Monday, May 31, 2010

How Much Have You Paid?

Thank You! You are Appreciated!

So many have given so much... for you & me. Honestly, if you're like most Americans, we take it for granted. It's true that you rarely get anything for free. This goes for the freedoms and independence that we enjoy in our country today - and our enjoyment comes at a cost. Have you paid a price for the freedoms you have? Maybe so... maybe you know someone who has... but the vast majority of us haven't really paid for our freedoms... we haven't!

These freedoms are many! They can be as simple as worshipping where we want, when we want, without any concerns whatsoever. They can be as explicit as military protection from the crazys of the world that hate us with a passion... and there are a boat load of other freedoms in between. My hope is that all of us, starting with me, will appreciate the cost someone else is paying on our behalf.... not just on this Memorial Day, but everyday!

I'm truly sorry that I don't do this. I vow to pray everyday for those that are protecting my freedoms as a American citizen. I always want people to appreciate what I do for them - it's only right that I appreciate what these heroes have done, and are doing, for me. Most of us can't get to the Arlington Cemetery easily, so I encourage you to check out this on-line tour. Clicking on the red circled areas will drill down to more information regarding the highlights.

Thank you! You are appreciated!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ten Things About Bethany

The Future Bride & Groom...

I've been wanting to get this off my chest for quite a while now.... so, here it comes, with all the honesty I can muster....

Ten things I don't like about my future daughter-in-law:

1) She is always smiling.... something must be up
2) She never says anything bad about anyone.... I've tried to bait her, but she never bites

The Graduates

3) She was a great student.... magna cum laude... I'm never playing her in Trivial Pursuit
4) She seems totally authentic... Come on, who's always totally authentic?
5) She didn't find my son soon enough... what took so long?
6) She has a wonderfully tight family... very close... they have loads of fun... maybe explains the smiling
7) She is a choco-holic... she needs to branch out... probably would never eat "white" chocolate
8) She has way too much hair.... curls everywhere... I've got 50 hairs- she has 50 bazillion

Probably Something Chocolate...

9) She's an adventurous cook.... Jordan is going to weigh a ton
10) She doesn't come around enough... it's only 10 1/2 hours from Michigan to Alabama.... Come on!

Other than these items... she's perfect!

An Early Morning 29...

After rising at 5:45 this morning, Jordan & I rode 29 miles on our road bikes. For the most part we had the road to ourselves.... after all, it is a holiday weekend and it was 5:45 AM! Even though is was 97% humidity and 72 degrees, the weather was lovely and the ride was even better. This is the longest that either of us has ridden this year. We have been riding a bit during the week - about 14 miles each time, but this was a great spring board into the summer riding season. For me, at this stage, the 29 miles are impressive, but even more so, is the fact that a recently graduated collegian is getting out of a perfectly comfortable bed at 5:45 AM to ride with his Dad....

The farthest I rode last year was 54 miles. I hope to eclipse that this summer and this 29 is a good start. Jordan even had the gumption to suggest (or challenge) that we ride 100 miles before he departs for his married life. That gives us only about 3 weeks to achieve the three-digit milestone. I don't think I can do it, but we'll see how my progress matures. His challenge kind of gives me the feeling that he's been "holding back" on the Old Man.... I guess it's not surprising since he is almost 30 years younger than me.

So, here's to all you Dads out there trying to stay young, trying to burn more & more calories, trying to keep up with your kids, and trying not to look too terrible spent when your son keeps looking back and asking you, "Are you alright Dad..."? Maybe I'll let some air out of his tires next time....

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Congrats to the Graduate!

The youngest Bolte has successfully acquired a BA degree from a prestigious institution of learning. I was there to witness it! It makes a parent proud to hear the name of your child called out to thousands attending the commencement ceremonies after 4 years of hard study and special experiences that can only be obtained from a college adventure. "Jordan Thomas Bolte"! Way to go dude!

Five hundred and sixty students graduated from Taylor University this past Saturday morning. Tami, Caitlin, and I joined my Mom & Dad, plus Bethany's family, as we sat amongst the masses. We had reserved seating - mainly because Jordan was this year's Student Body President. As we were seated and waiting for the proceedings to begin, three people stepped into the row in front of us and proceeded to take their seats. I kid you not - these people had to hail from the "land of the giants"! Midway through the commencement, I mustered up the nerve to ask the young man directly in front of me, "How tall are you?" Get this: 6' 10"!! Six feet, ten inches!! I can't see squat in front of me! His father, 6' 5", sat next to him! I'm guessing that his mom was about six feet! So much for the reserved seating... Luckily there were large screens available that allowed me to see over Goliath & Crew...

Future LA Lakers Star!

I heard a reputable news agency recently report that only 25% of this year's college grads will find jobs. It sounds like an uphill battle for Jordan & Bethany. They are actively looking across the country for appropriate employment - but it's not an easy task in this economy... millions of people can attest to this. Jordan majored in Biblical Literature and Bethany in Media Communications. Pray for jobs people... Pray!

Two Happy Graduates!

I really am proud of Jordan's accomplishments. He has demonstrated wonderful leadership and relational skills. I suspect that they will land jobs soon, and the next chapter in their lives will be off and running. Keep up the good work JB... you have much, much potential. But, next time you invite me to a big event, can you get me some better seats....

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Letter to Jordan

You will graduate from Taylor University this Saturday.... I'm so proud of you Jordan!

Not so much because you have persevered through 4 years of studies.... not because you were the Student Body President your senior year.... not because you've demonstrated leadership via multiple roles on campus.... not because you tend to make wise decisions and never hesitate to seek advice.... not because you've called home "almost" every week.... not because you obviously have great judgement in selecting your bride-to-be (you are clearly marrying up).... not because you have a personality that simply won't quit... But, I'm more proud of you Jordan because you are a man of God and you exude what we have tried to model for all of our kids: Love God & Love People. You do this.... and for that, I am so proud of you son!

Dancing through Life!

Without getting too mushy... let me just say that you are a load of fun to be around. You are a magnet, drawing people in with your infectious personality and humor. You're no slouch intellectually either - but still no match for your father... However, I always enjoy toying with you via verbal exchanges that only you & I can muster. Keep practicing...

Tami, Jordan, Bethany

Even as a little boy, you had the energy, charisma, and charm that would keep your parents, teachers, and babysitters on the edge of their chairs. You seemed to be unafraid to say or do anything that demonstrated a fullness of life that few seem to enjoy. You also weren't reluctant to step up and "do the right thing", even if it required taking risks. You would often defend your class mates if someone was bullying or making fun of them. I truly believe that your 22 years of life have touched and positively impacted more people than you may ever know, this side of heaven.

Be Afraid... Be Very Afraid!

Jordan, as I join you this weekend in Upland, IN, to watch you graduate with a Biblical Studies major, and as you prepare to begin the next new chapter of your life with Bethany on July 2, please know how much I love you and appreciate you. Thank you for being a great son... I'm so proud of you Jordan.... Dad.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cycling with the Mayor....

Jim Ryan... Me... Ono-san... Wes Woods

Four of our Toyota management team joined a few hundred other cyclists and the Mayor of Huntsville in his 2nd Annual Ride with the Mayor event in downtown Huntsville. The event is used to highlight bicycle safety and to promote the sharing of the road between vehicles and bicycles.
It was a short, flat, easy course, and we had a great time. The Mayor only had one rule: Don't lap him!

Ono-san Looking Colorful

Jim Ryan... Me... Ono-san

Guess which one is the Mayor?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sweet Home Alabama!

Last weekend... Mother's Day Weekend... I attended a large church in Kentucky. During the sermon, the minister spoke very meaningfully and quite eloquently. I consider him one of the most gifted communicators in the country.... very talented! But, surprisingly, in the middle of his sermon, he made not one, but two, disparaging comments about the state of Alabama. Without going into detail, let's just say he didn't paint Alabama in a very favorable light. I think he was trying to be funny... using Alabama as the butt of a joke. But, the audience didn't even laugh... they just simply moaned.... kind of like..."I can't believe he just said that..."

He is a very influential speaker with an extremely large audience. Maybe I'm just extra sensitive because I happen to live in Alabama. But, my question is "Why do we have to make fun of others"? Is there a bit of elitism there? Does someone think they are better than others? I don't actually think so, but I have to admit that it was a "turn off" for me. I was disappointed in his comments - actually a bit angry, if I was honest.

Alabama has tried very hard to tear away from the typical stereotype that many people have. I've lived in the Huntsville area for about 7 years. Alabama is not perfect, but unless you've lived here, you can't appreciate the progress and accolades the area has achieved. You can find many of the national and international recognitions here. Once you come and see for yourself what a great place this is to work, live, and play, you may not want to leave.... we hear this a lot.

