Friday, March 30, 2012

Accepting Simplicity

This is my latest post on GodlyDaddy.com...

I don’t know if it was when my boy reached into his diaper and pulled out his hand that was dripping with poop.

Or perhaps it was when my precious baby girl who woke up hungry – again – at 1 a.m is when I thought of C.S. Lewis and The Trilemma as the most important argument in Christian apologetics.

OK, no, no I didn’t. I’m not going to lie, it’s tough to think about deep intellectual Biblical truths when you have kids.

If I see something in writing using words like “catechumens” or “Eschatology,” my eyes glaze over and I start wondering if we have enough Enfamil to get us through the week.

(Yes, I just spent 15 minutes Googling “Intellectual Christian Terms” to find words that would make me look smart.)

That’s not to say that before we started the kid thing we used phrases like “deep truths,” but at least there was a time to do so when we weren’t snuggled on the couch watching “NCIS” marathons on USA Network.

Even if I wanted to delve into intellectual pursuits, the past few years I’ve shared my Darling Valerie’s “baby brain” and it’s enough just to remember how to get to work.

Maybe as we unwind at night and watch a few kid shows, slowly but surely, in my head I can work on a thesis I’m calling, “Biffing and Bashing in Thomas and Friends: A Study of the Southern Baptist Break with Northern Baptists in 1845.”

Actually, I rather like the simplicity. It sure beats talking about government ineptness or the shooting of the day that leads our newscasts.

It doesn’t take intellect to shout at each other or frown about why someone killed someone else. There’s no stimulation.

I get much more joy talking with Cooper about how his Chick-fil-A cow wristwatch can fly, which of his cars is fastest and oh wow, those are chickens in our backyard tree!

I also look forward to the simplicity of teaching my kids the Bible stories. I didn’t start going to church until I was in eighth grade and I’m just now reading through the entire Bible for the first time.

Of course, I’m still in early November of the Chronological Bible that I started reading 15 months ago. Don’t judge me!

I can’t wait until our mini Cooper and precious Penny start to grasp what the Bible means, about Jesus, and we can march those animals two-by-two up Noah’s ark for a reason, or even when they play with Jonah and the big fish.

Now the stories of say, Abraham and Isaac or David and Bathsheeba can wait until they’re a little older.

Cooper and Penny at the Children's Museum, pt. 2



Cooper really enjoyed the supermarket ...



Here he's loading up every fruit and veggie ...



He started to go for another kid's basket ...



Good boy, putting them all back!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cooper and Penny at the Children's Museum, pt. 1





Cooper loved loading the boxes on the FedEx plane ...


Monday, March 26, 2012

Cooper and Penny on a Monday morning

We start off with another photo of Cooper playing with his cars on the fence by the golf course ...



Next, a tired Penny drifting off at Target ...



Finally, one of Val this Sunday morning in the church nursery. We volunteered for the first time, and have a group of kids just turning 2. Val was great and she had a couple who wouldn't let go! There were five girls and a boy, so naturally me and the boy hit it off great!

And then there were two

Only two folks have a chance to win this year, my Mom-in-law and my Dad.

If Kansas wins Saturday over Ohio State, Red Sox 2012 takes this whole shebang. If Kansas loses, it's carol's picks to take it all. Seeing as how Dad and I shared a final four and championship pick, I am merely riding his coattails for a second-place finish.

Here are the current standings, and the Final Four and title picks:

1. 89 - carol's picks - Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio St., North Carolina (Ky over NC)

2. 83. - Red Sox 2012 (RannR) - Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio St., Kansas (Ky over Kansas)

3. 80. - TiredMommy (Val) - Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio St., North Carolina (Ky over NC)

4. 79 - Jeff's Got Tiger Fever! (Jeff R.) - Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio St., Kansas (Ky over Kansas)

5. 78 - C ya C-USA (Sydney) - Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio St., North Carolina (Ky over NC)

5. 78 - Katie's Bracket whoopwhoop! - Kentucky, Memphis, Ohio St., North Carolina (NC over Memphis)

7. 72 - Ihavenoidea/Jorge R. - Kentucky, Missouri, Syracuse, North Carolina (Ky over NC)

7. 72 - Just Guessing (Erin) - Kentucky, Marquette, Vanderbilt, Kansas (Ky over Kansas)

