Thursday, September 27, 2007

How Not To Handle the Following Situation

Wow. Unbelievable. Sad. Check out the video in the link below:

I don't know for sure what I would say if I were the parents in that situation, but I do know this - that is probably not the best way to respond.

My first thought was to be critical of Catholics, since the mom can be heard telling her son that he must believe in God, because he got confirmed and he said so to the Bishop. As you may remember from my previous post (and comments on Amanda's blog), I'm not very fond of the Catholic church and its practices. Generally (not always, mind you) Catholics aren't very knowledgeable about the Bible or general theology, nor are they encouraged to be. So it's not too surprising that these people can't rationally explain to their son why they do believe in God and/or reasons why he should also.

The funny thing though is that while Protestants can more often tell you what they believe, many (most?) still can't tell you why they believe in God. In fact, I wasn't able to get an immediate answer to this question even from a few Christians whose faith and Biblical knowledge I greatly respect.

Going back to the video, instead of talking to her son about why he now thinks or believes this way, the mom blows up and starts cursing at him. This makes me wonder, how well does she or has she listened to her son? Has she ever talked to him rationally before? Does she even respect or care about his opinion? Or does she just tell him what to do and expect him to obey?

Then I thought "What the heck is the dad doing?" Sitting there keeping his fat mouth shut, which leads me to believe that he's not much of a leader or a role model for his family, spiritually or otherwise. But then again, maybe he's being wise and waiting to talk until he's had a chance to think about what he really wants to say, instead of just blowing up like the mother is doing.

The clip is pretty short, so maybe these parents' reaction improved after the camera turned off. Truthfully, these people got hit upside the head with some news that was obviously upsetting to them (as it should be), so they were probably at their worst and therefore easy targets of criticism. I'm actually really glad to have seen this video though, because it gives me the chance to ponder exactly what I would do and/or say, instead of potentially being blindsided one day.

Friday, September 21, 2007

As Much As I Miss My Family...

I periodically have conversations with my family in Orlando that contain statements like this from them: "So if you end up back here someday.", or "I heard your company has a location in the area.". Sometimes it's a simple "We sure missed you on _____ (insert holiday here)." But even the suggestion of moving back to Florida makes me cringe, and my instinctive response is to scream "NEVER!" at the top of my lungs.

But why? I was raised there and lived there for 30 years! It's my old stomping ground that I have so many memories from. My wonderful family is still there too, not to mention plenty of friends that I still care about. I shouldn't feel like this, should I?

I must admit that before I received the job offer to move out here to Northern California, I never thought that I would leave Florida, nor did I ever want to leave it. I have always stated that what makes life great isn't the area that you live in, but the people that you share your life with. I was wrong, kinda - it's both. But which one is more important?

Amanda and I have been here for just over three years now. I can make a pretty long list as to why I much prefer life here in Northern California over Central Florida (maybe I'll make that another blog post someday). On the other hand though, family is so very important. I wish my children would know their aunt, uncles, cousins, and grandmere better. In fact it grieves me sometimes that they don't. It would certainly be helpful for us to have all of these people that I love and trust to watch our kids once in a while.

But we would probably only see my family once or twice a month. And then it would be just for an evening or a day at most. Even the friends we had back home were starting to scatter about town and even about the country. The ones that were still there we would also probably see only once or twice a month, especially since having kids seems to significantly reduce your social life.

So for every other minute of our lives, which drastically outnumbers the time with family and friends, we would be tremendously happier here. And that is why we have no plans or desire to ever move back to Orlando, unless of course God works in a mighty way to persuade us otherwise. And even then we would probably be kicking and screaming the whole way back.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Passion for Performance Promotes Impracticality

Amanda and I have been pondering selling my 300ZX. If and when this happens, then I would drive our Ford Escape and we would get a minivan for her to drive the kids around in.

Since our two kids both need to be in car seats, my Z currently only serves three purposes - 1) for me to drive to work in, 2) for either of us to use when accomplishing tasks by ourselves, and 3) to drive when we're on a date. Besides the limited use, if I get tempted to drive it too fast then tickets are freakin' expensive (I have only received one in it though).

So why do I hesitate to sell it, or why did I even buy it in the first place? I was thinking through this and coming up with various questions such as: Am I trying to maintain a last desperate death grip on a rapidly escaping youth? Do I have too much pride to drive an 'uncool' vehicle? Am I not responsible enough and/or dedicated enough to my family and wife to give up what might be typically considered as a bachelor's car?

