Friday, August 26, 2005

A story of bountiful luck, grand coincidences, or divine interaction on an intimate level

One thing I always wanted to do when I got married was to create the engagement and wedding rings. I figure that since God gave me the gift of being able to sculpt, that this was a natural conclusion. The last time I got married I didn't have the time, money, or ability to do so. This time I just barely pulled it off, but only because of a series of fortunate events. You see, I've never made a real piece of jewelry before. I don't have the supplies and tools necessary, or the experience. I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do for the engagement ring, and knew a few of the things my fiancé wanted. She likes white gold and solitary stones. I wanted a triangle-cut diamond since that represents something important to me. (It's a picture of man and wife at the bottom corners, and God at the top corner. As the husband and wife get closer to God, they become closer to one another as well.) But I know nothing about jewelry, diamonds, gold, etc. How does one go about buying a diamond, and making a gold ring, and putting them together? (On a limited budget!)

Well the first piece fell into place several months ago at an auction my church was having to raise money for a youth missions trip. I had donated one of my lionheart sculptures, and had bought a gecko for the boys. Then, just before the auction was closing, a friend of both Heather and I - who knew of our intentions to marry - grabbed me showed me something that no one had bid on and I hadn't even noticed. It was a big, beautiful, high-quality triangle diamond! So I bid the lowest price and won the thing for much less than it's worth.

So now I had part one. But how to make a ring? I was talking to my voluble masseuse about my predicament and she told me about a jewelry maker who's shop was literally right around the corner. She said he was an amazing artist and might be willing to help me. So I went and introduced myself and told him my plan to make an engagement ring. I showed him some of my sculpture so he could see that I am a professional; not some nut who just thinks he can sculpt. He told me that people go to school for years to learn how to do what I want to do… but, maybe he could help me. He told me the very basics of how one goes about making a cast gold ring. You start by sculpting it in wax, then you pour plaster around it, then pour the molten gold into the cast. This evaporates the wax and leaves the gold in the cavity left over, so you get an exact replica of the was mold. The plaster is broken open, the gold ring removed and polished, and the stone set. He gave me some wax to practice sculpting, and I told him I'd be back when I had something to show. My friend at work had a set of wax sculpting tools and he let me borrow them. The stuff I needed to work the wax was not too expensive at all, so I got started right away.

I made a sloppy, lop-sided, bumpy ring that looked like crap. So I brought it in a asked for more advice. The jeweler told me to come back on Saturday and he would show me some stuff. So I did. And I spend most of the day in the back of his shop figuring out how to melt, carve, and sculpt wax properly. At one point he said, "I don't know why the f*** I'm showing you all this. It took me years to learn all this stuff I'm just telling you for free!" He likes to tease me. I asked him if it was because of how romantic it all was. He said no, it couldn't be that. He had tried marriage once, and it's for the birds!

Anyway, I ended up coming back several more times, and spending countless hours whittling away at it in the middle of the night. I kept changing my design for it as I went and discovered what I could do, and what I couldn't. In the end I ended up with a very bold design with clean, hard lines and simple shapes. Finally it was ready to be cast. This part the jeweler did since he has all the expensive equipment and experience. Over the next couple of weeks he polished, added the tiny crosses I wanted, it at set the stone. I gave him a lionheart sculpture as thanks for all that he taught me.

During this period I had the idea of making a little book of reasons that I thought we should get married, and putting the ring at the end. Like all my personal art projects, the idea kept growing and growing, so I ended up spending more late nights working on the book than I did the ring. But I'm glad I did. It will be something that can always be looked back on. (In case we ever forget why we got married.)

So this story can be seen as a simple set of events that just happened to fall into place for me. A lucky diamond at an auction. A random conversation with a physical therapist. A strangely helpful yet reluctant jeweler who isn't quite sure why he's being so kind. But I see it as the hand of a God who truly loves us and wants to give us the desires of our heart.

The ring I made

Page 35 (The ring was in the bottom of the ?)

Page 31

Page 26 (It's a pop-up!)

Page 24

Page 19

Page 17

Page 12

Page 9


Because your faith inspires me.

Because you drift through my thoughts constantly.

Because your love for my children stands alone.

Because you put God's will before your own.

Because you put God's will before me.

Because our hands fit together perfectly.

Because when you aren’t with me I wish you were.

Because you wrestle with my kids even when you know you'll get hurt.

Because you help me put my kids to bed.

Because we are saving our kisses for after we are wed.

Because we share one meal at restaurants.

Because I can carry you wherever I want.

Because us being together is not an accident.

Because you really like my parents.

Because my parents really like you.

Because even when it's hard you tell the truth.

Because our love is not based on Eros which always flies away.

Because we love what's inside, and that will never fade.

Because you skip when you are happy.

Because you still do what needs to be done even when you feel crappy.

Because I want to grow old and decrepit with you.

Because where you are weak, I am strong. And where I am weak you are strong too.

Because God has taught me so much through you.

Because we are entertained by each other when there is nothing to do.

Because of our musical collaboration.

Because I can't imagine anyone else. (And I have a good imagination!)

Because you were blessed with a marvelous mind.

Because God gave you a heart so kind.

Because you are excited about being an instant mom.

Because God in His wisdom and humor knew this was going to happen all along.

Because you see the silver in the overcast sky.

