money. As I have bounced from blog to blog, I've picked on a few tools from a few different companies.

One of the tools is from Feed Burner. One of their tools allows bloggers to place a subscription box on their site so that others can subscribe free to that particular blog. I have added one to this blog. It's in the right hand column at the bottom under the map of the world (another cool tool).

If you'd like to subscribe to Held Up High and know when I post something new that is personal, fun or spiritual, you can do so now. All you do is put your email into that box, click "subscribe" and follow the instructions. Then you will get a notice in your email inbox of when something new has been posted here. Pretty easy. Plus, it's free! You can't beat that.

Thanks for letting me share my journey and reveal my inner geek!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

His Word, Sarah's Heart

Sarah, a bit more shy, still loves sharing Dueteronomy 10:17 from the Bible with all those who will listen closely to her. "The Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords! The great, the mighty, and the awesome God!" That is so sweet!

His Word, Parker's Heart

Parker loves sharing John 3:16 from the Bible with all those who will hear him. "For God so loved the world that He sent His only son." It pretty much sums up the season, doesn't it? Enjoy!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Church You Know - WWJD

The Church You Know web site is one of the more edgy yet funny sites I've seen in a while. They push us to struggle with how we communicate to each other and the world around us about such topics as tithing, attendance, pastors, etc. They do this in formats of 30 second commercials that are styled after the "The More You Know" spots on TV. As a friend of mine put it, "It's creative and a bit uncomfortable." Check out their site for all the clips. How do they make you feel?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Inside Scoop

Just when you think your four year old is only interested in ballet, books, and bossing her little brother around, think again. When I am home from work on Tuesday and Wednesday, Sarah loves to help me get Parker up from his nap. It's quite cute. Yesterday we were in PK's nap room lying on the bed watching him slowly rise from the dead. Sarah snuggled up close to me and said, "Daddy, are we moving?" I was like - whoa - where did that come from? Kelly must have talked to Sarah about it (and she did). Cool.

I said yes that there was a good chance that we were going to moving closer to Granny/Grandad and Mamau/Papau. She then proceeded to blow me by stating, "You're going to school for counseling, right?" That is when my jaw then hit the bed (only later to be found out that Kelly hadn't talked to her about that). I said yeah and asked her how that made her feel. She said she was excited b/c, "Then we can move into a BIG house with stairs!"

I take a couple of things away from this great little interchange:

1. In this potential move (my chickens haven't hatched yet), it's Kelly and I you have to worry about. The kids will be fine as long as we are there and there are new things to found and explored like stairs (we live in a ranch with no basement)!

2. If you want the inside scoop about the Indy Rings family, go talk to the four year old. She knows what's up.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Can You Tell What I Just Figured Out?

Hhhmmm...could it be - how to post videos!? Yes! As you can tell, I'm having fun posting videos from not only my collection, but also from friends (aka KB Vidz) and places like You Tube. This is pretty cool. I don't want videos to over take my blog and it's primary purpose of sharing my journey with family, friends, and complete strangers who may randomly drop in, but for the time being...this is going to be freaking A cool!

If You Can't Laugh at This

"Weird Al" Yankovic's music video from his new album "Straight Outta Lynwood". This is classic and I'm not even a "Weird All" fan. Turn up the bass and bump the house!

KB Vidz - Brand New - Ok I Believe U, But My Tommy Gun Don't

Brian is a former student in the student ministry I pastored in Pittsburgh. He's a great young man, good friend, and one talented/creative dude! I totally dig this video he did as a solo project with his group KB Vidz. B da man! I'm proud of you, dude. Kick butt in NYC. I'm praying for you, big time!

Great Music Video

This has got to be one of the great music videos of all time. Outfreakingstading!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Holding Pattern

Well, it's done. My application for U of Dayton is finished and in their hands (actually been done for some time, but am just not getting around to posting about it). Weird to think that another application for graduate school has been filled out and submitted...I thought I was done with that a loooong time ago...guess not. So for now I sit and wait. That is hard given the fact that I so much want to give Kelly the answers (and some security) about what the future holds, where we will be, and how we can go about preparing for all that. But I can't. So I wait. Trusting in God and waiting to see how He will lead.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Great Quotes

Now I know what you are're thinking that this is where I go all historical and starting pontificating on ancient quotes and their impact on me, my life, and our world. Well, sad to say that's not totally true.