9. 69 - Kevin's Bracket (Kevin H.) - Kentucky, Missouri, Syracuse, North Carolina (Ky over NC)

10. 64 - Belew's Picks (Cody) - Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio St., North Carolina (Ky over NC)

11. 59 - For You (Natalie) - Baylor, Florida, Florida St., North Carolina (NC over Baylor)

12. 57 - Valtool's clueless guesses (Michael) - Duke, Michigan St., Syracuse, North Carolina ('Cuse over Duke)

13. 47 - Bruins Commodores Bears oh my! (Scott) - Baylor, Memphis, Vanderbilt, Belmont (Baylor over Vandy)

14. 47 - Cheryl's Picks - Duke, Memphis, Florida St., Georgetown (Duke over FSU)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jeff's MM Challenge update after two rounds

It's not how you start, but how you finish, which means only Scott and Cheryl are truly doomed ...

1. 45 - carol's picks - Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio St., North Carolina (Ky over NC)

2. 42 - Katie's Bracket whoopwhoop! - Kentucky, Memphis, Ohio St., North Carolina (NC over Memphis)

3. 41 - Kevin's Bracket (Kevin H.) - Kentucky, Missouri, Syracuse, North Carolina (Ky over NC)

3. 41 - Valtool's clueless guesses (Michael) - Duke, Michigan St., Syracuse, North Carolina ('Cuse over Duke)

5. 40 - Ihavenoidea/Jorge R. - Kentucky, Missouri, Syracuse, North Carolina (Ky over NC)

5. 40 - TiredMommy (Val) - Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio St., North Carolina (Ky over NC)

7. 39 - For You (Natalie) - Baylor, Florida, Florida St., North Carolina (NC over Baylor)

7. 39 - Red Sox 2012 (RannR) - Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio St., Kansas (Ky over Kansas)

9. 38 - C ya C-USA (Sydney) - Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio St., North Carolina (Ky over NC)

10. 36 - Just Guessing (Erin) - Kentucky, Marquette, Vanderbilt, Kansas (Ky over Kansas)

10. 36 - Belew's Picks (Cody) - Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio St., North Carolina (Ky over NC)

12. 35 - Bruins Commodores Bears oh my! (Scott) - Baylor, Memphis, Vanderbilt, Belmont (Baylor over Vandy)

12. 35 - Cheryl's Picks - Duke, Memphis, Florida St., Georgetown (Duke over FSU)

12. 35 - Jeff's Got Tiger Fever! (Jeff R.) - Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio St., Kansas (Ky over Kansas)

Cooper and Penny at the March 2012 Burk Birthdays, pt. 2






Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sweet 16 and Biblical Fatherhood

Here's something I used in last week's Sunday School newsletter ...

Growing up I spent some Friday mornings sleeping in and staying home from school on the morning after the NCAA Tournament started, because my father would let me stay up on Thursday night to watch the late-night games with him.

This was especially joyful if then-Memphis State was playing, even if they lost to DePaul late at night in Boise (still bitter over that one).

Nowadays I barely watch the tournament since Nick Jr. is on in the background while I entertain my kids, and I'm perfectly fine with that. In time they'll enjoy staying up with me to watch the tournament - so long as it means staying home from school, of course.

Speaking of basketball and fatherhood, let's mix the two further.

In honor of the NCAA Tournament and in association with GodlyDaddy.com, I shall mix the two and present my version of the Sweet 16 Bible Fathers

1. God vs. 16. Zebedee

God - Pro: Does it get any prouder for a dad to tell everyone, "This is my son in whom I am well pleased." Con: Really? You think I'm going there?

Zebedee - Pro: Sons were apostles, James and John. Con: Sons had the tendency to be hot-headed, earned name "Sons of Thunder."

8. Jonathan vs. 9. Moses

Jonathan - Pro: Didn't give in to his papa Saul's demand to kill David. Con: Kept fighting with his non-God-fearing papa, dying with him when his son was only five.

Moses - Pro: Looked after two sons and, oh yeah, an entire nation to look after. Con: Disobeyed God, refused entry into the land of milk and honey. Mmm ... honey.

5. Enoch vs. 12. Noah

Enoch - Pro: Described as man who "walked with God," so much so that he was taken to heaven without dying.