Because you love the dark forest dappled with light.

Because you don't want to change me into another kind of man.

Because you love me and let me be who I am.

Because we both laugh at the absurd.

Because we both love God's word.

Because my boys love and trust you.

Because you won them over with your generous nature and your easy-going cool.

Because you are so honorable and very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very brave.

Because you can handle the boys when they misbehave.

Because your godly compassion stirs my spirit

Because you encouraged me to look for God's will when I couldn't hear it

Because we can take walks in the rain.

Because when we got splashed by that bus you didn't complain.

Because we pray together frequently.

Because you are grateful for what you have, with a spirit of thanksgiving.

Because I care more about making you happy than you making me happy.

Because you care more about making me happy than me making you happy.

Because even though you are a pragmatist and have realistic expectation about life, you still believe in my big dreams.

Because just as iron sharpens iron, our spiritual focus remains keen.

Because your smile makes me smile.

Because you have the cutest style.

Because you are the most beautiful jewel in my crown.

Because you are the brightest star that could be found.

Because God custom-made a woman perfect for me. This I can not deny.

Because of that I will appreciate you until the day I die.

Because separately we have identities in Christ.

Because when He joins us as one flesh our strength will increase thrice.

Because this list could keep going and fill many books; what a large volume it could be…

Heather Kerekffy, will you marry me?

I'm engaged!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

How to throw a birthday party

Dear Mr. Knowitall,

I am putting on a birthday party for my child. Have any advice?

Well, first off let me inform you that I am categorically opposed to birthday parties. Many people don't know this, but the history behind the birthday party is quite dark. Originally a pagan holiday, (Spanish for "Holy Day") it was a celebration of all things vile and wicked. It was so bad that in 492 B.C. Queen Elizabeth the 13th outlawed birthdays due to the baby shortage. The monk Addleburn issued an official church proclamation that outlawed most of the activities commonly associated with the birthday celebration. But the spirit remains unchanged to this day.

So that being said, if you still want to resurrect the spirit of a brutal and barbarous tradition that celebrates the blood of slain innocents, then here are some ideas for how to go about throwing a birthday party.

The first thing you want to do is take into account the heritage of your child. (This will most likely be the same as yours.) Here is a quick reference guide to some of the local traditions from around the world. If your nationality is not listed here just pick one of the countries that is closest to you.

  1. Japan. Space is a premium in Japan, so when they celebrate birthdays they try to find the widest open space possible such as a baseball stadium, (which over there is only 12 feet by 12 feet.) and proceed to run around in circles flailing their arms.

  1. Italy. Strangely, they don't celebrate birthdays there. I think they may be embarrassed.

  1. Mexico. In Mexico they string up pig corpses filled with little bags of cocaine, and encourage the children to smash them open.

  1. New Mexico. They string up new pig corpses filled with little bags of new cocaine, and encourage the children to smash them open.

  1. France. Most children jump off of the Eiffel tower into vats of cheese and live frogs. Since we don't have an Eiffel tower here in America, the French can't have birthdays, and are thus impervious to aging.

  1. Norway. They have a long tradition called the Jeg jogge om spille bade liker om høson, or, The Burning of the Birthday Tree. Each year they burn down a tree that is their same age. This is one of the reasons they have such strict reproductive laws there.

  1. Germany. Being nihilists, the Germans don't believe in birthdays.

  1. South Carolina. In South Carolina they celebrate birthdays with a tradition called 'back yard wrestling'. It starts by setting up folding tables, chairs, and old cars in the yard. Then they grab a camcorder, blast Limp Bizkit on a boom box, and throw each other off of the roof onto the objects below, cheering loudly when they break through them.

  1. Canada. They like to roll around in the snow when it's 60 below zero, then jump in a hot spring, then jump back into the snow, then back in the hot spring. No one knows how long this activity lasts, as all the scientists studying the phenomenon got board and left after a couple of days.

  1. Australia. They play a game that is similar to 'Pin the Tail on the Donkey'. But it's called 'Steal the Joey from the 'Roo'. This game often ends in tragedy since Kangaroos have very powerful legs and sharp claws.

For those of you who want to spurn tradition and spit in the face of your forefathers, here are some new ideas I came up with to make a memorable day for you young one.

  1. Birthday in Space. Try to recreate the moon in your house by turning all the lights off, cranking the AC to full blast, and dumping cat litter all over the floors. Have the kids put plastic bags over their heads to experience what space is like. For some extra fun, dress up like an alien and jump out of a hiding place to scare the kids. Follow the flow of Hollywood movies as you pick them off one by one. Remember, the coward goes first, followed by the blowhard, etc. etc.

  1. Pirate Theme. This could be done really well if you can rent a boat. Dress the children up in pirate costumes and have them paint a big pirate flag. Then go sailing. Make sure everyone has a sword or knife, or some other weapon. Then attempt to board an unsuspecting vessel. You wouldn't believe how easy this is now a days since no one expects piracy anymore. Make sure you kill all the passengers and sink the ship after you loot it, or you could be in for some legal issues! And most importantly, remember to say "Arrrrgh!" a lot.

  1. Pony Rides. All little girls love ponies. And all little girls love shopping. So why not mix the two. Rent a gaggle of horses and ride them through the mall. But be careful on the escalators.

Many of these ideas are elaborate and expensive. Here are some cost-saving tips for how to have your birthday cake and eat it too.

  1. Celebrate your child's birthday every 1.5 years.

  1. Next time you visit your doctor, check the dumpster out back for discarded rubber gloves. Free balloons!

  1. Instead of party favors, hand out rags and trash bags. The last game will be "Clean the House!"

  1. Instead of those expensive number-shaped candles on the birthday cake, use a road flair.

  1. McDonalds and Chuck E. Cheese wants to charge you money to have a birthday there, but I found a way around the system. Have your birthday party in the play-area tubes. Just don't put the cake too close to the slide.

  1. Children love presents. But they don't need them.

You didn't specify how old your child is so I will give you some tips for "adult" birthday parties. (No, not that kind of "adult" you pervert!)

  1. Grown-ups seem to like different food than children do. So instead of cake and ice-cream, serve asparagus and lutefisk.

  1. Adults are more brave than kids, so instead of Pin the Tail on the Donkey, try pinning the tail on live alligator.

  1. As we mature, we become stronger, so instead of party poppers, pass out sticks of dynamite. (Quarter-sticks for teens.)

  1. Instead of punch serve adult beverages like V-8.

  1. Other than that, adults are identical to children in every way, so just refer to my first lists.

All in all birthdays can be fun occasions. (Though I've never personally had any fun at them, and I really don't understand what they are supposed to be commemorating.)

Friday, August 19, 2005

A year in review

It's my one year anniversary of this blog. (Blogoversary?) I didn't think I'd still have anything to say after a year. Unfortunately, I did. So I thought it would be fun to do a recap. I'm reading over the year and I'll summarize it. (I'm leaving out the extraneous stuff like project ideas, movie reviews, and Mr. Knowitall entries so I can focus on the character arc.)

This year has probably been the most amazing year I've ever had. It certainly had the largest spread of emotion for me. My lows were really low, and my highs are really high. The year before I started this blog was definitely harder than this year has been. I had a lost job, a move, the explosion of my family, a LOT of worry over the ex getting custody of our kids. So it had lower lows than this year. But hardly any high-points. Well this year I went through one of the worst winters of my life due to a continual struggle with physical temptation. But this winter set the groundwork for understanding and being ready to accept this new event in my life. The spring brought with it new hope and new love.

8/19/04 ~ Introduction

Basic idea: Hi.

Favorite line: "Like all good stories, this one begins with a horrible divorce…"

8/19/04 ~ Some Vital Stats:

Basic idea: Establishing my background

Favorite line: "For some reason I think it’s funny to project an image of myself that is in direct opposition to my actual personality."

8/19/04 ~ So who am I? What am I?

Basic idea: I'm exploring where I fit into the social circles I'm in. And I first started to think about what to do after my divorce.

Current thought: This turns into a major theme that is revisited ad nauseam over the course of the year.

Favorite line: "Being freshly divorced, (Which is akin to being freshly disemboweled.) I am questioning the future. Unfortunately, the future doesn’t want to talk to me."

8/19/04 ~ I’m pathetic. But not in that self-loathing sort of way.

Basic idea: I made a fool out of myself in front of all my new friends, but recognized that it was a good opportunity to learn humility and build friendships without being any kind of a poseur.

Current thought: The best part about this is that I've continued to make a fool of myself, but it doesn’t bother me as much since the fact that I can be foolish has already been established.

Favorite line: "That is why I can’t be proud of my humility. I think."

8/20/04 ~ I’m Puppy love stinks!

Basic idea: I realized that I'm going through what most teenagers do, developing a crush and being miserable as a result.

Favorite line: "Now I’m pathetic in that self loathing kind of way."

8/20/04 ~ My unique work environment and the joy of losing lust

Basic idea: My job is cool, but I'm having a lot of trouble controlling my vulgar humor since it is so appreciated at work. I'm puzzled about why God freed me from lust, but is letting me fight my way through this area.

Current thought: Still working on this…

Favorite line: "She is an awesome person and great friend. But I think she could make porn star blush."

8/20/04 ~ I hereby declare Virgin Black to be the best band ever

Basic idea: I really connected with the ephemeral and dark elements of this band at that point in my life.

Current thought: Now that I seem to have come through the blackest part of the night… I still connect with the ephemeral and dark elements of this band.

Favorite line: "Though the ‘Christian’ label gets handed out as easily as Roman citizenship did in 100 A.D."

8/20/04 ~ Excuse me sir, but your desperate need for acceptance is showing.

Basic idea: I got in a little verbal spat with a girl I just met. I couldn't believe how much I wanted to be accepted.

Current thought: I'd like to think I wouldn't act the same way now. I'm probably wrong.

Favorite line: I tend to view myself as a non-conformist type who doesn’t care what others think. Obviously, the verbal gymnastics I went through prove that this is a delusion.

8/23/04 ~ Sarcasm as a first language

Basic idea: The humor that comes naturally to me often hurts others, and I'm not happy about that.

Current thought: I haven't thought about this in a while, I hope I've improved.

Favorite line: "See? Isn’t that funny? No. … No, I guess it’s not."

8/24/04 ~ The Soggy Bread principle

Basic idea: I have learned that when you put God first, good things follow. I did that with my career and became successful. I didn't do that with my marriage and it fell apart. I was trying to figure out how to apply this principle to my future with my ex wife. Knowing that whatever I did, whatever sacrifices were necessary, I had to give of myself completely and joyfully.

Current thought: I think I succeeded in giving this issue fully to God. I can still honestly say that if I knew God was calling me to it I would leave my girlfriend and remarry my ex. I can also say I'm incredibly relieved that that doesn't seem to be my calling.

Favorite line: "…dropping our bread in the water without joy and whole-heartedness does not prompt God to return it. I have this feeling we’ll just end up with soggy bread."

8/27/04 ~ Yeah! Another crappy blog poem!

Basic idea: I had this horrible crush that I didn't know how to handle so I wrote a bad poem.

Current thought: It's nice to contrast the chaos in my mind back then to the wonderful peace I have with the woman I'm going to marry.

Favorite line: "I was subconsciously aware that [if] having an unrequited crush [is] the worst thing in my life, [that] means I have a pretty spectacular life."

8/28/04 ~ I need some toast to Lay on

Basic idea: I had a long weekend. I went to a concert, a trade show, then had childcare duty at church. It was really cool to feel God's Spirit in a dark environment.

Favorite line: "So I end up throwing my body in the way, distracting the bulls like a rodeo clown."

8/30/04 ~ Sooooo Close!

Basic idea: An opportunity to move into a nicer place came up, but it was a little more than I could afford. I was content with giving it a pass knowing that God had something better for me. Then I tried to apply this same attitude towards the girl I liked so much. She seemed perfect, but the timing was wrong.

Current thought: I see now that my patience and decision not to pursue her was the absolute right thing. I can't even imagine the mess I'd be in if I hadn't waited for God to bring the right woman to me.

Favorite line: "And the question is: am I going to try to force things to go the way I want them, or wait for God to work out His perfect plan for my life?"

9/2/04 ~ An idol mind

Basic idea: I wrote a song about how my crush had turned into an idol that was consuming my time a thoughts.

Current thought: It's so nice to be free of this now.

Favorite line: "The Israelites melted down their gold rings. My valuables are God’s gifts of time and thoughts. I’ve been pouring them into the mold of ‘That Darn Girl’."

9/7/04 ~ I feel pretty… Oh so pretty!

Basic idea: I went clothes shopping and got all introspective about it. What a surprise.

Current thought: Hmmm. I had some good points. I still don't know what to think about this topic, other than that it's probably not that important to me.

Favorite line: "The one item I got that I feel expresses me the most is a shirt that says, “My mommy says I’m special!” Because she does."

9/9/04 ~ Foreman's Red Period

Basic idea: More talk about not being ready to 'move on'. And I decided to have a visual red theme as a way of expressing my commitment to following Christ first, and worrying about remarriage options later.

Current thought: I basically did what I set out to do. I waited, and He answered. I died my hair black last week so I'd look spiffier for the wedding. I still liked the red though, and will probably get back to it at some point.

Favorite line: "And since I’m a flaky artist, I decided to go into a ‘Red Period’ as a way of visually reminding myself of that."

9/15/04 ~ More Physical Abuse

Basic idea: I started playing football for my church's team despite the fact that I know nothing about sports. I wounded myself a lot. I went to a Blindside concert and noted the difference in the crowd from the other week when I was at a more secular show.

Current thought: A funny tidbit to know is that my girlfriend was at that show, (though she was dating someone else.) and we got to hang out a bit. I really liked her.

Favorite line: "I nodded my head and smiled, then ran around the field like a ninny."

9/17/04 ~ Sex & Violence in Entertainment

Basic idea: My argument that the 'double standard' that everyone complains about, (that violence in entertainment is embraced, but sex is still taboo.) is actually appropriate. Not because killing is better than sex, but because people act out in inappropriate sex far more often than they do in violence. And the results are devastating to the society.

Favorite line: "There are serious legal ramifications and other social structures that prevent emulation of violent acts. There are none remaining in the area of sexual expression."

9/27/04 ~ Farwell to fantasy

Basic idea: I was feeling like I was in it for the long haul. I was ready to just give up on every thought of remarriage and just accept the position I was in. I figured it was safer to follow the theory that addresses the scripture in the most obvious way, rather than follow the more complicated theory that takes into account a myriad of other verses, but could still be wrong.

Current thought: This was another expression of my desire to be faithful to God and His ways. I believe I have been proven wrong on this issue. The conservative way was not the best for me and my family, and most importantly, the kingdom of God.

Favorite line: " When I imagine a life without a wife I don’t get that panic-stricken wailing in my head quite as loud."

9/27/04 ~ Morning was broken

Basic idea: Discussion of a few areas of my life where I failed, yet didn't get down on myself for it. Then a talk about a specific failure as a dad that I felt really bad about.

Current thought: I'm getting better at not despising myself quite as much when a mess up as a parent. But I can't think of a better thing to be critical of yourself about.

Favorite line: "There are all sorts of ways I’m failing in life. And for the most part I’m OK with that."

9/28/04 ~ A requiem for spectacle

Basic idea: Spectacle is one of my favorite tools in the movie makers box of tricks. But it's been overused now, and I don't see a way of ever bringing it back.

Current thought: Nope. Still haven't seen a spectacle movie that really wowed me as much as Star Wars did back in the day.

Favorite line: "You just can’t put any more spaceships, warriors, explosions, robots, horses, or Brad Pitt buttocks on the screen at one time."

9/29/04 ~ Dress to impress (who?)

Basic idea: A pretty impressive person made a bit of an offhand comment about the way I dress, implying that I was trying to look like a teenager. So I examined the issue.

Current thought: Blah. Whatever. I don't care about this at all. God gave me my personality, and my 'look' will always turn off some, and turn on others.

Favorite line: “I was hoping I could look at least seventeen!”

10/6/04 ~ Pendulum swinging

Basic idea: An observation about how people who change their mind on an extreme view seem to switch to the extreme opposite. I compare and contrast two areas in my life. I went from kind of unhealthy to pretty healthy. And from crazy about my job to insouciant about it just because I'm no longer engaged creatively.

Current thought: I haven't improved much. I'm really hoping that when I get married I'll be better able to do what needs to be done.

Favorite line: "What a horrible example of a Christian I’ve been setting."

10/6/04 ~ Sculpting Hollywood style

Basic idea: I had a week long sculpting workshop taught by an Hollywood sculptor. We had some chats, and he was surprised to find out I am a Christian. I talk about how living a godly life is a much better witness than blabbing on and on about your beliefs.

Favorite line: "I think the most compelling testimony a Christian can tell is to just live their life and deal with their struggles in an open, honest, and godly way. When other people need advice or want answers to the big questions they are going to go to someone like that. Not a polemic-spewing ideologue."

10/18/04 ~ Faith, fear, and Yoda

Basic idea: My kids were manifesting their emotional distress over the abandonment by their mom at school and getting in trouble. This sent me into a time of fear as I realized that I don't have much faith that God will keep them safe. Like Luke Skywalker, I have enough faith to move little rocks around, (my own life) but not enough to pull the X-wing out of the swamp. (The kid's lives.)

Current thought: I think I have grown in this area since then. I have far less fear for my little guys.

Favorite line: " Of course, if Yoda could have applied the same logic of “Size matters not”, he could have crushed the Death Star in his little rubber paw. But that’s beside the point."

10/19/04 ~ My new best friend

Basic idea: A girl from church tells me she likes me, and I'm not mature enough to just say 'sorry', and leave it at that.

Current thought: This is the first rumblings of what will become a landslide in my life. I couldn't deal with women pursuing me.

Favorite line: "She likes a very confused man who shows no sign of becoming less confused any time soon."

10/25/04 ~ My new best friend: Part II

Basic idea: More insistence that I'm not ready for a relationship, yet not being able to just cut it off completely because having a snuggle-buddy feels too good.

Favorite line: "Well, mostly it’s her banging her head against a wall and me apologizing for not being able to give her an answer beyond, “RUN AWAY!!!”"

10/26/04 ~ Explanation

Basic idea: I posted an illustration I made that communicated where I was emotionally. I was sad, desperate, and wishing I was blind to romance.

Current thought: One thing I didn't mention was that this image was made as a sort of reply to Pretty Hair, who had given me some art that she made that communicated her attraction to me. This was my attempt to say "RUN AWAY!!!" without actually having the courage to say it bluntly.

Favorite line: "Though this is a sad and confusing season for me, His grace will see me through and His will will be accomplished in my life."

10/28/04 ~ I did something right!

Basic idea: I went to a Zao concert, helped a sad woman move, and made a touchdown in football.

Favorite line: "I feel like I did when my mom over-congratulated me on learning to twirl the spaghetti on my fork like a big boy."

11/1/04 ~ I need more rope

Basic idea: I was getting depressed because of Justin's destructive streak. I talk about how my depression is an inward focus that needs to be redirected. That's how I try to deal with depression

Current thought: Wow. Justin has actually gotten a lot better and more stable since then. Praise the Lord for that!

Favorite line: "I can feel the end of my rope, and it’s closer than I thought."

11/5/04 ~ I'm SO sick of life right now!

Basic idea: Justin was getting worse and worse. The presidential election had just happened and all my friends were insulting anyone who voted for Bush. I tried to articulate the fundamental difference between those who are serious about faith in God, and those who put their faith in man.

Current thought: I wonder what my friends think of me now. If they are just aghast at me, or something… Sometimes I feel like there may be more tension there then there used to be, but it's hard to tell.

Favorite line: "if I do have a thought that I haven’t put through the filter of my faith, then I have a problem and try to reconcile the difference as best I can."

11/10/04 ~ Football as a self-analysis tool

Basic idea: I'm not a competitive person. And since everyone else on the team was, my being there just made it less fun for them. So I decided not to play next season.

Current thought: I'm still convinced that I will not play this season.

Favorite line: "I sound like a Care Bear, but that’s ok."

11/12/04 ~ The debate in my head rages on

Basic idea: I laid out my two conflicting views on remarriage.

Current thought: In retrospect it seems ironic that I was using grace as an argument against remarriage.

Favorite line: "I let these things happen because I thought it was for the Greater Good ™."

11/18/04 ~ Ancient Paths

Basic idea: I attended my first Ancient Paths seminar and gave my feelings about it.

Current thought: I've been twice now, and once to a financial version, so I must not hate it.

Favorite line: "They released me into the wild, and I could breath again."

11/19/04 ~ How it came to be that I own a Charlotte Church CD

Basic idea: Somehow I ended up buying a Charlotte Church CD.

Current thought: I've listened to it a time or two.

Favorite line: "I turned the CD over and found an ivy-festooned glen replete with dappled light dancing across the cherubic face of the sweet little girl who reclined on the almost-real-looking log. Her dainty head atilt and comfortable in all her pulchritude."

11/28/04 ~ The token conservative

Basic idea: A mini apologetic I wrote as an introduction when I joined an online forum.

Current thought: I've developed the idea of an open mind much more fully than I did here.

Favorite line: "The truth claims of orthodox Christianity play out with utter clarity among those I have seen living in them."

11/30/04 ~ A tightrope

Basic idea: My ex started enquiring about what sort of demands I would have for her to come live with us again. Knowing her inveterate tendency to leach, I knew with a high degree of certainty that this was yet another ploy to get more money from me. But I still wanted to approach the situation as carefully as possible so as not to write her off.

Current thought: She didn't seem to disappointed when I broke the news of a girlfriend to her, so I don't think she was very serious about the whole thing.

Favorite line: "I’m sure I’ll learn something, or someone somewhere will benefit from it all."

12/7/04 ~ Driven

Basic idea: I have a lot of personal art pieces in my queue. I keep having new ideas, and leaving the old ones unfinished.

Current thought: I'm not getting much better at this yet.

Favorite line: "It’s kind of like first love, I assume. Some people jump from one relationship to the next, because they are addicted to that feeling of the new. I do the same thing with my projects, leaving most of them unfinished."

12/10/04 ~ Praise report

Basic idea: Justin started doing much better due to a lot of prayer. This, despite the fact that he was seeing his mom more often. I found myself wishing she would disappear, then caught the feeling and named it for what is was: murder in my heart.

Current thought: I still with she would stop coming around, (or rather, demanding that I bring the kids to her.) until she gets her act together. But my future is not attatched to her anymore, so I don't have any of those murderous (in my heart) inclinations.

Favorite line: "My fastidious nature wants everything in life to be easily quantified, analyzed, categorized and dealt with in a neat and orderly fashion."

12/16/04 ~ Complications

Basic idea: My first casting of the lionheart sculpture was botched. And I hurt a girl's feelings.

Current thought: Well at least my sculpture turned out OK.

Favorite line: "Just another case of me trying to excuse myself for poor behavior by assuming my hurdles are taller than everyone else’s."

12/20/04 ~ Failure

Basic idea: I messed up and got too cozy with Pretty hair. I figure I've got to just stay far away to be safe.

Current thought: This was such a dark time for me. I was so frightened at my lack of control.

Favorite line: "But it’s the ones that hurt other people that really get to me. That make me feel like a failure."

12/26/04 ~ I am a cuddle slut

Basic idea: This is one of the most painful posts I have made. It is still embarrassing to read. But I think it's important to show the depths to which God can help us climb out of. Despite all my resolutions to the contrary, I kept putting myself in tempting situations, and failing over and over. I formulated a theory that I act like an emotional mirror, reflecting back any admiration that is put towards me. I said I needed a third test case to prove my theory. I'm glad to say I am no longer a cuddle slut.

Current thought: I'm glad to say I am no longer a cuddle slut.

Favorite line: "Vile, huh? Yeah. I am. It’s pretty bad that I would actually decide what is right, commit to doing it, then do the opposite."

12/30/04 ~ Legalism and Morality

Basic idea: I was grappling with how one goes about making moral and ethical judgments without falling back on legalism.

Current thought: I find a lot of relevance in reading this. I found being relational to God is the solution to this dilemma. (At least for what I have encountered so far.)

Favorite line: " But that is not the mode of thinking I want to be in! I don’t want to pass a test. I want to please the God that loves me so much He died for me."

1/1/05 ~ New Year’s resolutions

Basic idea: My first documented list of resolutions. I tried to focus on things that would make me a better witness of Christ in my life. 1. Have a morning devotional. 2. Spend more time playing with the kids. 3. Get financially independent. 4. Stop hurting women. 5. Stop the crude humor at work.

Current thought: Here I am 8 and a half months later. Let's see…. 1 = 50% I'm faithful in devotional time about every other day. 2 = 50% It's hard to say sometimes because the kids have been at various grandparents homes for most of the summer. 3 = ? I'm getting married soon, and I'm still needing help from my parents. I hope that will stop once I'm settled down. 4 = 90%? Besides residual effects of my winter indiscretions I think I'm doing fine. I'm still trying to find a balance with Pretty Hair, as far as being gracious and friendly, without seemingly showing interest in her in that way. 5 = 10% It's really hard for me to catch myself before I blurt stuff out. It's not like there is an analytical process where a conscious decision is made. So I really need spiritual intervention for this to ever change significantly.

Favorite line: "I’m moving from a panic mode of prayer and faith, into a more mature kind of faith."

1/1/05 ~ My life is a marathon (in the Special Olympics)

Basic idea: The amount and repetitiveness of my sinning and repenting was really getting to me. The same problems popping up over and over. It's almost funny. Though sin is never funny. But for some reason this is striking me as funny in that pathetic way Steve Martin was funny in The Jerk. It's just a pathetic floundering that I can't help but laugh at.

Current thought: I don't know if I've grown, or if I just don't notice these things anymore. I suppose I'm looking at the underlying character… the places where I see that I need growth and maturation, and praying for that, rather than getting caught up in the little, niggling sins that can distract me from the real issues.

Favorite line: "Maybe I’m just special. In fact, I know I am. I’m as special as a whole fleet of short buses."

1/8/05 ~ How it's been going

Basic idea: After a week of resolving, how have I done?

Current thought: As I reflect on the list, I'm seeing God's provision slowly but surely.

Favorite line: "And to sustain the volume of humor that I put out, I have to resort to the cheapest kind."

1/19/05 ~ Faith and attitude

Basic idea: I'm exploring the difference between faith that God can do anything, and hearing and responding to specific times where we know He will do something. I talk about how my attitude towards my ex could be hindering me spiritually.

Current thought: I don't know if I was right or wrong about my stance on my ex wife. I surmised that since I was trying to pray for 'her' instead of for 'us', that I was approaching her redemption wrong. Since that time I have found peace in separating her redemption from any action I take besides prayer.

Favorite line: "Well, clearly it’s for our benefit - not His - that He tells us to pray."

1/27/05 ~ Time for a voyage on the river of Guilt!

Basic idea: I'm doing poorly in almost every area of my life because I have too many things to do and not enough resources to do them.

Current thought: I think God's solution to this problem is a wife. Also, it's funny-in-a-sad-way to be reminded that my boss told me if I worked harder I would be in charge of the new level design division. Well, I didn't work hard enough, and got left in the dust.

Favorite line: "I feel like I'm on a stretching-rack. There is a guilt clamp on each limb, and it's been pulled as far as it can go. Kids, parents, work, health. Yeah, that works out to one for each limb."

1/31/05 ~ That Darn Girl is haunting me!

Basic idea: A pseudo-poetic attempt to articulate my longing for a woman in my life.

Current thought: It is so amazing to see my longings laid before God that are then met, but in an unexpected way. I spoke on two levels here. One was the deepest longing. The other was the specific mechanism, (in this case a person) that I thought would feed that longing. God showed me that my idea of what was needed for that desire was wrong. He always knows better. Not only have I got a woman who meets these ideals for me, but she is actually shorter than me too!

Favorite line: "How perverse it is that this desire for pure relation makes me want to wrestle the pen from God's hand and write our own story the way I want it to be."

2/2/05 ~ A day in the life

Basic idea: A breathless recounting of my after-work hours.

Current thought: I'm kind of used to this stuff now. Although this summer my kids have been gone most of the time, leaving me to work on wedding stuff like invitations, decorations, and rings.

Favorite line: "My allergy test showed that I am allergic to animals, grass, trees, dust… oh, and also everything else that exists. oh, and also everything else that exists. And also, if something new were to come into existence, I'd be allergic to that too. "

2/4/05 ~ Miscellaneous stuff

Basic idea: The title says it all.

Current thought: I'm still thinking about that tattoo.

Favorite lines: ""I want the eyes to be like this." He says, and squints. "But not too big. And not too small." It takes several attempts before he is satisfied with my work."

"I love you as far as the stars, as wide as a cloud, and as high as A GIANT SPIDER!"

2/24/05 ~ Getting to know folks

Basic idea: I really like the people in the church that I'm getting to know.

Favorite line: "One thing that has struck me recently is what a blessing it is that I'm not free to 'move on' with another woman right now."

3/5/05 ~ Where is Hope?

Basic idea: A study of hope as described in the Bible. I was really hopeless and depressed and wanted to know what I was missing.

Current thought: Well. The thing I was hoping for the most –a wife- is coming about. I continue to pray for God given hope so that I can desire right things.

Favorite line: "So now I clearly see that I can't see what I'm trying to see."

3/6/05 ~ The Body

Basic idea: I shared my thoughts on hope with a friend at church, and the next day she wrote me a very inspiring note about the subject. I talk about how cool it is to be in a functioning church body where different people share their gifts with each other.

Current thought: Fortunately for me… Wait.. It's not really fortune or luck, more like Blessing. But Blessingly is not a word. Oh well. Blessingly for me, the girl who gave the note is also going to marry me. That's waaaay better than a note.

Favorite line: "She sees the danger inherent in losing your dreams. Whereas I am killing them with so much analyzing and dissecting."

3/10/05 ~ On being happy and finding love

Basic idea: Someone asked me why I would keep myself from love, so I gave a really long and complicated answer. Basically, we need to follow God to find love, not our own whims. That won't work.

Favorite line: "Sure, they will say they believe in an afterlife. But they don't live their lives accordingly. They are conceptually agnostic, but functionally atheist."

3/10/05 ~ Rockin Love Song

Basic idea: Uuuuh…

Current thought: This was at a point where I was realizing that despite my comfort with never being in love again, I was falling in love. So I wrote this 80's butt-rock anthem to kind of mock myself.

Favorite line: "You're driving me crazy, girl! Like an angel… one that drives people CRAZEEEEY!!!!"

3/15/05 ~ Retreat to the mountains

Basic idea: I went on a church retreat and we talked about how a lack of faith can cause us to sin because we are trying to fulfill our own needs, not counting on God to fill them for us. And predictably, I tied it back into my desire for a woman. *zzzzzzzzzz*

Current thought: It's kind of funny to me that at this retreat I really poured my heart out in front of everyone, giving my life story and saying how I didn't see how I would ever be free to be married again. Then, the very next day I realized that I had to talk to this girl I was in love with. Ha ha ha. They must all think I'm quite a jackass.

Favorite line: "a prisoner who becomes a Christian would be foolish to think that God doesn’t want them to be free and happy because they are in jail. It's not God's fault they committed the crime."

3/16/05 ~ My arms are empty

Basic idea: A poem about how I missed my new girlfriend. We watched a movie the night before and she laid her head on my chest.

Current thought: This was a confusing and exhilarating couple of days, where we talked about what we should do with our feelings for each other. Neither of us knew, so we did a LOT of praying about it together. I can't describe the wonderful feeling of peace as I discovered that what I was doing was not wrong, or like the past indiscretions of the winter.

Favorite line: "The breath of another sweet child of His against my worn and battered spirit."

3/16/05 ~ The gift that keeps on giving

Basic idea: I managed to get a good cast of this sculpture I made, and was happily reproducing it and giving copies away left and right. I've probably made about 20 of them by now.

Current thought: I've probably made about 20 of them by now.

Favorite line: " I think I'll make it a yearly tradition to make a small sculpture that I can reproduce and give out as God guides my heart."

3/28/05 ~ My Big Dream

Basic idea: I explain what I'd like to do with my life and why. I want to make an entertainment company of a nature that has never existed before in order to combat the deadly ideas that Hollywood sells our culture.

Current thought: I'm still waiting for that billionaire investor to come along.

Favorite line: "Hollywood just keeps pumping out this execrable miasma, poisoning popular culture and choking out most hope of a revival of the souls of those caught in it. Content with teaching their anti-lessons, and parading around in front of each other each year in the form of the most detestable, pompous, self-congratulatory ceremony ever created. Their demonic masturbatory grins as they pat each others backs sicken me!"

3/29/05 ~ An evening with Zao

Basic idea: I went to a Zao show and got to hang out with the vocalist/writer and got some valuable input on the meaning of his lyrics which I intend to interpret in sculpture at some point.

Current thought: I'm still going to make it. Seriously! You don't believe me?!

Favorite line: "I didn't know if he would be too 'rock star' to want to banter with fans."

4/11/05 ~ Wow

Basic idea: I had been courting my girlfriend long enough to be sure this was going somewhere. So this was my big thesis for why it was the right thing to do. Some explanation is certainly warranted since it seems to contradict a lot of things I've said in the past.

Current thought: Some explanation was certainly warranted since this decision seems to contradict a lot of things I've said in the past.

Favorite line: "I get the same sense of the sublime when I see her spirit that I do when I see a mountain sunset or a bedewed spider web in the morning light."

4/20/05 ~ Reflections on my 30th Birthday

Basic idea: Yup… I reflected on my birthday.

Current thought: I'm still 30.

Favorite line: " My winter of discontent seems to be coming to an end. I have new hope for the immediate future. Which is cool, because lately it's been hard to envision any joy coming my way soon."

4/26/05 ~ Not too proud to stop and ask for directions

Basic idea: A study about hearing God's voice. It's very important to me since I am making one of the biggest decisions of my life. I made a parallel between the Christian walk and video games.

Current thought: Learning to hear God's voice is a long, long process, and I have a long way to go.

Favorite line: "I'm eagerly anticipating what it is He has in store. And I know it might look completely different than I expect, but I have learned to love His ways and know that they will be fruitful and blessed."

5/9/05 ~ Firing on all cylinders

Basic idea: Trying to figure out that other side of Christianity that I've always been wary of. The mystical, instinctual, primitive aspects that are apparently really important.

Current thought: I've found that my former approach needs to God needs to be broadened to allow for His work to be done in my life.

Favorite line: " …because there is a difference between leaving a comfort zone, (Usually a good thing.) and leaving the peace of God. (Always a bad thing.)"

5/11/05 ~ Re-thinking the whole "No Kissing" rule

Basic idea: This was basically a response to the amount of credulity I was receiving from people regarding my personal commitment to not kiss my bride-to-be until our wedding.

Current thought: We are still very committed to this idea, and haven't had any problems with it. I love it when a plan comes together!

Favorite line: " I'm actively walking on water and keeping my eyes on Jesus, knowing that if I sink it's because my eyes have wandered."

5/13/05 ~ Hard questions ~ Inadequate answers

Basic idea: An apologetic for all the 'big questions'. Why is there evil in the world? Why does God send people to hell? Etc.

Current thought: Well, this wasn't written long enough ago for me to have changed my answers at all.

Favorite line: "…there are many theories out there that offer compelling explanations to things, yet are incomplete. Think about physics, math, evolutionary theory. They all propose answers, yet even the best and brightest in their field can not answer every single question asked about it. There will always be "holes" that need to be filled. The most hardened atheistic evolutionist has "faith" that the questions he can't answer will be figured out eventually.."

5/24/05 ~ E3 2005

Basic idea: A report on my business trip to the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

Favorite line: "I saw the empty shells of beauty, and that made me think of the deep, abiding character, integrity, and God-breathed Love inside the woman who was waiting for me at home."

6/9/05 ~ My re-marriage conclusion

Basic idea: A most-likely final verdict on my opinion concerning this matter. