Monday, December 31, 2007

New year's resolutions...

Since some of my friends are doing resolutions (see here and here), I thought I'd jump in. Even though my record at following through on them is not great (I still can't ride one of these, and I never made the opening-day roster of this team.)

Here's a few off the top of my head:
  1. Stop using cliches, like"off the top of my head,"
  2. Have fewer expectations of myself and my kids, and embrace even our mistakes,
  3. Spend less money on me, and more on people who really have needs,
  4. Take God seriously, but not too seriously,
  5. Keep regular contact with good friends,
  6. Take better care of myself, since I have kids now who'd like me to stick around,
  7. Be thankful every second for the girl who had the bad judgement to marry me,
  8. Spend less time griping and more time being thankful,
  9. Use the internet for important things, like keeping in touch with people I care about,
  10. Not use the internet for less important things, like this,
  11. To live out this phrase: man's chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever. Heavy on the glorifying, heavy on the enjoying.
  12. Make sure no one who ever lived in the Arkansas governor's mansion is elected president...

Why yes, my kids are adorable...

I might be a tad biased when I say this, but my family is the most awesomest ever. If you need visual proof, check out this post at my wife's seldom-updated blog...

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas at the J house!

Well , the internet has slowed to a crawl, no doubt waiting for pictures of my family opening gifts on Christmas morning. The anticipation, it is palpable. ("Palpable" means "so intense as to be almost able to be felt physically," for those of you who went to Brethren High.) Since I don't want to let my legion of internet fans down, here are some pics.

This is actually Christmas eve, and the girls are ready to go over to Grandma and Papa's house.

This is Christmas morning. The kids are exhausted because we got them up at 5:30 in the morning to go to Julotta. But they can't wait to open presents...

Here's Santa with his favorite elf. If you're wondering, my hat says Feliz Navidad! (That means Merry Christmas for those of you who learned Spanish in Mrs. Worchester's class.)

Here's DisneyGirl with one of her precious gifts. Personally, I think SHE'S the precious gift, but I might be biased...

Here's the traditional candy free-for-all, that comes after we open all the presents. It's usually followed by the traditional Christmas sugar rush...

Then comes the traditional Christmas sugar-induced stupor. ("Stupor" means "
an acute lack of mental alertness brought on, e.g. by shock or lack of sleep," for those of you that went to BCHS.")

What did I get for Christmas? Well, here are my four favorite gifts. And I couldn't be happier...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The best part about Christmas...

My family went to a Julotta service early this morning. It's a great tradition that the Mighty Mrs. J and I have developed over lo these many years of marriage. We get the kids up in their pajamas, and we all pile into the van and drive to the church house. Singing starts at 6 am, and it's a great time of worship.

Maybe it was the lack of sleep, but I was really moved by one Christmas carol, Angels from the Realms of Glory. Especially this verse:
Saints, before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear;
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear.

What a great picture of how Jesus is the fulfillment of all we look for--our hope, our deliverance, our life. That is the best part of the Christmas story for me.

Except maybe for this. thanks, Mighty Mrs. J!

Oscar Peterson, R.I.P.

One of my favorite musicians died 2 days ago. Oscar Peterson was an amazing pianist who always blew me away with his technical ability and his passion for music. He really was one of the best of the last century.

I could try to describe how great he was, but here's a little bit of the man himself from 1977:

He'll be missed, but we have tons of recordings from every part of his career to remind us of his genius.

Thanks, Oscar!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas at the in-laws!

tonight we are celebrating Christmas eve at the Mighty Mrs. J's parents' house. Here's a pic of Little MacGyver and his PaPa...

Happy birthday, Little MacGyver...

Today is Little MacGyver's 6th birthday! Yes, he's a Christmas Eve baby. His birthday can be overshadowed a bit by this guy. But we usually have a party for him the week before or the week after, to separate his special day from Jesus' special day.

But we did have a special birthday breakfast this morning. And of course, I took pictures!

Here he is, waiting for his favorite breakfast (bacon and johnny cakes). Notice he has the family celebration plate that we use on birthday days.

The girls are less concerned with birthdays and more worried about getting breakfast served soon!

Here he is with one gift--a set of books called The Magic Treehouse. He has the first book in the series as an audiobook, and he loves it. He listens to it every night while he goes to sleep.

This was his big gift--his very own, kid-sized guitar! He's been playing it all day. I've got to say, teaching your son some simple guitar chords is a great feeling!

I assume that at some point Little MacGyver will read this, just to check up on what his old man is doing.

So here's a note to you, son. You are the best son a father could ever have. I am so proud of the boy you've become, and I look forward to seeing the man you'll be. You are one of God's great blessings to your mom and me. I know you'll be a great blessing to all the people you touch through your life. Two things I want you to be sure of in this crazy life: 1) God loves you more than you'll ever imagine, and 2) your dad is totally proud of you, always.

Happy birthday, my crazy boy!

One reason why Christmas in LA is cool

I am now officially filled to the brim with Christmas cheer. One reason is that last night we went to see the holiday light display that the city of Los Angeles puts on every year at Griffith Park. It's set up on the side of a street in the park (next to the zoo), and you can drive through the display. But the best fun is walking along the opposite side of the street, soaking it in.

This is the beginning of the display. It's 3 or 4 cars lengths long, and you can see how tall it is relative to the cars inside it.

It's put together by the city's Department of Water and Power. So of course they get some free advertising.

They depict various parts of life in Los Angeles. Here's the Hollywood Bowl.

Here's a blurry LAX...

This was one of my favorites, the Griffith Observatory...

And LA City Hall, the home of the esteemed Mayor Villagairosa and his elves in the city council...

Of course, my favorite part is being able to share it with the Mighty Mrs. J and the kids. We go pretty much every year. And we went this year with a family we've become friends with during the last year. Knowing them has made this year better...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Fun facts from Cap's list...

My former friend Cap recently posted 20 fun facts about himself. I ended up being mentioned in a couple of them, and I think I need to set the record straight:

About #16--"
RichardJ was the 'mother' of our friend Darren. (He should explain that)" There was a rumor circulating our beloved high school that I wrote some of Darren's notes excusing him from class. And that I signed the notes as Darren's mother. I only have this to say: I am offended by these accusations, which go to the very core of my character as a high school student. And each of those notes, to my knowledge, was authentic.

About #1--"RichardJ is not buoyant" That is absolutely true. Was true then, is true now. I am forever indebted to Cap for saving my life. I have, however, repaid him countless times with my my charm, brilliant banter, and unsurpassed friendship.

I think we're about even...

Is George W. bush an accessory to a rape?

Recently I posted about something GW Bush had done during his presidency--namely, his stance on embryonic stem cells. But I also need to point out what I believe to be the biggest of GW's many failures as president.

At a time when national security is supposed to be the number one priority for his administration, GWB has refused to guard our nation's borders on all four sides. I can't imagine why he won't enforce the country's laws. He takes great pride in saying we're fighting terror oversees. Yet we know that every year thousands of people from terror-sponsoring countries (like Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc.) come into the country illegally. Where are they? Who are they? Why are they here? We don't know, because we have no way to track them.

Some people think that illegal immigration is just an economic problem. And we do spend billions of dollars every year on social services for illegal aliens. But there is also a real human toll associated with the problem, and it usually goes unreported (or underreported) by the media.

This story is a telling example of what I mean. It tells of a woman whose car broke down on the freeway recently. She was viciously raped by a guy who was arrested several days later. He's here illegally, and has apparently been arrested before. Every year, thousands of violent crimes are committed in the US by people who shouldn't be here in the first place. (This congressional report lays out the facts pretty clearly. Look especially at the section entitled "Illegal Alien Crimes Against US citizens.")

To me, every time an illegal immigrant commits a crime in this country, GWB is responsible. He let them in the country, and he's responsible for what they do. Including the rapes, murders, and molestations.

Now, is every illegal immigrant a violent criminal? Of course not! Only a moron would suggest that. But, how many violent criminals should we be bringing on from other countries? Don't we have enough American criminals?

I don't know GWB's reasons for not securing the borders of this country. I suspect they have to do with providing cheap labor for his manufacturing buddies, and a desire to ease in a globalist agenda. But he needs to know that there is a human cost for what he's done. And GWB's bad decisions have resulted in one more shattered life...

Saturday, December 8, 2007

So George W. Bush got one right...

People who know me know that I think G W Bush has been mostly a disaster as a president. From immigration, to spending, to national security, to the conduct of the war in Iraq, to prescription drug coverage, to education, to our energy policy, to reforming social security, to pushing his globalist agenda, I've little use for him.

But I've got to give the man credit for one thing he did right. And, it's something he took all kinds of heat for when it happened. He has been a staunch opponent of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. And rightly so. The hoopla over embryonic stem cells has been largely without merit. There haven't been any major medical cures using embryonic cells. But, there this huge push to pour all kinds of money into research using these cells. (Personally, I think this has more to do with legitimizing abortion, but that's for a different post.)

Well, scientists have announced the discovery of some amazing new treatments using stem cells. What's most amazing is that scientists found these by experimenting with adult stem cells. Apparently, they've found a way to use these adult stem cells to cure sickle cell anemia in mice. They believe this is going to lead to new treatments for all sorts of diseases.

What does this have to do with GWB? If he hadn't limited federal funding on embryonic stem cells, there would have been a flood of government money poured into that area of research. And scientists would have had no incentive to work with other types of stem cells. There would have been a growing need to destroy more embryos. Not to mention the temptation to go into really nasty ethical areas, like creating embryos for the purpose of harvesting their stem cells.

But GWB's policy forced researchers to find a different way. And they have. Now this area of research can continue without the ethical questions raised by embryonic stem cell research.

Good job, GWB! If you had done as well with all the other stuff I mentioned, you would've been a pretty good president...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A tough time at the J house!

It is true that I have been mostly absent since the beginning of December. The biggest reason is that National Blog Posting Month exhausted me. (Yes, I am easily drained of energy. Thanks for noticing!)

The other reason is that we've been going through a great, but hard transition in the J family. As of this past Sunday, Toddler Houdini decided that she was no longer sleeping in her crib. She's learned to climb out of it! So she is getting used to sleeping in an actual bed.

By "sleeping," I really mean, "Running throughout the house as soon as Daddy turns around." This is not going smoothly for any of us. I see this face a lot:

Usually while she's making this face, she's saying something like, "No, daddy, no want it dark!" Then she runs away laughing. (And if you're wondering, I do rule my house with an iron fist, as you can tell.)

She is really asserting her independence, which is cool. But it's frustrating. And when you add in the fact that I'm tired at the end of the day, it's not a pretty picture.

But we're working it out, figuring out what works best to help her transition to her Big Girl Bed. Then we'll go back to the good old days when we looked more like this:

NFTW #010--I can hardly stand the excitement!

The long-awaited 10th episode of Notes from the Way is finally here! It's enough to make grown men cry for joy. You can listen and subscribe to it right here.

In this episode, I bug you one more time NOT to buy Christmas stuff from China. And, I have some great news--God is hard at work on us, and He won't quit until He's done!

You can also listen here:


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The internet is a very serious instrument of education and information...

Some of you may think that I spend all my time posting pictures of my kids and checking out my friends' blogs. But that's only about 98% true. The rest of my valuable internet time is spent in the serious pursuit of learning and edification. Take a look here at one of my proudest achievements.

No wonder Al Gore is so proud of inventing the internet! And yes, The Mighty Mrs. J does really sound like that. Except her actual voice isn't quite as low and mellifluous...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Something I'm thinking about...

This post is mostly to remind me, but feel free to join in.

"I have as much ability to teach myself how to love God as Toddler Houdini has the capacity to teach herself how to love me. God has to teach me what it means to love and be loved by Him, just like it's my job to teach Toddler Houdini."

Friday, November 30, 2007

NaBloPoMo is finally over!

National Blog Posting Month is officially over. I can't say I'm sorry that it's gone. It really can be a drag to have to come up with someone, especially when you're like me and you feel obligated to post something interesting most every day.

I have an aversion to obligations, even when they're self-imposed. So I might take a few days off blogging to catch my breath.

Or I might get up tomorrow and post about 1,000 pics of the kids at Thanksgiving...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The way I want my life to be...

I've written before about wanting a first-hand experience with God, and wanting to share that with my children. Meaning that I don't want only to hear about what God is doing in the lives of other people, or even just reading about how God moved among people in the Bible. I want to know, to see God at work in my life. And not just in big, massive things. In the everyday stuff of life.

Something happened last Saturday that reminded me again that one reason I don't have that kind of relationship with God is because I don't talk to Him that often. We were putting up Christmas lights on the outside of the house. (And, yes, we did buy Christmas lights that were NOT made in China.) We got everything strung together. We put an extension cord on the end. I got ready to plug it in...and realized we needed an adapter to plug it into the socket.

The Mighty Mrs. J and I searched everywhere--I mean everywhere for an adapter. There wasn't one to be found. We had almost given up, which meant a trip to the hardware store the next day. Then I decided to do something unusual. I called Little MacGyver into the kitchen, told him the situation, and we prayed about it. He hasn't got a clue what an adapter is, but he prayed, "Jesus, help daddy find the 'dapter. Amen."

