Monday, December 06, 2010

Primary Purposes of Paternity

As a father, I have come to the conclusion that I have three primary, basic, roles: 
  1. Provision:  This is the one that has been on my mind foremost as of lately, due to two rounds of layoffs at my company, the bad economy, the news, etc.  Amanda and I both prefer to be a one-income family, so that she can be home to take care of the kids.  While she does help with this a little (and I appreciate and respect it so very much), this responsibility is predominantly mine. 
  2. Protection.  In a civilized and law-abiding society, this is probably the least important of the primary roles.  Nonetheless, in the unlikely event that a threat would befall my family, this job is primarily mine to assume. 
  3. Presence:  Sure, children all over the world survive just fine without a father, as they do sometimes without a mother.  But both parents provide different and equally important characteristics and learning opportunities to the kids.  And I am very confident that my presence, although less available, is just as valuable to them as Amanda's.
Yes, there are many additional roles and duties of fatherhood.  But none are more important than these three, and most can be categorized under one of them.

Unfortunately, t in my current circumstances, all of these roles are in conflict with one another.  I'll expand more on this in subsequent posts though.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Thankful for the Thanksgiving Weekend

I know, I know.  I really should reply to the numerous comments about the previous gay son posts.  I have much to say in response, but I honestly just don't feel like it.  Maybe that's God making me keep my mouth shut.

Anyway, Thanksgiving weekend was full of socializing and awesomeness, so I figured I'd post about it so I can a) share it with whoever cares (1-2 people I think), and b) remember it better later.

For Thanksgiving day, our good friends and neighbors The Walkers invited us to join their family in the Pollock Pines/Sly Park area.  After only an hour drive or so to get there, we were in about two feet of snow!  So not only was it great to be with good people (8 adults and 10 kids total) during the holiday, but our kids got to see and play in the snow too!  I'll add some pictures soon.

Friday and Saturday day, we unshelved the Christmas tree and decorations and started putting them up.  It was fun family time.  Unfortunately, I also had to work from home for a few hours on Saturday.

Saturday evening we went to our friends' house from church for our connect 3 group. This group consists of 3 families, and meets for dinner 3 times, once at each of their houses.  This time it was at the Kahn family's house, with the Porter family meeting there as well.  It was a really enjoyable evening of good food and fun conversation, and the kids all played together really well too.  We'll really miss that group!

Sunday we skipped church to meet our friends from Bodega Bay, the Carnahan family, at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.  The day started off rather painfully though.  We arrived there at 11:30, only to realize that the park didn't open until 2pm. Then on top of that I realized I forgot my cell phone at home.  No big deal, right, especially since Amanda has one too.  Except that we had programmed the phone number to our friends' cell phone into mine!  You know, the friends we were supposed to meet there!

So we parked our car there at the entrance to the park and waited for 45 minutes, hoping to see them pull up.  When that didn't happen, we headed to a nearby park to eat the lunch that Amanda packed and waste some time until the park opened.

The good news is that the park was pretty sparsely populated compared to previous visits.  It was a great time, and we finally did meet up with the Carnahans as both of our families were walking around the park.  Then to top it all off we all met at and enjoyed Denny's breakfast for dinner.

To summarize the weekend: we drove 1 hour East, 1 hour West, had dinner with friends on 3 different evenings, and got some stuff done around the house too.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

You Son's Gayness is Not the Issue

This blog post has been making quite a stir around Facebook and elsewhere:

In it, a mother proclaims her support for her son wanting to dress like a girl, and the likelihood that he will possibly (probably?) eventually become gay.

After reading it, I proceeded to scroll down through the hundreds of comments, the overwhelming majority of which were in complete support and adoration for this mother. Similarly, there have been many Facebook friends posting a link to the blog, accompanied by supportive statements.

Well, perhaps needless to say, I would very much like to disagree with her, but I am going to attempt to do so in a way that is contrary to the few other Christian commenters who I think are coming across as mean-spirited, hateful, and unfortunately counter-productive (however good-intentioned).  See below.

Parental Responsibility Regarding Homosexuality

In response to this blog:

First of all, you are taking your son to a church preschool, but you're surprised that the adults there don't approve of your son's costume? Maybe you personally don't have any morals regarding sexuality (I was hesitant to make the purchase, not because it was a cross gendered situation, but because 5 year olds have a tendency to change their minds.). But how on Earth could you be surprised that Christianity (and the people that adhere to it's teaching) does?