This new fun segmant in Held Up High is about movie quotes - the best kind of quotes for my generation. So without any further ado, here's the first quote that is fitting of the season from The Elf starring Wil Ferrall.

Buddy: Who the heck are you?
Gimbel's Santa: What are you talkin' about? I'm Santa Claus.
Buddy: No, you're not.
Gimbel's Santa: Uh, why of course I am! Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho.
Buddy: Well, if you're Santa, what song did I sing for you on your birthday this year?
Gimbel's Santa: Um, Happy Birthday of course. Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho. How old are you son?
Kid with Santa: Four.
Gimbel's Santa: You're a big boy. What's your name?
Kid with Santa: Paul.
Gimbel's Santa: Now what can I get you for Christmas?
Buddy: Don't tell him what you want, he's a liar.
Gimbel's Santa: Let the kid talk.
Buddy: You disgust me! How can you live with yourself?
Gimbel's Santa: Just cool it, Zippy.
Buddy: You sit on a throne of lies.
Gimbel's Santa: Look, I'm not kiddin'.
Buddy: You're a fake.
Gimbel's Santa: I'm a fake?
Buddy: Yes!
Gimbel's Santa: How'd you like to be dead, huh? Ho, ho, just kidding.
Buddy: You stink.
Gimbel's Santa: I think you're gonna have a good Christmas, all right.
Buddy: You smell like beef and cheese, you don't smell like Santa.

Some "Outtakes" of Family Pics of 2006

Here are just a few silly shots that make me laugh when I see them. Still so cute, but funny, too. Enjoy!

This is the model pose. Just a little belly. Work it girl!

I just love this one of Parker. It totally makes me smile.

The sweet sister and the cheesy brother - cheeesssee!

Kelly can't get enough of the tongue.

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Family Pics of 2006

Here are some recent family pics (4 of 246 taken). Tons of thanks to our good friend and resident pro photographer, Mickey. You are the best! How can we ever thank you for your love, generosity, and time spent with us? Don't know if we ever will, but we'll sure try!

We had a great fall day at Forrest Park walking and talking in the train yard on the train tracks. It was a pretty cool setting I have to say. And there is nothing quite like roaming the tracks with two year adventure around every corner and in every car!

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Line Rider

While in Cincinnati over Thanksgiving, my nephew Mark, showed me this simply, yet insane game called Line Rider. Click HERE to play the game or watch some movies of people who put together spectacular runs for the little guy in a scarf. Then you can go to YouTube and see the gazillion other Line Rider demo's out there. Talk about creative!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sarahfina Ballarina

Here are a few pictures of Sarah's first ballet class. As you can imagine she absolutely loves it. The dressing up, the dancing, the music, the other kids, and the teach are things she talks about all the time. It is so stinkin' cute.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

How Much Do You Love?

When I close at Costco, I usually get home around 9:00pmish. If the kids have had a big day or not had a nap (usually Sarah), then the kids are usually asleep when I get home. When they have had a normal day and/or had naps (especially Sarah) then they are usually awake when I get home. I say hey to Kel, give her a kiss and make my way back to the kids room. If they are up Parker is in his bed playing with one of his trucks and Sarah is in her bed reading one of her books. When I come in they are pretty stoked and say, "Daddy!" It brings a huge smile to my face.

So the other day I get home and they are both up doing their thing in bed. I come in and we talk about their day for a just a couple of minutes. Parker talks about playing with Thomas choo-choo and Sarah about ballet. We talked, hugged and kissed and I was about to leave the room when Sarah called to me and said:

Sarah: Daddy.

Me: Yes, baby?

Sarah: I love you.

Me: I love you, too.

Sarah: I love YOU everyday!

Me: speechless.

It was pretty sweet...enough so to make this daddy tear up and give his girl another big hug and kiss. Wow. And so we've adopted a phrase to say how much we love each other in the Rings family...I love you everyday!

So how would you describe or how do you describe the love you have for people in your family and life? Just curious.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What If

What if... What if grass were red? What if you had to drink through your nose? What if you had to sneeze out your ears? What if every person in the U.S. of A. took their right and responsibility to vote seriously? What if people really mattered? What if every person on the planet could come to grips with the life and love of Jesus? What if...

What if my former (maybe someday, future, who the heck knows) profession could transform my current pursuits of a profession? Can the things that I believed in so radically about youth ministry bring life and love to the educational system and school counseling? What if...

