The Bath

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I woke up this morning and rolled out of bed. Grabbed my towel before heading for the shower. Wait. No shower. The shower is going to be fixed later today. So I disrobe, start the bath water, and climb on in.

Part of me feels absolutely ridiculous. A 39 year old man doesn’t take a bath. Does he?

As I scrub the various things that need scrubbing, I think to myself, “The water sure is nice.” I can feel the relaxing feeling coming over me, the feeling that only comes from sitting in the tub.

***

Not wanting to be late, I pulled the plug, and I watched the water swirl down the drain.

Maybe a 39 year old man does take a bath every once in awhile.

The Dirt Clod Wars – Chapter 1: M Day

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My parents told me never to talk about what had happened in the last town we lived in. The Battle of Starlight Ridge was one I would never forget. 

Moving day had finally arrived for the Morris family. Hawk Morris had been dreading this day since the beginning of summer. All of his friends, family, and even school, everything he known and grown up with, would soon be gone forever. Forever. His parents had said that the move had nothing to do with Hawk, but Hawk knew better; the whole town of Evansdale knew better. 

The Battle of Starlight Ridge continued to be one of the most talked about events in Evansdale. Ladies at the local beauty salon whispered in horror over the damage that had taken place; men at the local barber shop shook their heads in disbelief that something so exciting had happened in their town and yet they had not been apart of it. The battle had taken place a few months before school let out for the summer. Joey Higgins, resident Evansdale Elementary bully and Hawk’s next door neighbor, had pushed Hawk for the last time.

“Hawk, we need your help downstairs,” yelled Hawk’s father.

“Coming!”

Hawk took a quick look around his room, noting that everything had been packed except for a photo that sat where his nightstand used to be. Wiping away the dust, Hawk smiled as he looked at his combat unit in their full fatigues. never in his life did Hawk imagine that he would have to move away from his friends. He couldn’t imagine life without them.

“Hawk!”

“Coming!”

Commander Morris, Hawk’s father, was an Air Force pilot that always demanded punctuality. Hawk knew that if he had to be called a second time, he would be scrubbing oil off the driveway until sun up. No joke. Hawk placed the photo of his friends, his comrades in arms, into the last open packing box and headed down stairs into the entryway.

“What do you need, Dad?”

“There you are,” Commander Morris huffed as he carried a loaded box out the front door. “Why don’t you grab one of the boxes stacked in the living room and give me a hand loading up.”

“Yes, sir.”

The living room was a forest of boxes filled to the brim. Last week it had looked like a normal living room, couch on one side and television on the other. Hawk had had his friends over last week for a farewell party. Well, he had had the friends over that would still speak with him.

“Hawk?”

Hawk’s mother, a dental hygienist by day, poked her head over one of the boxes and stared down at him, “You helping your Dad?”

“Yes, mom.” Hawk stared at the ceiling for a moment. “Do we really have to do this?”

“Do what honey?”

“Move.”

Rustling around a stack of boxes, Hawk’s mom navigated around the room to him. She hugged him tight.

“Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do. Your father has received orders that he is to be re-stationed near the coast. Our moving is a step up for your Dad and has nothing to do what happened. Do you understand?”

“Yes ma’am…and no. I just don’t want to leave Tommy, Scott, Cory and Andrea. They’re my friends.”

“Hawk, I thought you were going to help me?”

Commander Morris had come back in from the yard and had been standing there for a few moments.

“Everything okay?”

Hawk’s Mom gave him another hug, “Everything is fine.”

Hawk quietly grabbed a box and headed out the front door. 

“What did you tell him,” the Commander whispered.

“I told him what he needed to hear.”

“You sound so cold hearted my dear,” the Commander chuckled, “He is our son after all.”

Felicia Morris smiled at her husband, “I should probably get back to work.”

Walking up the moving trucks ramp, Hawk noticed that Cory was out riding his bicycle. 

“Hey Cory, you allowed to talk with me?”

Cory silently shook his head no, popped a wheelie, and took off down the street to his house. Fears of moving and loneliness swept over Hawk, he sat down on the truck’s ramp and buried his head in his hands. 

“You okay, chief?”

The Commander placed his hand on Hawk’s shoulder. “I noticed that Cory didn’t say hi to you. Guess his parents are still a bit unhappy over what happened.”