Jesus must've heard, because within about 2 minutes, I had the strongest impression to look in a place where there should not have been any adapters. But, there was not one but two adapters, sitting there waiting to be found. Little MacGyver and I thanked Jesus a lot, then we plugged in our Christmas lights. Which we enjoyed immensely (especially knowing they weren't put together by Chinese prisoners).

Did Jesus help us find the adapter? I think so. I know it's a minor thing, but if he really does care about everything that happens to us, then why can't He show me where the adapters are hiding? Maybe it was just a chance for Him to show Little MacGyver and me that He really loves us. Maybe He wanted to remind me to come to Him with all my concerns, no matter how small.

I wonder how my life would change if I really did that?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More thoughts on God's promises...

I've been thinking a lot about the quote I put up here yesterday. I've been especially captured by the fact that God essentially puts His reputation as God on the line when He makes a promise to us. When the Bible says, "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus," that's God declaring as a fact what He will accomplish in each of His children.

What does all this mean for us? Well, the handsome and talented Joel over at Grace Roots talked about one result: namely, we have no room for boasting. It's all God's work from beginning to end, and He will accomplish what He sets out to do.

Still more to come...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The best quote I've read in a long time...

"We're not changed by the promises we make to God, but by the promises He makes to us."

Is that great, or what? It's from the book, "So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore" by Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman (writing as Jake Colsen). I just started reading this, and it's terrific so far.

I have a feeling I'll have more thoughts on this later...

NFTW #009--The long-awaited books to give for Christmas episode!

Listen here, everybody!

This whole episode is just about books that I love. Books that I think would make great Christmas gifts. If you want to bask in the book-adoring wonder, go over to the Notes from the Way blog...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Are Christians too quick to unite with one political party?

The presidential election is less than a year away. And the primaries start in about 3 minutes. So, when I saw this story from CBS news, it caught my attention. It's about some black Christians who are divided about who they ought to vote for.

The story acknowledges that although blacks vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic party, they hold to fairly conservative views on issues like abortion and gay marriage. But they support more liberal stances on education and race-based quotas. So these leaders are feeling torn. Who do they support in the next election?

My opinion? Both parties play to their bases' fear and suspicions. Democrats pick at the wounds that many blacks have because of past slavery and discrimination. They promise to do something to improve the plight of black people.

The Republican party convinces white evangelical Christians that the liberal elite are coming to destroy the country. I don't know how true it is, because Republicans have done a pretty good job destroying the country, especially over the last 7 years. I don't even think they believe it; many of them certainly don't live like the virtuous Christian folk they claim to be.

I like what one of the black speakers said--that he was going to support certain issues, rather than back a party or a candidate. If Christians stood up as a group and stood against abortion, discrimination, illegal immigration, and the other social evils that continue to exist in this country, then politicians would take notice.

It's our willingness to cling to "our" party, no matter what, that neuters us...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Random thought I had while watching "One Hit Wonders" on VH1...

How did a gifted lyricist like Edie Brickell end up marrying a talentless hack like Paul Simon? I mean, doesn't she scoff at his feeble attempts to write, while she comes up with brilliance like this:
Philosophy, is the talk on a cereal box
Religion, is a smile on a dog
I'm not aware of too many things
I know what I know if you know what I mean
It makes me want to cry, every time I hear it...

Friday, November 23, 2007

A sad day for the J family...

It is a sad day for us. We had to have our sick dog, Maxine, put to sleep today. She seemed to recover for a few days from her illness. But she got worse over the last couple of days, when we took her to the vet this morning, there was nothing else to be done.

Little McGyver is pretty upset. The girls are a little young to get the whole idea of what's happening. And of course, the Mighty Mrs. and I are sad. Max was the first living being we took care of together.

Pray for us. I know she was just an animal, but she was important to us...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

What am I thankful for?

I'm completely turkey-laden, so normally I would skip posting for the night. But I've gotten this far on the NaBloPoMo, and I won't give up now. So here are 2 things I'm very thankful for:

1. My terrific family, of course. They are a constant source of love and joy for me, no matter what's going on. They are teaching me what it means to really love someone else.

2. Recently, I've realized that I have several friends who have a special gift: they still believe that God can use them to make a difference in this world. Most of them don't have a web site or blog I can link up to. (At least one does.) I used to believe that about myself, but I lost it a while back. I'm not happy about it. I'm glad I know people who still have that faith, and my prayer is that God will continue to use them in greater ways as days go on. I'm thankful God put them in my path.

And, in case you're wondering, there will be a bunch of turkey/kid pics as soon as I download them off the camera...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I knew this would happen eventually...

I hit the wall. I have no will to post. This National Blog Posting Month is a cruel slave master. But I will tell you something that the Mighty Mrs. J and I think is hilarious. When I signed up at NaBloPoMo, I created a group, Christian Family bloggers. Well, when you look at the group page here, you'll see that the group has 9 members.

And all of them are women, except for me. The mighty Mrs. J calls them my harem. Probably the closest I'll come to polygamy...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Stuff I'm thankful for...

Well, it's close to Thanksgiving, at least here in the US. I know up in America's Hat, you've already celebrated the holiday. But heres something I'm thankful for: my dog. Specifically, my dog Maxine. She's the one who just cost us enough to pay for a used car. I took her to the vet again today, and she looks like we're going to survive.

How affluent are we in the US? So affluent that our vet wouldn't even consider that we wouldn't want to pay so much to save the dog. There was no question. And, we were able to pay it without going broke. Is it right to spend that much on a dog? Probably not, but once we already owed it, we had no choice.

Anyway, the point is I'm thankful that our dog is OK. And I thankful that we're so blessed that we can afford an occasional outrageous bill...

Monday, November 19, 2007

This is what Thanksgiving has been missing!

I recently discovered this blog. It's quickly become one I go to a few times a week because there's always something there that makes me think more deeply about being a Christian. I like that, even though thinking usually gives me a headache.

Anyway, in the spirit of the upcoming holiday, Alan Knox came up with this gem. These will be the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving family traditions.

Plus I think he and his family live pretty close to Fayetteville, NC, where my mom grew up. That makes him good people, by definition...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

It's the betrayal that hurts the most...

A man I thought was my friend has put a survey up on this blog, suggesting I might be wearing a hairpiece. This is, of course, a scandalous charge that is completely without merit. I will be defending myself, in court if necessary.

Let me just ask you: if I WAS wearing a hairpiece, wouldn't I buy a better one than this? I think the answer is obvious...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Oh, the wonder of episode 8!!!

Listen to it here!

In this episode, we answer the MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION EVER! IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD!!! The question? Should retailers say "Merry Christmas" or Happy Holidays" to their customers?

Also, I wonder how God reveals Himself through the people He puts around us...

