Monday, April 30, 2012

The post that has no title because there is no topic

I have a note in my Evernote account that lists at least 10 ideas for blog posts.  Some may never make it here and some might.  I've looked through the list a couple times, but I can't seem to find any inspiration.  There's nothing I want to write about.  So here is a list of random stuff happening around here.

books in a stack (a stack of books)  Photo Credit:  Austin Evan

1.  Drew is sick.  High fever, achy, sore throat, etc.  Tonight I found out that you can't take Mucinex and Tylenol together.  Thankfully Drew took Advil, so he could take Mucinex also.  Also thankfully it is recommended to take it with food and milk.  He had cereal right before he took it.  I'm praying he gets better soon and that our yard doesn't grow too much in the meantime.  I also drank after him, so I hope it isn't contagious.

2.  Ben insisted on getting a box of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios this weekend.  We already had 3 others in the house.  Drew and I will be eating lots of cereal!  We also have 3 bags of Goldfish.  The eating habits of a 3 year old are rather unique.

3.  Right now I'm watching Murder, She Wrote and I still love it!  It might just be the best drama ever on TV.  It makes me want to go to Maine. (The Dick Van Dyke Show is the best comedy.)  I'm also in the middle of reading The Miracles of Santo Fico.  It is a wonderful book.  Immediately upon opening it the characters are comfortable, the location somehow familiar, and the tale unfolds naturally.  I would highly recommend it.

4.  I am taking steps to write every day.  I am a writer and it's time I start acting like one.  You are a Writer by Jeff Goins is a cause of this.  God is probably the leading cause of this.  I'm not sure why he is or where it is leading me, but I'm going to follow.

5.  My nose is sore.  Ben was on my lap Saturday at the karaoke fundraiser for the youth.  He wanted to jump, but I didn't move my head in time.  He knocked right into my nose.  My closed eyes watered immediately and since then it has been a little sore.  Why is it that the nose hurts worse than anything else?

6.  I love going through the list of free books available on my Kindle.  There are so many good books out there to read!  Of course, reading them takes longer than the download, but I'm looking forward to reading them.  This weekend I downloaded 5 more books.

I am on my last DVR episode of Murder, She Wrote and it is getting late.  So I will leave you with 6 facts about this weekend.

What happened with you this weekend?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Good Stuff Saturday 4-28

Pictures and Poetry

Buzz Feed - The 21 absolute worst things in the world

Pictures of Poverty - Deee-nied Burkina Fasso

Blog Posts to read

Jeff Goins, Writer - Are people meaner online than in real life? - My suspicion is it’s the anonymity of the Internet that causes people to say things online that would make their mothers blush. To run their mouths in ways they’d never do in someone’s home.

The Jesus Mommy - So Wins the Righteous Foodie - I go back upstairs. The fish is half opened. The oven is pre-heating. This is supper! Thus, the war begins. . .
This bag of fish cost me $8!
You could kill your family. This stuff is no good for you. You can’t even tell how fresh it is!

Clay Baboons - T is for Tarantulas (and other large spiders) - I have standards when it comes to spiders, though: I like them small and friendly-looking and not too fuzzy. 

Giant, hairy, man-eating spiders, I can do without. 

The Esau Project - Be Energetic - It’s when your legs hurt so bad that you don’t think they’ll work normally again.  It’s when your feet are in so much pain they feel like they’re going to fall off.
It’s those time you keep on walking.
J Bryant Writes - Flirting with Kittens: Some thoughts on dating - The best way to ensure she will actually say yes to your question is to strike up a conversation. Maybe even ask for her name and some basic information. Just walking straight up to her and asking her out may earn you some points for boldness, but it is a little over aggressive. Or just have your friend lower you down from a branch while holding a flower. That’s pretty impressive.

Shawn Smucker - From Tulsa to Amarillo: Large Gashes and Pools of Blood - Huge gashes tear the land in that part of the country: deep gorges formed by the tiniest creeks, or flat expanses of bare ground turned over by a farmer. The earth is red there, when the green grass is pulled back or split. Kind of like wounds, or cuts, but not the smooth kind made by scalpels – these are rough injuries.
I think of those who lived in this part of the country long ago, the ones whose land we stole. I think of how their life spilled into the earth. The water standing in the ponds takes on the red color of the soil, looks like pools of clay-colored blood.
Red Letter Believers - Today is all I have - I see her at Bible study every week, she sweetly hugs me and says hello. But there's no recall. It doesn't matter. She's a friend and a sister and the fellowship is a given.

But her heart is so pure, so innocent and refreshingly open to God, because she lives just for today.
The Jesus Mommy - Today's Prayer - ‘OGod,
I bless thee for the happy moment
when I first saw thy law fulfilled in Christ,
wrath appeased, death destroyed, sin forgiven,
my soul saved….