The most accurate and honest answer that I can come up with though is this: Ever since I was old enough to make a "vrooom" sound with my mouth, I have been fascinated with cars. I played extensively with Matchbox Cars (and Hot Wheels of course). I built numerous plastic scale models of them. I made cars out of Legos. I loved TV shows and movies that featured some sort of car. I pretended to drive them fast, slow, jump them off ramps, and skid around turns. I have enjoyed all three The Fast and the Furious movies, and I'm pretty sure that it wasn't because of the stellar plot. Hopefully, you get the picture by now.

I know other family men who have given up their aspirations of performance for a sensible sedan, SUV, or spacious minivan. But whenever I have seen it happen, I always feel sorry for them, especially if they're intense about their automotive appreciation. No, it's not the end of the world, but it's the end of a dream, and the day that your dreams die is a sad one indeed. So basically, even though it makes all of the sense in the world to sell my Z, it would mean giving up on one of my lifetime passions. And frankly, until I either see a need to part with it, or can afford a acceptable substitution for it (like maybe a Subaru WRX or a Mitsubishi Evo), I think I'll just hold steadfast to this hobby/project/passion of mine, as impractical as it may be.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mind or Spirit?

Recently, after struggling for a while with some frustrating emotions, my wife had a phrase pop into her head - "Bloom where you're planted." On her blog, she called it a realization or an epiphany. But hearing phrases in your head or having them pop into your consciousness doesn't happen very often, or at least not to me (and not to her either that I'm aware of).

I once had a similar experience when we were trying (for many months) to sell our house. After a long emotional struggle caused by contemplating ideas such as foreclosure and bankruptcy, not to mention the stress of maintaining two houses, I juice fasted for 3 days. At the end, I had the phrase "It's an adventure." pop into my head. Although it's a ridiculously simple phrase, it really helped me to turn around my attitude and look at the situation differently. Of course I still wasn't happy about it, but I thought of how boring life would be if everything turned out exactly as I wanted it to, if there were no challenges to overcome. It was just what I needed to hear at the time.

These experiences cause me to ask a fundamental question - Could these epiphanies actually have been God speaking to us? Or were they just thoughts that our minds produced as it mulled problems and frustrations over?

To an atheist, the answer is probably going to be completely obvious - that we arrived at our realizations by using our somewhat abundant (especially in Amanda's case) mental resources. Well, I can certainly respect the power of the human mind, and I have no problem believing that we can use our own (God given) mental ability to solve our problems . But these weren't problems that required a logical conclusion that could be arrived at by calculating numbers, weighing pros and cons, pondering options, doing research, etc. These were issues of attitudes and emotions. Not only that, but the solution wasn't a slow realization, but a succinct, instant phrase that contained abundant wisdom, even in its brevity. In Amanda's case, the statement was heard as if it was directed to her from an outside voice, not her own mind speaking to herself (Bloom were you're planted).

Even to many Christians, it probably seems overly assumptive to say that it was God's voice, and it certainly is more natural and comfortable to classify the answers as simply having been obtained by our intellect and wisdom, combined with years of experience, education, and upbringing. Heck, maybe we heard the phrases somewhere or from someone else and our minds were just recalling them in our moment of need.

I personally believe though that our attitudes and emotions are what demonstrate the spiritual portion of our humanity. And when a distinct and random answer or statement is heard out of the blue that directly addresses a problem or attitude that you have been struggling with, especially during prayer or fasting - to me, that's clearly God. So while it may not be an obvious miracle that I would run through the streets proclaiming to others about, I'll see it and say it for what it is - a simple but amazing blessing, a communication from above.

Monday, September 03, 2007

An Unusual Quantity of Quiet

Last Tuesday, my friend Brian asked if I could watch their kids while him and his wife went out to celebrate their 8 year anniversary. I was more than happy to oblige, especially since he has done this several times for us.

Since I was anticipating spending some time alone after the kids went to bed, I came fully prepared with ways to entertain myself, including a book I have been reading, my journal, my Bible, and my laptop. Not only that , but there was also had a Jet Li movie at their house that I hadn't seen yet.

Thankfully, they put their children to bed just before leaving for the evening. Not that I would mind doing it myself, but since I didn't have to, I was able to spend the entire three hours that they were gone in utter silence. I was able to pray, finish my book, think, pray some more, listen, and write in my journal. Not once did I crack open my laptop or turn on the TV.

There was once a time in my life when that would have sounded like sheer torture. But now I have a wife, two kids, car pooling (which I enjoy, but it eliminates what is normally alone time in the car), and a long and continuous "To-Do" list to deal with. So any quiet time is extremely rare and oh-so-cherished, let alone three solid hours worth.

While Brian and his wife Tammy were gracious with their thanks, the appreciation of the evening was definitely mutual. So to you both I say "Your welcome.", and in all sincerity "Any time guys." Any time indeed.
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