Hawk shook his head.

“No reason to cry son, you did win the battle after all.”

“I know but everything is changing now because of it.”

“Hawk, your Mom and I have told you over and over that our moving has nothing to do with you. I received orders that I have to follow.”

“You could have said no.”

The Commander sat down next to Hawk.

“I’m just a fighter pilot son, I do as I’m told. We, our family, has to move. Orders are orders whether you like them or not. I’m sorry.”  

“It’s okay, dad.”

“I am sure there will be lots of kids your age where we are moving.”

“You sure?”

“Yes.”

He doesn’t know that, Hawk thought. He just doesn’t know.

Walmart and the COVIDS

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I am not much of an expert when it comes to science. I can read though, process the information, and come to my own conclusions.

I was at Walmart the other day. I walked in without a mask. No one said anything to me. No weird looks or strange glances were given to me. Nothing. At the time I was there, there were probably more wearing masks than not. Still, no one said anything to me.

From one side of Walmart, there is a sign that says that masks are required; The other side of the store does not have a sign. You can draw your own conclusions over which door I choose to enter by.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t wear a mask if you wear one. I’m not saying to not wash your hands either. I think that we have been fortunate, in East Texas, so far. The virus doesn’t seem as big of a problem here. And yet, that doesn’t change the fact that I’m going to be entering by the door nearest the pharmacy. No sign = No mask.

With all of ya’ll wearing them, I figure the air is probably the safest it has ever been.

A Week Without Talking

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Sometime on Saturday, I suddenly couldn’t talk anymore.

I remember being over at Tab’s parents house. I had just finished taking a nap. Only I had awakened from the nap and found that I couldn’t speak. Strange. Someone would ask me a question. I would answer it with a one word response. People would look at me weird. Suddenly, I was a prisoner of my own body. I didn’t know how to ask for help.

Monday – Stayed Home.

Tuesday Went to Work. What’s happening?

Wednesday – Went to Work. Have no clue what I did.

Thursday – Went to Work. My doctor called me. Told me that I was messed up and that I would be fine. Great. I’m not sure how I got back from lunch.

Friday – Went to Work. I am exhausted.

As it stands, I have been suffering from a drug overdose. A lingering of drugs and medicine. Though time, I will get better. Just need to rest, relax, and drink more liquid.

Darth Vader Goes to Walmart: Pandemic Musings

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“Children, ages 2 and older, will be required to wear a mask at school.”

“Parents, whether your student wears a mask or not is up to you.”

“We are not going to require masks.”

“We will only require our teachers to wear masks.”

I was talking to a high school student the other day, she told me:

It is one thing to wear a mask, into a store, for a short amount of time; It is another thing to wear a mask at school all day.

I get it. I never knew that I had issues with claustrophobia. Not being a doctor or someone required to wear a mask for work, I never really thought too much about how wearing a mask would make me feel. That is, until I was required to wear a mask to shop in a store.

I try to play off the mask wearing by making Darth Vader breathing sounds as I wear one. While at the same time, I also try not to think about how we all look like a bunch of poor doctors and bank robbers.

Speaking of bank robbers, I saw a Brink’s armored truck parked the other day. The two armed security guards were wearing bandannas. They looked like armed robbers, as they casually walked back to their truck with cash. This pandemic plays mind games with ya when the good guys look like the bad guys.

For parents having to make the choice as to school their children online or in person at school, you have my sympathy. I can’t imagine having to work around enforcing that my child stays in front of the computer/in their seat, at home, for as long as they would if they were at school; I also can’t imagine sending my child to school and forcing them to wear a mask all day and social distance. Your children’s teachers are not paid enough. But you know that.

I was recently telling Tabitha that our lives, as parents who have chosen to homeschool, do not revolve around a school. No, our son’s education/schooling revolves around us and neatly fits into our day.

  • We decide when school begins and ends.
  • We decide which curriculum to teach from.
  • We decide whether there will be masks or not.

I am thankful that we made the choice to homeschool. I am thankful for my gifted wife who has made the decision to stay at home and teach our son. Homeschooling isn’t for everyone though. Not every kid is built for homeschooling. But for our family, homeschooling works for us.

