Monday, March 31, 2008

Finally over...

A quick note for those of you were praying for us because the funeral for Mighty Mrs. J's aunt was this morning.

The service went well. It seemed like God used us to minister to folks who are hurting right now. Then everyone came to our house for lunch. It was fun listening to J's family, swapping old family stories. I'm glad we were able to do what we did.

And I'm always amazed how God uses really small gestures in our lives, like hosting lunch at our house, to bless other people.

I also learned something important: apparently, it's wildly inappropriate to pass the offering plate during a funeral. I won't make that mistake again...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A blog recommendation...

Occasionally, I try to pass along a blog I've found that I find especially enjoyable or interesting. I say "occasionally" because, let's be honest, there are a lot of blogs that are a total waste of bandwidth. And most of the rest of them are trying to recruit you into a multi-level marketing scheme.

But there are some real gems in the blog universe (blogverse?). One of them is First Born Son, where Omar writes on matters of faith and life from a unique perspective. His father is a Muslim from Iraq; his mother is a Christian from Texas. He is a Methodist minister living in the South (I forget exactly where). Out of that mix of cultures and values comes some deep insights about some of the most important issues that Americans, and especially Christians, face.

Do I agree with everything Omar says? Of course not. (I don't agree with anyone all the time.) But I have all kinds of respect for people who take their faith seriously, and want to live out their beliefs, not just believe them.

So go check out his blog, and while you're there, remember: say hi, play nice, and try not to break anything...

Another quote from Jack Stewart...

"True righteousness and holiness are manifestations of a life; and that life is Christ."

Jack Stewart, in The Legalist

My new favorite human...

Just sit back and prepare for a massive dose of awesomeness...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Quote from Jack Stewart...

"Holy living flows out of holy being, but evidently he (the legalist Christian) does not understand, so he strains and struggles to lay hold of a righteousness that is forever beyond his reach!"

from The Legalist, by Jack Stewart

(Thanks, Joel!)

Get Jesus out of Christianity!

You know, sometimes I really think I've seen it all. I mean I've been a believer since I was a kid. I grew up in the church. And I think I'm a pretty sharp observer of what's going on in the Christian world. Then I read something like this.

This church in Toronto is actively trying to rid itself of references to God and Jesus. Apparently, the whole thing about Jesus being a sacrifice for our sins and God reconciling the world to Himself through Christ is just too old-fashioned for these folks.

Their Easter services must have been a real hoot. The article says that they changed the old hymn "Christ the Lord is Risen Today." It used to go like this:

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!
Now that same first verse says:

Glorious hope is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!
(By the way, that sound you're hearing? That's Charles Wesley spinning in his grave.)

What does "Glorious hope has risen today" actually mean? I haven't got a clue. But here's what a typical Sunday service has (or doesn't have), according to the article:

There is no authoritative Big-Godism, as Rev. Gretta Vosper, West Hill's minister for the past 10 years, puts it. No petitionary prayers (“Dear God, step into the world and do good things about global warming and the poor”). No miracles-performing magic Jesus given birth by a virgin and coming back to life. No references to salvation, Christianity's teaching of the final victory over death through belief in Jesus's death as an atonement for sin and the omnipotent love of God. For that matter, no omnipotent God, or god.
What's left? Well, the pastor envisions communities of faith that come together to define god for themselves. "Salvation" means new life through getting rid of "the causes of suffering in the world." She is pushing her group to embrace what the article calls "values-based spirituality," while shifting the focus away from God and Jesus. I guess the title of her new book, With or Without God: Why the Way We Live is More Important than What We Believe, says it all.

I guess I should be angry about this. She is leading people away from the true gospel so they can find a "gospel" of their choosing. But, really, it just makes me sad. Here are people who want to find justice, beauty, love, integrity, and truth. But they've walked away from the One who is the source of all those things. And that's sad.

I've got more thoughts on this, but later...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More video hijinks ensue...

More of what the internet has been clamoring for:

We are easily amused...

The Mighty Mrs. J is on vacation this week. We're going to take advantage and go to the San Diego Zoo tomorrow. That means the J van has to be washed. Since I'm far too lazy to wash it myself, Little MacGyver, Toddler Houdini and I took it to the drive-thru car wash this afternoon.

It's always an adventure there. Toddler Houdini is a little afraid; the other kids think it's the best ride outside of Disneyland. But when TH gets into the experience, she really enjoys it.

