Way back in June we did a family photo shoot with Barbara O’Brien at her White Robin Farm in Wisconsin. It was a beautiful drive out there (I think I missed a turn and took a longer, more scenic detour) and we had a lot of fun doing a relaxed, non-studio family photo shoot. And I finally got around to posting the pictures: Check ’em out.
When we pulled up and got out of the car Lexi was all excited about the few cats milling about the yard. Then Barbara started calling the cats and they just started pouring out of the barn. She has at least 25 cats, and most of them came when she started calling.
In addition to the cats, Lexi chased the chickens, fed the horses and held a baby duck (she also manhandled the kittens and baby chicks). We got to run around, have some fun and the whole time Barbara took lots of pictures.
We highly recommend it.
I have a hard time appreciating just how incredible the American Civil Rights movement was. I just watched this video, how to defeat the KKK, and then did minimal research on Wade Watts and read this story about his interactions with former KKK leader Johnny Lee Clary. Watts was one of many heroes in this movement, a man I’d never heard of before. I love this story:
When Oklahoma State Sen. Gene Stipe and civil rights activist Wade Watts walked into a restaurant in the late 1950s, a waitress confronted them at the door and told Watts, an African American, that the restaurant did not serve Negroes.
With a smile, Watts replied, “I don’t eat Negroes. I just came to get some ham and eggs.”
And that’s tame compared to Watts’ reactions to Clary as detailed in the video. That’s incredible love in the face of overwhelming and completely overt hatred.
Continue reading Overcoming Hate with Love
I post a lot of funny stories, quotes and random slices of life with my kids on Twitter. From all that hilarity you might get the idea that being a parent is a cakewalk. You might think that being a work-at-home dad is full of laughs, play-doh and productivity. If you get that impression, you’re not reading close enough.
For all the funny things my kids do, there are just as many days when I want to throw my hands up in the air and take my union-sanctioned break. But I don’t get one of those. I’m not a work-at-home dad because I love kids so much. I work at home because it’s practical. We’re a family that needs two incomes and we’re a family that can’t afford daycare (sure, we could probably do some financial acrobatics and make things work one way or the other, but we don’t). To be honest, I don’t always have the patience for this job.
I like things organized, orderly and quiet. That doesn’t work with kids. So I learn to pick my battles. The daily chore of convincing my daughter to wear pants was just too much, so I settled for the rule that if she was going to go outside then she had to wear pants, but if she wanted to run around the house half-naked, I wasn’t going to fight it. These are the kinds of ridiculous compromises I find myself making. I’ll trade a little self-respect for sanity any day.
Don’t get me wrong: I love my kids. But they can still drive me crazy.
I think sometimes we act like parenting has to be this deeply rewarding experience and to ever complain about it makes you less of a person. But sometimes your kid throws up on your or they won’t stop screaming or you’ve taught them how to talk but not how to be quiet—and it’s all a bit much. It’s not your kids’ fault, they’re just being kids. But as parents I think we need a little slack to say this is hard.
Last week I couldn’t sleep and started writing the following to express the doubts and frustrations I was feeling. I’m not sure if any of it makes sense or if it’s accurately communicating what I’m thinking, but I wanted to get it out. Sometimes these kinds of doubts and frustrations do best when they come to the light, as opposed to just keeping them to myself. So here they are. Please read them with a little grace. Thanks.
I remember a late night during my freshman year of college when I sat on the floor outside my dorm room and poured my heart into a little notebook. I still have that notebook around here somewhere. I remember being so frustrated with life and so eager to do something but having no idea what to do. I felt like the day to day things I was doing had no relation to my faith.
Not long after I started this blog and those thoughts would continue in a stream of consciousness mishmash that nobody really understood (thankfully this blog has morphed into something a little more pragmatic).
But it’s been 10+ years and I think those thoughts are still rattling around inside my head. I find myself wondering what the point of all this is. My head is consumed with things like finding a babysitter for a conference call tomorrow night, figuring out when I can catch that new sci-fi flick District 9 I’ve heard so much about, and wondering when I’m going to get around to trimming that giant lilac bush in the back. None of that matters. What does matter are the stories I catch glimpses of, Mark Horvath traveling the country and meeting homeless people, the stories of the struggling unemployed, the people in Africa that will likely live half as long as I will.
Continue reading Is That the Gospel?
A few weeks back I pondered the difficult question of adoption and abortion. I asked the church why adoption isn’t standard practice in the face of abortion.
Well, one church has answered. Pastor Vic Pentz of Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta promised in a recent sermon that his church would “care for any newborn baby you bring to this church.” They’re partnering with the adoption agency Bethany Christian Services to make that acutally happen. It’s a bold statement and doesn’t get into any of the many complicated issues involved in adoption (it’s not exactly as simple as bring a baby to the church), but I love it. It’s a strong step forward for the church.
If the church is going to value life, I think they need to truly value life. And that means stepping forward to care for babies that would otherwise be unwanted. That means walking alongside moms and dads who would consider abortion because they don’t think they have the resources to care for a baby. That means doing whatever it takes for life, whether it’s keeping families together or creating new ones.
School started for teachers today, so my wife is back at work. Just like that, summer is over. I’m back to hanging with the kids full time during the day, relegating the paying work to the evenings and any time the children are sleeping (or completely distracted, like now).
I love that as a teacher my wife has summers off. It allows for amazing things like a 12-day vacation. But it also makes getting back into the swing of full time dad a little difficult (I’m struggling with the wording here—I don’t want to imply that during the summer I’m somehow not dad, or I’m a part time dad, or that what I do is childcare or babysitting—it’s not, it’s parenting. I just need some sort of non-implying-all-that-junk lingo to say that I’m going from having help all day to going solo all day and then working all night). These transitions are always a little weird.
But on the plus side, they do make me value my time. Try getting anything accomplished with a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old. Not easy. Some days I realize that “accomplishing” anything is a fool’s errand. Stop being productive and start coloring.
These times also make me reconsider what I’m doing. What’s important with my life? You’ve got to pay the bills, but I’ve also got kids to play with. Do I want to get work done and let lots of Sesame Street happen, or do I want to gird up my sanity and go do something crazy and fun? It’s a difficult balance to strike.
As for right now, I should probably go color.
So yesterday we went on an impromptu trip to New York City.
We took Lexi to the Hershey store. A store of chocolate. She wanted a rubber ball.
We took Lexi to the M&M store. An entire wall covered with pick-your-color M&Ms. She wanted an 8 oz. pack of M&Ms that you can get in every gas station, convenience store and mini-mart across the country.
My kid is weird. I love it.
(And today she threw up because all she had for supper was a pack of M&Ms and a chocolate shake from Jamba Juice. We suck as parents.)