Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Froggy is WAY too permissive...

This is DisneyGirl. She is a great kid. She's funny, charming, smart, and imaginative. She also has a knack for finding a way to be completely charming and totally crazy-making at the very same time.

Yesterday, she came into my office during her nap time. She had a small plastic frog in one hand, and a handful of crackers in the other. The crackers were disintegrating in her hand, and she had a trail of crackers all through the house. I asked her why she had gotten up during her nap. Her reply? "Froggy said I could get crackers. He said it was OK." Well, who am I to argue with a 2" plastic frog? I did have to warn Froggy that next time, he needed to ask me before he let DisneyGirl get crackers during nap time.

DisneyGirl has a great imagination. It's one of the great things about her. I wonder how she'll put that to use as she grows up...

Here's another great DisneyGirl story, see the Mighty Mrs. J's blog:

Self-motivated to learn...

We are homeschooling our kids. I look at the educational system, especially here in L.A., and I can't imagine sending my kids to public school. But then I think of the responsibility of educating my kids, and it's overwhelming to me.

Fortunately, Little McGyver is really self-motivated to learn. He wants to learn so badly, it's scary. Last summer, when he was 4, he decided he had to know all the alphabet. I mean, he HAD to know the letters. He would burst into tears, crying, "I'll never know my letters!" I, being Father of the Year material, would say something comforting. Something like, "Would you get serious? You're only 4. You've got plenty of time." As you might imagine, this was not helpful at all. He would just walk away from me sadly. By now, he's learned that daddy is mostly good for driving him places, and lifting heavy things. (The same things my wife learned about me long ago.)

In case you're wondering, he did learn all his letters, even though I was next to useless to him. Now, he's learning to read at a truly frightening pace. I think that for him, our job is going to be facilitating his drive to learn. We can encourage him, but he's motivated all on his own.

By the way, the picture at the top of this post has nothing to do with homeschooling. But it is an awfully cute picture of my Little McGyver sitting in our tree...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Leaving a legacy of forgiveness...

I was reading through Psalm 51 today. It's the one David wrote after Nathan had confronted him about sleeping with Bathsheba and killing her husband. There's a sentence there, "I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me." I tend to live out that sentence in a very unhealthy way. I'm way too conscious of my own sins and faults. I tend to stay right there, focused on what I do that's wrong or doesn't measure up. Of course, in the psalm, David goes on to experience God's love and forgiveness. I don't always get to that place, even though I know I'm forgiven.

I wonder about how this affects my parenting. I catch my kids doing something wrong. Do I look just to punish? Or do I try to redeem something out of the situation? I know I need to correct bad behavior, but is that enough? My kids need to see forgiveness and restoration as the natural correction for the wrong that we do. Otherwise, they'll learn to wallow in the guilt of their wrong actions, and never experience the sweetness of God's grace.

I think it's true that kids get their concept of God from their parents. I want them to see God as a loving Father who doesn't let sin go unpunished, but who is quick and willing to forgive and restore fellowship with us.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Time passes quickly...

This is The World's Sweetest Toddler. A little fuzzy, you say? That's because she's always in motion. Honestly, the Mighty Mrs. J took a ton of pics of TWST to put on TWST's adoption notice. (Her adoption just became final 2 weeks ago.) All of them are blurry to some extent. She is constant movement.

It reminds me, though, of something that makes me a little sad. She's not just moving fast in this picture. She's really moving fast through life. When we brought her home, she was a tiny, helpless little bundle of drool and poop. Now, she's a full-blown toddler, rampaging through the house, terrorizing her brother and sister, constantly using her favorite word: "NO!"

Before long, it will be school, and outside interests, and being ashamed of her dorky parents. Then college and work. Then some dirty, filthy, slimy man will come to me and ask if he can marry my precious little girl.

The answer of course will be, "Get your hands off my little girl, scum-boy!" Followed by a warning shot just past his left ear.

Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. But, time is passing a little too quickly for my comfort...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Wifey, and Disney

I just realized that I have not posted a picture of The Mighty Mrs. J. She's a beauty! Smart, too. But you figured that already, since she married me...

