Aug 31, 2008

Time of Discord

It certainly has been rough to actually find time to write on the old blog lately.  I now am working FOUR jobs.  I got hired to teach one Old Testament class at International Community School.  So now you never know where I'll be in the course of a day.  And, like most of you, we also had two kids start school recently - actually start and re-start thanks to the rain machine known as Tropical Storm Fay.  I have wanted to write a couple times, but I've been so tired at the end of the day I fall asleep in the chair.  Oh, what fun to be getting older.

I was thinking today how much I dislike this time of year.  Sure, football is starting, which is wicked good.  But there are several things that also happen that I can't stand.  Some of them are pretty minor (baseball playoffs, mosquito invasion).  But a couple are pretty big.  One is the annual dance of death with the Hurricane conga line in the Atlantic.  You know, I grew up in Florida.  For 34 years I have lived here.  And until 2004, I never really dreaded hurricane season.  I didn't like it - that's for sure.  But I can't remember going through a hurricane until we got hammered by three in a month in 2004.  After that, I just hate watching the weather and seeing those monster storms lined up.  Part of it is due to my kids.  They hate the storms.  Both of the older ones went through the 2004 season.  Josiah especially remembers it.  They can't stand the entire concept.  

In addition, it gets to be a really complicated way to look at events - like some sort of ultra-twisted ethics puzzle.  I don't want the storm to hit me, but to miss me it has to hit somewhere else.  I was worried about this Gustav storm.  And I was thrilled that it turned to miss us, until I realized that it was going to bust up New Orleans (same thing happened with Katrina).  Now there is Hanna out there.  I am rooting for it to miss us, but I don't want it to hit anywhere else either.  It's getting to be to where I hate the entire season.

The other thing I hate is the political season.  It seems like some variation of it happens every single year.  But every four years we get this super-duper-hatemonger extravaganza.  The Presidential election.  Being passionate about something is great.  I know that I have made my opinions known on this blog before about candidates.  [Lots of good it did.]  Opinions and feelings are good.  That is what this country was built on - the merging and melding of ideas.  What I can't stand is the hatred and vitriol that is spewed over the course of the election process.  It is ridiculous.

On my Facebook the other day, one of the people that I knew in high school actually wrote that she wished McCain had died in the POW camp.  WHAT?!?!  How is that even close to appropriate?  People have sent out dozens of emails about Obama - slandering him and his family.  Now, Sarah Palin is facing the same character assassination.  I swear that other countries must laugh their butts off at how we handle these elections.  We spend months and months insulting and berating candidates, bashing them time and again, insulting them until it is amazing that anyone would even trust them at all.  Then the one party who is the least offensive and incompetent squeaks out a win.  And we spend the next three years with half the country hating the winner.  Woo hoo!  Democracy at work.

I especially can't stand how this plays out in the Christian community.  The majority of "fundamentalist evangelicals" are Republican sympathizers.  So, those people who dare to venture to the other side are usually ridiculed for it.  And, as a result, they seem to feel it necessary to constantly either justify their position or fight like a cornered wolverine.  Yes, this is definitely how a church groups should act.  Definitely.  It is weird, too.  If Christians really believed what is taught in Ecclesiastes and Proverbs and 1 Peter, then they would believe that God is the one who chooses the rulers anyway.  So our in-fighting and out-fighting seems kind of pointless, right?

But, my griping isn't going to change either of the things bothering me.  Hurricanes aren't going to stop coming.  And the elections wars are going to get worse as the two sides get further apart.  I guess the key to do my best to make it through this season unscathed.  Be prepared, be informed, be aware.  I can't for a moment forget who is really in control.  And I need to extend love and mercy to everyone around me - those with opposing views, victims of the storm.  Even still, I can't wait until it is Thanksgiving.  The only swirling white caps will be the mashed potatoes, not the satellite image.  And the only steaming turkey will be on the table - not the podium.  

Aug 12, 2008

Eight Years

My apologies for the extended break between posts.  I have been pretty busy lately, what with the new job at Apple.  Speaking of that, for those of you who wondered what happened to my Apple post, I found out about the confidentiality policy.  I felt it better to take down the post rather than get fired before I started.  This week has been interesting.  It is the first week where I am juggling both gigs.  We had an absolutely incredible Defender session yesterday at International Community School, and we have two more on Thursday.  And Wednesday is my first day working at the Apple Store.  So now the fun really starts.  I have had some things I wanted to write about lately.  It was just a struggle to force myself to do that.  I had a book to write for yesterday's class.  So any free time I had was spent on that.  I will get to the other topics, though, because I think they are really good.

Today, though, I want to write about something else.  Today is August 12.  This is our eighth wedding anniversary.  I went back and was surprised to see that I have never written anything about this in the last four years.  So I figured I would take a brief moment to address this important day.

August 12, 2000.  I remember the day very well.  I remember getting up really early.  I dropped my car off at Rick Estes' house so that none of my ne'er do well groomsmen could find it and trash it.  He had to then drive me around to run errands.  Yes, errands.  I had already gone to WalMart to get a CD for the reception.  With Rick we went to Chick-Fil-A to get breakfast, and then to Terrace Bank to deposit some checks.  There was a lot of waiting around once I got to the church.  I remember that it was raining right before the ceremony, which Heather actually wanted to happen.  The ceremony is a blur - I honestly don't remember much.  There are some details, but mostly my brain skips to the reception.  I remember the cake.  I remember the awesome job the Reicherts did on the food (and that they sent a wonderful "doggie bag" with us to the hotel for dinner).  I do remember dancing with my mom and with Heather.  I remember missing it when Heather threw the bouquet because it wasn't supposed to happen then.  I had gone to change my clothes and was in the bathroom.  There are huge gaps in memory - I just know it was a happy day.

But, like Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, the beginning is not the important part.  It is the ending - how did everything turn out?  I can honestly say that our eight years together has not always been easy.  Six different jobs.  Unexpected pregnancies.  A miscarriage.  Financial struggles.  Trying to shuffle and organize multiple schedules, dreams, visions, and hopes.  We have had six different addresses in eight years - never living in the same place for more than two years.  Three kids.  Five different churches.  Three hurricanes.  And things won't get any easier.  Next year Heather will start Medical School, we'll probably move again, Natalie will start Kindergarten, and so on.

Sometimes I think the reason I don't remember much about August 12, 2000 is that SO MUCH has happened in such a fast time that it seems a lifetime away.  I can hardly remember those days.  Sometimes Heather and I will think back to when we used to go the grocery store for fun - just to spend time together.  Now a trip to the grocery store is a challenge - keeping three kids happy and under control, watching a tight food budget, driving a cart that won't maneuver right.  We think back to dates we had at the movies or at restaurants.  Now that never happens.  The very few times we get to go, we tote Gabe along.

But, that is not a complaint.  I am thrilled to be in this boat.  I want to be a dad.  I love my kids.  My family has been up in Orange Park for the last few days with Heather's family.  It is a good reminder of how much I hated being single.  I just kind of sit around and watch tv, play on the computer, eat at weird hours, sleep poorly.  I feel like there is something off all the time.  Last night I was hungry for dinner.  For three hours I sat in a chair and thought about eating.  I got up a couple times and stood staring into the fridge, stealing a couple of grapes each time.  Finally at 9pm, I ran up to Publix to get some chicken tenders and heavenly hash ice cream.  

I like my family.  I like my kids.  And I love my wife.  I enjoy being home with them.  I don't go out a lot.  Maybe once every six weeks I'll got out to a movie after the kids are asleep.  Usually I sit with them until bed time, and then watch tv with Heather.  The funny thing is, aside from a couple of exceptions [She likes Deliver Me, Secret Life of the American Teenager, John and Kate Plus Eight.  I don't.], we like the same shows.  We like going to the mall, going to Publix (most of the time), Sea World.  Our lives have become so intertwined that it is kind of hard to deal with one without the other.  And that is the way I want it.  She has her friends.  And she is free to hang out with them whenever she wants.  I have my friends.  But, honestly, that desire is not as strong as being together.

I think that is what it is all about.  I came from a home where there were two people living two completely different lives in one house.  They did things together, but their interests, goals, beliefs rarely intersected.  And I hated it.  I hated the feeling that to be with dad meant sitting in the tv room and to be with mom was sitting in the living room.  They didn't talk much - largely because my dad would not interact much with anyone at home.  I know this for sure - our kids are not going to have those thoughts.  They see their parents talking and working together and enjoying each other's company.  Sure, we have our moments of selfish behavior.  I don't always communicate like I should.  But for the most part, we are on the same page.

I love Heather.  She is an awesome person.  She is a great mom, a supportive and encouraging wife, a brilliant student, and a super friend.  I see how people respond to her - and I feel lucky that I get to be around her all the time.  She has backed me on everything I wanted to do.  I remember that she told me once that before we were married, she just wanted to make me a good home - that it would feel homey, with throw pillows.  That was always the image she had - a cozy home with throw pillows.  I can honestly say, that through all the changes and surprises - no matter where we were she accomplished that.  Even though it has NEVER been "our house" that we owned - it has always been home.  I think it is more because of the fact that she is there.  She doesn't make it a home with things; she makes it a home by being in it.  I know our kids feel that way.  And I certainly feel that.  Even in my own house, I'm not home without her.  I'm a lucky guy.  And yes, we do have lots of throw pillows.