Here's TH after I've convinced that there are no monsters outside the car:

And here's Little MacGyver, enjoying one of his favorites snacks during the car wash. The snack? A big slice of raw onion. I know, it makes me a little sick, too...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Coming soon to a blog near you...

Let's see how this works...

Piglet, 2007-2008

Easter was mostly great at the J house. In the morning, we hosted the great families that we worship with. It was a good time to talk, eat, sing, and remember just how terrific God is to each of us.

Then in the afternoon the Mighty Mrs. J's family came over, and we celebrated Easter with them. But between Easter celebrations, a very sad event happened: our guinea pig, Piglet, passed from this mortal coil.

It was all a terrible accident. We put him (or her, I don't know which) in the garage in the morning. Then later, I opened the garage door. Some time after that, I let the dog out, and he must have gone straight for the garage. Poor piglet was dead before I could get back out there to save him (or her).

Of course, I feel terrible. The kids are sad. But we still have our memories of the happy times we had with our little guinea pig buddy.

So goodbye, Piglet. Thank you for being a good pet. May you rest in peace...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Keillor's take on this Easter season...

Garrison Keillor takes an sober, honest look at himself and Easter in this column. It takes guts to be that open about your faith, or lack thereof...

Thoughts on Easter...

Easter is a busy holiday for us. It's the holiday when Jen's family and our friends come to our house to celebrate. And, this year it's really busy, because this is our month to host our little group that fellowships together on Sunday. So we've got fellowshippers here in the morning, and family here in the afternoon. (Yes, they're coming in shifts!)

In all the preparation it's easy for me to lose sight of what Easter is all about. This year one theme has really dominated my thoughts about Easter. It's the realization that God is present, even in the worst circumstances of my life.

I've always struggled with the idea that the Father abandoned Jesus while on the cross. Jesus quotes from Psalm 22, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Growing up, I always heard that at that time, the Father, who can't tolerate sin, turned away from His son, who had become sin for us.

What kind of father abandons his boy at the lowest point in his son's life? What does that say to us about how we view the Father? If He'll turn away from His own Son, will He do the same to us?

I'm not sure that's the right way to look at this passage. First, we know that 2 Corinthians 5 says that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself. That indicates that the Father was there the whole time. We also know that Jesus felt everything we feel, and was tempted in every way we are. It's clear in Psalm 22 that God hasn't abandoned the writer of the psalm. He's there, present and working, the whole time. But the psalmist FEELS abandoned sometimes.

Have you ever felt abandoned by God? I have. But I realize now that even in those times, God was there. Just like He was during the crucifixion. And not just observing, but working on my behalf, even the worst things that have happened in my life. I think that's what Jesus was saying. My friend Cap was right: Jesus quotes from Psalm 22 to point the hearers, and us, to that Scripture. So that we could see from God's perspective what was happening.

So that's what I'm learning this Easter. That God is always here, He's always loving His kids, and He's powerful enough to turn enough horrible events into something that glorifies Him and benefits us...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Stick to the important stuff...

TMZ is a web site that focuses on celebrity gossip. I never look at it, because I have better things to do with my time than wonder about the lives of pampered, overpaid, self-important people. But they ran a story yesterday where they ripped some guy named Andy Baldwin (who I think was on a reality TV show).

The activity that they found so objectionable? He was on a Navy mission to find remains of an airplane that went down during World War 2. It seems the US military spends about $52 million each year looking for missing military personnel. They call this search "such BS" and a "ridiculous waste."

Think about it: each year, we spend about 18 cents per citizen to find out what happened to men and women who gave their lives to protect our freedoms. And TMZ thinks this is a waste of time.
TMZ, of course, knows what's important. I mean, when you spend your life doing something really vital to society, like taking pictures of Paris Hilton, you have a good handle on what matters in life. These military searches provide answers for families who wonder, sometimes for decades, what happened to their loved ones. That certainly isn't as important as knowing what Britney Spears is doing.

I do have one word of advice for TMZ: stick to videos of drunken, drug-addled losers. Leave the righteous indignation to someone else...

Thanks, Hot Air!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Shocking news--Jesus was right!

I found this astounding news story tonight. Apparently, researchers have found that people who spend money on other people are happier than people who blow all their money on themselves. Reuters reports this research as news, but I think I've heard it before.

I kinda remember someone, I don't recall who, saying that it was more blessed to give than to receive. But I don't remember what university he taught at, or how he conducted his research. I'll have to check into that.