What if the principals of contact ministry were really taken seriously by educators? What if every teacher was compelled to really meet kids on their turf and love them for who they are and all the potential they hold in their head and heart? What if we could retake the ground that was given away by jacked-up teachers and youth pastors that have given "one on one" time with kids a twisted connotation? What if...

What if leadership were really taken seriously by teachers and administration? So much so that life change was not just dream for a few kids, but a real possibility for every student. What if we really poured our life in a few who then turned around and poured their life into a few more, so on and so forth? What if...

What if we really thought about coming alongside families that are hurting and looking for hope and healing in their homes? What if we resourced them not so much on how to manage time and homework for kids and more supported them with relationship and training that prompted them pursue grace for and love of their kids? What if...

And what if, at the center of it all, was a new generation of youth ministry minded (maybe even trained?) teachers and counselors that fixed their eyes on Jesus, their hearts on love for Him, their feet pursuing Kingdom values? What if...

For so long youth ministry has been the red-headed step child of the church - beat down, laughed at, and taken for granted. Times are changing in the church and that is good. For so long there have been amazing servants, leaders, teachers, and counselors willing to come alongside the misfit generation of adolescence and do whatever it takes to make a difference. They live radically with little pay and little respect, but day and day out are out there helping the next class, next kid figure out this thing called life and where it might be taking them.

So...what if? I guess I'll be finding out pretty soon the answer to that question. Should be fun! Care to join me?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bends in the Road

Bends in the road of life. How do you handle them? Me, I'm still figuring it out. I'd say for the most part that I handle them fairly well. But I am finding out that the bigger the turn, the more difficult the handling.

Case in point...For those of you that haven't heard, it seems as though the calling I sensed so strongly almost 17 years ago from God is being shifted in a slightly different direction. It looks as though I'll be going back to school - what's a guy supposed to do with just one Master's degree these days?! I am applying to the University of Dayton and their Master's program in Education and School Counseling. It's a two year program that will set me on track to be a licensed school counselor for K-12 grades. It would involve a move to Dayton, Ohio so that we could get some help from family with the kids as I hit the books full time (and hopefully a graduate assistant position) and Kelly gets a significant part-time or full-time job.

This is pretty big turn right now for me. I am almost done with the application process (apps are due in January) so that's good. But two emotional things are at work (and sometimes at war) in my heart and soul. One is that I have not had this much hope or excitement about future vocational opportunities in a long, long time. That is awesome! But two, there is a great sense of grief and loss as I move away from full-time vocational ministry. I truly have loved serving and leading God's church, his people (both near and far away from Him), and students for well over a decade. And with that comes a deep sadness almost like a relational breakup or separation. That's how my brother-in-law put it and it's right on. One day I'll be totally stoked about the new direction God is taking me and the next I'll be bumming big time about letting God, Kelly and the kids, and people I have pastored in the past down (even though in my head I know I haven't). It's nuts - talk about your roller coaster ride sometimes.

But you know what? I am so grateful that I am not alone in this. Jesus is leading me through it as I keep my eyes on Him because He is gracious, compassionate and His love endures forever. I've been keeping company with God by reading and praying through the Psalms over the past few months and Psalm 121 has been water to my soul. Here it is:

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?

2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;

4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;

8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

That's how I'm managing this stretch of bends in the road. How about you?

Halloween 2: Revenge of the Nerd

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Happy Halloween

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Rings Family Pumpkin Carving

Our Fearless Pumpkin Leader

Keeping Daddy on Task

Look at those Smiles!

Big Helper

Hard at Word

Silly Face

Scary Face

Friday, August 18, 2006

Can and Together

What do these words mean? Awe. Inspiration. Power. Love. It's the story of Dick and Rick Hoyt.

You may or may not have heard this story, but it's about the lives of a father and son. It is one of the most incredible stories I have heard in a loooong time. Here is the article by Rick Reiley of Sports Illustrated. Read and then watch.

Strongest Dad in the World

[From Sports Illustrated, By Rick Reilly]

I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to pay for
their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots.

But compared with Dick Hoyt, I suck.

Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in
marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a wheelchair
but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and pedaled him 112
miles in a seat on the handlebars--all in the same day.

Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back mountain
climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. on a bike. Makes taking your
son bowling look a little lame, right?

And what has Rick done for his father? Not much--except save his life.

This love story began in Winchester, Mass., 43 years ago, when Rick was
strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him brain-damaged and
unable to control his limbs.

``He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life;'' Dick says doctors told him
and his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. ``Put him in an

But the Hoyts weren't buying it. They noticed the way Rick's eyes followed
them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the engineering
department at Tufts University and asked if there was anything to help the
boy communicate. ``No way,'' Dick says he was told. ``There's nothing going
on in his brain.''

"Tell him a joke,'' Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a lot
was going on in his brain.

Rigged up with a computer that allowed him to control the cursor by touching
a switch with the side of his head, Rick was finally able to communicate.
First words? ``Go Bruins!'' And after a high school classmate was paralyzed
in an accident and the school organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked
out, ``Dad, I want to do that.''

Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described ``porker'' who never ran more
than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he tried.
``Then it was me who was handicapped,'' Dick says. ``I was sore for two

That day changed Rick's life. ``Dad,'' he typed, ``when we were running, it
felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!''

And that sentence changed Dick's life. He became obsessed with giving Rick
that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly shape that he
and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon.

``No way,'' Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyts weren't quite a
single runner, and they weren't quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few
years Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway, then they
found a way to get into the race officially: In 1983 they ran another
marathon so fast they made the qualifying time for Boston the following

Then somebody said, ``Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?''

How's a guy who never learned to swim and hadn't ridden a bike since he was
six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a triathlon? Still, Dick tried.

Now they've done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in
Hawaii. It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud getting passed by an
old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don't you think?

Hey, Dick, why not see how you'd do on your own? ``No way,'' he says. Dick
does it purely for ``the awesome feeling'' he gets seeing Rick with a
cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ride together.

This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston
Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best
time'? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992--only 35 minutes off the world record,
which, in case you don't keep track of these things, happens to be held by
a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the time.

``No question about it,'' Rick types. ``My dad is the Father of the

And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two years ago he had a mild
heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries was 95%
clogged. ``If you hadn't been in such great shape,'' one doctor told him,
``you probably would've died 15 years ago.''

So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other's life.

Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and
Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass., always find
ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in
some backbreaking race every > weekend, including this Father's Day.

That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to
give him is a gift he can never buy.

``The thing I'd most like,'' Rick types, ``is that my dad sit in the chair
and I push him once.''

Here are the 3 videos (click on the links) from the son's perspective, one from the dad's perspective, and another from a third party's point of view.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ever Have One of These Days?

Laugh. Cry. Empathize. Whatever you do, think back, recall, and remember that we all have bad days and manage to survive (it's just that we don't have plastered all over the internet for all to see - thank the Lord above!). This is too funny, however. Click here.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Our Budding Photographer

Sarah loves to take pictures. So I decided to put some of her photographs in this virtual gallery so that you can see what Kelly and I see as a gift (and a means of early retirement! hahaha). Enjoy! Below each picture are titles that Sarah has given each of these works of art.

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

What Color is your Flip Flop?

Maternal Influence

No Parker!!!

Number 4

Exploring Indy

Over the past month or so we have ventured out into the vast expanse and wilderness know as Indianapolis to see what we could find for fun and adventure. Two of our stops: The Canal at White River State Park in downtown and Cool Creek Park and Trails in Westfield.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Girls Night Out

My sister, Marcie, and niece, Scout, came out for a little girls night out on the town here in Indy. They ate some food, shopped a bit, and talked a ton. It was really cool having them out. My nephew, Alex, and I held down the fort, played with the kids and successfully wrestled my wild (albeit sweet) little buggers into bed. Good times were had by all.

What would a girls night out be without a little reading from the Berenstein Bears!

The terrific trio!

Guess who got goosed?!

Work it...very nice...give me more...strike a pose...there's nothing to it...vogue!

Come closer, Scout...too close - a little too close!

Where in the Crib Is Sally Cat?

It's the fast growing blog game sensation in America. It's taking the country by storm. Look for the book, DVD, CD-ROM, and music video at a Barnes and Noble and cable access stations (and of course Costco!) near you.

Relational Floaties

Just wanted to honor my friends that have helped during these past few months to keep me afloat and moving forward. I am more like Jesus because of their influence on me and my family. This is just a "snap shot" of the many that have loved us deeply during this stretch of life.

The Hunger Site

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