The Puny Pundit

Musings of a big guy with small thoughts.

I Love Golf Too Much (Part 3)

Two years ago I became the proud owner of my first set of golf clubs.  Ever since I was 13 I used other people’s clubs.  For 15 years I was using my brother’s club because my dad never bought me a set.  He bought my brother two sets.  Not sure why that is, but I think I’m ok with that arrangement now.  Anyways…I get my first set.  I can’t tell you how excited I was.  I took a picture of them and made it my phone’s wallpaper.  I would sit in my office just staring at how beautiful they were.

Well one night my wife said she needed a hand with the laundry.  She said all she needed for me to do was to bring down the baskets containing the dirty clothes and that she would take care of the rest.  I go upstairs and saw 6 baskets of dirty clothes.  I want to go back to looking at my golf clubs so I decide to stack three baskets on top of each other so that I could make it in two trips.  Well our home has wood floors all throughout the house and I was wearing socks.

On the way down my foot slips.  Three baskets go flying into the air.  I fall down trying to brace the fall with my hands.  My hand goes in a direction that was not intended by the design God gave it.  I was in a lot of pain not to mention my back and neck were affected by the impact.  My wife runs over and asks if I am ok.  I am yelling in pain.  The first thing I do when I get up is I put my hands together like I am holding a golf club.  I wanted to see if would be able to hold a golf club.  The pain so great and the injury so severe I knew golf was gone.  I yelled, “No!!!!!”

My wife was half laughing half worried.  Her laughter wasn’t due to the fact that she thought I was funny.  Her laughter was a result of her thinking that I was insane.  Well, I found out that I damaged my joints in two places and had a spiral fracture on my ring finger that took 4 months to heal.  I didn’t get to play with my clubs for 4 months.  It was the most painful 4 months of my life.

As the title says, I love golf too much.

PS: Ever since that injury I walk very slowly down the stairs holding the rails and put my socks on downstairs now.

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I Love Golf Too Much (Part 2)

Yesterday I shared a story about how golf makes me a terrible husband. Today is a story about how golf helps me to be a good person…but still makes me a crappy husband.

When I play golf (which is about once a month), I get real excited. I put out the clothes I am gonna wear the next day like I used to do on the first day of school. I clean my clubs. Sometimes I even clean older golf balls. I do a little research on the golf course I am gonna tear up. BTW…when I say tear up I mean literally not figuratively. Golf superintendents hate people like me because I make a course look like a minefield that has been activated.

I don’t do this anymore but up until a year ago I also went grocery shopping to buy vitamin water, bananas, and sandwich material for me and my playing partners. So I wake up at 4:30am to make sandwiches for my playing partners, which is extreme behavior because I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination. I made ham and cheese sandwiches and pb&j sandwiches. I bagged each one into ziplock bags placing them in a separate paper bags with a banana, vitamin water, and granola bar. As I finish the last one I look up and see my wife who is standing by the kitchen door. She is shaking her head and says, “What the…Oh my…Wow…This is just…Wow. Have you ever done this for your own children?”

What could I possibly say to that? Btw…if you are judging me right now, let me just say for the record that I have made sandwiches for my children plenty of times. Never in the morning or at the expense of my sleep but I have. I am not a total loser. Just a partial one.

So I said, “It’s not how it looks. It’s meaningless. It’s just this one time. It will never happen again.” I threw every cliche at her that a man would give when he cheats on his wife. Then I told her I had to go because I didn’t want to be late for our tee time. Like I said yesterday, I know in hindsight how bad this story is. I really do. But as I said yesterday, love makes you do crazy things. Look I am not saying I love golf more than my family. I’m just saying, you know, what I’m saying.

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I Love Golf Too Much (Part 1)

Two weeks ago my brother and I made plans to play golf.  These days I have been taking Thursday as my day off from church so we were set to play.  Every Wednesday we host a small group from our church that meets at our home for dinner, discussion, and prayer.  Every Wednesday we have to clean the house and prepare food (which these days means ordering take-out).  The day before my golf outing, my wife was doing the dishes, vacuuming the house, putting away laundry, setting the table, sweeping the floors, cleaning the bathroom, etc.

What was I doing?  I was outside cleaning my golf clubs with my son.  I would rinse the clubs and then use my handy brush to clean the clubs.  Then I would rinse again, hand the club to my son who was supposed to have the next club ready to hand me while he would dry them off.  I got a little upset with him because he wasn’t drying them thoroughly.  So we switched.  He rinsed, I brushed, he rinsed, I dried.  The problem was he thought it was fun to play with the water so he kept spraying water everywhere which really annoyed me.

I have 12 clubs so it took awhile to clean each one.  Some clubs required double the cleaning.  After about an hour I come back into the house with my son.  I give my wife my golf towel and I ask her to wash it before my golf game the next day.  I go to the sofa and I start watching the golf channel to get some last minute tips.  She walks by and says, “You have no conscience!”

I replied, “What?”

She said, “I have been getting the house ready for our guests while you and your son ignore me and the house so you can clean your golf clubs?”

I replied, “What?  What are you saying?  Are you saying you need help?”

My wife says, “Yes that would be nice.”

I yell, “#3!!!!  Come downstairs and help your mother clean the house!”

I wish I could tell you that this story isn’t true but unfortunately for my wife, it is.  I know it is wrong in hindsight but at the moment I couldn’t understand.  What can I say?  Love makes you do stupid things.

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Jungle Fever

Last week I was in Minnesota for three days meeting with denominational leaders.  During my stay I shared meals with some older friends whose children are getting married and/or going to college.  We talked about my last blog entry about the sadness of losing a daughter to another man.  They were sharing with me their firsthand experience of this process.

During one of the dinners we started the typical parents “here’s a funny story about my kids” dialogue (click here for another example).  So I start. I talk about how #2 had a boyfriend by the time she was 4 (click here to read).  One of my friends is close to my age and has four kids.  His wife shares that their daughter, when she was 5 or 6, said to her, “Mommy.  I know who I am gonna marry.”

Mom: Who?

Daughter: Aaron.

Mom: Why do you want to marry Aaron?

Daughter: Because he is a black boy and when we have kids they will look like dalmatians.

LOL.

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Father of the Groom

Yesterday I wrote about my emotions and thoughts on the future weddings of my girls.  It’s such a common theme isn’t it?  A father’s pain in losing a daughter is well documented.  What doesn’t get enough press and attention is the importance of a man finding a good woman.  We as fathers worry so much about the men who will marry our daughters but I feel like it is our sons we should worry about the most.  Let me explain.

We all know that women end up wearing the pants in the family.  They are smarter, in some ways stronger, and can be in many instances relationally more in tune.  Even if you have a macho man who marries a quiet passive woman, the tides always turn as the couple ages.  So what is my point.  I believe women can survive loser guys more than men can survive a bad wife.  I have seen countless women marry bad men and still maintain their faith, integrity, family relationships, etc.  When a man marries a bad wife, game over.  He loses everything.

It is interesting to me that this reality has never led our society or culture to consider how important it is for a man to find a really good woman.  Of course women need good men.  But losing a son never gets the press or attention that parents of daughters get.  I truly believe we need to focus on our sons just as much.  If our daughters marry losers we will still most likely see them and have a relationship with them.  If our son marries a Jezebel we will most likely lose him for good.

Is this sexist?  I don’t know.  That is not my intent.  My intention is to express the need for fathers to think about the weddings of their sons as much as the weddings of their daughters.  I have spoken to countless men who have walked their daughters down the aisle.  They always say that it is different than watching their sons get married.  Watching their daughters getting married stings a lot more for them.  Maybe us fathers need to reconsider.

My brother and I are very blessed.  We are married to two incredible women.  My parents and extended family see and appreciate the fact that they have a good relationship with two daughter-in-laws.  Our wives are really good to our family.  My dad never had a daughter so he didn’t focus on losing his little girl.  All he had were boys.  But my dad talked to us about the importance of marriage and finding a good wife since we were 13 years old.  I think my dad observed what I have observed and decided to instill the importance of finding a good wife.  Every Saturday morning we would have family devotions.  Without fail he would talk about two things…(i) how important it is to find a good wife and (ii) how important it is to understand that every penny we have as a family is a gift from God.

So I would like to raise a challenge to fathers who have sons.  Let us think and prepare for our sons weddings as we do our daughters.  We men are weak.  We men are fragile.  We are prone to wander.  All the more we need good wives.

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Father of The Future Brides

12 years ago I was engaged to my wife.  We were pretty young (24 and 21 at the time).  Like the idiot I am, I decide to buy my in-laws a copy of the movie, “Father of the Bride”.  I thought it would be a great idea to watch this movie all together and to look at the wedding and marriage through the lens of comedy.  There had been a little drama along the way and I thought this would really help all of us enjoy the preparations for the wedding.

Well, we never finished the movie.  From the opening line my mother-in-law started to cry.  Half way into the movie, she runs upstairs because it was too much.  Minutes later my father-in-law goes up with a broken heart.  In my immaturity I wondered with a measure of annoyance, “What the heck is their problem?”  At the time I really didn’t get it.

Last night my wife and I watched that movie for the first time in 12 years.  I am now the father of four amazing little girls.  From the opening line I could not stop crying.  Prior to last night, I have only cried twice in a movie.  Life is Beautiful?  Fell asleep.  The English Patient?  Am I a man?  No way.  Tae Guk Gi (the korean “saving private ryan” wannabe)?  Not a chance.  Death.  Love.  Drama.  None of it can make me cry.  This movie…my wife and I cried and cried from beginning to end.  Even as I type this entry my eyes are tearing up.

We cried for a couple of reasons.  First, my wife was thinking about our wedding and marriage from her father’s perspective.  Although I didn’t cry for that reason it really hit me hard that I was so insensitive to what my in-laws were going through.  It wasn’t just buying an inappropriate movie for them.  In my desire to get married I never thought about how hard it must have been for them especially since I married my wife when she was 21 years old.  For my wife she couldn’t stop thinking about her own father during the movie.

The second reason we both cried is obvious.  We were envisioning ourselves in the future watching our daughters becoming a family with a man.  This is the opening monologue…

Annie Banks Mackenzie. That’s her married name: Mackenzie. You fathers will understand. You have a little girl. An adorable little girl who looks up to you and adores you in a way you could never have imagined. I remember how her little hand used to fit inside mine. Then comes the day when she wants to get her ears pierced, and wants you to drop her off a block before the movie theater. From that moment on you’re in a constant panic. You worry about her meeting the wrong kind of guy, the kind of guy who only wants one thing, and you know exactly what that one thing is, because it’s the same thing you wanted when you were their age. Then, you stop worrying about her meeting the wrong guy, and you worry about her meeting the right guy. That’s the greatest fear of all, because, then you lose her.

In the movie, Annie Banks is an amazing daughter.  When her father complains about the cost of the wedding, she falls asleep reading an article entitled, “How to have a wedding on a budget”.  My wife and I couldn’t stop thinking about #1 and #2. We cried thinking about how much they will want us to love their husbands.  How much they will want their husbands to love our family.  I get happy when I think about some of the amazing men I know and the thought that my daughters might marry people like them…full of character, men of faith.  Then I think about the countless losers I know and then my heart sinks at the thought of them loving someone who doesn’t have the capacity to love them in a way they deserve.

I have always said to young people who have asked about kids that raising kids will bring every emotion everyday.  Joy. Fear. Anger. Laughter. Etc. Thinking about my daughters’ future weddings bring all of that times 100.  Daughters think the world of dads.  The thought of that changing saddens me though I know it is a necessary step..leaving us to become one with another.  The thought of our daughters starting a family also brings joy, fear, anxiety…all of it everyday.

It has been a few days since we saw that movie.  I am glad we saw it.  We are enjoying each day with our girls (and son) because we have already seen that time goes so fast.  We want to enjoy them while we have them with us.  Casting our hearts to the future has really changed our perspective of the present.  Things that would normally annoy us are overlooked.  Things that would make us angry are let go.  Hmmm.  Sounds like a good habit…casting our hearts to the future to determine our present….

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Brain Damage

Raising a large family is awesome.  The joy far outweigh the challenge.  As great as it is, parenting does not happen without cost.  I have found that the biggest price I have paid in being a parent is the loss of my memory.  Below are some examples of what I do sometimes because of brain damage.

1. When I call for a kid I yell all five names before I get the right one.  “#1…I mean #2…I mean #4…I mean #3…#5 get down here now!!!

2. When I am alone with the kids I will get them ready and into the car.  I start driving completely forgetting where we are going.  Sometimes I ask the kids where we are going and in the process do example #1 again.

3. On several occasions I have gone into restaurants for take out, paid for the food, and then left without the food.  Each time the cashier had to come out after me to remind me to take the food.

4. One time #2 asked me, “Who is your favorite daughter?”  I answered, “I love all three of you different but the same amount.”  #1 replied, “But you have four daughters.”

5. The other day I took my wife’s car to the market.  When I came out I spent 15 minutes looking for my car.

6. I dial a number and by the time the person picks up I complete forget who I was calling.

7. Everyone walks into a room and forgets why they are there or what they are looking for.  Lately I walk into bathrooms because I have to pee and forget why I am there and then leave without peeing.  Seriously.  Happened a couple times last month.

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Awkward Love | the carry

Growing up I watched movies where women jumped into the arms of their men.  I saw scenes of men sweeping their wives off their feet and carrying them to the bedroom.  Since I was young I wanted this to be my reality.  Then I met my wife.  She hates being carried.  When I say hate, I mean hate.  Throughout our marriage I have tried multiple times to sweep her off her feet (literally).  The result…massive convulsions and strikes to my head with her screaming, “Put me down!  Put me down!  Stop it!”  Imagine Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man except she is hitting my head.

Most men would stop.  I am not your typical man.  In the face of such reaction I felt I needed to help my wife overcome her distaste for being carried.  So for the last 10.5 years I have tried over and over again to pick her up off her feet.  I felt that I could change her so that she could fulfill a fantasy I have.  Will I ever stop?  Will I ever leave my wife alone?

She just walked into my office while I was trying to type this entry.  I tried picking her up again.  FAIL!

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Socially Savvy

#5 is a character.  She looks exactly like #2 and has a lot of similar personality traits.  Click Here and Here to read about #2’s savvy ways.  One day we had a gathering for our extended family on my side.  My aunt, who absolutely adores the kids, went up to #5 and said, “Hi #5!  Do you remember me?  What is my name?”

#5 doesn’t even blink and replies, “I will tell you later.”

This little kid didn’t want to make my aunt sad.  Remember she is a pastor’s kid so she has a lot of adult interaction especially on Sundays.  She has seen many times how people react when she doesn’t know their names.  They express sadness.  So when my aunt asked and she didn’t know her name, she came up with that response.  Our entire extended family still talks about that exchange every time we get together.

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Whatever It Takes | Part 2

Many years ago my wife brought #2 into the world.  #1 was 13 months old.  We lived in a 700 sq. ft. apartment at the seminary I was studying at.  We were really young parents at the time not knowing what we were doing.  Sure we had baby before, but we didn’t have experience raising two little ones.  My wife was struggling with breast feeding one while parenting the other.  Those of you who just had your first child….imagine all that you are going through except with a 13 month old wandering around the house and occasionally throwing hissy fits to get attention.

Back then trying to get our kids to sleep was the greatest challenge.  We had no problems letting them cry and sleep training them but our apartment and over parenting caused us to do some strange things.  For example, ever since #1 was born, once the kids went down to bed, we never never never flushed the toilet.  We were afraid it would wake them up.  When we watched tv or a movie at night I would move the sofa two feet away from the tv with the volume very low and captions on.  Every movie was like a foreign movie with subtitles.

The reason I share this with you is because this noise reduction exercise we did left us in a dilemma.  How do you put #1 to sleep while taking care of #2.  Putting #1 to sleep, back then, took us a long time.  She hated it.  Normally we would go military style and sleep train, but my wife wanted to be sensitive to the fact that she was dealing with a new member of our family at such a young age.  So one night (like every night) my wife was putting #1 to bed while I was watching tv.

#2 starts to cry.  I knew my wife was still trying to put #1 to bed so I had to get #2 to stop otherwise #1 would wake up or be delayed in her sleep.  Nothing would calm her down.  I tried the pacifier.  I checked her diaper.  I tried to whisper a song into her ear.  I had to do something.  We were so sleep deprived and emotionally drained I didn’t want to prolong the time my wife would have to be with #1 getting her to sleep.  So what did I do?

I whip out my left man boob and let her go at it so she will stop crying in the hopes she would think it was mama time.  I don’t know why I did that.  I mean I knew she was hungry.  My instincts took over and…wow…I can’t believe I actually did that.  It was the most awkward, uncomfortable, painful experience of my life.  It kind of tickled.  It kind of hurt.  I was taking one for the team and literally sacrificed my body for my family.  How long did this thing go on?  Not very long.  I couldn’t take it anymore so I took #2 off my breast.  She starts screaming.  My wife comes in and takes over.  She feeds while asking what happened…why #2 was crying on and off.

I proudly smiled and told her what I did for our family.  Covering her mouth with one of her hands she laughed shaking her head side to side with #2 on her left boob.  She laughed so hard I thought she might drop #2.  She was laughing thinking to herself, “I can’t believe you did that!”  I was thinking, “I can’t believe you have to do that!”

BTW…if you are wondering where “part 1″ of this title is CLICK HERE.

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Awkward Love | the song

My wife and I are very different when it comes to romance.  I am sentimental.  I love surprises.  My wife does not like romantic gestures.  Although she likes flowers and likes being taken to nice places, she does not like cheesy romantic gestures.  In light of Valentine’s Day I would like to share three stories (one each day) of how these differences have led to some really awkward moments in our relationship.

12 years ago I wrote my wife (who was my girlfriend at the time) a song.  I had never written a song before even though I tried several times.  They all ended up having the exact melody of a song already written with different lyrics.  This one was different.  It was original and in my opinion conceptually very strong.  The song was called “Five Foot Two”.  The gist of the song…the verses focused on the irony that I was so scared, nervous, and insecure as a 6’2″ man when confronted with a woman who was a mere 5’2″.  The chorus focused on the theme that my love though small (like a seed) blossomed and grew to become 5’2″.

Conceptually strong right?  No?  Whatever.  So for a special date I took her to Rose Hills where my grandmother was buried.  Those of you who are from the east coast…west coast graves are totally different than the east coast horror movie upright tombstone graveyards.  In Los Angeles graves are beautiful rolling green hills where the tombstone lies flat on the ground.  Anyways, my grandmother and I were really really close.  She repeatedly told my mom that she doesn’t care when she dies as long as she could meet my wife.  Well, my grandmother passed when I was 15 so her wish went unfulfilled.  I wanted to take my wife there as a sentimental gesture to connect my wife with my grandmother.  They seriously would have loved each other.

So I prepare a picnic and then bust out my guitar to sing the greatest love song of all time.  I poured out my heart in this song.  It was a little awkward so I just closed my eyes to concentrate on delivering the song with my soul.  I finish.  My wife starts to look around at the sky and the scenery.  No comment.  Just really really awkward silence.  I put the guitar down and ask, “So what did you think?”

She replied, “Yeah…well…I don’t know what to say.”

I respond, “Well did you like it?”

She said, “I mean…yeah…wow…I have no idea how to respond to that.”

At this point I am curled up in fetal position ready to bury myself 12 feet underground.  There are two things in my life I have done once and have vowed to never ever do again in public: sing a song I wrote and dance.  My freshman year in college my roommate and I went to freshman orientation.  There was a dance afterwards.  A couple of girls come up and wanna dance.  I never danced in public before but I had been secretly practicing since I was 5.  So I was ready.  I proceed with what I thought was the “Roger Rabbit”, transitioned seamlessly into the “Kid N Play”, moving on to the “Running Man”.  I even attempted to combine the “Kid N Play” with the “Running Man”.  I closed out my combination of moves by trying to freak the taller of the two girls.  They covered their mouthes and and walked away.

The feeling I had at that moment is how I felt after singing my song.  My wife and I joke about that moment every year without fail.  She smiles and shakes her head while I my soul grieves.  We laugh, I cry.

Btw…in my wife’s defense I shared that song with a friend 7 years later.  He said, “Dude, that sounds like an Adam Sandler song.”

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I Hate Rats

Last year during the winter we developed a pretty big rat problem.  We had a few rats who decided to move into our California basement.  One of them made it up to our first floor and made a little studio apartment behind our upright piano.  He stole some socks and underwear from the laundry room and made a bed out of them.  We didn’t know he was around because he pooped under and behind things.  It was awesome.

When I found him I tried to scare him into a glue trap however he kicked it aside and made a b-line for the a/c vent in my office where he was living.  The house we live in is very old so the a/c and heater come through vents located on the floor.  He gets into the vent and slides back down into the basement in a well choreographed escape plan.

The pest control couldn’t make it for a few days so we were stuck knowing that we were cohabitating with a few rats.  The pest guy said we should put all food away and wipe down counters and floors everyday.  Why you ask?  Well we found out that rats pee while walking around your house.  We couldn’t block off all the possible entry points because there were too many.  So every morning for four days my wife, unbeknownst to me, woke up 5am everyday and wiped down every counter top, table top, and floors on the first floor with anti-bacterial stuff.

Well, the pest guys came.  Killed most of the rats and blocked out the rest.

Couple of days ago, I was walking into the house and thought I saw a rat in our basement through an outdoor vent.  It really scared me not only because of what we went through before, but because I really hate rats.  So I told my 7 year old son to take a flash light and go check out the basement.  My wife was half smiling (because she thought I was surely kidding) and half puzzled (because she knows me really well and was processing the reality that I wasn’t).

So my son goes down.  Wait…before you judge me…I was standing at the top of the basement encouraging him and reassuring him that I was there for him…at the top by the door.  He cautiously walks down with the flash light and looks around.  I ask him if there are any rats and he is slowly realizing what he agreed to do.  As soon as I asked, “So are there any rats?”  He got scared and started walking back up to the top.  I sternly told him to man up and look around some more.  His sisters are all next to me worried for their brother.  I assured them he was fine.  #4 looked down and asked, “Are you ok #3?  Aren’t you scared that a rat might come out?”

That’s when it hit him.  He runs back up and hands me the flash light and says, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”  I am really annoyed at this point because I am pretty sure he didn’t look around thoroughly.  So I grab the flash light and take a few steps down into the basement.  I bend over to look around but as I do my hair gets caught up it a huge spider web.  I squeal like a little squeaky toy and run up to the top.  I locked the basement door and told everyone to get back to school work.

I am gonna call the pest control tomorrow.  Actually I told my wife to call.  I specifically asked her to tell the pest dude that she is a single mom that needs a man to look for her since she is too scared and all alone.

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Men In Tights

I am heavier than I have ever been in my life.  I am 75 pounds heavier than I was in college and 65 pounds heavier than I was on my wedding day.  Like a lot of realities in life, the reasons are complex.  Part occupational hazard.  Most church planters gain 20 pounds starting a church in the US.  We are always meeting people, eating with people, and due to financial constraints we eat a lot of fast food.  Part of it is the busyness of raising five kids.  Do you like how I can blame my children for how big I have gotten?  What are the other factors?  I love food.  A lot of times when I sit down to plan a diet I look at the future and say with a smile, “I would rather be fat.”  While that is true practically, it is not true deep down inside.

Even though I say that I would rather be fat I want to be healthy for my family.  I want to look and feel good.  I live in the most image conscious city in the world and minister to a church that is very fashionable and cool.  I am the opposite of that.

A little while ago one of my friends sat me down for a heart to heart.  He wanted to talk about my weight and the clothes I wear.  He wasn’t being mean or superficial.  He just noticed that with every pound I gained, I dressed in a way that said I don’t care how I look.  You see he is right.  The bigger I get, I find the more of my wardrobe gets placed in the “I can’t fit into this” box and I take out the hideously large clothes I put away thinking I would never wear these again.

Something I never knew was that in the fashion world, the fatter you are the tighter you should wear your clothes.  My mom always said that but she wanted me to wear tight stuff so I would feel uncomfortable and get the motivation to lose weight.  She said you need to feel how fat you are.  My friend had a different take.  He said wearing tighter, darker jeans make your legs look longer and skinnier.  He wasn’t saying wear super tight jeans.  He was saying that if I wore jeans that were tighter than the ones I wear now I would look thinner. He also said that I should wear tighter shirts than what I normally wear.  You see this is so counterintuitive for me.  The fatter I get the looser I want my clothes.  I sacrifice appearance for comfort.

One day I decide to test my friend’s advice.  I took a pair of jeans out of my “I can’t fit into this” box and wore them to church.  I also wore a black long sleeve t-shirt that was a little slim fit.  A lot of people said they thought I lost 10 pounds.  Amazing.  It was like I discovered something from a Harry Potter book…a cloak that sheds weight.

For the last month I have been battling vertigo because of a condition I have called Meniere’s Disease.  Long story short I have been in bed waiting for vertigo episodes to pass.  One day the dizziness took a break so I asked my wife to take me and the kids to the Grove in LA.  I just wanted fresh air and to be out of the house.  So we go.  #5 threw up on herself so my wife took her to Gap to buy a $5 outfit to change into because I didn’t want to leave.  I took #1 and #3 with me to Nordstroms.  I never ever shop so I just thought I would go to the store my mom always went to when I was growing up.

I had no intention of buying anything.  I just wanted to try on some more dark jeans and tight shirts.  So I go to the section where cool skinny people shop and try on some clothes.  I take #1 and #3 into the dressing room with me.  First I put on one of the designer t-shirts.  My kids giggle because the shirt functioned like a pushup bra.  The design, stitching, and cut somehow grabbed my man boobs and squished them in a couple different directions making me look like a night club bouncer named “Tiny” who has poor self awareness issues.  While I was changing shirts, my son pulled up his shirt grabbing his stomach, shaking it wondering if my body is what his body is like.  He saw my fat jiggle so he jiggled his fat.

Then come the jeans.  I kept the pushup bra shirt on so I could see how the whole ensemble would look together.  The jeans were really cool.  They were $200.  I put the jeans on and so far so good.  The legs felt comfortable while being a little tighter than the baggy stuff I normally wear.  Then came the dreaded top button.  I suck in some serious air and barely button the top.  This step did something I did not like.  It gave me the strangest wedgy I have ever received.  What made this wedgy remarkable was not just how deeply it penetrated but how wide it penetrated.  It looked like someone grabbed me from the front and yanked really hard.

My two kids are laughing while saying, “Wow daddy.  You look great.”  I change back into my Shrek outfit and head out of the store.  I meet my wife who is covered in vomit outside and she asks, “So did you find anything you liked?”

I said, “No.  Everything was too…forget it…let’s get some ice cream.”

FML.

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My Song

I love to sing.  I am not great at it, but I love to sing.  I sing in the shower.  I sing in the car.  I serenade my children just about everyday.  The weird thing about my singing is not the quality, quantity, or location.  The weird thing is that my song selection does not take into consideration the gender of the author or lyrics of the song.  I frequently sing songs written and performed by women (often meant to be sung to a man).

Examples include Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know”, Celion Dion’s “I’m Your Lady”, Salt N’ Pepa’s “What a Man”.  Most recently I have been singing the song from the Mulan sound track “Reflection”.  My favorite part of the song to sing and read is the chorus…”Who is that girl I see, staring straight back at me?  When will my reflection show who I am inside?”  I sing this song at least once a day to all my kids.  They smile.  They laugh.  They join.

Last weekend we went with some friends to Disney on Ice at the Staples Center.  We had a blast.  Our kids loved the show.  #5 was sitting on my lap enjoying the performances and clapping for each Disney character that emerged.  During the princess performances Mulan came out to the song “Reflection”.  As she skates across the ice #5 leans over and says, “Daddy, it’s your song!  It’s your song!  Look Mulan is ice skating to your song!”  That moment opened my eyes to the fact that I should probably be more careful in my song selection.  I am not sure if it is healthy that my children associate the baring of my soul as a search for the inner girl inside.

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Childolatry | The Idols Our Kids Make

Last week we had some guests come over so my wife asked the kids to come downstairs so she could explain their duties and delegate some work.  The kids have a way of knowing when they are going to be used for labor so they took their time coming down, some of them complaining as they made their way into the living room.  My wife, understandably frustrated because there was so much to do, sat the kids down to let them know what she thought about their attitude.

This led to a conversation that revealed the idols of my children’s hearts.  If you haven’t been reading this blog click here for an explanation of idols.  The amazing thing is that all of my kids have different idols (good things made ultimate things).

#1

My oldest is just like me…her idol is power.  We are driven by our ambitions to achieve and succeed.  Our greatest fear is humiliation so we never attempt things in public that we first haven’t perfected in private.  When #1 complained about cleaning she expressed frustration because she felt there was no point.  #4 and #5 were gonna mess everything up an hour later so what was the point, she argued.  You see people who struggle with power (like me) are results oriented.  Show me the money.  If the results are not up to par, we get frustrated and angry.  So #1 expressed her complaints through this part of her heart.  Power.

#2

My second child struggles with my second idol, comfort.  Ironically, power is number one for me and comfort is number two.  How does that work?  That is another blog entry.  Well, people who struggle with comfort…their greatest nightmare is stress and demands.  They don’t like obligation.  They value their comfort and relaxation.  So #2 decides to rebel out of this heart.  No explanations.  No logic.  No reason.  She just said, “Awww.  I don’t want to clean.”  Comfort.

#3

My son is like my wife.  They struggle with control.  When my wife asked the kids to clean, #3 didn’t care about anything except one hope.  He immediately asked, “I don’t mind cleaning, but can I clean my room by myself?”  You see for my son, he doesn’t mind helping with anything as long as he can do it his way.  He asked the question he did because he hates collaboration especially if it is with his sisters who always have a different opinion of where things can go or how things can be done.  Control.

#5

My youngest cracks me up.  Her dominant idol is approval.  People who struggle with approval…their greatest nightmare is rejection so they will do anything as long as they are recognized and affirmed.  So #5 was eager to help as she waved an object that needed to be put away yelling, “Look at ME!  Look at ME mommy!  I am cleaning!”  Approval.

Some of you who follow this blog regularly are wondering, “What about #4?”  Well #4 had nothing to say.  She just smiled that beautiful smile of hers without any words.  My guess is that she was thinking about how much this reminds her of Cinderella and how with the help of some little friends, she would be a princess.

I don’t share this to knock on my kids.  I share this because discerning our kids strengths and weaknesses helps us as parents to do the work of contextualization in our communication of love, values, and discipline.  My wife and I are learning that one cannot communicate the same things to the same kids in the same way because each have different strengths, idols, and love languages.

When my wife shared this story with me it made me realize why she is such a great mom.  When she deals with things like the above situation she gives them enough to pull them out of their idol yet at the same time meets them where they are.  This is so important because remember idols are GOOD things made ULTIMATE things.  If you throw the baby out with the bath water you will remove a part of your child that is amazing and beautiful.

So what does my wife do in this situation?  Well, I just yell and tell everyone to shut up and do what they are told.  She will go up to #1 and say, “I know #4 and #5 will mess up the room again but we have guests coming over and we want to be good hosts and invite our friends upstairs to play and have fun.  But we can’t share your room with your friends if it is really messy.”  You see my wife will feed the GOOD thing that my daughter makes ultimate by speaking to her concern that there was not point.  My wife gave her a new purpose.  #1 loves that and then goes to work every time because for her she is not just rebelling (that is part of it) but more to the point she just needs to know that there is a point and that she agrees with that point as a good thing.

With #2 my wife will say things like, “#2 you got to go up and clean your room, but tell you what.  Once you are done, you can come downstairs and do whatever you want.”  Genius.  She calls #2 out of her laziness and gives her opportunity to enter into her rest, which usually means doing something she really enjoys.

#3 will be given the opportunity to clean his own room, his way, by himself.  But my wife will say things like, “But after that you will have to help #4 and #5 since they are little and you cannot boss them around.  Just help them.”

#5…well my wife will just look and say thank you.

#4…we have to yell and hope that our volume snaps her out of la-la land.

This process of parenting is hard and arduous.  It is not efficient but that is the way of love.  Love is the most inefficient virtue I know of.  But in doing this my wife helps our kids grow out of their sinfulness yet is able to retain their good qualities so they grow up confident sure of themselves.  BRILLIANT!  I thank God for this woman, though it makes me wonder all the voodoo ninja tricks she must be playing on me.

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Parent Teacher Conference – Part 2

Parent teacher conferences historically have revealed something deep in my heart…I ignore progress (my family and my own) because of my irrational desire for perfection.  I mentioned yesterday that prior to this year’s conferences I would be crushed by any negative comments about my kids.  My sensitivity was so high that even a neutral comment would disturb me.

Where does this come from?  I think part of it is my personality.  I am a lazy perfectionist.  I think it also comes from my inability to live in the tension of two opinions I have of myself: I believe I am a bad father and I believe I am a good father.  Both are true.  I am bad because I am flawed and inexperienced.  I am good because I would take a bullet for any of these kids in a heartbeat.  Parent teacher conferences have shown me that I spent my early years as a parent swinging like a pendulum from one extreme view of myself to another.  I am learning as a parent to live in the tension of two contradictory truths about myself.  As a father I am bad and good.

This year our kid’s teachers gave positive comments and shared areas they/we need to work on.  This year my wife and I were able to take it in stride because raising a family as a couple, starting a church and a non-profit that are  both growing brings with it tremendous stress and discouragement.  My wife and I have felt like the last 10 years revealed how messed up we are as people.  But this is because we spent 10 years measuring our success with perfection as our core metric, our measuring stick.

Our faith has taught us that life is not about perfection.  We should be measuring our success by our progress not flawlessness.  This year when we heard the evaluation of our children, we were encouraged, not because the reports were all high praise.  We were encouraged because they have progressed in their academic and social skills.

My wife and I feel more free.  When progress is the core metric of our self-evaluation we realize that we are a work in progress and a work that has progressed.  As a father I am committed to teach my kids about faith, character, hard work, etc.  The two things I really want to instill in them are….

1. Life is about progress not perfection

2. Pursue excellence without arrogance

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Parent Teacher Conference – Part 1

Two weeks ago we had parent teacher conferences.  I worked at home and stayed with the kids so my wife could meet with 4 teachers.  I don’t know about the rest of you parents, but for me these conferences always bring a little anxiety my way.  I love my kids.  I really enjoy who they are and believe in what they can become.  Sitting down with their teachers and listening to a third party evaluation makes me nervous.

Where does this anxiety come from?  Well, for sure it is rooted in my experience as a child.  I remember sitting at home while my parents went to school to talk to my teachers.  Every year same conversation…Alex is a really good student academically.  I got straight O’s every time.  Remember that…when we use to get O’s, S’s,or N’s (outstanding, satisfactory, needs improvement).  Then my teachers would always say, “But…he talks to much in class.  Never naps.  Always keeps other kids up by telling them stories.  He really needs to stop talking so much and disturbing the class.”  How do I know all this?  It was always written on my report cards.

I remember sitting and waiting anxiously till they got back wondering if I was gonna get in serious trouble or if they were gonna buy me some ice cream.  Every year they came back and said nothing.  Maybe it’s because they didn’t take their Korean-English Dictionary (read here for explanation) with them.  Not sure.  Did they not understand?  Did they not care because I got straight O’s academically?  Were they saving their anger for later?

With my kids I think most of the anxiety comes from the idea of someone sharing their evaluations of our kids.  Do they like our kids?  Do they believe in our kids?  Do they care?  Do they see the good?  Do they only see the weaknesses?  Maybe the anxiety comes from some hidden validation I seek from others that we are doing a good job as parents.

I am sure most of you are wondering what the teachers said about the kids.  I will keep that confidential but they did get overall good reviews.  We were proud.  We learned about the areas they excel.  We learned of areas that we need to work with our kids on.  In the past any negative review would have crushed me as a parent.  Actually any comment that wasn’t high praise would have killed me which would include vague, neutral comments like “your child learning and growing”.

I have learned to process these meetings better.  Each year Parent Teacher Conferences have helped me not only learn about my kids but learn about myself and my wife.  I would like to share a few of these things throughout this week.  See you tomorrow.

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Korean Dictionary

My mom always had a Korean-English dictionary nearby so she could look up words when she was reading, talking, or signing something in English.  Thinking back on those days, it felt like she had one in every room.  Well back in high school…when someone would be unreasonably upset we would say things like, “Who pissed in your cheerios?”  or “Dude, why are you having a hemorrhoid?”  One day my mom gets really mad at me and I felt she was being unreasonable so…

I yell, “Why are you having such a hemorrhoid!!!!”

She responds, “What did you say?  Say that again?  How do you pronounce that?  What is the spelling?”

I say, “What? No!  Huh?”

She said, “You better say it again and give me the spelling or I’m gonna tell your father what you said.”

I immediately replied, “H-E-M-M-O-R-R-O-I-D…hemorrhoid.” (I was really scared of my dad)

So she looks up the word in the dictionary.  She gasps.  She contorts her face.  She then lifts her head up and glares at me with a look that can only be followed by a slap to the face.  She then smacked me asking how I could ever use that word to my mother.  For a minute I tried to explain my use of an American idiom but realized very quickly there was no use.  I apologized and chose my words more carefully from then on.  Immigration…gotta love it.

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