No masks will be required, in our home, this Fall. We will strive to preserve as much normalcy as we can in our school routine. Wearing a mask, around the house, seems silly. I shouldn’t say that aloud though as home mask wearing could soon be a thing. Stupid 2020.

However, I WILL BE WEARING A MASK if going to the local Walmarts… I mean, if Darth Vader goes to the Walmarts.

>Insert Mechanical Breathing Sound of Doom<

Adoption Update – Jumping the Shark

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I won’t ever forget watching The Fonz, water skiing in his leather jacket, jump over a small ocean corral of sharks. For years, I had heard of this “jump the shark” moment, but I could never have imagined just how random/stupid this stunt really was.

Jumping the Shark

Our adoption journey had a jump the shark moment a few weeks ago. Our caseworker, despite knowing our adoption preferences, sent us the profile of a much older kid.

At first, I was okay with our case worker testing the waters. Sure, Tab and I could give this child a last name, a place to crash, and help them get ready for life. Sure, we could pack in all of the important life lessons, we would have taught them over the years, into one year of their life. I was okay with the idea of adopting a 17 year old–would especially like to look into this once our son is older–, until I wasn’t.

Our adoption process has been marked with friends and family making small comments that burrow deep under my skin. Comments such as:

  • “Why don’t you do foster and adoption like we did? You’ll get a kid then.”
  • “And we were told that we’d never get a child if we went the route that you have.”
  • “You shouldn’t be frustrated, hurt, or angry over this process, God has this under control.”
  • “Oh, I’ve heard horror stories about older kids being adopted.”

I don’t think that these comments are meant to be hurtful but they are.

I am forever thankful for those that ask us how the process is going. Those that are willing to listen and not necessarily push their way of doing things. God has brought good friends to walk alongside us on this journey.

I haven’t written as much on adoption lately because there hasn’t been much to say. Silence, from our caseworker, continues to be the norm. I have also felt God telling me to pray more and write/talk less about it. I’m sure there is a balance to that though.

If you think about my family, could you take a moment and pray with us? Every morning I wake up to see the room across the hall is empty. Someone is missing. Could you pray over that with me? That God would have His way. That we would be able to listen/discern the route we need to take. I’d really appreciate it.

Growing our family through adoption.

July 2020 in Review

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I feel like I’ve been all over the map this month. July 2020 has been all about:

  • Turning 39 year old / celebrating my birthday
  • Playing all the games
  • Continuing to read Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer (70%)
  • As part of my reading through the Bible in a year plan, I read/finished: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Ecclesiastes, Titus, Philemon, and Jude
  • And a sinus infection that won’t go away

Tabitha and Wyatt bought me Paper Mario: The Origami King for my birthday. So most of my gaming time has been spent working my way through an origami world with Mario. I’m loving the tight writing and unexpected moments of pure Nintendo delight.

Snacks are good

Wyatt and I have been playing Injustice: Gods Among Us a bunch. Nothing like Superman kicking the snot out of Superman.

With some of my birthday money, I picked up:

  • Battlefield 1
  • Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
  • Doom (2016)

I should note that Paper Mario has been consuming my gaming time, so I haven’t given much time to the above games. Soon though.

Throw Throw Burrito - MeowCow

As a family, we have played a bunch of Throw Throw Burrito (think of the classic game Spoons but with a burrito war/fighting element where you chuck a burrito at fellow players. This game is super fun!

Throw Throw Burrito - Winners Badge

We also had a chance to sit down and play Disney Villainous, which I also got for my birthday. I like how you have your own character board/objective to complete while you also get to mess with fellow villains. Tab beat Wyatt and I with the Queen of Hearts (Wyatt played Captain Hook; I played Prince John). I can’t wait to play again.

Disney Villainous - Prince John
Disney Villainous - Prince John Card Back

My biggest project of all, this month, has been replacing all of the interior doors in the house. After this past weekend, I’m down to 4 doors needing to be replaced.

Door Replacement Project

What have you been playing lately?

Let me know in the comments below.

Timber!

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A few weekends ago, I spent a Saturday morning working alongside some guys from church. As we cut down/removed trees from a member’s property, I looked around me and thought, “Where are all the younger guys?”

The guys who were working with me, the guys with their shiny trucks and fun power tool toys, were all in their mid-40’s to mid-60’s. Here they were, working away, moving chunks of tree as if they were younger dudes.

Part of me was in awe seeing these guys in action. Them being the hands and feet of Christ to a family who could no longer do this work on their own. Another part of me was troubled…

What happens when these guys can no longer do the work?

What happens when they pass on?

All I can think, is that I can learn from them and lead by example. I can invite those who are in my circles at church to come along on the adventure. Get some younger blood to sacrifice their time, to use their talents, to touch others for Christ.

Photo by Gerold Hinzen on Unsplash

Wyatt had a friend’s birthday party that morning. I told him that if not for the party, he would have been working with me:

  • Chopping down the trees
  • Hauling their tree-bodies away
  • Being an example of the hands and feet of Christ to the world

Next time, my son. Next time.

The Pool Pump Saga

Photo by Yehor Milohrodskyi on Unsplash
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It was almost 80 degrees this morning, when Tabitha and I walked out the door to walk. The breeze that had greeted us so gently yesterday had since vanished. In place of a breeze, a nice warm snugly blanket of humidity.

For years, Tabitha and I have had an above ground pool in our backyard. A place to escape the house, in the summer months; a place to help overcome the cabin fever that sets in when you live in air conditioning all the time.

At the end of last year, my pool pump decided to die. This year, I didn’t jump on buying one right away and have since paid the price. Due to our friend the Coronavirus (COVID-19), everyone and their cousin decided to buy above ground pools. STAYCATION!!! The laws of supply and demand have left stores without normal stock of both pools and pool pumps. My $70 pump that I need right now is going for $400 on Amazon and is out of stock through the manufacturer online. That said, I’m hoping that everyone is enjoying having a pool in their yard this year… because we are not.

I miss my pool.

Question: How do you stay sane during the summer months?

A Walk, A Birthday, And A Few Board Games

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Woke up this morning and went for a walk with Tabitha. My Apple Watch didn’t record any of our walk as exercise. So if an Apple made watch doesn’t record something… did it ever happen? From the picture below, yes, yes it did.

East Texas in July

I turned 39 this week. Spent my birthday working in the office with frequent breaks to text/talk with family and friends. I loved catching up with those who reached out.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) dominated many of the conversations I had on my birthday. I’m not complaining. But I can tell that the pandemic and the information roller coaster we’ve all boarded because of it, is weighing heavily on us all.

For my birthday, I received a few new board games. My parents bought me Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective – The Thames Murders & Other Cases; Tab and Wyatt bought me Disney Villainous. I’m looking forward to playing and writing on both of these games.

Disney Villainous

As an observation, I was telling Tabitha this morning that I do not play video games like I used to–like, this surprises me–. Board games have become the thing I ask for and play more frequently. There is something about having screens off and being able to gather around the table with family and friends that is special and builds memories.

As a further thought, I am thinking about starting to write board game reviews. Trying to think of an angle that would best serve the JBG Community. All one of us. 🙂

Hope you all are doing well.

From Across the Net – “Follow the Way You Want To Be Followed”

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash
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I feel like God has been teaching me this for years (via Tim Challies):

If we are going to follow in such a way that we parse every word and appeal to every loophole, we should expect our followers to parse our every word and to pursue every loophole. If we are going to follow formally, to go through the motions but with grumbling and complaining, we should expect our own followers to grumble, to complain, to do no more than the minimum. If we are going to follow the letter while ignoring the spirit, we should not be shocked when those we lead likewise follow the letter but violate the spirit. We are all natural imitators, so that the way we follow begins to look a lot like the way they follow.

You can read more here

From Across the Net – “Google Maps, Mater, and Proverbs”

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Life is a journey. Make sure you’re listening to the right voices. Get godly counsel. Don’t only consider your own opinion, because the way of a fool is right in his own eyes. That means if you are doing something colossally foolish, it may seem perfectly logical to you. Even if you’ve invested a lot in the direction you’re going, progress might mean turning around. And if you get stuck, make sure you call someone reliable for help.

You can read more here

From Across the Net – “Writing About Charlie Brown Feels Like Writing About Myself”

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Yet here’s the paradox: Charlie Brown is still happy. He still has friends. He still gets excited about all the projects that are destined to fail. Very often, young Americans are simultaneously pessimistic about the world and optimistic about themselves—they assume everyone’s future is bleak, except for their own. Charlie is the opposite. He knows he’s doomed, but that doesn’t stop him from trying anything and everything. He believes existence is amazing, despite his own personal experience. It’s the quality that makes him so infinitely likable: He does not see the world as cruel. He believes the world is good, even if everything that’s ever happened to him suggests otherwise. All he wants are the things everyone else seems to get without trying. He aspires to be average, which—for him—is an impossible dream.

You can read more here

Infected with the Plague

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I started feeling sick last week.

  • Chest pressure
  • Weakness
  • Almost losing my voice by the end of the day

I found myself googling the symptoms of the Coronavirus as I anxiously waited for a fever to pop. Thankfully, my body’s temperature did not go along with the horror story playing out in my head.

Tabitha reassured me, as we tried to figure out what was going on. She told me that I sounded just like I do when I get a cold… my yearly man cold.

By Friday, I was miserable. I was tired of not having energy and coming home and crashing in the evening. A couple hours after being home though, I felt okay. It was then that Tab and I realized something, my workplace has been making me sick.

Photo by Alesia Kazantceva on Unsplash

At certain times of the year, my workplace zaps my body. I have googled sick building syndrome, etc., but have never figured out why. Until last year, when we discovered that there were no air filters in the building’s air conditioning units. Once we installed filters, I felt fine. All of my bad allergy symptoms, including the daily almost losing of my voice, vanished. Nothing like putting one’s detective skills to use.

It’s funny–not really–how we can jump to the worst case scenario. Thinking we are:

  • Infected with the plague
  • About to lose our jobs
  • Going to die thanks to Google and WebMD

When our typical life outcomes are far more chill and often as simple as changing an air filter at work (which I did this morning).

Where we spend our time (social media, articles, comics, video games, blogs, etc.) affects us; What we breathe in, literally, affects us too.

Date Night – Playing Detective

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A few weeks ago, I noticed that Portal Games was offering a free print n play / standalone short case for their Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game (you can find that link here). Having never played the game, I thought to myself:

“This looks like a perfect date night for Tab and I.”

You see, Tab and I love a solid police procedural. There is nothing quite like the two of us sifting through clues, testimony, and evidence in order solve a crime.

So, I printed out the:

  • Board
  • Tokens
  • Cards
  • And the “Suburbia” case introduction / information

After dropping Wyatt off with the grandparents, Tab and I picked up Thai food and headed home. Reading through Detective’s instructions, we decided that we did not want to play with the provided board. The game’s time element, where each player action equals a certain amount of in-game time, sounded a bit too constraining for us. Instead of following the game’s rules, we started reading through the individual cards; Each card offering branching story paths with different decisions to make.

Detective game components

We had a great evening reading through the cards together. As we played, I entered some of our case findings into the game’s online database (Antares Network). When we thought we had finally reached a solution, the Network then asked us a series of questions in order to solve the case.

We won!

Thai food + detective-ing made for a pretty amazing date night.

Is there a recent date night/date night idea you would like to share? Tell me about it in the comments below.

From Across the Net – “Leadership Is Being Wrong and Right, All At The Same Time”

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Leaders are called to lead and leading means making decisions. As it relates to worship services within our church, some people will be thrilled if we choose to remain outdoors for the next three months. Others will be frustrated if we choose to endure the July and August heat outdoors in Camden, SC. Neither decision is morally superior to the other, but either decision will be judged right by some and wrong by others.

You can read more here

From Across the Net – “What Hath Gondor to do with Geneva?”

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This is a good read.

There are many other truths that Tolkien’s works reflect, but I would like to mention two. First, Tolkien’s works, and The Lord of the Rings in particular remind us that even the most seemingly insignificant among us are important. It can be argued, for example, that the hero of the Lord of the Rings is a gardener, a servant of the one who is usually considered the hero of the story. The steadfast loyalty, faithfulness, and perseverance of the hobbit Samwise is absolutely crucial to the success of the mission that will save Middle-earth. In the eyes of the world, Sam and the other hobbits in the fellowship are small, both literally and figuratively. But the role they play is just as important, if not more, than the role played by the great powers and kings in the story.

You can read more here