Thursday, February 28, 2008

Spring is Here?

Get ready for a ton of pictures.
We are having our Spring teaser right now in Oregon. The sun is out. I know this is no big deal to those of you in SoCal, but it is a rarity up here. That said, we have been having us some outside fun.

Matt and I hiked Latourell again.

He did a great job. We probably hiked for an hour in a half before he asked me to carry him. Which I did. For another 45 minutes. I kept telling myself, "This is why I go to the gym. I go so that I will have the energy to do things like this with my kids."

It was a great time. We are hoping to go back as a whole family soon.

Then last Friday the Ritter kids came over. I had to include this pic of Matt and Hanah. Friends.

Jacob and Sarah had fun playing some fun playing baseball in our backyard. Jacob kept telling Sarah, "You can't be afraid of the ball." Good advice from an older bro. Matt played a little baseball too. He wore his pirate hat and asked us to call him, "The Captain." So, when I would say, "You ready, Matt?" right before I pitched, he would not respond. Then I would say, "You ready, Captain?" and then everything would kick in.

Later that day, Jake and Ty came over.

Last time they were over in good weather was the Fall, and I let Jake and Matt bury me with leaves. Jake asked to do it again, but there were not enough. Instead, they played in the ivy.

Jack got in on the outside-action too, but he's not quite ready to be running around with the guys.

Now, two videos. I will title the first one "Wake up!" Listen to it from Matt. Also, listen for Ty's greeting when he joins Matt and Jake in the ivy.

This next one is of Jack making his happy noises. It is funny, though, because you can hear Karina in the background giving instructions to the other boys.

Fun, fun stuff. Love the sun. Love being outside.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Ordinary People

On Friday night Karina and I watched one of the more powerful movies that I have ever seen. The movie was called Ordinary People. It was the first movie that Robert Redford ever directed, and it won the 1980 Academy Award for Best Picture.
The movie is about a family (father, mother, and son) grieving the loss of their son/brother. It chronicles how each of them deal with the pain differently, and how this threatens to tear them apart. Donald Sutherland (Jack Bauer's dad) plays the father. I can't think about his character without getting emotional. He loves his son so much, and tries so hard to hold his family together. He has his own set of issues, but he tries so hard to do what is right. He finds himself breaking down, though, and the gap between his wife and his son grows wider and wider.
Most of the movie, though, follows the son, Conrad (16-17 years old), as he tries to come to grips with his pain. He loves his parents, but each of them is contributing to the problem. His father is a teddy bear who will not embrace his pain. His mother is in complete denial and wants to act as if everything is fine.
My favorite part of the movie is the Conrad's interactions with his psychiatrist, played by Jedd Hirsch. I think believers need to watch this movie for this part alone. It is so, so powerful to watch this doctor. He is such an example of someone who is secure, and thus is able not to be threatened by someone else. At times Conrad lashes out at him because his pain is so deep. The doctor is never phased by this, and he continues to draw Conrad out, and finally to bring him to face his pain and emotions.
It would be great if we as believers could respond this way to those around us. I often only think of the pain of others in the context of how it impacts me personally. I was so inspired to see someone who genuinely died to himself in order to help someone else. He took nothing personally. How much more could I help others if I did not take pain or attacks personally?
The movie, of course, also made me think of my own family. I certainly never want to face the pain that the family in Ordinary People faced. At the same time, I know that each of us will have hurts. How will we respond to them?
Will we acknowledge our pain, or will we bury it?
And will I do things that will force my precious sons to feel that they cannot be real about what they are going through? I hope not. But the fact is that just because I love my family does not mean that I will not respond to difficulty in a way that will make things more difficult for them.
This movie raised the issue of pain. It dealt with it tragically and beautifully. As believers in Jesus Christ, though, we know a comfort that is so profound and real. It does not take pain away. That will happen in the new earth. In this present time, though, the comfort of Christ is more powerful than any comfort or distraction we can receive from anyone or anything else.
We can only really be prepared to suffer well if we embrace the comfort of Christ each and every day, and if we find our hope in him alone.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Everyone has a bad dream every once in a while. Sometimes Matthew wakes up in the middle of the night because he is out of sorts. Sometimes it is because he seems to have had a bad dream. A couple of weeks ago he woke up and was crying. I went in to be with him. While he was still out of sorts and crying he said, "No, I want to do it myself!" I couldn't help but laugh afterwards. Unless I am mistaken, Matthew was having his greatest fear realized in his nightmare. He was not being allowed to do something himself. Someone else was doing it for him. Like many kids his age, Matt is obsessed with doing things himself, and he can get pretty cranky (even devastated) if someone does for him what he wants to do for himself.
This got Karina and I talking (and joking a little) about what might be some equivalent nightmares. What would we wake up screaming? As far as our son Jack goes, I think he would wake up crying if he had a dream that he had just finished potty training. Now, understand, I am not saying that the potty training process would be a nightmare to him. I am saying that being done with diapers would be a nightmare to him. The reason is that his favorite activity seems to be having his diaper changed by his mom or dad. If he is in a bad mood, we change his diaper, and this always seems to cheer him up. It does not cheer him up just because he is uncomfortable and wants a new diaper. It cheers him up because he seems to love the process. We put him down on that changing table and he is just glowing with joy.
Let me tell you, There are a lot worse things in life than a kid who loves having his diaper changed.
That only leaves Karina and me. Karina said that she could see herself waking up screaming, "No, take away the raw chicken!" My wife is notoriously thorough when it comes to cleaning up after raw meat. Again, I can think of a lot of things that would be worse to obsess about. I could also see Karina waking up and screaming, "Enough with the mattress commercials!" She hates the cheesy local ads.
As for me, I am not sure. I mean, let's face it, I have survived a lot. I am still functioning even though 24 has not been on the air for 9 months (and it looks like it may not return until next January).
I survived Shaw leaving the Lakers, winning a title with the Heat, and now returning to the Western Conference to play with the Lakers' division rival, the Suns. What else can they do to me?
Seriously, though, I think I might wake up in terror if I dreamed that I was on an international flight and they were playing a Mr. Bean marathon on the movie screens.
Now that is a nightmare.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Survivor Pick 'Em

So, the Survivor picks are in. What I have decided to do is to create a separate blog for Survivor Pick 'Em. The address is All the picks are up. You should pretty well know who you have, but you can check out who everyone else has. I will update the blog on a weekly basis (at least).
I decided to do a separate blog for two reasons:
1. I like to keep it to no more than 2-3 posts per week on the blog because I don't want people to check my blog and then find out they have missed like 17 posts (not that you all care so much). That said, if I am committing myself to at least 1 Survivor post per week, I am greatly limited in wha tI can post about. This frees it up.
2. Some people check the blog and get annoyed when I am posting about Survivor (not to mention any names, DK; hope you're enjoying LOST). This will allow people to check the blog without being affronted with our Survivor fun.
Anyway, I have a link to the Pick 'em blog on this post, and also on the links on the side.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Who Is This For?

A little while ago I was watching a podcast in which Senator Obama had dinner with four people who had contributed to his campaign. One of the cool things about it, though, was that it was obvious that the four contributors were not chosen because they were the larges contributors. It must have been a raffle or something because none of them was rich.
It was kind of cool to watch Obama sit and listen to them. One of the main questions he asked each of them was, "What are the issues that you would like to see raised?" Each person got a chance to voice the things on his or her mind. It made me think, "If I was one of those people, what issues would I raise?"
Election time is interesting because it reveals that issues that are important to us. Some of us are fired up about immigration or tax cuts. Some of us are passionate about the war in Iraq or education. I certainly have issues about which I get riled up. Something occurred to me, though, as I thought about how I would respond to the opportunity to tell a politician, or a potential president, what issues I wanted to see raised. What occurred to me was this:

Government has existed for me for a very long time. Maybe it is time that it benefited someone other than me.

What I mean is this: I am about as mainstream as a person can be in American culture. I am a white, middle-class male. Our country is geared for me because I am in the majority. And when it comes down to us, most of us tend to vote for the things that will benefit us, and against the things that will cost us money, time, or freedom. It was a bit revolutionary for me to consider that it might be better for me to vote and involve myself in the political process in such a way that I, and people like me, are not the direct beneficiaries. I probably have enough going for me in this life. I don't have a lot of complain about. I don't have a lot of needs that are not already taken care of. Maybe government should exist to even the score so that those in the minority could have the opportunity to catch up with some of the opportunities that I have had access to simply because of the color of my skin, my gender, and the fact that I had the opportunity to go to college (which I owe to my parents; I didn't pay a dime for my college education).
That said, my attention, as usual was turned then to the church. How am I interacting in the church. I have a lot of things that I want to see happen. I have a lot of preferences and values. Still, I need to ask myself, "Do I believe that the church should gear itself to people like me?"
Well, maybe not.
Maybe it would be appropriate for me to have to be the one to work hard to fit in, find a place, feel comfortable. After all, people of different races and socio-economic standings than me find themselves in a perpetual state of being the ones who need to work hard to fit in, find a place, and feel comfortable. It made me realize that I need to get over myself and be thankful for how much God has given me. I can thankfully step aside and let the focus be on someone else. In fact, I can be a voice for someone else.
Who is all this for? How does this question impact my politics, both in my country and in my church?

A while ago, I posted about this book called "Consuming Jesus." It is a great, great book calling those of us in the church to work toward breaking down barriers related to race and class. It was written by one of my professors at Multnomah, Dr. Metzger. This Wednesday, February 13, Dr. Metzger will be speaking about this book at Powell's in Portland. It will be at 7:30. I really encourage anyone and everyone to go. It will be well worth it!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Eat, Sit, Roll Over

So, Jack has been hitting some milestones lately. A little over a month ago, we started him on rice cereal. He has taken too it pretty well, but it is still kind of hit and miss.

Jack has also been honing the skill of sitting up on his own. He can't do it indefinitely, but he is growing in his balance.
And, last but not least, Jack has been learning to roll over. At first he only did it from him tummy to his back, but now he has been doing it both ways.
I am still trying to get a better video of the full roll-over. Here is one that is just the end of the accomplishment.

Hope you enjoyed these. More to come.