It's a bit funny to me that someone from KY is making fun of someone from AL. I don't mean to be critical, but have you been to eastern KY lately? Oops... I'm doing the same thing, aren't I? I have business acquaintances on the west coast, and frankly, they don't see much different between KY and AL... or TN, MS, WV, etc. for that matter.

So, why do we do this? Why do we use someone else as the butt of a joke? Just to get a laugh? His comments tear down everything we are trying to do in AL, in regards to improving our image. I just don't see the value in doing this. I hope he will reconsider his approach in the future. Am I just extra sensitive because I was negatively impacted? Would I even be writing this if he had used TN instead of AL? Not sure. But I do know that my eyes were opened a bit wider because of the episode.

By the way.... I am from KY, born & raised there. I always speak positively of the Commonwealth. I hope others in KY will do the same about Alabama....

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Letter to Mom

Today is Mother's Day. I got to spend the weekend with you these past few days, Mom. I, absolutely, really enjoyed it. Mother's Day is a time for you to rest and relax while we wait on you. But, as usual, you made us breakfast, lunch, and dinner the entire weekend. Your only reprieve was when we took you out for dinner on Saturday evening. While you always feed us well when we visit, I wish you would let us dote on you more. Thanks Mom!

I always feel comfortable when I come home. Even though I didn't grow up in the house you now live in, you still make me feel at home every time I crash for the weekend. I feel like you roll out the red carpet for us each & every time. It's not necessary, but it's appreciated. Thanks Mom!

When I was a little boy, I remember holding your hand in my small hand just so I could examine it closely. I thought your fingers and hands looked perfect. Soft, smooth, beautiful. It's strange that I remember that detail, but I suppose it's because these were the hands that picked me up, pushed me forward, protected me, fed me, loved me and caressed me. Thanks Mom!

Me at 9 months

You have always impressed me with your insight, perspective, dedication, courage, and intelligence. I believe that I am who I am today because of the key influence you had in my life. You have given me many practical examples to follow. You'll always be special to me in ways you may never know. I'll always look up to you, Mom, and am proud to be called your son. Thanks Mom! Happy Mother's Day.... I love you.... Jim.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Wild KY Derby Hats...

The 136th Kentucky Derby is in the books. It was wet, wild, and the most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports. $2.1 million were up for grabs.... but it's the claim of being a KY Derby winner that everyone covets.... Super Saver did it by 2.5 lengths.... (I lost $20 on the race... I was pulling for Ice Box.)

Check out these hats at this year's event....

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Why Do You Ask?

Why do people ask questions to which they already know the answers? When you think about it, it happens all the time. Maybe sometimes they really don't know the answers, but often, they do... Here are some examples:

Tami might ask me....
  • When are you going to take out the garbage? Answer: He needs to do it now.
  • Are you really going to eat that? Answer: Not on your life.
  • Do you know where you're going? Answer: He's lost.
Honestly I do this a lot also. I often ask my kids questions about things that I already know the answer to. I do this to try to get them to think for themselves. I also want to check the depth of their thinking. Have they thought about things from multiple viewpoints? If so, how many points of view? Are they simply skimming the surface, or are they peeling back multiple layers of the onion?

Sometimes I want to see how much they know, but sometimes I want to see how truthful they are. God even does this. In Genesis, chapter 3, God is walking in the garden of Eden and calls out to Adam and says, "Where are you?".... now, don't you think God already knew the answer to that question? After all, he created Adam and Even and they are the only two folks traipsing around in the vegetation. Maybe God is seeing if Adam will be truthful - given that he and Eve have just violated God's only restriction in the garden. Sure enough, Adam comes somewhat clean with his response:

Adam says, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” And God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”

Ahh... yet two more questions to which God already knows the answers....

Most times, if not always, it's best to just be truthful. At least this is the most important trait in my book.... if you don't know the answer to some one's question, it's best to state that you don't know. But also, think about why they are asking. Think about what you might learn from their question. Think about the "motive" behind the inquiry.

When Tami asks, "When are you going to take out the garbage?", she's really stating that the garbage if full and she's reminding me that it's my predetermined responsibility to do my job. This may not even be the first time that I've shirked my role in performing my task... or it could be that she's just tired of me watching the NBA Playoffs on TV and she wants me to do "anything" constructive....

So the next time someone asks you a question, think about answering their question with a question of your own.... something like: "Why do you ask?"...