Noah - Pro: Stood his ground for God's will despite ridicule by his peers who wanted him to drink beer and watch ballgames instead of building a big boat.

4. Isaiah vs. 13. Jesse

Isaiah - Pro: Major prophet. Very cool when none other than Jesus refers to a lot of your teachings. Con: Named second son Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, a.k.a. "Hurry to spoil!" or "He has made haste to the plunder!" And you thought Orangejello and Lemonjello were weird names.

Jesse - Pro: Father of David. Con: Kept pushing his seven older sons to Samuel to be king, hiding David in the fields with the sheep.

6. Joseph vs. 11. Adam

Joseph - Pro: Jesus was his son, so that's gotta count for something. Didn't flee when he found out his betrothed, Mary, was preggers despite never having been intimate. Con: Didn't notice for two days that his Supernatural son was missing and back in Jerusalem.

Adam - Pro: First person on planet. Cons: Ate the apple, led to Fall of Man. Son killed another son.

3. Jacob vs. 14. Zechariah

Jacob - Pro: Sons became the 12 tribes of Israel. Con: Favored Joseph with fancy jacket, almost got him killed.

Zechariah - Pro: Dad to John the Baptist. Con: Skewed that questioning eyebrow to the angel Gabriel, so he was struck mute until John was born.

7. David vs. 10. Job

David - Pro: Father of Solomon, only the wisest dude ever. Con: Liar, liar, pants on fire.

Job - Pro: Righteous man who refuses to curse God for his transgressions. Con: "Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters," which probably means that they were courted by all kinds of young men and their souped-up hot rod donkey carts who kept Job up worrying at night.

2. Father Abraham vs. 15. Paul

Abraham - Pro: Actually called "Father Abraham" for being the father of Israel. Con: A little too eager to sacrifice his only son.

Paul - Pro: Considered Timothy like a son. Con: Didn't actually have a family.

Cooper and Penny at the March 2012 Burk Birthdays, pt. 1





Monday, March 19, 2012

5 years

It was five years ago today that Val and I moved back to Memphis from Atlanta. I spent nine years at CNN, and it felt like such a long time, but the past five in Memphis have flown by, what with being married and having kids, of course.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Being Mr. Fixit

This is my second submission for GodlyDaddy.com

I've never been a Mr. Fixit, but I try. I prance around like I won the Super Bowl if I put a shelf on the wall and it's straight. Then I go to the guest bathroom and shrug when the towel ring has fallen off. Again.

But right now I'm a hero. Our mini Cooper breaks his toys, says "Daddy fix" and trusts it will happen.

We even play at it. He'll hand me his choo-choo and say "Daddy fix," and I'll get out the plastic screwdriver and "twist, twist, twist." Then I get out the plastic hammer and hit it while yelling "BANG! BANG! BANG!" All fixed! He yells, "Yay!"

In the years to come my kids will certainly realize that I don't know it all, especially when it comes to cars.

"Dad, teach me to drive a stick shift?"

"Um, hey, how's that choo-choo?"

"Dad, that was 14 years ago, it's long gone."

"Hmm, then, how about those Red Sox?!"

"Ten points for changing the subject, Pops."

Then again, maybe fixing material things really is the easy part. What about when Cooper or my infant daughter, Penny's, feelings are hurt as they grow up?

Can I fix that, or am I supposed to pat them on the head, tell them I support them in their efforts but otherwise let them deal with it?

Earlier this year we were at a birthday party full of rambunctious toddlers where Cooper found a pair of trains and some tracks under some other toys. He crawled under and did all the efforting to get these trains.

Now, I have to tell you, Cooper loves, loves, LOVES choo-choos. We have at least ten different shows saved on the DVR that have trains in them, from "Dora the Explorer" to "Team Umizoomi" to "Wonder Pets" and beyond.

So now you know why, when two other boys came over and saw the trains that Cooper had found and they took them from him to play with, well, the tears and the pain was very real.

My Darling Valerie and I watched it happen and it broke our hearts.

Cooper's not a "mine" kind of kid. He has never used the word. He defers to other children to play with them. But he wanted to play with those trains, and the other parents weren't around to make their kids give one back.

My first reaction was to take our ball and go home, so to speak. But that would be impulsive, plus there was still Chick-fil-A nuggets and cake to be had.

I don't think that it would be any comfort if I told my boy that we are sinners in need of God's grace. After all, boys will be boys, kids will be kids, toddlers don't share, the sun rises in the East. That's life.

To paraphrase Jesus, do I instead tell Cooper that if the other kids ask for two toys to give them four?

"Christian machismo" are two words that don't seem to go together, then again, nobody wants to be considered a pansy, either, no matter what the Sunday School lesson says about revenge.

Were I to hang out with non-Christians watching "Road House," my buds would talk about punching a bully in the nose, but these kids weren't bullies and Cooper's only two, so let's not encourage hitting, mmkay?

If I encouraged such behavior I would surely run afoul of what Jesus warned in Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42 and Luke 17:2, that if you lead the young ones to sin you might as well hang a millstone around your neck and jump into the sea like that dude from "Master and Commander" with the bad mojo.

Mary Fairchild on About.com puts it as such, that the Christian life "doesn't come with a benefits package guaranteed to fix all of your problems, at least not this side of heaven," nor does it guarantee that your life will be easier.

But is that what you want to tell your kids? Is that too soon of a reality check? What do you think? Leave your comments below!

In the end, we made Cooper happy with balloons and ice cream, so for now distraction works just fine.

That, and we vowed to always hide the choo-choos from our house and any other where many boys gather for a party!

March Madness Challenge - Final Four and Championship Picks

A lot of similarities, unless you're Scott, who at least puts his money where his school ties are ...
 
Jeff's Got Tiger Fever! (Jeff R.) - Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio St., Kansas (Ky over Kansas)
 
Red Sox 2012 (RannR) - Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio St., Kansas (Ky over Kansas) 
 
For You (Natalie) - Baylor, Florida, Florida St., North Carolina (NC over Baylor)
 
C ya C-USA (Sydney) - Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio St., North Carolina (Ky over NC)
 
TiredMommy (Val) - Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio St., North Carolina (Ky over NC)
 
Cheryl's Picks - Duke, Memphis, Florida St., Georgetown (Duke over FSU)
 
Bruins Commodores Bears oh my! (Scott) - Baylor, Memphis, Vanderbilt, Belmont (Baylor over Vandy)
 
Kevin's Bracket (Kevin H.) - Kentucky, Missouri, Syracuse, North Carolina (Ky over NC)
 
carol's picks - Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio St., North Carolina (Ky over NC)
 
Katie's Bracket whoopwhoop! - Kentucky, Memphis, Ohio St., North Carolina (NC over Memphis) 
 
Ihavenoidea/Jorge R. - Kentucky, Missouri, Syracuse, North Carolina (Ky over NC)
 
Just Guessing (Erin) - Kentucky, Marquette, Vanderbilt, Kansas (Ky over Kansas)
 
Belew's Picks (Cody) - Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio St., North Carolina (Ky over NC)
 
Valtool's clueless guesses (Michael) - Duke, Michigan St., Syracuse, North Carolina ('Cuse over Duke)

Penny's a hoot






We made a fort for Cooper, but he just wanted to race his trucks over it ...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cooper and Penny at Amanda's Wedding, pt. 4

A few pictures left over from the wedding, and a couple from walking with the kiddies in the nice weather ...





Monday, March 12, 2012

Cooper's puddle





Here's Penny's sultry pose ...



Penny enjoying Cooper playing around her at Val's parents' house ...


Thursday, March 08, 2012

Cooper's cars on the fence

Another couple of pictures from my walks with Cooper, these with him racing his cars on the fence between the 14th green and the street ...



Seeking to be a Godly Daddy

This is my first contribution to the Godly Daddy project started by Steve Childress. I bow to Steve for starting it up as a way for dads to connect and discuss.

You can also check out the official GodlyDaddy.com site to see the mission statement, our bios, etc.

Also check out the Facebook page.

- - - - - - - - - -

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another... - Hebrews 10:25

A big thanks to Steve for asking me to contribute to this Godly Daddy project. Here's hoping I do him proud.

My contribution might be like the end of "Return of the Jedi" (dancing with a moon full of oversized teddy bears), or it could end up like the end of "The Empire Strikes Back" (new mechanical hand after the real one chopped off, best friend encased in carbonite, political movement chased to the ends of the galaxy by a tyrannical government).