The Rantings of a Dad- Vocabulary - Today I dropped about thirty new words on her, which blew her mind. 

Progression continues. 
Compassion - The Dung Gate - That is why I am so impressed that a mayor stepped up and made the repairs to the Dung Gate. What a leader! I can just see his re-election campaign advertising. No slandering the work, character, or political party of the guy he was running against, just a very simple but effective message. Something like, “Hello, my name is Malkijah. I repaired the Dung Gate.”

Courtesy of Compassion International:

Run with the Big Girls - The Last Few Hours - And, yes, I get more and more nervous every day I get closer to it, but the weird thing is is that I’m also getting more and more confident that I can finish under my goal time.  You all are a big part of that.  You’re posting encouraging things on my Facebook wall, sending me encouraging messages and texts and just being awesome.

New Ways Forward - Exploitation, Scapegoating, and the Illegal Immigration Debate - While arguing about which political party has the better plan for dealing with immigration, it seemed both sides of the debate continually overlooked an important but uncomfortable fact.
Illegal immigrants are not the root cause of the problem, we are.
Our personal and national economies are dependent on the artificially cheap prices enabled by our exploitation of cheap immigrant labor.

Friday, April 27, 2012

You can help orphans today!

Sometime last week I read this blog from The Sound of Hope.  You all may not follow this blog, so let me summarize.  In India they might pass a new law that requires orphanages to own the land and the house they have.  Currently Asha Mission House does not own these things.  They have a down payment and now they need the rest before MAY 20!  I gave what I could, but I wanted to something else.  Then I got an email from a teacher about a T-shirt day we were supposed to have.  Perfect!  The kids love getting out of uniform, so for $1 they get to be out of uniform AND they get money.  Upon further inspection, the T-shirt day wasn't mandatory per our school plan.  So the possibilities opened up even more.  Now we are going to have a Tacky for a Cause week!  Wednesday will be Tacky Hat Day or hair accessories.  Thursday will be Tacky Socks and Shoes Day.  Friday will be Tacky Day with uniform bottoms.  So now instead of $1 a person, we have the potential for $3 a person!  AND I have challenged my students to find businesses in the community to match our total.  So would you pray for this fundraiser next week?

What about you?  Do you have something to donate?

If so, go here and click the link at the bottom of the article.  (I wanted to include the widget, but Blogger isn't playing nice with it today.  It also isn't playing nice with the link.  Grrr.)

Or can you do a fundraiser in your business, neighborhood, or church?  There are some great ideas on this blog.  What would you be willing to do to help out?

URGENT NEED :: Asha Land Project from The Sound of Hope on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review: You are a Writer by Jeff Goins

Several days ago I was blessed to be one of the first 100 people to respond to this blog post, so that means I got a free copy of his book, You are a Writer.

                 You Are a Writer

If I'm going to be very honest, which I'm guessing is the point of the review, I got the book because it was free and about writing.  I do subscribe to his email and to his blog, but I can't say that I hang on his every word.  Not that he isn't interesting or that what he has to say isn't important, it is interesting and important.  I think it makes me afraid because he says crazy things like "when you see success..." (pg. 93) and "This is the next step to reclaiming your life as a writer — taking yourself seriously so your audience will, too." (pg. 23).  He pushes people to ship (e.g. send it out there in the world).  As a person who likes to write writer, I don't seek publicity and an audience.  I know that sounds strange, especially considering I am writing this on a blog and I volunteered to write this review.  I am comfortable writing this blog, but an actual article or story is intimidating.  I am comfortable sharing my life on here, but to share my creativity is hard.  

I've read books that gave me ideas about how to write and others that released me from false notions of piety within my creativity.  They have all pushed me to the edge of self doubt.  This book pushed me over the edge and into working on writing.  I have a voice and a story.  I need to share them.  So those crazy things he says rubbed off on me and now I think I need to write and eventually ship.  I need to carve out a time in my day to write.  I need to find my voice consistently and send it out there.  Having said all that, I don't like detest the idea of submitting to a publisher.  I really dislike red tape and publishers seem to be wrapped in it.  So sending my work out there is something I would rather not do, but I need to do it because Jeff Goins' said so.  More than he said so, he made sense and what he said resonates in me.

I realized that I don't write stories just for the love of writing.  I want to, but I can't make an idea become a story.  I think of a character and I don't want to come back to him/her.  I don't want to work through the crap to get to the good stuff.  I don't want to work through the "Ugh!" to get to the "Yay!"  Somewhere in the preceding years I stopped writing for the love of it and I expected perfection from myself every time I set pen to paper.  "So that’s what I did. Not thinking about writing or talking about it, but actually doing it. Which is the hardest thing in the world for a writer to do." (pg. 19)  So I need to get back to just doing it and doing it because I love it.

