A Week Without Talking

Standard

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

Standard

“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

Standard

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

Standard

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!

Standard

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
Standard

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

Standard

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
Standard

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”

Standard

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”

Standard

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

Standard

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

Standard

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”

Standard

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?”

Standard

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

Disinfecting Concern

Standard

“So, how often do you do that?” A co-worker asked me the other day.

I had been caught in the act of wiping down office door knobs and light switches.

“About once a day. I am the only one doing this.

The conversation naturally stopped, I continued wiping things down and left the break room.

Disinfecting Wipes

Not patting myself on the back here, but if I didn’t wipe things down, no one would. I’ve even tested this theory by waiting a day or two to see if anyone else–SOMEBODY, ANYBODY!–would jump in. Nothing.

Got me thinking about how we can talk a big game. How we can say and even act like something bothers us and yet how that “concern” ends up being…

Words.

Words.

Words.

Hiding behind those words, that often false sense of concern, lies a lack of action on our parts. If the frequency of wiping things down in the office bothers someone, they can step in and help out.

Beyond our words, our daily actions show our true priorities and concerns to a world watching.

Outrage, Anger, and Shame

Standard

My parents moved to Rancho California, from Anaheim, when I was young. Back then, sheep herders herded sheep down what would become major city streets. At night, the sky was dark and the stars were bright. But time marched on, more and more people moved to the area. The stars grew dimmer and the desert monsoon weather changed due to the abundance of pools installed. My hometown eventually voted to change the name of the town from Rancho California to Temecula.

Temecula, CA

I loved growing up in Temecula. I loved the small commuter town, situated in a valley, surrounded by beautiful mountains. Living in East Texas now, I miss those mountains the most. The way the snow would sit on top of them in the winter, as seen from my parent’s kitchen.

I have been living in East Texas for 17 years. Far away from the Southern California sun; far away from the traffic that clogs up Interstate 15. I still hear news though from my parents. News about the Mayor of Temecula misspeaking. How he apologized, began receiving death threats, and ultimately had to resign. I hate politics in our country.

I also hate the shame/cancel culture that is taking over our society. How one moment, captured on film and social media is then used to destroy a person’s life. Internet vigilantes–no, not the Batman type–who won’t stop at anything until a person has lost their job and perhaps even their dog.

Have we become a society that has forgotten forgiveness, treating others as we want to be treated?

Does the Internet accurately reflect our culture? How about what you are encountering and seeing on a daily basis?

As Americans, we say that we prize freedom of speech. The actions that I see, especially online, scream that if one doesn’t believe/act/or even look as you do, they have to be nuked. Destroyed lives from high orbit. Their very lives made into burning infernos due to a mispoken word, a bad day, or even a sentence written in a blog post.

We say that we want freedom.

We say that we want to live in a free society.

I don’t think we do.

Katniss Everdeen is a herald from the American future we don’t think can exist. But the general attitudes I’m seeing, the rage, the anger of the Internet, signal that the Hunger Games have already begun.

Hitting the Snooze Button

Standard

Woke up this morning, and I hit the snooze button. I hit the snooze button, over and over again, for the next hour. I didn’t want to get out of bed today. But I did get up, make my coffee, and manage to eat a few lemon poppy seed muffins–thanks, Tab!–with some oatmeal.

Photo by Paul Neil on Unsplash

In the process of getting ready, I happened to check my social media feeds. Friends and family, who are normally pretty chill people, are upset and angry right now. The topics of Coronavirus and racial injustice overwhelm my normal places of fun escape.

This has been one of those weeks where I have hit the snooze button more; this has been one of those weeks where I haven’t read my Bible as much. Instead of starting my mornings in the Word, I have been starting my mornings with a different type of word.

I am tired this morning.

Physically tired.

Mentally exhausted from being told that I should fear something. That instead of engaging history, we think that that engagement equals erasing the past. We live in some sort of Orwellian nightmare.

Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. – Winston Churchill (paraphrased)

I am also heart tired. As Augustine wrote, I long for how our human experience could/should be versus what it actually is. While we may not put this longing into words, this is a longing for Jesus to return. His return will fulfill that deep human longing for the restoration of all things, for justice. No more:

  • Sickness
  • Death

A future where we will work alongside the Creator of the Universe. The curse of Adam, against work, removed from us.

In writing all of this, I realize that I need to pray for strength to overcome being tired. I also need to pray for grace… maybe for myself with the snooze button… more so for those whose actions I do not understand right now. When you have been living a pretty normal life, for more than a month, and your friends and family have not been, it can feel like talking to people on Mars. Irregardless of that Martian divide, I think grace continues to be the word.