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...