Through this website I'm hopeful that we can open a dialogue among Christian men beyond platitudes about baseball (no matter how well the Red Sox are doing) or how to connect this doohickey with that thingamajig (don't ask me, I have no idea; my Man Card is not stamped in this area). Come to think of it, maybe I could ask that stuff, too, in a way Jesus might approve?

I hope that I can do Steve's vision justice by providing blogs about men and their families, about my own journey, how we can encourage one another and share lessons learned.

I've been a part a large Sunday School class for about 20 months now, and am thankful to be a part of a vibrant and growing group of Christ-centered young adults. However, I admit that I still don't know the intimate details of most of our men beyond typical pre-class conversations and Facebook posts that never get below the surface "How's the weather/job/traffic" discussions.

A few weeks ago I was talking with a prominent member of the class and realized I either a) didn't know his job, or b) totally forgot it. Either way, I was mad at myself for not knowing this simple fact and felt like a doofus. It's not like he was a secret agent hiding his identity, although, that would be super rad if true.

I admit, too, that sometimes I mix up names and ages of everyone's kids. There are approximately 400 children under the age of ten belonging to our class members, give or take 300.

What I do know is that a frequent refrain in our Sunday School lessons is on the importance of men to be good leaders of our households, and taking part in a website to encourage them in doing so seems apropos.

(That's right, I used that word. I was going to use "pertinent," but Thesaurus.com also listed "apropos," and it's a more fun-sounding word, so I went with it. Even if it sounds too Mr. FancyPants.)

Focus on the Family says to be a spiritual servant-leader, a husband and father "must have a strong connection with his Heavenly Father, finding his happiness in Christ first, realizing that he can lead effectively only if he maintains an intimate relationship with the Lord. He must be balanced in his commitments and nurturing in his concern for the mental and emotional needs of each family member. He must be proactive, spotting potential challenges to the welfare of his wife and children and coming up with workable solutions to problems. And he must be characterized by integrity, seeking to be the safest, wisest and most respected man his family has ever known." (http://family.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/25743)

I'm not sure how so many of the guys in our class find the time to get so much accomplished, but I salute them in their efforts. It is surely to their credit that considering how many hours they work, many times in harsh conditions, and still find time to spend with family and at church.

For example, one of our friends - we'll call him "Kevin," since that's his name - is trying to get his insurance business off the ground while also working as a firefighter, meaning he's gone for a full day at a time at a sometimes-dangerous job. All this while the missus home schools their three children. That is one understanding wife. And he does this while trying to be a Godly Daddy who serves the Lord and instills His teaching to their children in the time he has to spend with them, while also treating his wife as his Special Someone.

My favorite socials for our class are the ones in which all of our kids are running around playing together. In an era when society at large thinks guys try to avoid family life by sitting in man caves or going on Maury to prove they aren't the father of their children, it's nice to see our men playing with the kids, taking responsibility and taking charge when the rugrats are a little out of control. Not that we don't hand off the crying ones to Mommy, but hey, we can't do everything, am I right?

Advertisers and sitcoms portray men as a bunch of whiny, bumbling idiots with no common sense who couldn't make a decision unless a sassy woman is pulling the strings while rolling their eyes.

So is it even possible for us to see ourselves as leaders?

In his mission statement for GodlyDaddy.com, Steve says the overall accomplishment is to allow us to be the "Best husband to your wife, the Best dad to your children, and the Best servant to your Heavenly Father." Let's show the world how we do it!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Jeff's March Madness Challenge!

It's that time! Brackets are announced Sunday and the tournament starts next Thursday.

Click here and sign up!

If you need it, the group number is 34580 and the password is 12345

Monday, March 05, 2012

Cooper looking for pine cones

With the weather so Spring-like, we're enjoying a couple of walks a day. Cooper likes when we walk along the golf course to a spot behind the 15th tee box where there are a lot of evergreens so he can point out all the pine cones, or as he says, "PINE CONES!!!!"

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Cooper and Penny at Amanda's Wedding, pt. 3

By day three of the pictures from the wedding, I guess I should actually include a picture of the newlyweds, eh?