Let me know what you think...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Coaching 5-year-olds is hard work!

You know, I had something clever to post today. But I'm too tired to do it. Little McGyver's YMCA basketball team had their second game tonight. Coaching is harder than it looks! I have a new-found respect for Doug Moe.

Maybe I'll feel like being clever tomorrow...

Meanwhile, here's what it looks like when I make Little McGyver and Disney Girl take pics when they don't want to:

Of course, Toddler Houdini likes to take pictures anytime:

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Something else that annoys me...

I really hate it when people who are trying to post on their blog every day for a month essentially take a day off by saying that they have writers' block. Isn't that a cheap way to get a post out when you have nothing to write about?

I can't believe some people resort to things like that...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

I am so irritated right now that I may not even post a cute picture of my kids. (And that is pretty irritated!) I read this article at Some Christian group, probably a well-meaning bunch, has a list where they rank retail stores as either "Naughty" or "Nice" based on whether they use "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas" in their advertising, greetings, and decorations. Naughty stores use Happy Holidays, while Nice stores go with Merry Christmas. This group says that Christians should only shop at stores that celebrate Christmas.

Why does this bug me so much? I guess because it's so unimportant. I don't think saying happy holidays destroys Christmas. Buying gifts made in a country that imprisons Christians for their faith? Now that comes a lot closer to destroying Christmas. But this group has nothing on their website protesting China's treatment of our brothers and sisters. Seems to me that someone's priorities are a little mixed up.

Oh, and one of the "nice" stores is Target, which sells these little beauties online. Which does more to dishonor Jesus: saying happy holidays, or your kid being able to pit Jesus and Spiderman in a caged deathmath? I wonder...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

On being an imperfect Christian...

I just ran across this great post over on Joel Brueseke's blog, Grace Roots. Basically, it's about being open about the things we struggle with as believers. So many of us wear the Mask of the Perfect Christian. It seems like churches are filled with happy, well-adjusted people with perfect marriages, perfect jobs, and well-behaved kids. Their prayers are always answered, and God is always powerfully at work in their lives.

The problem is, that's not my life. I'm anything but well-adjusted. I do have a great marriage, but that's mostly because I married way out of my league. My job ebbs and flows, I wonder if my kids will survive my parenting, and I often feel like my prayers bounce off the ceiling, if they get that high at all. I have so many besetting sins that I can barely stand up.

Yet when I get together with other believers, I have to fight the desire to slip on the Mask. I want to be perfect too. Yet more than that, I need people that I can be real with. People who empathize with my struggles. People who will help me with my burdens while I help them with theirs. It's not easy to find people like that, but they are out there. I hope God puts more of them in my path.

One thing that's really important to me is that my kids know it's OK to struggle, and even fail, as believers. I want them to see their dad being open about what's going on in his life. It's becoming clear to me that one of the great gifts I can give my kids is the gift of knowing how to respond to failure. To know that God loves me just as much when I've totally blown it. To see Him as the Father of the prodigal son, waiting out on the road, looking for His son's return. I've got a long way to go...

(BTW, these pics aren't related to the post. They're just part of my monthly "shameless pics of my kids" quotient.)

Monday, November 12, 2007

The dog is going to drive us to bankruptcy!

Today I picked up our old retriever, Maxine, from the vet. She got very sick last week. I thought we were going to lose her. Turns out, she somehow got hold of something that wasn't good for her, and she may not be out of the woods yet. She's been a good dog, and we all love her, so there was no question that we would take her in to get treatment.

What I didn't know was what it would cost. I'm not going to give you the actual amount. But let's just say that the kids will be going to state university. Maybe even community college.

It made me wonder: would I have agreed to the treatment if I had known the cost? Is it even right to spend so much on an animal? I'm not sure. Fortunately, I didn't have to make that choice, because the vet didn't give me any clue about the cost until he handed me the bill. When I regained consciousness, all I could do was pay...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Toys my kids probably won't be getting this Christmas...

If you were to happen to have these dolls on your list of things to get for Little McGyver, Disney Girl, and Toddler Houdini, I'd rather you didn't. I do have 2 questions about the dolls:

1. What is going on with the 2 he-man dolls on the left side of the page?

2. When are they going to be selling the Kung Fu Jesus with the special action grip?

Ya just gotta wonder...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's time for episode 7!

Hear it here!

I finally got the podcast out this week. Episode 7's tasty morsels include: a look at the big changes at Willow Creek Community Church. Also, what foundation is your life built upon?

Let me know what you think!!

Friday, November 9, 2007

A house divided...

Sure, to the outside world we look like a happy family. We love each other, encourage each other, have a great time together. Few people realize, however, that something very sinister threatens to tear this family apart. It seems that a horrible sickness controls 2 members of this once-happy family. The rest of us can only wonder what went so wrong.

This evil that infects 2 of us? I hate to admit this, but the Mighty Mrs. J and Disney Girl are...morning people! Yes, they are from that disgusting group that greet the sunrise with a smile and a song. They can hardly wait for morning to come. Meanwhile, the normal part of the family just hides their heads under their pillows, praying for the madness to end.

But they are kinda cute. Here they are earlier in the year, when we celebrated the finalization of Toddler Houdini's adoption:

It's a difficult path we walk. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

They Call Me Coach...

I now have a new title--Coach! I'm coaching Little McGyver's YMCA team. Our first practice was tonight. It went pretty well, considering the kids are 5 to 7 years old, and I don't have a clue what I'm doing.

First game? Tomorrow night. We should be completely ready. Actually, practice doesn't mean a lot at this age. Mostly the kids seem to all end up moving in a blob, first under one basket, then the other. My job is to keep the kids from killing someone on the other team.

Someone did manage to snap a pic of my coaching debut. I think my boy has a real future in basketball...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Is this what they mean by protecting the children?

As someone who has adopted 3 children from Los Angeles county, this story from the LA Times made me furious. Basically, the LA County Department of Child and Family Services are in charge of looking after kids who are in foster care. People give the department gift cards and other things to give the kids, basically to make their lives less miserable.

It seems that some of the workers in the department used the gift cards to buy themselves lunch and other perks. My favorite? Apparently they spent $14,000 for 160 tickets to the musical Wicked. The tickets were supposed to go to foster kids and their mentors. Turns out, only about 106 tickets went to the kids and the mentors. The others went to department employees, their families, and friends.

The people who did this are truly disgraceful. This does more than take gifts away from kids who could really use some kindness in their lives. This kind of action makes good folk less likely to give in the future, because they don't want to see their gifts go to county workers.

I hope everyone involved gets fired. And prosecuted. Unfortunately, they'll probably get 3 day suspension, and a nasty note in their file...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

What I'm listening to right now...

Here are my 5 favorite podcasts right now, in no particular order:

1. Accidental Creative. It's designed for professionals who work in creative fields. Always has something that will get you thinking. Todd Henry is a great interviewer!

2. Prarie Home Companion. Right now, they only podcast the News from Lake Wobegon each Saturday. Hopefully the whole show will be available soon. Either way, Keillor is one of the great American storytellers.

3. The God Journey. Two guys who talk about Christian life outside the traditional church structures. These 2 are a treasure for God's people. It might be a little disconcerting for people who are really attached to the institutional church, but sometimes disconcerting is fun!

4. Missionary Talks. I just discovered this one, but I love the idea: a guy who has a passion for missions interviewing missionaries. So far, I like it a lot!

5. We're Both Right. I've mentioned this one before. Mostly, it's 2 guys goofing off in front of a microphone, talking about movies, music, news, and life in general. They make me laugh every episode.

Well, there's my top 5. The amazing thing is that I didn't mention my own podcast even once.

Until now.

The best podcast by far would be the dulcet tones of Notes from the Way. All the best stuff about the Christian life...

Monday, November 5, 2007

What happened to Thanksgiving?

I was in my local Walmart this past Saturday, and I couldn't believe it. They had their Christmas stuff going up! I mean, it's barely November, and we're beating the Christmas horse to death already?

I understand that Walmart is all about making money. And I understand that Christmas is the money-making holiday for most stores. But I really find it all pretty disturbing.

There's one thing I find especially disturbing: did we forget that there's a holiday between Halloween and Christmas? Last I checked, Thanksgiving was in there somewhere. But there was no sign of Thanksgiving in the store. I'm assuming that they just wanted to make room for more Christmas stuff, and that they'll put more Thanksgiving things up as we get closer to the holiday.

But something tells me there is more at work than just maximizing profit. I think Thanksgiving is slipping a bit in popularity and importance. We're not a very thankful society. That's odd, because we are in the most materially rich country that's ever existed. Yet we're less happy and thankful than ever.

Maybe we're just accustomed to having what we want, and we think we deserve to get whatever we want. When you live expecting things to be given to you, you lose the idea what you get is a gift. That makes you less thankful I think.

That also makes me wonder about whether I'm raising my children to be thankful. I've got to think more about this...

(In case you're wondering, the post has nothing to do with the picture. I included the picture because Michelle wants to see more pics of the kids. Always happy to oblige...)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

There's a million people in my house!!!

Technically, there aren't a million people in my house. But it kinda felt like it today. You see, it was our turn to host the Sunday get-together with the people we church with. (We try to rotate the host family, so no one has the burden of hosting all the time.) So we had over 30 people in our house this morning, having breakfast, singing, talking about Jesus, and generally having a great time.

How was it, having all those people (a lot of kids!) running through the house? Great! We actually had a great time. This is a terrific group of people that I enjoy more every time we get together. It's hectic. Our old house is big enough for everybody, but just barely. There were a lot of people bumping into each other, but no one seemed to mind.

One of the things I appreciate about the group we church with is the freedom we have during worship. Anyone is welcome, even encouraged, to lead out with a song, or a prayer, or something they feel like God has given them to share. That gives everyone a chance to lead the worship. I also think it makes worship more like what the Bible describes, where everyone has a part. I like being a part of it...

Saturday, November 3, 2007

NFTW #006 is here! Oh the Joy!!

The long national nightmare is over...finally a new podcast! Here are the joys contained therein:

  1. I can't help myself. I've got to start talking about the presidential race. Can Christians vote for non-Christians? What about Mormons?!?!?!?
  2. Something hit me when I was reading through Matthew--Jesus ministered to whoever He came in contact with. He called all sorts of people to be the 12 disciples. I wonder what that says about God?
I think it's kinda thought-provoking. Listen to it here.

Friday, November 2, 2007

I'm glad Christmas only comes once a year!

We've just been through a very difficult afternoon and evening. The kids are traumatized, maybe never to recover. Me and the Mighty Mrs. J are exhausted. It's something I hope we never have to go through again. But, I'm sure we'll do it again, and again, and again.

What was this tragic situation we found ourselves in? Family pictures. Oh, the horror! The school group we're part of held a fund raiser where the school got a portion of the money from each family portrait. It seemed like the other families I saw were just sitting, posing nicely for the photographer. But not my kids.

My kids? Little McGyver thinks it's funny to make goofy faces just as the photographer takes the picture. Disney Girl gets disgusted with the whole process, and refuses to face the camera at all.

Meanwhile, my wife and I resort to threats and bribery, just in an effort to get a couple of decent pictures. "Just wait until I get you outside!" "Turn around, and you'll get candy when this over!" Of course, nothing really works once the meltdown begins. We just encouraged the photographer to take the best pictures he could. The Mighty Mrs. J picked the best out of the bad bunch.

The only one who enjoyed the whole thing was Toddler Houdini. She loves pictures. She loves to smile. If she could just rub off on the other 2.

I don't think I could do it more than once a year. I've got to rest up for next Christmas' pics!

These are 3 Musketeers doing trick or treating at the zoo. Apparently, they'll only smile for pics if mom and dad aren't paying someone good money to take them...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I took the plunge!

Well, I did it. A post by my friend Michelle convinced me that I should join in on National Blog Posting Month. The main goal here is to post every day this month. This represents a whole new level of blog activity for me. I do promise that you will continue to get the same high-quality posts you are used to.

For me, it means I have to come up with even more half-baked ideas, pathetic schemes, rumor and innuendo than ever before. It's going to be a long month...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Homosexual warlocks should be boycotted!

I just read this article from the Christian Post. It talks about renewed calls for Christians to boycott the Harry Potter book series. (Yeah, I know it's a little late.) The reason? The author, J.K. Rowling, recently said that one of the characters was gay. This revelation has caused some believers to join the boycott bandwagon, which started when the first book came out several years ago.

To be honest, I haven't read any of the books. (I have seen a couple of the movies. Books take so long. Plus, there's reading involved.) But I understand that the whole witchcraft thing really bothers some Christians. Although it didn't seem to bother Christians who loved Lord of the Rings. But that's another story.

This gay thing baffles me though. From the article I read, it seems that nobody knew about this character's sexual orientation. So why is it an issue now? There's still nothing in the books that promotes homosexuality. So why the change in attitude? And, why are some Christians more concerned about the unrevealed homosexuality of a character than they are about the overt witchcraft? It's very confusing to me.

The larger question is, why do Christians regard homosexuals as the worst kind of sinners? There are all kinds of sins we let slide, or we accept people who struggle with these things: gossip, gluttony, idolatry, to name a few. But let someone come out that he is struggling with being gay. Then it gets awkward. He's a pariah.