On another subject, why do they call Disneyland the Happiest Place on Earth? I hardly ever see happy people there. Mostly, I see really tired people dragging their crying children from ride to ride. Look at the faces of Little McGyver and DisneyGirl. Happy? I think not. The wifey looks chipper, though. Must be the new meds. (That's a joke, by the way. She's naturally, and almost nauseatingly, cheery.)

First-hand faith in a second-hand world...

One thing I am committed to is helping my children have a living, vibrant spiritual life. A life that's centered around their relationship to Jesus as their forgiver and leader. And by vibrant, I mean not just a casual relationship where they hear a nice sermon and some good music on Sunday. I mean a life where they see God at work in their lives, and the lives of those around them. I think that's the life that God intended for people to have. But so many of us, even those of us who call ourselves Christians, settle for a second-hand faith. You know, hearing about the great God that worked in a big way for someone else, but not so much for me.

Toward that end, my wife, the Mighty Mrs. J, and I left a somewhat traditional church ministry that I started a few years ago. We felt like we were spinning our wheels, doing what we were expected to do. But we want more than that! So we've started looking for other like-minded people who are searching for a real, first-hand faith experience. What do I mean by first-hand? A few things:

  • I am responsible for my relationship with God. Just like I'm responsible for how the Mighty Mrs. J and I relate. It's not up to a minister, a worship leader, an author, or any self-proclaimed guru to make sure I'm growing more like Jesus.
  • I believe that God is working in my life, and the lives of the people around me. There was a popular book several years ago that invited Christians to find out where God is working, and join Him in His work. I want to find out where God is working around me.
  • The goal of the Christian life is to develop such a close relationship with God that I become more and more like Jesus. The goal isn't increased knowledge, or a theological degree, or a place of honor in a church group.
  • The best way to study God's word is to read it myself. I don't need someone else to read it to me and tell me what it means.
  • The best way to apply God's word to my life is as part of a group of people who are serious about digging into the Bible as a group. People who personally interact with the Bible are more likely to make Bible truths part of their lives.
  • The way the traditional church is structured leads to a passive, second-hand faith. It's my personal opinion traditional church is often a hindrance to people who seek an authentic faith. Look at a typical church service: a worship leader chooses what you will sing, a preacher reads the Bible for you and tells you what it means. Everything is done for you.
There's a lot more on my mind, but I'll stop here. This is a long post, but this is something really important for me. Most kids follow to some degree the faith of their parents. I want my kids to see as close to a true representation of the Christian life as possible.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

One small step...

Little McGyver is climbing trees. Well, one tree actually. It's the tree in our back yard. I nailed small pieces of wood going up the trunk of the tree for LM to use as footholds, and now he can scamper right up into the upper branches.

He loves climbing, and I love to see him climb. Really I think I get more out of him climbing than he does. Growing up, I wasn't allowed to do dangerous things like climb up a tree. My mom was pretty overprotective, and the thought of something happening to me was more than she could handle. So, there was a lot of stuff I couldn't do because it was "too dangerous." I grew up afraid of a lot of things because they were "too dangerous." I couldn't realize it at the time, but my mom was really afraid of losing me. She had some losses in her life, and I don't think she processed them very well. So I kind of became the destination point for a lot of her fears.

But enough of my $.25 psychology. The main reason I write about this is because I'm determined to pass on as few of my neuroses as possible to my kids. That's why my son is up a tree. And soon, so will my daughters. I figure they'll be plenty messed up with their own mental/emotional issues. I'll keep mine to myself...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

New beginnings...

This is mostly going to be dedicated to chronicling the hardest, most thankless job known to mankind--fathering. I am the very happy father of three small children. I have a 5 year old boy, Little McGyver, who firmly believes in his ability to do anything, anytime without any help from adults. His sister, DisneyGirl, is the queen of imagination and drama. Their baby sister, The World's Sweetest Toddler, is 20 months old.

Together, they are the greatest, most maddening, kids in the world. And, although there are a lot of mommyblogs out there, there aren't as many dads getting their perspectives into the e-world. And I think we all agree that moms and dads see things very differently.

That's all for now. Crying kids call me away!

(By the way, the pic above shows them in their natural habitat--lounging, being waited on hand and foot.)