Moments: sort of a review of the movie Boyhood.

This is me.

This is me in the car with my daughters.

I took this picture within the last week.

But I have no recollection of where we were going or where we had been. If not for this picture, I wouldn’t have known this happened. I don’t remember.

It’s just a snapshot.  A moment.

These moments happen everyday, and most of them – sadly – I do not remember.  It’s why I take so many pictures; because when you’re a parent of three kids you barely have the energy to take it all in.  It just happens.

Continue reading “Moments: sort of a review of the movie Boyhood.”

The shaking that will not break us.

Tonight started out as the perfect night.

Just before 5 we rode as a family to the airport to pick up Oma (Robin’s mom) and then went to Chipotle and sat outside on a blanket watching airplanes land.  The cool air of a summer storm (without the rain) was a brilliant respite to the recent heat wave which broke 100 degrees (F) with insane humidity.  The girls played and wrestled on the grass and for the first time in their short existence, it seemed like Amalea and Maya REALLY loved each other, their joy shared in their free for all frolicking on this beautiful August day.

When we got home there was a brief melt down by Maya, which is normal. But she soon calmed down and I was on my way for a night off from parenting duties to go play pick-up soccer in the park – something I haven’t done in a long time.

Normally I am nervous at meeting new people, but I felt a sense of calm and resolve knowing how much I needed this night off and to both exercise and do something I loved with new friendly faces.  And it was truly fun. I had a blast.

There was a moment where I looked up at the sunset sky, the wind blowing through the trees, full of their green summer foliage, the ambiance like a symphonic master piece and I marveled out loud: This is so wonderful. Those of you who seek to experience joy and pleasure every single day know nothing of the quality of joy one experiences when you have endured a period of pain or suffering, or simply existing. The last few months have been very stressful, culminating in a vacation that felt less like a vacation and more like a marathon. And then we returned to Portland to an epic heat wave that required us buying another fan to try and beat the heat. It lasted only a few days, but it felt like it nearly did us in: the straw that broke the camels back.

Continue reading “The shaking that will not break us.”

Exodus Part 3: Hope

Hope

“I’ll be done with this post since I’m getting tired and my thoughts are not as clear and crisp as they could be.  But in my next post, in the future sometime, I want to touch on how my beliefs have changed in the last 5 years, who has changed my mind on certain things, and where I find hope now.  That last part, the hope part, is so important.  Because I get that there are a lot of disenchanted Christian church people out there who might relate with some of this stuff – but still love Jesus and want to find something to believe in.  I know. Me too.  And I think I’m coming out of the dark cloud pillar… but only to realize I’m wondering in a wilderness for the rest of my life. (I love the Exodus story for Moses and all that if you haven’t picked up on that yet… brilliant writing. Seriously. Brilliant.)”

Me – Exodus Part 2


A little something for you to listen to while you read the rest of this post. ^_^

Leaving “The Ministry”

Sometimes I stare off and wonder where the hell I’ve been the last 4 years. I mean after leaving my job in the church as a Youth Pastor in Thousand Oaks.  I wonder if it’s been worth it, or if I made some grand mistake.  It’s not that I am not happy with where I am today, but it is easy to look back and wonder “what if”.  For those who know anything about chaos theory, there are an infinite number of results to every decision made every single day. What if I went left instead of right?  What if I went 65mph instead of 45mph that one day?  A good example: just today there was a shooting at the Clackamas Mall (less than 10 miles from our house in Portland) and I can’t help but wonder… what if we were still there? What if we never left?  Only God knows if we would have been there today…  Ok, I encourage you to stop thinking about chaos theory if I got you started – it never leads to anything productive.  But it is definitely interesting to wonder…

And for this particular post, I am interested in where I have come spiritually over the last 4 years as a result of leaving the church (and friends) behind and moving on to other things.

Continue reading “Exodus Part 3: Hope”

Kids

There is a left turn red light I will always remember.  It was the left turn that led into Kaiser Permanente in Woodland Hills, CA – and the day was September 30th, 2007.  I sat there, staring at the light, and then turning my head to glance at my very pregnant wife, and I could feel the butterflies in my stomach.

I had no idea what lie ahead.

I guess I mark that moment in my head as the last moment of my life before I had kids.  Amalea was born the next morning, on October 1st, 2007.  Maya came two years later, and now we have one more little girl on the way.

See the thing is, once you have kids – you always have kids.  There is no going back, ever.  See it’s different than having a friend or being married.  Because those relationship status’ end. But kids… it does not matter if they were to pass away, you can never rip that relationship away, no matter what.  They have your eyes. They have your personality.  They have your sense of humor and your temper.  They came from you and they are yours, forever.