This book got into my head and made me say, "I am a writer."  I have never said that before this book, but this week I did say that.  Something inside me moved and I feel scared.  I don't know if I can live up to that term.  "All of this — this business of becoming a writer — starts not with the hands, but with the head." (pg. 20)  "You don't have to have it all figured out.  You just need to begin." (pg. 63)   So I wrote it and I will continue to write.  I will put words together for dialogue and plot scenes.  I will put words together for blog posts and personal accounts.   I will write when I think I have too much to say.  I will write when I don't like the character or the plot.  I will write when I think I have nothing to say.  Then someday I will ship.  It might look like the conventional publisher method or it might look like the unconventional one he talks about in the book.  It might be self-published or it might just be this blog.  Whatever I write and ship in my future, this book will be something I look back on as a push over the edge of self-doubt and into working on writing.

Do you need a push into the work of writing?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How I became a better... follower

I am in a series of Guest Posts by some people in my life.  Some have blogs and some don't, but they all have a story of how they became better.  I hope you enjoy a few other voices here on my blog.

Today I am excited to have my husband guest post for today.  Of course I think he is amazing, but now you can too!  He has a blog that he rarely posts on, so I'm not linking it.  He is a youth pastor and student, as well as keeping up with Ben when I'm still working.  He does so much around here!  I'm proud to be his wife and I hope you see why.

Get all your ducks in a row AND in step Photo Credit: Dawn Huczek

I can recall attending youth group very sporadically in my early teens.  It was there that I first felt a conviction upon the realization that I was not saved.  I’d love to be able to say that I humbly and obediently surrendered in the subsequent days and weeks that followed, when I would feel the Holy Spirit moving in me and weighing on my heart like a piano.  No, instead I chose to flee from God – much like Jonah upon receiving his commission to preach to the Ninevites.  This went on for a good 7-8 years, when I finally accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior in the spring of 1999.  Again, I’d love to say from that point on that I truly had God out in front in all phases of my life, but I didn’t.  I went through a period of backsliding and truly re-dedicated my life to Jesus in early 2002.  I can honestly point to this as the true pivot point in my life because at that point, things really started coming together.   

Fast forward another 7 or so years to the spring of 2006.  I’m happily married for two years at this point to the woman of my dreams.  We attended church faithfully and were active, but we don’t know a victorious life.  We were living in the Charlotte, NC area and hated it.  We were working jobs we absolutely loathed.  Then, it all came crashing down.  All in a two-month span, one of my closest friends passed away in his sleep, my stepbrother committed suicide, another guy I had gotten to know online through a sports message board lost his battle with cancer, one of our family dogs grew ill and had to be put down, and my wife was being set up to be fired from her job.  This administrator was so vindictive, he cost her a chance at another job where we now reside.  We had truly reached the end of our ropes. 

We saw a ray of light one day when my wife saw a job opening in her hometown newspaper.  It was a position she had held previously before moving to NC, so there was a very strong chance of her regaining it.  Sure enough, she got the position, but this meant us moving back to the Midwest.  For me, it meant moving to an area where I had no ties.  I got to thinking about it and praying over it, and came to the realization that maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing.  I could focus on God and God alone for the first time in my life.  The transition didn’t go without its hitches, but that is when we truly began to discover a victorious life.  The problem all along is that I knew Him as Savior, but I hadn’t truly accepted His lordship over my life.  I didn’t put my future in His hands.  My fears.  My doubts.  My dreams.

This was truly the dawn of a new day in my spiritual journey.  We pulled the U-Haul into a truck stop somewhere in Tennessee and as I’m waiting in line for the restroom, I notice an older gentleman evangelizing to people something fierce!!  Not in an annoying, off-putting way either – he truly had a gift.  He makes his way over to me and we make conversation.  All of a sudden, he says, “Son, you’ve got a great spirit about you.  The Lord is gonna do amazing things through you.”  Wow.  I can’t tell you how much that lifted me up when I felt my lowest.  And he was right on the money. 

It’s 2012, we live in western NC, a place that’s truly home to us, and are raising a beautiful 3-year-old son.  I answered my call to ministry a couple years ago, now serve God as a youth pastor at Sandy Ridge Wesleyan Church here in Hickory, and have just over a year until I graduate seminary.  I’ve never felt more victorious.  I wouldn’t want to re-live the year 2006 for all the money in the world, but those storms and those years in a tiny town in southern Illinois began me down the path to a victorious life in Christ.  At that point, I stopped equating victory with only spiritual highs and realized that we can have victory through the storms of this life and over them.  I stopped following Jesus when it was just convenient and started following Him faithfully.  That’s how I became a better follower.

Monday, April 23, 2012

One of these things is not like the other

This weekend Ben had a birthday party to go to.  I always worry about that because I'm afraid he'll insist on it being his birthday and want to open the kids presents and get into the cake.  However, none of that happened and he was great!  What did happen is that I learned a little something about myself.

sprinkler  Photo Credit: jjsala

I am not like most other women!  For those of you that know me, this isn't new.  For those of you that have followed me for a little while, you also probably know this.  On a daily basis I don't think about it, but then I do something and someone looks at me funny and I realize that I'm not like most other women.  On Saturday, it was a sprinkler that reminded me.

At the birthday party, they had a slip and slide thing with a sprinkler on the side.  Ben loves water, so I thought he would be all over it.  However, it was a little cold and Ben hadn't ever seen one of those before.  He is always hesitant about a new thing.  So I did the first thing that came to mind.  I took off my shoes and socks, picked up Ben, and ran through the sprinkler.  Yes, I still had on my jeans and my semi nice shirt.  They were both dark, so it was okay.  Ben LOVED it!  He also would not go through it by himself no matter how many times I showed him first.  That's my cautious daredevil.  Next time he sees one I'm sure he will be all over it, but Saturday he just wasn't sure.  So I ran through the sprinkler multiple times and got wet.  I rolled up the leg of my jeans and kept going.  When we were done, I dried off a little with the towel we brought and wrapped Ben in it.  I cautiously walked back inside not leaving any wet spots because I wasn't that wet.  We changed Ben back into dry clothes and settled in for the cake and presents.  When we left, I walked through the parking lot barefoot because I didn't want to get my shoes and socks wet.  When we got home, I changed clothes and thought what a great party it had been.

I'm not sure everyone else thought my sprinkler run was 'normal.' Of course, I'm not sure people thought it was normal when I signed up to take a whip cream pie to the face for our JDRF fundraiser in school several years ago.  I just wanted to encourage the kids to donate.  If pieing a teacher in face did that, then great.  I thought it was fun.  After I was pied on my lunch break, I went back to the teacher workroom, washed my hair out, put it in a ponytail, and went on teaching.  That's another example of something that probably wasn't considered 'normal.'  Given some time, I can probably come up with a few more stories.  However for today, I think those will suffice.  I  may be one woman who is not like the others, but I like that.

What about you?  How are you not like the others?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Good Stuff Saturday 4-21

Pictures and Poetry

Pictures of Poverty - The seed fell on good soil.  It grew a  a man of Christ. 

The Handwritten - We allow them to Die

The Handwritten - Gospel

Good blog posts

Beta Christian - Villains - Today, it seems that us Christians have taken a new approach to villains. If someone doesn’t agree with our way of thinking they automatically become our villains. It saddens me that I hear so often how people perceive churches and pastors to be the bad guys. There is a loud voice speaking ill of the church and its leaders. People who have taken the initiative to flat out compare the church and its leaders to Satan and his works.

DRGT/Just Wondering - Mother Letters: The Stuff of Heroes - How I admired your parenting instincts, right from the get-go. I remembered my own early fumbling and worrying and over-protective hovering with chagrin as I watched you let that boy of yours climb anything and everything, no matter how high. He was fearless! And how you delighted in that, how you celebrated it. 

I'd Laugh...But this all happened to me - A reflection of Christ If I have made a difference in lives or in this world, it is because at times I have been willing to be a Moon.  I once heard Louie Giglio point out that just like our moon, I can produce no light on my own.  Left to my own devices I can do precious little good.  

I'd Laugh... But this all happened to me - "I lost my face!" - There shouldn't have been anything funny about jail. But God brings light into darkness in a variety of ways.  And slowly but surely I was beginning to realize that it was going to be the love of God whose name is Jesus that still defined me, not my crime and my sin.

Red Letter Believers - Tomorrow's Legacy -- Today -We all treasure memories. At most of my family gatherings, more than one conversation begins with the expression, “remember when?” 

The term is sometimes used to provoke a story, to spur the conversation. But in a deeper way, it’s a tool to help us never forget, to perpetuate the memory. If you don’t keep telling the story, the details get fuzzy – or exaggerated. 
Discipulus - Discipleship is eating with sinners - Through these meals, He is showing us that these opportunities of eating with sinners are about more than just the food. They are social occasions that represent God being one of us and inviting himself to our table, our community and that everyone is welcome. Eating food with another person represents a deeper relationship that is very symbolic of friendship, intimacy and unity. The table is where walls come down, disciples are built and truth shines.

Compassion - Loyalty to the Lord's Annointed - It got me thinking. Who are the leaders God has “anointed” over my life? Am I fiercely loyal to them like David was? Do I stand up for them like David did for Saul?

Courtesy of Compassion International:

New Blogs

Papua Girl Dallas - Gender and Romance in The Hunger Games  - I was really fascinated by the character of Katniss and her relationships. Generally immensely popular characters like this both form and reflect trends in our society. I think the form heroines take in young adult literature says a lot about the way women are raised to think. Some of that is good - there is no need for a male character to come and rescue the girl for her to be happy and meaningful. On the other hand....

Friday, April 20, 2012

Unknown territory

I have mentioned via Twitter and on a couple blogs that I have ventured into unknown territory this quarter.  It involves a new wardrobe, sore muscles, and generally wondering about success of this venture.  What is this new and unknown territory you ask?

Roll On  Photo Credit: West Point Public Affairs

Spanish PE

Has anyone in the world ever heard of that?  I'm guessing no.  I wasn't too fond of PE when I was in school.  In fact, I took a Healthy Living class in college for PE credit because it didn't involve actual doing of PE stuff.  I don't mind exercise.  I mind exercising in front of people.  The fact that my head is a volleyball magnet didn't help either.  So how did I end up here?

Scheduling conflicts and a desire to help people.  One of our PE teachers was going to end with over 45 kids in two classes.  That isn't acceptable, so we moved some around.  My classes were smaller, so I got several.  However, of those many now didn't have a PE due to Band, ESL, and Chorus.  Those are classes you don't move kids out of because they would be really behind otherwise.  So due to a yearly state audit, we only had two options: 1. Over 45 kids in a class or 2. Be out of compliance and risk state sanctions.  So I came up with a compromise.  Spanish PE.  What does that look like?  It is about 30 minutes of Spanish teaching and then 15 minutes of activity that involves speaking Spanish or learning Hispanic culture.  This week specifically it has been Spanish verbs and calisthenics, soccer, the merengue, team building ball toss game with Spanish verbs.

I don't know that I would say this is a success.  Most days, I feel like I barely have control of the class and some students are doing next to nothing and I don't know what to do about it.  I was √úBERnervous about wearing work out clothes in front of middle school kids and doing jumping jacks in front of them.  Mostly I was nervous about looking like a fool, just like when I was a middle schooler in PE.  I am nervous about kids getting hurt when I don't know what I am doing.  I am nervous about them not learning any Spanish because I don't know what I'm doing.  I am nervous about basically everything I am doing.  However, I am getting more exercise and it is forcing me to be creative with my classes.  I am hoping that in the end I will find a few activities that help them learn Spanish a little better and remember it more.

Do you have any ideas for my Spanish PE?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

One Word Check-in: Month 4

This year my One Word is Faithful.  I talked about why I picked the word here.  I talked about my 1 month update here.  We are in month 4, so I thought another update was in order.

I mentioned 3 areas that I wanted to work on our house, our finances, and people.  As for the house, the dishes are being done regularly.  The clothes are being washed regularly.  I'm working on the folding them regularly.  The big news is on the outside of the house.  The gardening is going great!  One of the planters that had NOTHING in it is now full of replanted flowers.  The planter that was so overgrown we would almost lose our dog in it has been dug out and weeded.  There are some plants already in it and one replanted.  The big hole that the dog of the former owners dug is now filled.  Weeding has been done in all the planter beds.  And I mean dig deep and get the roots out kind of weeding.  Some of the bushes have been trimmed.  There has even been a little bit of mulch spread.  I owe all of this to my mother in law.  She is a gardening guru.  She has replanted all of the new flowers we have.  She has let us borrow her tools to dig out the weeds and rake out the dead leaves and weeds.  I feel so much more accomplished than I expected to feel about our yard.  Thanks nana!

As to the finances, we have been paying regularly on our debt and an end is in sight.  We have made some good decisions, like waiting on purchases that are not necessary right now.  We have cut back a little on food.  Some weeks are better than others.  What I am most proud of is the fact that we have only had to use our credit cards a couple times.  There was a miscommunication about what bill to pay and we paid one twice.  Next month we don't have to pay that bill, so the money will go back to the credit card and we will be back on track.  We have also had a little extra to donate to worthy causes, like getting kids a house, keeping kids healthy, and planting trees to help others get food.

The people part of my one word has been very close to my heart lately.  An unexpected person has come back into my life.  It is a good thing and I'm glad this is my word of the year because many times I have wanted to be judgmental about the changes in them.  When I start to judge, I remember my word and commit again to be a faithful sister in Christ to them.  Some plans haven't gone like I expected and people have not come like I expected.  My first reaction was to judge the people who didn't live up to my standard.  Then I got an explanation and as it turns out their answer wasn't never.  It's a "not now" and I'm okay with that because the right time could make it better than the wrong time that people put up with.  It took me awhile to get back to my word on that one, but I'm there now and committing all over again to be faithful to them as a sister in Christ.

Overall progress is being made, but I still see areas of improvement.  Did you pick a word?  How is it going?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How I became a better...father

I am starting a new series of Guest Posts by some people in my life.  Some have blogs and some don't, but they all have a story of how they became better.  I hope you enjoy a few other voices here on my blog.

Today we hear from a familiar voice.  We heard from him in the interview series.  Jeff blogs at The Rantings of a Dad.  He is hilarious and he can be serious as well.  Today is some of both and a really amazing story.  Enjoy.

Father's Day Cake 2009 Photo Credit: Jim the Photograhper

Something I learned that made me a better… what? A story that illustrates how I got to be a better… what?  Drawing a blank here.  


I got it.


Constant failure.  

“Failures are only truly failures if we do not learn from them,” said some other guy who I either paraphrased or just stole that from.

However, to admit my own failures and shortcomings is what my own blog is for.  I write about my adventures/misadventures in parenting and things I learned from them. I also sometimes write a little morsel of parenting wisdom I’ve uncovered or a top ten list of something where I attempt to be humorous.  That’s just shameless self-promotion there, so you’re welcome to disregard that (but you’re encouraged to check out my blog!).  So here I am, about to tell you about one of the biggest screw ups I know, and how I learned to be a better husband and dad. No, I learned how to be a better man because of this guy’s mess ups.

Who is this poor schmuck you ask?  

My dad.

For the record, I love the old man.  Yes, he’s a walking embarrassment sometimes, in his ratty old white t-shirts and bibbed overalls.  Yes, he chases women relentlessly.  Creepily.  Very creepily at times.  He once asked out a girl I had dated and didn’t know it.  The girl emailed me and told me how embarrassed she was and apologized for anything she may have done to “lead my dad on.”  Though I laughed, my father felt humiliated – as he should have.  

She was way out of his league.

The thing is, he was a horrible dad.  I often remember some of the things he did as I raise my own daughter and laugh, but then realize how traumatized I was by the event and almost tear up.  

Yeah, I’m pretty messed up, I guess.

This one time, I was only about four years old, he wanted me to go fishing with him. I didn’t want to go that particular day because I’d told my mom I wanted to help her clean house, and he berated me by telling me that I should just stay home with my mom then, and maybe he’d get me a dress while he was out, too, since I’d rather stay home like a little girl. I sat on our front porch and cried for over an hour before my mom made me come inside.

In his book, “Wild at Heart,” John Eldridge talks about how a father has a way to wound his child in ways no one else can.  I remember that day like it was yesterday, but if you were to ask my dad it was probably just a Thursday to him.  That did wound me, as did countless other things.  Its no wonder that when I hit puberty, to say the least, my mind was a mess.  

My dad wasn’t just good at wounding me.  My mother and sisters also caught all kinds of verbal garbage.  Though he never hit my mom, I think it is safe to say he had an affair.  No, he never slept with another woman; his mistress was his work.

Ironically, on Father’s Day 2000, my mom packed up everything in the house and moved out.  Just leaving me behind.  When I say “everything” I mean “everything,” too.  What kind of person doesn’t leave mustard in the fridge when they leave?  She didn’t even like mustard!

That broke my dad.  He finally realized what he’d done all those years, and after he got over the fact that his wife had left and taken his garden tiller (not even joking, he was pretty upset about that), with tears in his eyes he said, “Jeffrey, don’t be like me. I’ve really screwed everything up.”

He didn’t have to say that.  I knew he had.  I’d spent the past eighteen years taking mental notes of what he was doing and telling myself that whatever it was he did, I had to do the opposite.

So if my daughter wants to play with trucks in the mud and not pretty dolls, am I going to berate her? No. I’m going to roll up my sleeves and play in the dirt, too.  If someday I have a son and he wants to stay home and clean house rather than go to a football game? Hand me a broom.

I constantly tell my daughter and my wife that I love them.  I hold my wife’s hand when we watch t.v. and give my daughter a big hug every day.  Yeah, other people have worse fathers. I’m not going to debate that.  I’m just saying that I learned how to be a good one because I had a bad one.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ben's Rules

You may follow me on Twitter in which case you have read most of these.  You may have missed some or these may be all new.  Either way, I hope you enjoy #1-20.  I have added #21 - #25.  

 Drawing Credit: 8th grade Spanish student

Ben's rule 1 - If it is bigger than a bathtub, it is an ocean. 

Ben's rule 2 - Silver money or bronze money doesn't matter. All coins are dimes. 

Ben's rule 3 - No matter the impetus for your visit, you are here to play with Ben.

Ben's rule 4- The name of the married couple in Toy Story is Sweet Potatoes'.

Ben's rule 5 - Books are meant to be read at least a dozen times before you read any other books.

Ben's rule 6 - That great jazz instrument is a nectarine phone.

Ben's Rule 7 - The Notekins and Yo Gabba Gabba are the best TV around and should be watched every waking moment.

Ben's rule 8 - Birds (the Kindle), Yaiyo (the iPad) and cell phone are all mine. You can only use them when I say so.

Ben's rule 9 - The holiday at the end of October is Palloween.

Ben's rule 10 -If you didn't answer me, then you didn't hear me. So I will repeat myself until you respond. (That might be one of mine too!)

Ben's rule 11 - When you are through eating, the correct phrase is "Done finished."

Ben's Rule 12 - If I think you are too loud, I will tell you to Stop Yelding!

Ben's Rule 13- The best videos are videos of me! That's why YouTube was invented right?

Ben's Rule 14 - All you need to use the potty is a good book and good aim. Halfway there.

Ben's rule 15 - When I ask you, "Is that good stuff?", I really mean, "This is good food.". Thanks for working with me on that one.

Ben's rule 16- Rocking needs a minimum of 3 blankets, a comforter, a doll, and a newborn blanket for said doll all on mommy's lap.

Ben's rule 17- "Are you okay?" = I'm fine even though I made a loud noise falling from a height I shouldn't have been on in the first place.

Ben's rule 18- Sing with me! "Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?" Lunchbox!

Ben's Rule 19 - Solghetti is one of the best foods ever! Tastes good and fun to play with!

Ben's Rule 20- When passing gas, the appropriate response is "I nice."

Ben's Rule 21 -  Living a gravel pit with an old truck would be heaven.

Ben's Rule 22 - "Curious George and the Pizza Party" is the best thing ever written.  

Ben's Rule 23 - Moses and King Josiah are my favorite Bible characters.

Ben's Rule 24 - My purple treat, Children's Claritin, is a perfect before bed snack.

Ben's Rule 25 - When I want something, I whisper it for more emphasis

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Good Stuff Saturday 4-14

You can tell I was behind from last week!

Not articles

The Handwritten - Change the world

Not for Sale - Impact Report for 2011 

The Handwritten - Cover My

Single Articles from a blog

The Rantings of a Dad - My Unwanted Haircut - For that amount of money, I could buy a pizza and have a nice night watching a baseball game and yelling at the t.v.

True Beggars - Contemplating the Cross: Day 4 - If Christ paid a ransom to Satan to deliver us from Satan's clutches, who is the victor?... 

Faith, Family, and the Farm - Hey sinner... - Well, Amen to that comment.  Of course, that was not what was being said about the subject.  Instead several have questioned her faith, asked why SHE [Kim Kardashian] would be in church, and laughed at the possibility that she does actually go to church.

Boo: Made to Love - The Good Friday - He was abused. Betrayed too. Bloody and forsaken by all , including His Father. I’ve never known and never will know that pain. We are children of the forever being known. Forever unforgotten by Him. Forever held and known. Always on His mind.

Laura Parker: Life Overseas - The Demons in the Closet - I must admit that when it comes to what I know of spiritual warfare {particularly on the mission field}, I’ve gathered most of my working knowledge from Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness, which I devoured in high school and then swore demons and angels fighting in every corner of the lunchroom. I’ll be honest, that book freaked. me. out.

My heart belongs to Jesus...citizen of the world - Teach is an action verb - All at once, me and these very sweet 5 little girls lay hands on the woman sleeping in front of us. And at the same time we all lifted our voices asking Jesus to heal her . . . believing that he can and he will. 

New Ways Forward - Wendell Berry on Consumerism and Corporate Power - In this brilliant selection from his 2002 essay Conservationist and Agrarian, Berry critiques the instability of an economy that relies on the overspending of its people (long before that played out the Great Recession of 2008), and the correlated power that corporations have gained in our political process (almost decade before the Citizens United debacle).

A Deeper Story - I don't know God at all -Being married is hard. Girls always ask me how to keep God the center of their relationship with their boyfriend, and lately, I’ve been wrecked with my own hypocrisy. Keeping God the center of your life doesn’t become one tiny bit easier when you get married. Being in a sexually honoring committed relationship doesn’t give you better access to “God’s secret purpose for your life.”

The Handwritten - Travel agents & Tour guides - In life we don’t need more travel agents.
We need more tour guides.

Goins, Writer- How the law of diminishing returns works with communication -So talk less. Be comfortable with silence. And listen more. Make your message matter by only speaking up when you have something really important to say.
Or, consider the alternative:
Stuff Christians Like - Signature Sins - It worked. My worm was ridiculous. It was the one move I was the best at. And it should have been because it was my signature move.
Now, a bajillion years later, surveying my life, I’ve started to realize I have “signature sins” too.
This is my Blog - At least kids shoes come in cute colors - And it was filled with loathing at the extra weight I have put on during my training.  All those little 'pins' of beautiful woman with bodies that don't look like mine, steering my heart toward bitterness that I don't "look" like a runner. ...

So all that I said before about Pinterest, it might not be all the website.

 It's the state of my heart.

Multiple articles from a blog/ blog author

Red Letter Believers - Napping in Gethsemane - I too have been found asleep in the garden. My Christian life is filled with promises to stay awake, but too often, I just nod off. Indifference and complacency mark my apathetic world. I act like I just don't care. I keep hoping that someone else will fill the gap, that another will take my watch. I pray that other servants will demonstrate Jesus to those around me, while I just get a little more rest. 

Red Letter Believers - What does happy look like? - She tosses her hair back and laughs at the silly joke. I can’t hear what’s said, but I notice she turns her face to the ground when she thinks no one is looking and grimaces, biting her lip. There’s pain, but she’s trying not to show. It’s Happy Hour. The sun is shining. The libations are flowing. The appetizers are passed around the table. Is this what happy looks like?

World Vision Act:S - Why are classrooms empty in Uganda - As Carolyne Siganda, a World Vision relief and development worker for Africa, has seen firsthand during a recent trip to Uganda, malaria is eating away at children’s attendance in school. Younger kids fall sick and stay home; older kids stay home to take care of them. Even teachers fall sick.

World Vision - Niger: Malnourished child at clinic meets lollipop - My breath caught in my throat as she grabbed at the wrapper, trying to open it. I realized I’d just asked if it was OK if a malnourished child has a lollipop.

Clay Baboons - E is for Easter Candy - I'm not a moderate person. I'm not a person who happily eats a small piece of chocolate and then puts the rest away until later. 

Clay Baboons - J is for Jack in the Box - Who's the sadistic freak who thought that a severed head popping out of a box would make a great kids' toy?

The Story Movement - Afternoon Remembrance - As I lay on this blanket
In late afternoon
Growing shadows move
And cover my body
I feel cold
And shiver at the breeze
However light it may be

The Story Movement - The Age of Cursive -There was the constitution, letters from former presidents, the emancipation proclamation, and many other papers that hold a deep significance for the foundation of our country. It was really neat, in that moment, to skim through the words of those who had impacted our history as a nation in such a huge way.

As I was reading, however, two things, I did not expect, hit me, and it is those two observations that I’d like to share with you today:

Shawn Smucker- The Joy that accompanies empty pockets - I stopped, and New Orleans was quiet. My wife looked back over her shoulder. My four children stared at the man, wondered about him, wondered why I stopped. I never used to give money to people without homes, people without jobs, people without hope. “They’ll only use it for drugs or alcohol,” everyone used to tell me. Then I read something by CS Lewis:

Shawn Smucker - Who I found in a San Antonio hospital room - Once upon a time, Ken had served two tours in Vietnam. Once upon a time, he had been a dog handler and a physical specimen. Once upon a time, he and Jack had done a four-hour swim during Jack’s recovery from being shot in the head. I would not have believed any of this, except that these once-upon-a-times hung on his wall in the form of photos. A small, square collage of a life long gone.

The Esau Project - When we Wonder why - And it’s hard when we don’t know why.  Some questions will always be left unanswered.  And the only comfort that we have is that throughout all our pain and fear and guilt and anger is that God is still there.  And sometimes it’s even harder to remember that He is still good.
When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory. 
Run with the Big Girls - Rest Easy - But I’ve found this App for my iPhone called Sleep Cycle.  You sleep with your phone on the bed and it measures your movement throughout the night and tells you your sleep patterns.  

Compassion - A true test of generosity - Obviously, Jesus had something more important than workplace compliance in mind when He told this story. This is captured in a question and a statement at the very end of the story.
The question He asks is this: “Are you envious because I am generous?”
Oh, what a provoking question.

Courtesy of Compassion International:

Compassion - Releasing one another from the imperfect past - I have noticed that in this ministry we don’t always set each other free from the imperfect past. Sometimes we don’t set each other free from past mistakes, past disappointments, past misunderstandings.
Sometimes we don’t forgive each other very well. Sometimes we harbor “roots of bitterness,” and that’s dangerous, defiling stuff.

Courtesy of Compassion International: