When I was a kid, I used to read the post-Exodus stories about the Israelites complaining in the desert and think, “What idiots.” Didn’t they remember the ten plagues or crossing the Red Sea? Didn’t they eat the manna from heaven every single day? How could they forget? With all the self-assured spiritual confidence of the missionary kid I was, I knew that I would certainly never do such a thing.
Now I’m thirty years old, and I find myself identifying with the Israelites. Sometimes their complaints were legitimate, directly tied to biological necessities like food or water or not wanting to die battling giants. Yet I’m reminded that their attitude rather than their complaints seems to be what got them into trouble. Their needs may have been valid, but the way they expressed them wasn’t acceptable to God.
My wife, Abigail, and I just had our fourth child in our five years of marriage. The addition was going remarkably well. My mother-in-law stayed with us for a couple weeks while we got our bearings. Grandma left, and everything was going perfectly, or at least as perfectly as life with four children can go.
Then I started to get sick, along with all the children. Baby Lily stopped sleeping well (for a newborn) at night. Then my wife started having nursing complications and an intermittent fever, which caused her significant pain and basically put her out of commission. Continue reading “A Lesson in Faithfulness”
Call me crazy, but I’m rather attached to living. I’d rather not end up mangled in the midst of a mixture of metal and fiberglass melding at the end of high speed collision. I’d rather not get maimed as well, and now that I have kids, I feel especially obligated to stay alive.
However, living in Asheville, North Carolina makes this reasonable goal more difficult. I learned to drive in Wichita, Kansas, a flat city on a grid with a terrific road to car ratio, where traffic or an accident meant a few minutes delay. Then I moved to Asheville, North Carolina.
Asheville is basically the inverse of Wichita. The city is built around mountains, rivers, and the Biltmore Estate, with narrow roads placed where they fit, meaning there is no predictable or convenient pattern. Compounding the problem, Asheville is an established tourist destination with an exploding population. The tourists and new residents in addition to the over population and the now insufficient transportation system create what I like to call purgatory on asphalt. Continue reading “Surviving Asheville, N.C.’s Purgatory on Asphalt: How I Crushed My Near Accident Occurrences and Became Saner in the Process”
Abigail and I started our third week as parents several days ago, and Lizzy is still alive. I consider that successful parenting. Now that the blood and gore is in the review mirror, along with those slimy, green, poopy diapers, I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts about childbirth and the first several days that followed.
I did crack some jokes in the birthing process. No, I didn’t actually tell my wife, “Imagine you’re pushing a bowling ball out of your body. See, now a baby doesn’t sound so bad.” I made that comment the day before my wife went into labor. To Abigail’s credit, she only shushed me once during labor and never got violent. Continue reading “My Nipples Seem so Pointless Now and Other Thoughts from a First-time Father”
It was my last semester of college. I began the term by getting rejected by a woman I’d wanted to ask out the prior year. There were circumstances that prevent me from asking her out sooner, so instead of getting rejected and simply moving on, my feelings had grown in a stilted, one-sided manner for six months. In short, I was infatuated.
When the rejection did come, it struck deeper than it should have, and in the melodramatic way emotions can work, it put my dream of having a family someday in doubt.
At the same time, I was uncertain about what I would do after college. I was aging into a new level of responsibility and freedom, but instead of excitement, I felt fear. Continue reading “A Promise Fulfilled”
I first ran across The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, during my junior college Introduction to Literature course where we read the first chapter. I was unaffected. Most likely I wasn’t mature enough to appreciate what I was reading at the time. However, to my credit, as an adult I bought the book and it resonated with me, so much so that it’s become one of my favorite works.
The Things They Carried is a collection of essays written by a Vietnam veteran. We learn about the author’s experiences fighting in the war, being drafted, returning home, his childhood, and even revisiting Nam later. It’s not a particularly long book, but it does an incredible job of capturing the experience. Continue reading “7. The Things They Carried”
I have O.C.D., so it’s an understatement to say that I value order and cleanliness. When I was in high school, my friends joked about being afraid to enter my bedroom because it was so clean. When I was in college, I negotiated for the neatest roommate I could get. I’ve spent the last several years as on automotive detailer because I’m so obsessive about cleaning. However, having kids doesn’t fit that personal disposition.
Most Christians have heard the story about what happened during one of Jesus’ visits to Mary and Martha. Martha was the responsible adult. Martha cooked and got the house presentable, while her sister, Mary, sat at Jesus’ feet and listened. Yet when Martha finally complained to Jesus about Mary ignoring the work to be done, she received this answer:
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).
I am Martha. I’m an objective-oriented person rather than a people-oriented person. I like results. I want to achieve the goal, and although I can achieve a lot as a lone wolf, I resent being taken advantage of and having to carry more than my share of the burden. Continue reading “Learning to be Mary in a Martha World”
My children vomit while riding in the car like it’s an Olympic event. This first occurred with my eldest child half an hour into a three hour trip. Rather than turn around, I stopped at the nearest Walmart, and my wife bought trash bags, a new car seat, and clothes. We stripped Lizzy down, put the contaminated clothes and car seat in a trash bag, and continued on.
I was furious. This was not part of the plan. Besides, I’m an automotive detailer specializing in abused vehicles, and our car was now an abused vehicle. In addition to the extra hundred and fifty dollars we paid and the malodor perfuming our car, I was going to spend part of my weekend detailing for free. Continue reading “My Maturing Relationship with Vomit”