I remember when Magic Johnson went public with his HIV diagnosis. The reaction from a large percentage of the Christians I knew then? HIV is what you get when you're that kind of person. No sympathy. No empathy.

I suggested at a Bible study I was teaching at the time that we treat people who get heart disease because they eat too much red meat the same way we treat people with HIV. After all, both are diseases caused by lifestyle. Needless to say, it didn't go over well.

I wonder why I don't church there any longer...

Monday, October 29, 2007

You've got to see this...

Children's malnutrition is such an overwhelming problem worldwide, it seems unsolvable. Could it be that the answer is this simple?

Watch this...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A new addition to the family!

As many of you probably know, the Mighty Mrs. J and I have gone through the special journey that is adoption 3 times. Well, we've taken the plunge again. This is a really big step for us, and I hope we are ready. Our new baby is very cute. He has big, bright eyes, and a head full of hair. Now, for the first time anywhere, is our new bundle of joy:

No, it;s not Little McGyver (he's already ours!). No, it's the guinea pig he's holding. The pig's name is Piglet. (Pretty creative, huh?) The kids, and the Mighty Mrs. J, are really happy about the new addition. Me? I get the feeling that as soon as the newness wears off, I'm going to end up taking care of the giant rat.

Anyway, welcome to the family, Piglet! I hope you have a good time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My son picks the best music...

Little McGyver came into my office today while I was looking for a song on the computer. He says he wants to pick some music too. What does he want? The Wiggles? Maybe Backyardigans? Not for this boy. He wants the "cowboy song." What's the cowboy song, you may ask? This sweet, adorable children's classic:

Doesn't it just leave a warm feeling deep in your heart? But he wasn't done picking out songs he wanted to hear. We were combing through more Johnny Cash songs. That's when he found another song he loved. Another children's classic:

For those of you not initiated, the second video is Social Distortion's cover of the old Cash song, "Ring of Fire." Again, typical children's music.

I think I'll have to draw the line when he says, "Daddy can I listen to some Snoop Dogg while I go to sleep?"

Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm doin' some readin'!

I know it will come as a surprise to many of you, but I am not only able to read, I actually enjoy it. Now usually my reading is at this level, but I do occasionally get to read something a little deeper. Right now, I'm reading this book by Dr. J.P. Moreland. So far it's a great look at how Christians have lost contact with culture, and how we might regain the kind of impact the church had in its early years. I'm not through with it yet, so I can't give you a full review yet. But here's a quote I thought was powerful:
"...the life of self-denial is, indeed, the 'easy yoke.' In contrast to the path of self-absorption, the path of self-denial for Jesus corresponds to the way we were made to function and to reality itself as God created it. The really hard life is the one lived in opposition to Jesus' path. All you need to do is to look at how hard life is for folks who cannot forgive others, who desperately need to be the focus of attention, who have to be in control of everything, who are driven to succeed to prove they are significant. This is the life of self-denial, not the life of self-denial. As one gets good at self-denial for the Kingdom, life gets progressively easier."
Isn't that true? It's the life that's lived outside the call of God that's hard. Maybe that's the reason the Psalms tell us not to envy evil people. Whatever the reason, a quote like this makes me realize that the life God calls me to live is the life He created me to live. And that life isn't terrible. God wouldn't do that to me. He loves me too much...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

NFTW Episode 4--A New Hope...

That's a pretty clever title. Unfortunately I didn't think about it until it was too late. That means the podcast has a very catchy title: NFTW #004. I know, I know, how do I keep coming up with these gems? It's a mystery to me too. I guess it's hard to contain genius when it's working.

Anyway, I think this one is actually pretty decent. It might be thought-provoking. Read more about what's in it here. Click on this link to get the actual podcast.

Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

They're growing up way too fast...

This has been an exciting several days. My computer monitor died, so I commandeered the Mighty Mrs. J's monitor so I can get some work (and some blogging) done. The new monitor comes today, and it should solve all my problems. (I know some of you are thinking that a team of Harvard-trained psychologists couldn't solve all my problems, but in this case, I'm just talking about my computer.)

But the most exciting happening this week has been Potty Training Frenzy. DisneyGirl has really shown that she's ready to make the leap. We knew she would, when it was time. Well, it's time. That means lots of parades through the house, singing the old favorite, "DisneyGirl went pee-pee, pee-pee in the potty!" We sing and dance until one of us, usually me, passes out from exhaustion.

I think the best part, aside from not having to clean up dirty diapers, is seeing how happy and proud she is of herself. She sees herself as a real big girl. To me, of course, she's still the little 4 pound baby I could hold in the palm of my hand. So I feel happy and sad all at once. I want her to do all the normal , growing-up kinds of things. But I always want her to be my little girl.

I hope that in some way, she always will be...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I probably should mention the new Notes episode...

I've spent the last week trying to keep my monitor from dying. But, sadly, it passed away a couple of days ago. So, I haven't had time to announce the posting of the brand new Notes from the Way podcast. It's available at the blog, or you can get it right here.

I gotta say, I slapped together about 22 minutes of quality podcasting. Highlights? I have a review of a great book exploring better ways to the minister to the poor. There's a news story about how some Christians are going overboard in their attempts to evangelize military personnel. Also, I wonder out loud why we don't always want to jump into the work God is doing in and around us.

Check it out. Let me know what you think...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I have a very ambitious son...

You can't start too early deciding what you're going to do with your life. Little McGyver, age 5, has it pretty well figured out. He's going to be:
  1. a fireman,
  2. a policeman,
  3. a doctor,
  4. a professional football player, and
  5. a professional basketball player.
I hope he gets scholarships for football and basketball. Med school is kinda expensive...

Now that kids control my brain...

I'm not sure what this means, but it can't be good. A couple of days ago, I was leaving to go run some errands. Anytime I leave, the kids want me to pray for them. Which I always do.

I always pray for the same things: blessings on the kid and their mom, that the kid will listen to their mom, and that they'll have fun while I'm gone. But when I was done, I finished up with "Good night!" instead of "Amen."

Good night?!? What does that mean? I won't go into deep theological analysis here. I think it's just further proof that being a parent is eating away at my brain...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

My kids do amazing things!

I haven't written a lot about the kids lately. But they are doing great. I'm amazed at the things they are able to do. More than that, I am amazed at the things they are eager to try. You see, I grew up afraid. Afraid of trying new things. Afraid of being hurt. Just afraid. (I think the Mighty Mrs. J had the same kind of feelings growing up.)

I'm sure most of that fear came from my mom. She was really protective of me. After she and my father divorced, I was all she had. And I know she was scared something would happen to me, then she would have nothing.

For a long time, I believed I was afraid of a lot of things. As I've gotten older, I realized I was carrying a lot of the fears my mother had. It's been quite liberating to leave some of those fears behind. (I still carry some that I need to lose.) The Mighty Mrs. J and I have tried hard not to pass along our fears and weirdness to the kids. So far, I think we're doing OK.

Here's Little McGyver riding his skateboard, with Dsiney Girl bringing up the rear on the tricycle:

And here they are climbing up the tree in the back yard:

They all seem to have the adventure gene. That adds a lot of fun to their lives! And some gray hairs for the Mighty Mrs. J and me...

(In case you wondered, this was, of course, another chance to show off pics of my cute kids!)

2 blog posts you need to read...

The best thing I've read so far this week is right here. What a testimony! (Take a minute to read their story. It's sad but totally worth it!)

The second best thing is here. I wish Jesus' life was that real to me!

Take care!

Real truth from an old song...

I live in southern California, where singing the old Christian hymns went out of fashion about the same time as 8-track stereos. But I grew up on the old songs, and I still love to sing them. Fortunately, I church with a group that still sings the "golden oldies" sometimes.

I was thinking of a line from one of my favorite hymns this morning, and the truth of it struck me in a new way. It was "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing." This is the verse that got me thinking:
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
The lines, "Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee," really resonated because I see now that God's goodness is really the only thing that binds us to Him. And all the things we use to try to bring us closer to Him are pointless at best, harmful at worst.

How many things have I used to try to build my relationship with God? Well, let's see, there's Bible reading, prayer, fasting, church work, Sunday School teaching, pastoring.and on, and on, and on.

There's nothing wrong with any of those activities, but so much of it was just me trying to gain favor with God with my own effort. Really it is God's goodness, ALONE, that draws me to Him. All those things can take the place of the Holy Spirit's work of growing us to be like Jesus.

In fact, I wonder how many programs int he church have grown and developed over the years for 2 bad reasons: we don't trust the Holy Spirit enough to do His work His way, and we have a lot of people attending services who don't demonstrate the Spirit's transforming power because He's not in them? Both of those possibilities frighten me.

More on this later...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Podcast, Episode #2...

I thought I probably should mention that the second episode of my award-winning podcast is available by clicking here. The blog that gives you all the juicy details is right here.

Basically, this week I talk about the marital troubles some popular Christian leaders are having. I'm also wondering about the things we put between ourselves and God.

BTW, the award the podcast won? It was voted "Best Podcast Produced in our House Last Thursday and Friday." Very small award, but quite prestigious...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I'm not changing a thing!

Take a minute to go to the post entitled, "World's Sweetest Toddler No Longer." I changed some of the words in the post because it showed up on some searches that perverts ran for naked kid pics. Hopefully with the word changes, it won't show up on those kinds of searches any more.

I also included a note to the pervs themselves, urging them to turn to Jesus for forgiveness and healing. I was thinking about stopping my posts about the kids. But I'm not going to do it. This is a forum for me to talk about my life: my faith, my kids, my marriage, whatever. And I love the community aspect of it.

Why should I allow a couple of sick people ruin something that's of value to me? I won't do it. We spend too much time in society catering to the dregs of society. This blog won't be part of it. I will continue to be the leading internet source for rumor and innuendo. I'd like to be the internet leader for lies, distortions, and half-truths, but I'm a distant third behind these jokers and these nitwits...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Always time for pics...

Little MacGyver started kindergarten recently. We're part of an academy that helps homeschoolers. They had a back-to-school picnic this past Friday. As you might expect, my kids were the cutest of all, and I have proof.

This is Little MacGyver, after he found a tree to climb. It took about 5 seconds for him to find a tree that was climb-worthy.

Here's DisneyGirl. I think she's rolling down the hill, just like the Laurie Berkner song. But it's hard to tell what adventure is playing in her imagination...

Toddler Houdini somehow manages to become the center of attention for the 5 to 8 year old girls. She's so small and charming, and before long they are doing her bidding...

The kids had a great time playing and making new friends. And the Mighty Mrs. J and I had a terrific time getting to know other parents. Sometimes it feels like we're going into the whole homeschooling thing by ourselves. It was great to get together with other parents who understand what goes into homeschooling. I can't wait for the next get-together!

Obviously, I'm the king of technology...

OK, here's the deal. I posted information about my brand new podcast. turns out, some of that info was wrong, or just confusing. Now, while I do pride myself on being the internet's leading source for wrong, confusing information, I'd like to set the record straight. The blog connected to the podcast is called Notes from the Way. That's where all the podcast info will be.

This blog will continue to be the place where thousands (well, hundreds) (OK, several) come to get thoughts on family and faith. And shameless pics of my children...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Finally, a podcast!

Well, the long national nightmare is over. I know you've all been waiting, wondering when I would start podcasting. All of you, in fact all humans everywhere, will be glad to know that the day has come. It's called "Notes from the Way" and I think it's pretty OK, with potential to be really average.

Seriously, it's about living as a Christian in today's world. I think most folk will find it interesting, maybe even encouraging. Just right-click here to get your fill of podcasting wonder!

Here's the info on the music I used:

The intro/outro music was from Jacques Grant.
The cool classical/style guitar was by Deyo.
Our first news story was at Christian
The second one came from The Barna Group.

Hope you enjoy! Let me know what you think...

UPDATE: Apparently, I don't have the technical acuity to run the podcast from here. So, I created a blog just for the podcast. It's called, creatively, Notes from the Way. From now on I'll post details of the podcast over there. But, never fear, I'll keep everyone here updated...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

If Jesus came to my town today...

I was reading through Matthew 8 this morning. (Shocking, I know.) In the last part of the chapter, Jesus drove demons out of 2 men who were possessed. In the story, the demons ask to be sent into a herd of pigs that were feeding nearby. Jesus does it, and the pigs go nuts and drown in a lake. The men return to normal.

The thing that gets me is the reaction of the town. Verse 34 says, "The whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with them to leave their region." What?!? They wanted him to leave? After he had healed 2 of their people?

I think it's a great lesson: we humans will put up with almost anything--illness, wars, arguing, even demon possession--as long as we don't have to stay in the presence of holiness. The power of God was so scary that they would rather have had 2 demon possessed guys running around their town.

It reminds me of an old Oak Ridge Boys song from way, way back. It was called, "Would They Love Him Down in Shreveport." (I can't find a good link to the song, but it's out there, I'm sure.) The basic premise of the song is that Jesus may not be all that welcome in today's America. Even in "religious" places like Utah and the South.

True godliness is more powerful and less predictable then we realize. I do wonder if I would really want Jesus to live in my city. Would I find Him a nuisance, or threatening? What if he tore down some of the idols I want to keep? Something to think about...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

This is where the church ought to be...

Please, please, PLEASE take a couple of minutes to read this great story on the Mars Hill Journey blog. I can't think of a better illustration of the real mission of the church. And if you can read it without a lump forming in your throat, let me know and I'll have paramedics come over and check your pulse.

(Thanks to the Voyage blog for posting about this a few days ago. You are a man among men!)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Be careful little hands, what you do...

I've been thinking a lot lately about the way my kids relate to God. I don't want them to see God as primarily the Guy watching in Heaven, waiting to catch them doing wrong. (Like the song from the post title.) When they do wrong, God is there to swat them down.

I want them to grow up knowing that He loves them. I want their relationship to the Father to be natural and intimate. I want them to see that God delights in them. They don't need to perform a certain way or be involved in certain activities to be acceptable to God.

In short, I want them to experience God in a way that I seldom have. I think it's really true that kids form their perception of God by looking at their earthly father. And my father was completely absent. That means that I've often felt a great distance between myself and God. Even though I know that the truth is He is here with me, always. I just haven't experienced that truth in my life.

I have wasted large chunks of my life trying to be good enough, active enough, Christian enough for God to love me. I think that explains my entire career in vocational Christian ministry. I was hoping that God would approve and give me the pat on the back I needed. Of course I could never do enough to feel approved by God, because I've already been completely accepted by God. And not accepted because of anything I did, but because Jesus did everything I needed.

That's why I was thinking about the little chorus in the title of this post. Obviously, my kids need to know right and wrong. They need to know that when they do wrong, they break God's laws, and His heart. But I want them to know more than that. The same God who hates sin loved them so much He sacrificed His own son to pay for their sins. God doesn't want them to perform great Christian works. He just wants them to delight in their Father the way He delights in them.

I know that's what I want for my kids. The question is: how can I create an environment so this can happen? I just don't know.

Any ideas?

World's Sweetest Toddler no longer...

I have always referred to my youngest daughter as the World's Sweetest Toddler. And she is. Even though she has her Terrible 2's moments, she is a charming, wonderful little girl. But she has developed a very disturbing habit.

To be blunt, my little darling is a nudist at heart. We can't keep clothes on her, especially at sleeptime. For several weeks now, the Mighty Mrs. J and I have experienced being surprised by our sweet angel wandering down the hallway. And she is naked. Completely naked. The problem is, she's not potty trained. You can imagine the trouble this can cause.

It's not like we haven't tried keep her clothed. We put layers of clothing over her diaper, hoping to discourage her. But she won't be denied her naked freedom. She strips after we put her to bed. Later in the night we find her, sleeping, in her birthday suit.

In light of these developments, I think it's time to change her nickname. For a girl who is this good at escaping the constraints of clothing, only one nickname will do. From now on, she's Toddler Houdini.

No father wants his daughter to be an exhibitionist. I mean, it's cute now. But if this is still going on when she's 17, there's going to be a problem...

p.s.--The pic with this post is a rare look at Toddler Houdini, fully clothed...

UPDATE--This post has gotten a couple of hits from some people with questionable motives. Specifically, it has shown up on searches where people were looking for things like "sweet family little nudists" and "little kids completely naked." I can't think of a legitimate reason to run these searches.

If you got here because you were looking for naked kid pics on the internet, I can only say one thing--what you're doing is sick and wrong. You have to know that. You only have one hope--turn your life over to Jesus. He is the only one who can break this demonic hold on your life. He will forgive you for everything you've done wrong, give you new life, clear out all the garbage that currently fills your life. Also, get some help from a qualified counselor.

Don't continue down this road. It will only result in ruined lives...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Do I expect God to be present in my life?

I just finished the book, The Naked Church by Wayne Jacobsen. It's got me thinking about a lot of things. A lot of those things make me really uncomfortable.

The one thing that sticks in my mind is a survey that Jacobsen quotes. The survey is of US Christians, and over 70% of them don't expect to encounter God when they go to a worship service. Think about that for a minute. 7 out of 10 people at the next worship service you go to are probably not expecting God to show up.

This brings so many questions to my mind. Do these people ever experience the presence of God? How far is this from the New Testament church, where it seems God consistently interacted with His people? Can a Christian go through his entire life and not feel God's presence in his life? I don't think so.

Granted, God lives in every one of His children. And we don't always feel that truth, even though it is true. But I'm afraid we've lost something that was a part of the early church's life: the expectation that God was powerfully at work in their midst. It was His presence that gave them the ability to preach with authority, see people saved, see people healed, have people give their belongings away, have many suffer and die for their faith.

It was His presence that caused the church's enemies to call some New Testament Christians, "These men who have caused trouble all over world..."
Are we causing trouble all over the world to Satan's kingdom? Is evil on the run in our cities because God's people are unified and showing God's power and presence? More personally, am I experiencing God in my life? Is He changing me, molding me to become like Jesus? Is my goal really to know Jesus, and the power of His resurrection?

Maybe I'm not looking hard enough, but I don't see it, either in the church as a whole, or in me. What needs to change?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Trip to the fair...

We spent Friday at the LA County Fair. What a blast! The kids had a great time, as you can see by the pics. It wasn't too hot, like it is many years when we go out there.

The fair is our yearly chance for the kids to see farm animals. Otherwise, they would only interact with a cow when they go to McDonald's.

It was also a very cool chance for Little MacGyver to go rock climbing. He's a natural at it. He's light, he's strong, and he's great at figuring out where to put his feet and hands. And I get to stand at the bottom and cheer him on! It's such a great picture of what I think being a dad is all about. I get to encourage him, point him in the right direction, make suggestions about what he should do. But in the end, he's responsible for what he chooses to do. I pray he'll make life decisions that are as great as the ones he made yesterday on that rock wall.

However far he climbs, I'll be there to cheer him on...

Monday, September 3, 2007

Am I building a relationship with God?

I'm reading a great book right now. It's "The Naked Church" by Wayne Jacobsen. (His unbelievably great website, Lifestream, is right here.) It's been really convicting and challenging for me. I've mentioned before that one of my spiritual life goals is to develop a first-hand faith. A faith where I see God at work in my life, and the lives of people around me.

Jacobsen talks a lot about developing intimacy with God. He talks about the normal Christian life as one where we actively hear His voice and depend on Him for everything. Sadly, this isn't true in my life, or in many lives of the Christians I know. But it seems that it was more normal among Christians in Bible times.

Instead, we depend on everything else. We look to preachers, churches, disciplines, anything except God Himself.

The thing that bothers me most is this: if intimacy with God is the norm for Christianity, what does that say about me? What does that say about the church in America, where over 70% of people attending church don't expect to encounter God during the service? It must break God's heart that I'm so far from what He wants to be in my life.

It's times like this that I'm really thankful that God loves me in spite of what I am...