And so you’re life changes, drastically, when your first child enters the world.  You do not realize it until some time later, but everything changes and there is no way to return to the you-before-kids.

The moment… at that light.  That was someone else.  I was someone else.

But this isn’t really what I wanted to write about tonight, though it does serve as a good introduction.  What I wanted to write about, is in fact this relationship – parent / child.

Having a child is unlike any other experience in life.  It is exhilarating and terrifying.  It is liberating and stifling.  It is magical and it is mundane.

Kids… no wait, not just any kids, YOUR kids – are magical. They are.  I say, YOUR kids, because people without kids hear the word “kids” and immediately think of something 1. small and cute and 2. semi-annoying.  Which is true and all, but there is so… soo….soooo much more. And you can’t see past 1 and 2 unless they are YOUR kids.

Anyway, back to “magical”.  They are. Think about it.  They pop out all bloody and attached to their mom, kicking and screaming.  They barf and crap everywhere and they suck the life out of you, literally.  They demand your attention for every waking hour (and let’s face it, you can’t stop thinking about them after they fall-asleep either).  But over the first two years, they develop into this little person.  This little walking and talking person who has feelings (as primitive as they might be) and has thoughts (like remembering a person or place and stating that they remember).  They play make believe with toys and live in this alternate universe sometimes.  They smile, and frown, and cry, and laugh.  They lash out when they are angry, and they passionately hug you when they are scared or hurt.  In their most precious moments, they tell you they love you (even if it is the young 2 year old who repeats it “I wov you”) and they throw their arms around you and they laugh and scream and run towards you when you have been away from them for a long time.  In some of their forgettable moments, they swing at you, bite you, and tell you “I don’t want to talk to you right now” or just “No. Nothing.”  And there is so much going on inside of them.  It’s such a mystery.

Where did this little person come from?  Seriously, all I did was… well, most of you know what I did.  (-;

Life is so strange.

In the course of 4 years I feel like my life has, in one sense, ended, and in another sense, begun.  And this is how it is, I suppose.  For most of us that choose to procreate, we have kids and there in lies the death of our purposeful, self-important life, and the beginning of a time when we live for our kids.

I suppose it is not this way for some… or maybe most.  They have kids and it is more of a hurdle or a flat tire on their career path.  They struggle through the young years, keeping the kid alive, and then engross themselves again in their pursuit of glory and forget about their offspring.

But that’s not how it is for me (I hope).

I suppose I should be a little more self-indulging and care more about the effect I am having on the world and how I might contribute to bettering the world outside of my family.  But I can’t seem to rekindle my passions outside of my kids!  It’s crazy, I know.

And it’s a little depressing at times, I’ll admit it.  Sometimes I look at all of this and it feels like this big circle.  Like, there was a time when you were preparing for something.  You went to school and you prepared for the adult world.  You learned how to get a job and support yourself – and for what?  Well, to have kids and then to do the same for them.  Feels small and insignificant – but I’m finding it actually just might be what it is all about.

Life that is, what life is all about: kids. No, seriously. Ok, I know, you’re reading this and you don’t have kids – you think I’m one of those nutso parents who have completely lost it… maybe.  But I don’t think so (they all say that ^_^).

People make life out to be some grand adventure (and to some extent, it is) but what they really mean is they want to experience as much for THEM as they possibly can.  And that’s fine and all, go be the “world’s most interesting man” but at the end of your life, what do you have to show for your life and all that you’ve done?  Memories stuck in your head that only benefit you?

The ultimate fulfillment at the end of life, is knowing that you contributed in some small way to continuing life.  And not just continuing it – but creating loving memories that you share with a family.  Experiences that will be passed on long after you have died and are gone.  You raise your children and you leave your fingerprints all over them (and in turn, on their kids and their kids and so on).

And this is what it is all about. Family.

I may have missed out on the club scene and getting drunk and going to crazy parties.  I may never have lived in a fancy condo on the 30th floor of some exciting town, and have a big time job at some big time company.  I may never drive a sports car or drink mixed drinks.  I may never have sex with another woman for the rest of my life.  And I’m ok with that, with all these things I may never experience… because I know, that when I am dying and ready to say goodbye – or even now if I were to pass suddenly – I know that my legacy (if you can call it that) lives on in my children.  I know that I have created life and (hopefully) offered all of who I am to my children so that they may do the same for their children.

Having kids, it’s not the end. It is the beginning. The beginning of a meaningful life – a meaningful future for all my descendants. I am grateful for the opportunity to have kids and to be able to hold them, and love them, and nurture their curiosity.  I am trying to keep my head above the smog that is the day in and day out demanding routines of a 4 year old and a 2 year old, so that I can relish in the overwhelming satisfaction that comes from knowing that you have created life – and a future.

Kids are so great. MY kids, are so great.  And I would, in an instant, give up my life for theirs – because my life is theirs, and I hope someday they can pass their lives on to their kids.

Fear and Trembling

I’m pretty sure I remember being a kid.  It’s fading fast every year, though.  I remember not so long ago vowing to myself that I would never forget what it was like to be a kid and a teenager, because I felt that adults never understood what it was like and therefore treated me very unfairly because of this.  I’m not sure my opinion on that has changed, but I’m also not sure I really remember exactly what it was like to be a kid and to be a teenager!

I remember being scared as a kid.  Scared of a lot of things.  Today I either blame that on my heightened imagination or all the freaky movies I watched at probably too young of an age.  Now that Amalea (my oldest daughter) is taking swim lessons, I can remember – to a pretty late age (maybe 6th grade) – always being afraid that there were sharks in the pool… in the deep end where it was dark and cloudy.  Of course there are no sharks in pools – it is silly to even think there is.  A shark would die in a pool full of chlorine, and someone would have to A) catch the shark and B) put it in the pool.  Yes, this I now know.  But when I was a kid I was CONVINCED beyond a shadow of a doubt that there in fact MUST be sharks in pools; in the shadows that you can not see.

I remember being afraid of dinosaurs.  I had a REALLY vivid dream of a T-Rex basically ripping my house apart and my family and friends with it (and maybe me too).  It was a very hellish dream (like everything was red like there were fires burning or something) and I can remember being terrified at Disneyland going on the train that went around the park because it would go through this one exhibit where there were dinosaurs… and again… I was CONVINCED that they were going to eat me. No question about it.

I was afraid of roller coasters (didn’t go on one until I was in 6th grade, when I forced myself, alone, to go on Thunder Mountain at Disneyland – the summer of 8th grade I would get a season pass to Six Flags Magic Mountain and ride Batman, Viper, and Superman over and over and over), I was afraid of going in the ocean, I was afraid snakes (ok, I still am), and I was afraid of the dark (I had glow in the dark stars, christmas lights, stereo lights, computer screens, anything to illuminate the shadows).  Even in high school, at the outdoor school where I was a counselor and had to take the 6th graders on a night hike – I was the one that was scared!  And when I was in Africa, in a little house out in the Masai Marra (where lions and leopards live) – there was no way in hell I was leaving the room I was sleeping in to use the OUTDOOR bathroom in the middle of the night!  I nearly wet my pants – I couldn’t even crack the door open and… you know… pee out the door because I was CONVINCED that there was a lion behind the door and if I even cracked it, I was a goner.

Pathetic right?

But I think what is even more pathetic than that… is the fact that sometimes I am annoyed when my 3 year old DAUGHTER is sometimes afraid.  And I might emphasize SOMETIMES. She’s actually very brave.  But somehow, I have forgotten what it was like to be CONVINCED (it didn’t matter what adults said… they were obviously wrong) that there was danger in the darkness, or dinosaurs in the country, or I was going to fly off the tracks of a roller coaster.

I need to be more patient with my daughter – more understanding and forgiving that her imagination is REAL, and INTENSE, and in a way – outside of her control.  I need to respect her fears if I am going to help her get over them.  Besides, a little bit of fear is not a bad thing… it keeps you from burning your hand on the fire – right?

So what am I scared of today?

Psychopaths. Crazy people. I mean, really crazy people – the type that would break into your house and rape your daughters and then slice your throats.  Sure, they are out there – like maybe 1 in a million – but still – keeps me up at night.  I’m not worried about myself anymore… maybe that is what becoming a parent does to you – it releases your own fears and replaces them with a whole other set of fears for your children.  I’m afraid my children will become addicted to drugs.  I’m afraid they will have an eating disorder – or run away – or be killed in an accident.  Or less grousome fears – like that my children might be depressed, or made fun of in school, or that any punk ass boy (like myself back in the day) will break their hearts one day.  These are my fears now… and I am CONVINCED – at times – they will come true.

I need to let go of these new fears.  Ride the roller coaster of life and face them.  Realize these fears DO happen – but that I can not let them handcuff me in life; terrorize me and keep me up at night.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – yeah, maybe. (-: