Friday, April 27, 2007

Slowly recovering...

I've not been this sick in a long time. I haven't felt like doing anything for about 2 weeks. My blogging exploits have suffered as a result. I think I'm recovering slowly, so maybe I'll want to post some more this weekend.

Until then here's a pic from my birthday last June. Check out the looks on DisneyGirl and McGyver!

And yes, this is just an excuse to post cute pictures of my kids...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Brought low by sickness

I've got the "dragged down by illness" blues. I have been so sick over the last few days that I can hardly function. Now some people would say this is a simple case of a cold or flu bug getting me. But I'm pretty sure it's some exotic strain of flu. Maybe not bird flu, but maybe the hamster flu. I don't know. All I know is that I am sick.

Now here it is Saturday night. I'm WAY too sick to church with the regular folk Sunday morning. Besides, 2 of the families have newborns, and I don't want to pass on the dreaded Southeast Asian Jungle Gerbil Flu to one of the babies. I'll stay home with McGyver and DisneyGirl. The Mighty Mrs. J will go on with The World's Sweetest Toddler. I know everyone will miss my joyous presence, but they will have to carry on. I'll be doubly joyous next time to make up for it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Jesus, the Easter bunny, eggs, and a belated Happy Easter!

This past weekend we celebrated probably the most important holiday on the Christian calendar: Easter. And we did it right, with colored eggs and egg hunts, a big family dinner, candy, the whole thing. And we celebrated the spiritual, "important" aspect of the holiday with the folks we church with.

I grew up with all the trappings of Easter--getting a big Easter basket, coloring eggs, egg hunts, the whole deal. Of course we also celebrated the resurrection of our Lord. And the resurrection part was always important to us, and I grew up knowing that was the "serious" part of Easter.

When I became an adult, I went through a particularly virulent (see especially definitions 3 & 4) case of militant Christianity. During that time I was all too eager to tell anyone I could pigeonhole about the evils of pagan-inspired holidays like Easter and Christmas.

Of course, instead of setting the Christian world right, which was my mission, it made me look like a can't-have-any-fun, know-it-all, self-righteous-pig Christian. And, of course, that was a pretty good description of me at the time.

Thankfully, I grew out of that. Now I appreciate the fact that we who are Christians really celebrate 2 Easters--the religious one, and the social one. (The same is true for Christmas, BTW.) And they are both important. I'm not afraid that my kids will confuse the Easter bunny (or Santa) and Jesus. Kids confuse a lot of things. (For a very funny story about kids who are a little confused about the Easter story see this terrific blog.) One of my parenting jobs is to help them NOT be confused about such things.

And to help them have a little fun. Maybe they won't have to go through a I'm-the-world's-most-spiritual-Christian-and-I'm-gonna-set-you-straight phase like their dad did. It's really a huge burden to be the world's most perfect Christian, and very few people appreciate how wonderful you are...

(As you may have guessed, this entire post was just a pretense for showing more pics of my cute kids. They really are adorable!)

Paralyzing Perfectionism

My little boy is perfect. Or at least he thinks he is. Little McGyver can't stand to make a mistake. He expects to do everything perfectly the first time. When we introduce a new sight word to him, he sometimes cries if he doesn't know it right away. Even though we tell him it's OK not to know it, that he'll get it before long. That's not good enough. "I'll never know it FOREVER!" is how he responds.

The Mighty Mrs J and I both have the same tendencies. So we are trying to help him know that it's OK not to be perfect. So far we've only had moderate success. But, I've only had moderate success in my own life learning that I don't have to be perfect.

The worst part about expecting to do everything perfectly? It keeps me from trying things that I might not be good at. Knowing that I'll probably flub up a few times (or a lot of times) before I get something right is frightening, almost paralyzing, to me. So I don't do anything.

I've missed out on some really super things in my life because I was too afraid I'd do something badly. I'd like my kids to know that's a normal fear. I'd also like them to know that making mistakes, even big, embarrassing ones, is also totally normal...

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Easter CD is finally done!!!

It's been a tiring couple of days. We've been working on a project that will hopefully be a blessing to the people who are part of it. Every Christmas, our little ministry participates in Angel Tree. Angel Tree is a program where local Christians buy Christmas presents for kids who have a parent in prison. It's a great chance to show God's love to people who are often forgotten by society. Last Christmas, we got presents for 25 kids.

Anyway, we are reaching out to these same families in a really cool way. We asked several independent Christian musicians to let us use one of their songs, and we put together a CD. The CD has 6 great songs, a reading of passages out of the Bible, and a short message I recorded on what Easter really means. We mailed copies of the CD out to each of the families we gave gifts to. (Plus a few others we've had contact with recently.)

It's kinda labor intensive to put the CD's together, and get them set up and put in the mail. So it's been a couple of let nights for me. But, we know that the folks who get them will be blessed. The work is totally worth it.

And a great thing for me is that my boy helped us work on it. (The pic is him and the Mighty Mrs. J holding up the finished CD. She designed the cover. Yes, she's as talented as she is cute!) We explained to him that the CD would help people hear about Jesus. He was really excited! He worked hard to put mailing labels on envelopes, and stamps on postcards that we included in the mailing. People can write prayer requests or needs on the card, and send back to us.

It's very exciting to know that this CD will be a blessing to a whole bunch of people. But as a father, it's a lot more exciting to see my boy eager to help other people hear about Jesus. One of my goals as a parent is to help him see his faith as not just something he possesses, but something he lives and shares with everybody around him. I want him to learn early on that God lives and moves in this world through him and the other believers he chooses to church with. It's taken me a long time to learn that. I want him to pick it up early.

BTW, there are links on the left to some of the musicians who donated music. They are terrific! The fact that they are so generous with their talents shows they have their hearts in the right place. Check out their music. I guarantee you will be blessed!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Frightening thought...

My son has been saying something lately that is very frightening to me. In fact, I can't think of too much that scares me more. When we're doing things together, he often says, "Dada, I'm going to copy you. I'm gonna do it just like you." He's going to copy ME????

What a thought! I've never thought of myself as someone who should be copied. I am really flawed. But here's this little life that is looking at me, trying to figure out how to act in this world. I'm still trying to figure that out myself.

It reminds me that people who study such things say that kids get their ideas about who God is by watching their parents, especially their dads. If their father is warm, loving, and forgiving, they assume God is like that too. On the other hand, if dad is cold and aloof, or angry and violent, then that's how they see God.

My dad was gone. Totally. Saw him a handful of times growing up, but he was never a part of my life. And I have struggled my whole life with the idea that God (or anyone, for that matter) really loves me. I know in my head that I am loved by God. But somehow that knowledge hasn't seeped into my soul. So I sometimes wonder: am I loved? Am I lovable? It's not a great way to live. But it's the legacy that my father left to me.

I want to do better for my kids. I want my kids to see God as the One they can always turn to. The One who is always on their side. The One who doesn't tolerate bad behavior, but who is always ready to forgive. The One who you can always depend on, no matter how much you have goobered things.

It's a pretty tall order to model all those things for my kids. Thankfully, I can also be a model of how a flawed human being can still be loved and accepted by a good, loving God. Thank God for grace!

(Again, the picture has nothing to do with this post. But he sure is cute!)