Seriously, I always laugh when "scholars" repeat something from the Bible, and act like they've come up with something new...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More music I'm sure you'll love...

Since I forced southern gospel music on you yesterday, I thought you might want something a little different today.

And this is really different. Enjoy!

Thoughts on spiritual gifts...

I don't know what you think about spiritual gifts. I know I grew up believing that the "sign gifts" like tongues, healing, prophecy, and the like stopped being given to the church after the first century. So I was always suspicious of people who practiced these gifts. I think at one time I would have considered Christians who practiced sign gifts to be wrong, probably just overtaken with emotion. But I really didn't see God still working that way any more.

As I got older, I saw some of my friends get involved in Pentecostal churches. Some of them started speaking in tongues, some started talking about a "second blessing" of the Holy Spirit. That usually meant that someone who was a believer had to speak in tongues in order to be complete. I saw that then as being a very divisive belief in the body of Christ. It groups God's people into 2 camps--the tongue-speakers and the non-tongue-speakers.

My own position has changed quite a bit. I don't see anywhere in the Bible where you can legitimately infer that any gifts stopped after the Scriptures were written. (Please forgive me, Mr. Dike!) I also don't see any particular gift as being necessary for a Christian to be complete in Christ. I think Scripture is pretty clear that we are complete in Christ from the moment of salvation.

The gifts are just that--gifts. God gives them out as He wishes, to enable us to do His work. There aren't 2 classes of Christians, or 5, or 100. If you are in Christ, you are a child of God.

Two things really make me sad about the whole debate over gifts. One, it's divided Christians unnecessarily. (It's one more proof that the devil often uses good things to mess up the Church.) There isn't much difference theologically between most people who attended Baptist (or Brethren) churches and groups like the Assembly of God or other Pentecostal) denomination. But both sides are dug in, thinking the other is strange, or off-base, or out of step with God.

The second thing that makes me sad is that when we focus on gifts, we lose sight of the Giver. Really gifts aren't important at all. I'm not enabled to do God's work because of my gifts. I can do God's work because it's Jesus who is in me, to do what He wants. Gifts are tools He uses through His people.

Why am I thinking about this? This afternoon I heard 2 guys in the radio, each talking about their experience speaking in tongues. For both, they were believers who were seeking some reassurance that their faith was real. God gave them the sign they were looking for, namely, tongues. Both of them described how their lives had changed. They were secure in their knowledge that God was in them and with them. They were more in love with Jesus. They trusted God more than they ever did before.

Before, I probably would have dismissed them as self-deluded, convincing themselves that they had received something that wasn't really God at all. It was just their own minds, playing a trick on them.

Now, I believe those experiences, which are very different from mine, really do come from God. I mean, He meets me where I am, in all my weakness and strengths and pre-conceived notions. Why shouldn't He do that with His other children? Further, I think we probably need to give each other some room to maneuver when it comes to things of the Spirit. The one standard? It doesn't violate what we already know about God, revealed in the Bible. Otherwise, if God wants some of His people to speak in tongues or prophesy, let 'em do it. If He wants others to use "quieter" gifts, like hospitality or mercy, that's great too.

I think it's when you make your experience with God the norm, the experience that judges all the others, that you get into trouble.I hope we can some day get to the point where we can celebrate God's work in each of us without trying to stuff each other into boxes...

My gifts? Napping, and general mischief...

Monday, March 17, 2008

I like Southern Gospel sue me

I'm not sure how this happened. I mean I grew up in southern California. Nobody listens to southern gospel music in southern California. But somehow I got hooked on the music of the Blackwood Brothers, the Stamps Quartet, Gold City, the Cathedrals. Even the Oak Ridge Boys, although they abandoned gospel music for a while.

I'm fortunate to have seen several of these groups when they would come to town. Which wasn't that often because there's about 7 of us gospel quartet fans in southern California. Most of the real old-time greats have died, and I'm not sure their likes will be part of American music again.

I think what I draws me to these groups is the harmonies (of course), but also the messages of the songs. These groups sang songs about living a life of faith and the hope of eternal life to come. I find myself returning to this style of music again and again for encouragement and inspiration.

My favorite group was always the Statler Brothers. They mostly sang country music, but they never strayed far from their gospel roots. Why did I like them best? They wrote most of their own songs, and they were great storytellers. I'm a sucker for a great story. And, they could sing. Really sing. Which sets them apart from a lot of musicians today. They also used to put on a great 4th of July picnic in their hometown of Staunton, VA. We went one year, and it was spectacular.

Anyway, here they are doing a couple of gospel tunes. The actual singing starts at about 1:20, but before that, one of the Cathedrals (George Younce) tells a very sweet story about one of the Statler Brothers:

And now, so, Band Nanny and Michelle don't feel left out, here's another great quartet, the Oak Ridge Boys. (This is an early, early version of the group; three of these guys are no longer with the group. I like this lineup the best.) They were pretty awesome in their time:

Great truth in an old song...

I've been thinking lately about how I need to hear the story of God's outlandish love for me over and over, because I forget so easily. It reminded me of the old hymn, " I Love to Tell the Story," especially this verse:

I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
’Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.
I think it was Luther who said that the gospel comes to us as an outsider, where the law is written in our hearts. We have to be continually reminded of the reality of the gospel, because it's foreign to us. I know I forget far too often. And really, there's no message more important...

Here's a great version of the old hymn, done by Emmylou Harris and Robert Duvall:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

One of the perks of daddyhood...

There are actually a lot of great things about being a dad. I forget most of them when my kids are being loud and annoying (you know, being kid-like). But one of the great things is how they express their love for me. Little MacGyver always tells me I'm the best dad he's ever had. (He's right, by the way.) DisneyGirl says she "really likes me."

And tonight, it was Toddler Houdini's turn. She couldn't find her blankie (her "blankley") at bedtime, so I went on a room-to-room search for it. When I found it, I took it back to her. She said, "Dad, you're the big, best dad!" And she cuddled up with her blankley.

I never get tired of hearing stuff like that...

Here she is, with her big, best dad, and her blankley:

Friday, March 14, 2008

I AM the king...

...of technology, that is. If you look on the left hand side of this fine blog, you'll see a new button. That makes it easy for you to subscribe to this blog.

Now the question is, why would you want to?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Perhaps the most uncomfortable Hillary moment ever...

I just don't know whether to laugh or cry...I mean, it' just have to see it for yourself:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

School days...

Little MacGyver is in kindergarten. His school is having a Spring Fair, where students can display projects they've worked on. He wanted to have something on display. He loves maps, and he's always asking about where people live.

So we helped him put together a display that shows where people we know live. He colored a map of the US, pics of each state, and pics of the people we know in each state. Then the Mighty Mrs. J typed up his description of each person.

Here's what it looks like:

Of course, we included the great Cap, who lives far away in New York. Here's what the New York map with Cap's pic looks like:

In case you couldn't read his caption, take a closer look. It says, "Cap lives in New York. Cap is my daddy's friend. My dad's name is Richard. Cap is so sweet because he's lovely." After he said it, he started laughing hysterically. Like he had said the funniest thing ever.

I don't know where he gets his weird sense of humor. Probably from his mother...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Quote from Brennan Manning...

"Everything--great, small, important, unimportant, distant, and near--has its place, its meaning, and its value. Through union with Him...nothing is wasted, nothing is missing. There is never a moment that does not carry eternal significance--no action that is sterile, no love that lacks fruition, and no prayer that is unheard."

from Abba's Child (emphasis mine)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

It is a small world world, after all...

Yesterday was a happy day for the J family. It was the first anniversary of Toddler Houdini's adoption day! We decided to celebrate by going out to Disneyland. We have annual passes there, so so we go quite often. But the kids could go there every day and not get tired of it.

After our stroll down Main Street, we decided to hit Fantasyland. The Mighty Mrs. J, Little MacGyver, and DisneyGirl wanted to go on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Toddler Houdini is a little freaked out by that ride, so she and I went over to ride Dumbo. And who was getting into line at the same time? None other than BHS refugee, Oak Ridge Boy stalker, and blog commenter extraordinaire, Band Nanny!

We haven't seen each other in many, many, many, many years, and it was great to catch up a little bit. (The Dumbo line was long, so there was plenty of time for chatting.) We got to find out what's been happening with each other over the last 20 years or so. She was there with her beautiful little girl. (And a friend who seemed very nice, but I can't remember her name, or her kids' names.) A very cool chance meeting.

See? Disneyland really is the happiest place on earth. Band Nanny and I plan to meet again. Based on how long it's been since we last saw each other, I'm thinking spring, 2024...

Thoughts on the age of "Abba"

I was listening to this from Wayne Jacobsen last night after we got home from Disney frenzy day. One phrase he used really stuck with me. He talked about his granddaughter being the "age of Abba," about 18 months old. In other words she was at the age where children would use a word like Abba or Dada.

I started thinking about my own little one who's a little older than that, Toddler Houdini is almost 3. But the point is the same. I really love her. We have great times together. We talk, play, do all kinds of things. Every Saturday, while the other kids are at swim lessons, she and I have some alone time. It's one of my favorite times of the week.

She can't do anything for me. She can't give me advice. She can't drive me around. She can't clean the house. Yet she brings unbelievable amounts of joy to my life. Why? Because she is my girl. The joy I have in her isn't because of what she's able to do for me. My joy in her is because of our relationship.

Same thing is true of how I relate to God. Except I'm the child, and He's the loving dad. He gets great joy from me, even though I can't do anything for Him. I'm beginning to believe, I mean really believe) that His delight in me is EXACTLY the same as my delight in Toddler Houdini. Meaning this: He wants me to hang out with Him, play, talk, just enjoy life in His presence. And I know that when I do try to do something for Him, He's there with an armload of paper towels to clean up the mess.

I think I really like this age. I hope my girl keeps a little bit of it in her heart, even as she keeps growing into a beautiful little girl. And I hope that as I get older, I get less "grown-up" in my faith, and have more of that Abba spirit...

"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." Romans 8:15

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Why Elton Brand might be my favorite athlete...

I have basically given up on sports, especially professional sports. The reason? Pro athletes. What a bunch of arrogant, ungrateful, criminal whiners. (Especially this guy.) I don't want to support bad behavior by these guys. And I certainly don't want my son to think that it's OK to act like a jerk, as long as you can dunk a basketball or hit a baseball.

But there's one exception. Elton Brand plays basketball for the "other" LA team, the Clippers. He got hurt in the off-season last year, and he hasn't played at all this season. Partially because he's been gone, the Clippers have been bad this year. Really bad.

And now the season is almost over. The Clippers aren't going to the playoffs this year. They are just trying to get through the rest of the year. There's really no reason for Brand to come back until next season.

But he is working hard, with the goal of playing the last 20 games of the year. Why? Because he's a good guy, that's why. And he understands how fortunate he is. Look at his answer when a reporter asked him why he wants to return this season:

I love to play. It's an honor to play in the NBA, and that's my job. If I'm healthy, I'm going to play. Secondly, being a part of it with my teammates. We've got to start getting ready for next year...But mainly for the fans, we need to put the best product we can out there. If I can bring some energy, if I can bring a high-level of basketball out there, to help win some games, they want to see that.
He gets it! It's an honor to play professional sports. He understands that. And he understands that he owes something to the fans who pay his salary. How totally refreshing; an athlete who doesn't believe the universe revolves around them. I can root for someone like that.

Now, if there were only more of them...

h/t: Clips Nation

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sometimes I think God wants to get my attention...

I can usually tell when God wants me to learn something, or pay attention to something. He knows that I'm kind of dense, so He has to tell me important things several times. Otherwise, I don't get it.

(When the Mighty Mrs. J reads that first paragraph, I know she'll let out an "Amen!" that can be heard for miles.)

Anyway, God has been repeating something for the last few days, and I guess I should pay attention. It started when I got my weekly edition of the Door newsletter. (warning: the Door is extremely satirical, and offensive. It's not for everybody.) One of the satirical pieces was about how God worship was being replaced by Bible worship in some seminaries. The point was that there's a group of Christians who verge on bibliolatry in their doctrines and practices. In other words their trust is in their own interpretation of Scripture, not in Jesus Himself.

Then our fellowship Sunday looked over John 5. In one verse, Jesus nails the Jewish leaders with this:
You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

Sounds like those people were trusting their interpretation of Scripture, and missing the life that Jesus offered them. I'm sensing a theme here.

Then Monday, I read this post by Joel Brueseke on his great blog.In it, he talks about how following biblical principles almost ruined his marriage. What? What he means by that is that he got so caught up in doing his husband "duties" that he forgot to just love his wife.

The application is clear: we do the same thing with Jesus. At this point, I'm pretty sure God is trying to remind me of something important.

We look for the 7 laws of spiritual success, or the 5 steps to a life God blesses. We look for any set of rules or principles that will get us farther down the Christian road. But really, those aren't the things we should be looking for in the Bible. We go to Scripture to find Him.

I need to be reminded of this all the time. It's easier to follow pre-packaged steps than to have a love relationship with Jesus. I'm just glad God thinks it's worth the effort to remind me...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Thoughts on where God wants us...

If you look at the left side of the blog, you'll see links to the web sites of several musicians. They all helped my former church by donating songs for us to use on an outreach CD we gave away to people. One of the best of the bunch is Matt Nightingale, who has a great voice. I still have his CD as one of my "regular listens." (Go buy a CD for yourself here!)(And no, I don't get a cut from CD sales.)

Anyway, Matt is leaving his position as worship leader at a church in northern California. I'm sure his people there will miss him. When I emailed him to wish him well, he said that he had never done anything so crazy as leave a position like this. But he felt God was calling him away.

It made me think about my life in the last year or so, since we left the pastorate of the church we started. It's been a rough year in so many ways. Pastoring, like a lot of jobs, really defines the people who hold that title. It becomes a part of their identity. So I did lose a piece of who I was when I left that job. And I wasn't interested in going to another church, so that part of me really died when I walked away.

A lot of my life is different now. We started a new business. We've been finding new ways to fellowship with other believers. We're finding new ways to relate to people outside the faith too.

My reasons for leaving our church are different, I'm sure, from the reasons Matt and his family are leaving. I became convinced that the way I was using my gifts in the body of Christ were not consistent with what I saw in the New Testament church. And I didn't like the tension within myself that resulted from doing something I didn't really believe in. So I left.

I do want to ask every believer who reads this blog to pray for Matt, his wife, and his kids (4 of them, I believe). It's gutsy to leave the security of the known. Pray that God will lead the Nightingales to the place where He wants them to land.

Matt, I've got no advice for you, except this: I've learned a couple of things over the last year. One, following God is the craziest, most dangerous thing you'll ever do. But it's totally worth it. Two, I don't think God is that concerned about where you go, or what you do when you get there. (Not that He won't lead you where He wants.) But what He really wants isn't your service, or your talents, or your fervent efforts for Him. He just wants you. He doesn't love you for what you can do; He loves you because you are His child, His little boy. And as long as you are with Him, it doesn't matter where you guys end up...

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Happy birthday, Mrs. J!

Today is better than Christmas, Thanksgiving, and July 4 rolled into one. It's the birthday of my favorite person, the Mighty Mrs. J! We've got a sitter for the kids (thanks, Mercy and Ryan!), and we're going out on the town.

Of course, the town we're going out on is
Downey, but that's a whole different story.

She really is the greatest wife and mother ever. I am blessed beyond anything I ever deserve, and every day I'm thankful for her. Happy birthday, wifey!

Toddler Houdini makes an appearance...

Well, since I've been posting adorable pics of my adorable kids the last couple of days, here's one more. Toddler Houdini is one terrific daughter. She's got a sweet, fun personality, and she oozes charm.

In fact she might be a bit too charming. Sometimes I think she gets away with stuff because of her cuteness.

Example: TH throws her napkin on the floor (Why? Because she's 2, that's why!) I say, "Pick it up, girl." Her reply? "No thanks!" Then she runs, giggling, out of the room. My first reaction? "Awwwww, how adorable!"

Then I realize: she is completely disobeying me! At that point, I apply a little gentle persuasion, and she does what she should. But I'm sure sometimes she gets away with stuff because I just see the cuteness, not the total disregard of my authority.

But I don't worry about it. Why? Because she's really cute, and cute goes a long way...

DisneyGirl needs to discover Chris Tomlin...

Yesterday, I mentioned that my boy has discovered my iPod. He belts out the Chris Tomlin in the YMCA locker room, and all the way on the drive home.

I'm a little more disturbed by what I heard from DisneyGirl, my oldest daughter, when I came home yesterday. She and the Mighty Mrs. J were dancing around, singing a great old hymn of the faith. You know the one:

My heart's on fire
For Elvira

As if that wasn't disturbing enough, I then hear DisneyGirl singing the heartfelt lyrics, "Giddy up, oompapa, mow mow." Although, when she sang it, it was more like, "Giddy up, chippy, chippy, waw waw."

I think we need to schedule an intervention for her...

Read this, but be ready to cry...

This was on Emily's great blog, and I'm still disturbed by it...