If you dressed your teen-aged daughter in a bacon bikini and sent her to a fundamentalist Muslim school, would you be surprised and offended if the adults there do not smile and accept her with open arms? Or would you expect there to be some sort of backlash and rebuke (and even fear for her safety) from what you know is contrary to their teachings about modesty and disgust for pork?

So why is it different for Christianity? The Bible is pretty clear on what God thinks of homosexuality (it's a sin), so if you don't agree with it, then don't let your son go to a CHURCH preschool. Or if you DO want him to still go to the school, then please respect the beliefs and morals that accompany the associated religion, no matter which one it is.

Then as we got closer to the actual day, he stared to hem and haw about it. After some discussion it comes out that he is afraid people will laugh at him. I pointed out that some people will because it is a cute and clever costume. He insists their laughter would be of the ‘making fun’ kind. I blow it off. Seriously, who would make fun of a child in costume?

Boo doesn’t want to get out of the car. He’s afraid of what people will say and do to him. I convince him to go inside. He halts at the door. He’s visibly nervous. I chalk it up to him being a bit of a worrier in general. Seriously, WHO WOULD MAKE FUN OF A CHILD IN A COSTUME ON HALLOWEEN?

Maybe you were home schooled (lack of social exposure?), or maybe you were so popular (and isolated?) that you never experienced children making fun of each other. But if so, then let me provide some clarity: Kids make fun of each other. At every chance they get. You can attribute this to whatever you want to (insecurity, establishing natural social division, or perhaps just plain evil), but that's just the way it is, and has always been.

If you don't know this, then you are either seriously ignorant, or in incredible denial. But if you DO know this, then you purposefully misled your son to believe that it didn't exist, despite his very valid fears about it.

If my daughter had dressed as Batman, no one would have thought twice about it. No one.

I had to think about this for a while, because while it IS true, I had a hard time figuring out why. But I think I got it. At this point in his maturity, your son doesn't have any masculine qualities to combat his feminine appearance. So he looks very much like a girl.

However, at this point in a girl's maturation, she still looks very feminine (no facial hair, no bulging muscles, smooth skin, probably long hair, etc), even if dressed up as Batman. If, however, a woman did appear very masculine (have you heard the term "butch"?), then she would in all likelihood be made fun of, just like a boy who looks like a girl. That doesn't make it right, but it certainly isn't unexpected either.

Just as it was heartbreaking to those parents that have lost their children recently due to bullying. IT IS NOT OK TO BULLY. Even if you wrap it up in a bow and call it ‘concern.’ Those women were trying to bully me. And my son. MY son.

There is a significant difference between bullying and trying to persuade, convince, or even lovingly rebuke. And there is nothing in the situation as you described it that indicated anything but these ladies gently trying to provide clarity to you about the situation you put your son in.

If a set of purple sparkly tights and a velvety dress is what makes my baby happy one night, then so be it. If he wants to carry a purse, or marry a man, or paint fingernails with his best girlfriend, then ok. My job as his mother is not to stifle that man that he will be, but to help him along his way. Mine is not to dictate what is ‘normal’ and what is not, but to help him become a good person.

Making your child happy is certainly a part of being a mother. But it's also your job to TEACH your child. About how to survive, about right from wrong, and about the laws, both legally AND socially that govern our society. And it IS your job to dictate what is 'normal', because he has no idea what that is yet. Now, if he chooses to deviate from what you taught him, then that is up to him. But you still have to TEACH him first.

Friday, October 08, 2010

New Couch Decor Too!

Emily threw up again today (Thursday). It happened right before I got home from work. This time it was all over the couch and living room though. Since Clara was still at the dinner table and the barf was quickly soaking into the cushions, I dropped my wallet and keys on the counter and got to work cleaning them up. Another day, another stinky puke mess to clean. Sigh.

New Bathroom Decor

It was Monday evening and Emily had been complaining about her stomach hurting. She is a very slow and minimal eater though, especially for dinner. She has a habit of not only filling her belly up on her cup of milk, but making excuses for why she cannot eat the rest of her food. "I'm cold" (it's 78 degrees in the house). "I'm full" (she only had one bite and will complain about being hungry in another hour). "my boo boo hurts" (it's a 3-day old scratch). ""I have to go potty" (then she reads three books over the course of an hour and only pees). "I don't like this food" (what's not to like about spinach and asparagus souffle with limburger cheese and liver?).

So her complaint was mostly ignored, although we let her sit on the couch for a while. When she said she felt better, I let her come back to the table and encouraged her to eat more. As per our usual routine, I tried to persuade her by offering dessert after a certain goal was met. Well, time ran out and she didn't reach her goal, so I didn't give her dessert. And in hindsight it was certainly for the best.

Amanda had already left to attend a Beth Moore Bible study with other women at church. The kitchen was a mess too, and I had just finished getting Clara down from the table. I had given her a small piece of chocolate cake, which she had eaten hand to mouth (still working on the fork skills). Needless to say, there were cake crumbs all over the kitchen and probably in three adjacent rooms besides. By now it was getting late and the kids still needed to get a bath before going to bed.

I was just finishing cleaning Clara's mess when Emily ran past me and into the bathroom. "I throwed up!" echoed from around the corner of the doorway. "Well, at least she made it to the bathroom" I thought "which means it should mostly be in the toilet, right?" Well, maybe not in the toilet.

How about on, and around, and in the books, and on the carpets, and cabinets, as you can see in the above picture (yes, I took a picture). Emily was sweet in trying to help, but to do so she grabbed a clean towel from the wall-mounted rack and threw it over the puke, hence adding another casualty to the carnage.

After cleaning up the mess and starting a load of laundry, I bathed the kids and got them to bed. It was an hour later than usual, but the end of the evening was never more welcomed.

Friday, September 03, 2010

We're All Crybabies!

My 3 year old daughter Emily was in a generally sour mood one recent morning. At some point she was crying over not having a tissue. Yes, we have plenty of Kleenex in our house, but she didn't happen to have one at the time. I think she had basically gotten into an emotional downward spiral of some sort, and at that point it could have been just about anything that would have set her off.

I think I tried to give her a hug first, at least I hope I did. When that didn't work though, I hate to say it, but I was having a difficult time mustering up sympathy. With all of the problems going on in the world, and with all of the blessings that you have, you are crying about a tissue? COME ON KID - you need some perspective here!

But then I couldn't help but think "Is it like that with us and God?" And if so, then does God maybe have a hard time giving us sympathy. Come on Michael! You want all of your bills paid and money left over for new "stuff"? You want perfect health instead of your child's runny nose? You want your decent paying white-collar job to be easier? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Look around you at the people who are unemployed and going through foreclosure! At those who are battling terminal illnesses! At people in other countries who are literally dying for decent living conditions and bodily nourishment! I love you, but COME ON KID - YOU NEED SOME PERSPECTIVE HERE!

I know it's OK to lay all of our requests before God, and I don't think he gets annoyed just because I ask him for things to make my already blessed life better. But I just wonder if God's response to our requests are affected by our attitudes. How much more do we want to give things to our own children, proportionately to how much we know that they appreciate them?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Faith to Stir a Nation

I read 1 Samuel 17 this morning. While I've heard/read the story of David and Goliath dozens of times before, what struck me today isn't the courage of David, or the incredible faith that inspired this courage. It was the affect it had on the entire nation of Israel.

The whole army was discouraged and at its knees in one instant, the...n in the next was at its feet, screaming and charging toward the enemy. All because of this one boy's faith and courage culminating in a single moment.

Can you imagine how incredible it would be to be used by God to affect that many people all at once, with such intensity? What kind of event would/could possibly even occur to cause that today?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Completion and Review of "The Help"

Amanda read this before me, as well as her mother, my sister, our neighbor, and every other woman in town it seems. And as you can guess by the gender of the aforementioned readers, this is a very estrogen-rich book.

The story is told from three different points of view, and all of them are women. Not only that, but 95% of the sub-characters are women too. Taking place in the deep American South of the 1960s, it delves into the life of two black maids and one white writer who attempts to write and publish a book about their lives. While the book was fiction, I can't help but wonder how much truth there is to the emotions, actions, roles, and experiences in it.

I have heard and read about the history of segregation and racism before, but it was gratefully never part of my life experiences. Black kids in my schools were treated with just as much love and respect as everybody else in the class, if not more. So while reading historical facts provides knowledge, it produced very little comprehension. While I never disbelieved the history, I have a hard time really absorbing it as a reality. But walking in their shoes, even if was only based on truth, gave me a whole new appreciation of what black people experienced during the trials and difficulties of racial desegregation.

As a whole, I loved this book. It was well written, emotionally gripping, had a positive message, a slight underlying spiritual tone (for Christianity, but against hypocrisy), and epitomized the greatest reason why I love reading - to put myself in someone else's shoes and to see what life was like for them. To gain a better understanding of different places and times. To not only use my imagination, but to expand my knowledge of people, cultures, and events.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Youth Camp 2010

Sunday through Wednesday (7/23 - 7/28), I attended our church's youth camp as a leader. Here are some highlights and a few pictures.

Every morning I automatically got up early enough (5:30 - 6:30 is my normal wake up due to car-pooling or kids) to spend some quiet time reading the Bible and writing in my journal. I found these stairs on the side of the building, so I could be by myself but not have to walk too far either.

<-- the stairs

the view from where I sat-->

On Monday morning, I had enough time to also go for a run around the entire complex, which is fairly large, very hilly, and at an altitude of 6250 feet. There is also a very long length of stairs that I jogged up, leading from the lake to our cabin. I would estimate it to be at least 5-6 stories high. Through the 3 day duration of the trip, I must have gone up and down these stairs at least a dozen times.

<-- view from the top

view from the bottom-->

On the way back from my morning jog, I ran into many of the kids heading down to the lake with Jason (another leader). I joined them, and since I was sweaty from jogging anyway I jumped in the lake from the L-shaped dock on the left and swam back to the beach. In doing so I was the first one in the water on the trip.

pictures of the docks

We had a couple of worship and speaking sessions each day. Several times they were held at this outdoor amphitheater that had a spectacular view of the lake as a backdrop, as you can see in the pictures below.

Special thanks to Phil and Gentry for leading worship the whole time!

Packing up to head home.
Bryan was gracious (and patient) enough to be in charge of the packing and trailer towing.

On the way home we stopped at a park to eat a brown bagged lunch.

As you can see in the pictures below, the park had dozens of geese and squirrels mooching food from sympathetic and easily entertained people like us.

<-- aggressive geese

friendly, but fenced in squirrels-->

The kids seemed to have a great time and many responded favorably to the messages and encouragement that was presented to them. It was also truly an enriching, rewarding, challenging, and humbling experience for me as a leader.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day by Day

The available work at my company has slowed down dramatically lately. There are numerous people that I have talked to who are coming off of projects but are not sure if there is anything new for them to do. As for me, I am on a project until at least September, maybe later.

One thing that God has been showing me lately though, primarily during the occasional quiet times spent with Him in the morning, is to focus on living one day at a time.

With that focus comes the realization that at this moment in time I have a house to live in and food to eat. I have a job to go to and my family and I are pretty healthy (aside from an occasional cold). Both cars are currently running and the bills are getting paid. I am blessed beyond what most of the world experiences, and certainly well beyond what I deserve.

This day is the day that the Lord has made.
I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Work Witnessing

The bad news is that I only logged in less than half a day at work today. The good news is that for the other half I was a) participating in a weekly discussion/prayer meeting with a couple of co-workers in the morning, b) playing 3-on-3 full-court basketball during lunch (and a little beyond), and finally c) having a >3 hour discussion with a co-worker about almost every possible aspect of Christian apologetics after lunch.

He was visiting our facility from San Jose, trying to get some work done in the same closed lab as me. For the most part we had the room to ourselves, although we were interrupted briefly a few times by other co-workers coming in and out.

I have actually talked to him for quite a long time before, over a year ago I think, maybe even two. Nothing came out of it before that I was aware of. He already believes in God, but is skeptical about everything, and I mean everything else regarding not only Christianity, but all religions. In fact, he's even skeptical that there is a supernatural, spiritual world period. Especially one that occasionally crosses over and has an effect on the physical one (miracles, etc).

He's a really good thinker though, and while it made for a long and difficult discussion, I love that kind of deep rooted questioning and doubting. Not only because it challenges me and makes me think deeply about my own faith and what I believe, but also because it reminds me of myself before I became a Christian (and still sometimes now too).

Like the previous discussion, maybe nothing significant will arise in my friend's heart/mind/spirit out of this one either. But maybe some of the ideas/words from before softened his heart, if only just a little bit. And maybe this one warmed it up some too, just a little bit more. Of course, only God knows, but it wouldn't surprise me if He is just working on my friend's heart a little at a time - slowly, but surely.

I don't know the ultimate outcome yet. But whatever it may be, I can take satisfaction in just representing my faith honorably and hopefully convincingly. And as far as work goes, it's a good thing that I clocked in extra hours last week, because it looks like I'll need them now:-(

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Too Busy to Bond with Thy Neighbor?

I was talking briefly this evening to my neighbor Joe, across the street. I ran out of room in my green waste disposal bin and after filling his up too, he offered to take the remainder of my tree clippings to the dumpster at his business.

When I dropped off the two big yard bags later, he was sitting outside letting his two little white dogs enjoy the fresh air. I thanked him and chatted for a minute before heading back home. But before I could turn around, he asked me if I wanted a beer and/or a cigar.

I politely declined, explaining that while that sounded good, Amanda and I were going to try to exercise (to a P90-X video). The kids were in bed, and time is of the essence. It's already a serious battle to get our butts in gear. But the longer we delay, the harder it is to get motivated. I thanked him for the offer though, and suggested maybe some other time.

After I went in the house though, I thought "Life is so darned busy, and it's so hard to just stop and bond with people. I should have taken the opportunity to spend some time with him." Exercising together is really important to me too though. One idea would have been to ask him if he wants to meet outside in an hour or so. Or I could have asked him if he was going to walk the dogs again before bed so we could hang out then.

Anyway, I'm really glad that Amanda and I worked out. We pushed through the whole hour and it felt great and rewarding. I'm just bummed that I had to sacrifice the opportunity to spend some time with my neighbor to do it. I do, however, pray that the opportunity will arise again soon, perhaps under better circumstances next time. Or maybe I'll make the effort/invite next time.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tired, Sore, Bruised, but Very Happy!

I went to Marinobles tonight for 1 hour of kickboxing class (with sparring), followed by 1 hour of MMA training (also with sparring).

I learned how to pass someone's guard and transition into an armbar, and also how to prevent someone from passing my guard.

I practiced leg sweeps and several different kicks, as well as several punches, both to the body and head. Sparred (max 75% power) with a range of people, from an 11 year old boy and a small Asian woman, to numerous men of various ages and sizes.

Took down a jiu jitsu guy a couple of times after controlling the striking, but then he guillotine choked me both times:-(

And at the end of the night, only me and a teenager were still following the instructor's orders at full speed. And I don't remember seeing him in the kickboxing class either.

And to top it all off I received several compliments on my "Jesus Didn't Tap" t-shirt. It was a good night!

Weekend Update - Amanda's Birthday!

Monday was Amanda's birthday. So we celebrated it slowly over the whole course of the weekend.

Friday night we went to Fresh Choice for dinner. Afterward, we picked up a bottle of ice wine from a adjacent beverage store. I was too ridiculously full from dinner to enjoy it though, so we refrained from opening it.

On Saturday she went to lunch and clothes shopping with a friend. While she was gone, I fed the kids lunch and we watched the US soccer team lose to Ghana. Since we have an antenna for our TV though, the only channel I could find it on was a Spanish channel. And despite my previous post, I kinda enjoyed watching it, although the kids got bored way before I did. Maybe it's because neither team was doing excessive flopping.

Then in the evening we ended up watching our good friend's kids so they could have a date. While that doesn't sound exciting, we ended up jogging to the park with them while they rode their bikes, which was both a lot of fun and some exercise. Then we had a popsicle party in our front lawn when we got back home. To finish the evening, they all enjoyed watching a Pooh movie together. Both their kids and ours had a great time., which of course also makes us happy.

Sunday, we went to Bodega Bay where we met Amanda's cousin and his wife. The weather was perfect, and I had some good one-on-one time with Emily when we went for a walk along the beach, and Lucas too when we were running and trying to fly a kite (not much wind though).

Amanda's other cousin (the first one's brother) also met us there later with his girlfriend, and after the beach we went to her Aunt's house for a phenomenal tri-tip dinner that he (Ben) cooked up.

I took Monday off of work, in honor of Amanda's birthday. We mostly took it easy that day though, since Sunday wore us out (too much sun and lots of driving).

After I let her sleep in that morning we made crepes for breakfast (I cooked the dough and we both assembled them).

Later the kids and I baked a cake for Amanda - she requested vanilla cake with a lemon middle, and vanilla frosting over it which she made to make sure it came out right. It tasted great!

After the kids' afternoon nap, we went to watch Toy Story 3 in the theatre. Since it was Amanda's birthday, I took care of Clara for 90% of the time. Which meant that I only was able to watch the 1st half of the movie, until she was sick of popcorn and started getting restless and noisy. I ended up pacing the hallways with her during the 2nd half of the movie in an attempt to keep ourselves occupied. I can't blame her though, since she has no idea what they are saying in the dialogue.

Finally, after the kids were in bed we sat on our front bench outside and opened the ice wine that we picked up on Friday.

It was a memorable and enjoyable weekend. I'll have to post some pictures once Landis (Amanda's cousin) sends them to us, since we left our camera in the car:-(

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Kick in the World Cup

I want to root for my country, especially in a competition as worldwide as The World Cup. But I'm sorry, the only sport that is more boring to watch than soccer/football is golf.

Not only is it boring, but I simply refuse to support a sport where acting like a freaking sissy is not only not penalized, but even advocated. Watching these dill weeds fly to the ground while holding their faces when no one even touched them is downright sickening. Then, if the other guy doesn't fall to the ground and writhe in pain too then the ref will likely give him a penalty card.

I will venture to say that this may be the only sport I can think of where the professional women players appear to be tougher than the men.

I really WANT to get over it and participate in the cheering though. Somebody please convince me.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Why I Didn't Vote Today

Amanda and I have voted in probably 9 out of 10 elections. Usually, we sit down with the mailed out information booklets, read through all of the proposition and candidates, and decide what/who we want to vote for. Most of the time our decisions are identical, but not always.

Leading up to this year's primary elections though, we have been up to our ears getting ready for Vacation Bible School (VBS) at our church. Amanda is in charge of the drama portion of it, and besides helping her as much as possible in the preparation, I have also volunteered to be the actor/character for 2 of the 5 nights.

Because of VBS, I am going to bed later (11:30+), and therefore getting up later, which leads to me getting to work later. Then on top of that I have to leave work early so I can be home by 4:30pm. So my work hours are going to be significantly short this week. Not only that, but we haven't had time to read through the informative material that we received in the mail.

Ok, now that the whine-fest is over, my co-worker pointed out that I can just swing by the voting station on the way home from work. While this is true, there is still one more reason why I refuse to just stop in and check those decision boxes.

I am completely opposed to people voting when uninformed. I don't care if you're a communist liberal or a nazi conservative, as long as you know what the hell you're voting for when you check those boxes, then more power to you. But it is my belief that many (most?) people go to the polls and just go straight down along party lines. Or at best they may carry a suggestion card with them from some organization and just follow their guidelines to the tee.

Admittedly, in the past I have been one of them. In 1993, at the age of 22 (yes, I am getting old), I voted for Bill Clinton because I thought he seemed cool. That's right, for no other reason but that.

In my opinion, there should be a screening process of some sort (a mail-in questionnaire?) which demonstrates that each person has an actual reason why they are making their voting decisions. And only then would they be allowed to make their choices count.

All of that to say that I didn't vote today because a) lack of time, and b) to do so would be in violation of my own principal of informed voting.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Selfish Attitude for Menial Servitude

I am really dreading the next two weeks in preparation for and execution of VBS (Vacation Bible School) at our church. I know I should have a better attitude about it, but my selfishness is annoyed (even ticked off?) about putting everything else on hold and having my wife and I bust our butt in all of our spare time.

And compared to other couples/families at our church, our sacrifice/participation is probably trivial.

Yeah, as I'm typing this I know that I should probably be praying more about it too.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Diminished Sympathy

While my political opinions are generally conservative, I fall somewhat close to the middle ground regarding my stance on numerous issues, including illegal aliens.

I can see the human sympathy side of them wanting to support their families. I also know they work hard at the mostly labor-intensive jobs that they fill, and in doing so are contributing to the economy by lowering the costs of the goods and services of the companies that they work for.

However, since my political views tend to lean in the conservative direction, I can certainly see the arguments against illegal aliens as being valid too (increased crime, use of taxpayer's resources, failure to integrate into our culture, etc).

I learned something new and interesting about the issue today though. Did you know that there is a fairly quick way for all immigrants, illegal included, to gain citizenship to the United States through service in the military?

I must admit that this diminishes the sympathy side of my opinion by a substantial amount.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

You Are Getting Sleepy. Sleepy. SLEEPY.

I am chronically sleep deprived. A couple of Saturdays ago it was the first time in many months/years that I opened my eyes in the morning without forcing them.

I can't help but wonder how much smarter/stronger would I be, or how much better memory would I have if I were to get the proper sleep throughout my life? Or how many years I may have even shortened it.


I recently attended the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) in San Jose for three days. On Wednesday, the first session that I was planning on attending didn't start until around noon. So I woke up in the hotel by myself, with nowhere to go for a few hours. It was absolutely incredible to be able to just go back to bed, then when I was finished sleeping to just lie in it a little longer.

I realized that this may be the only time I get to do this for a long time, perhaps many years, or even the better part of the rest of my life. That may sound overly dramatic, but even when I have previously traveled for work, I was due at the customer's or sub-contractor's facility first thing in the morning. At home, even when my wife lets me sleep in there is noise downstairs. Also I can't seem to avoid the self-imposed pressure to not sleep in too long so I don't keep the family waiting on me for breakfast, so I can start cranking on my to-do list, and/or so I can help Amanda with the kids.

So this may be a revelation. I think that Amanda and I should be deliberate in making this happen for each other as Mother's day and Father's day gifts. 24 hours of being away from the house, kids, and even each other. It would start in the morning, then she can hang with friends, have time to herself, see a movie, or whatever. Then just go to a hotel and sleep in to her heart's desire.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I recently attended a pancake and parents breakfast with my two oldest kids at their preschool. It was a good way to take a break from my work routine and spend time with them.

But after we sat down and started eating, my son looked over at the next table and exclaimed to me "Look dad - A POLICEMAN!". Sure enough, another dad had joined the breakfast in his uniform.

I thought about how that used to be my dad, the policeman in his uniform impressing all of the other kids. What about me though? I'm just another stiff in a polo shirt. Oh sure, it could be worse. At least I'm in good shape and I don't embarrass my kids with high tube socks, sandals, and short shorts.

But I would have made a great cop. I would like the conflict and the risk. I'm pretty confident in my ability to handle myself, I'm comfortable in an authority role, and I have above average communication skills. I'm pretty sure of at least this much - I would have made a better cop then I do an engineer. But dad discouraged it, and God led me down other paths I guess.

So now the question is this (or is it more of a quest?) - in what ways can I be impressive to my kids? Aside from being an exceptional dad, how can I be an exceptional man? One that my children would be proud of and/or want to brag about?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

All Are Not Necessarily Precious in His Sight

The more I read the Old Testament (I'm in Deuteronomy right now), the more I am convinced that God cares more about the quality of His people than the quantity.

From a Biblical perspective - if you're not for Him, or especially if you can/will corrupt His people (what was Israel, but now are all Christians) then you're basically worthless and God would rather you be destroyed than have you cause His children to sin and/or turn away from Him.

From Deuteronomy 20:
16 However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the LORD your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the LORD your God.

This goes completely counter to our culture though, which generally believes that each person's life is precious, special, and just as valuable as the next one. But I don't think this is really God's perspective.

Now, a few caveats here. Please understand that this is not a reflection of my personal opinion toward non-Christians. I love and appreciate all of my friends, just as I periodically pray for all of them. Also, I know that God can and has used non-Christians/Israelites to accomplish His purposes. And I also know that some people become "His" (i.e. Christians) later in life than others, some even on their death bed.

I'm just saying that as a whole, God doesn't seem to have as high a sanctity of life as we humans tend to. What really counts for God is not how long you live, but whose side you're on while you're alive, and consequently where you go after you die.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


My non-Christian co-worker recently told me about the acronym WTFWJD. It took me a minute, but upon realizing what it meant I laughed and immediately began looking for a t-shirt with that phrase on it (I found some, but haven't bought one yet).

After mentioning this phrase on Facebook though, I understandably got mixed reactions. Part of the negative reaction was from the fact that I am one of the leaders in our church's youth group, and many of those youth are Facebook friends of mine. Oops! Yes, upon realization and reflection I think it is inappropriate to encourage this phrase for younger kids. Sorry parents.

Another negative reaction stems potentially from misinterpreting unintended emotions. Since it's written (as opposed to spoken), it's hard to tell if it's being stated with anger. The "F" word is a pretty strong curse word, so is the writer (in this case me) shaking his fists and yelling with a furrowed brow? From my minimal experience, most Christians only speak the "F" word under extreme conditions, such as hitting your finger with a hammer, just after getting in a car accident, or even worse - when their sports team loses a game. But most of the cases that I've seen the phrase "WTF" used isn't out of anger, but more commonly confusion. Such as a crazy picture with the caption WTF under it. Or someone stating something ridiculous or outlandish in a forum and another person commenting with "WTF?".

Another concern with WTFWJD is the question of using God's name (Jesus' - same thing) in vain. By cursing in the same sentence/phrase as Jesus' name, am I possibly taking His previous and holy name in vain? Well, since I'm not cursing at God or using his name to curse something else, I personally don't think that is the case.

Now that I've covered the reasons why people might not like this phrase, I'd like to explain why I do like it. 1) It gets people's attention. WWJD is an old and overused phrase, and this puts another spin on it in a fresh and funny (although vulgar) way. 2) It's relevant to today's culture. WTF is one of the widely used phrases for texting and chatting, along with OMG, LOL, and many others that have become common with the current technologies used for communication. 3) It can be used to promote my faith. I'm (perhaps optimistically) hoping that because this statement is controversial, the attention that it draws could potentially be used to actually start a conversation about my faith with someone who could benefit from it.

Now the real question is this though - if I were to wear a t-shirt with this printed on the front of it - what Bible verse would best be suited to be printed on the back of it? Any help is appreciated.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Book Reviews and Pictures

I finished another book last month - The Lovely Bones. I finally sat down to write a review about it, along with another one that I had finished previously (Monster). They can be read here.

There is also another page of pictures (from three different events) on our family web page, even if they are a little outdated. You can check them out here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Meeting Minutes of Michael's Mind

A couple of months ago, I was in a long drawn out meeting at work. Since my participation in this meeting was minimal, I started daydreaming about this question"What would an ideal life look like to me, within the bounds of reality?" I then started making a list, of goals that could actually be achievable, even if they would be unlikely and/or overwhelmingly difficult. So here is is:
  • Exercise 3-4 times/week consistently.
  • Aside from my regular job, make some additional $ on the side somehow (make an invention and/or start my own business of some sort, etc.)
  • Be able to afford having our house cleaned quarterly (take the stress of keeping up with it off of Amanda).
  • No (or very few) house or car repairs to have to deal with myself.
  • Enough $ to pay off debt sooner, and also do more fun things (with the family and on dates)
  • Be motivated to read and learn more stuff for work. I am considering an accountability partner and/or creating a discussion group for this.
  • Go on more dates with Amanda, preferably dressing up occasionally too.
  • Spend 15 minutes/day with God (reading Bible, praying, etc.)
  • For Amanda and me both to set aside 1 day/year spent with God (be alone with Him - just walking, thinking, praying, contemplating, listening, etc).
  • To set aside at least 1 full day and night per year for just Amanda and myself to spend together.
Now all I have to do is win the lottery and cut out sleep from my schedule:-) Seriously though, is this list achievable? If not any time soon, then even in my lifetime? And if not in its entirety, then which items should I scale back or just give up on?

Maybe this exercise is pointless, but then again maybe setting these goals could help motivate me more to find a way to achieve them.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

An Evening with the Whites

We met our good friends Tim and Tammy White when Lucas and their son Shane were just infants (see picture above). Well, unfortunately for us they moved to the East Coast (Maryland) about a year ago.

Since they were back in town this week for a visit though, they stopped by our house for dinner on Wednesday evening. It was really great to see them and catch up on each other's lives.

You can see how much the kids, and our families, have grown in the updated picture below. And Clara was sleeping, so she's not in it.

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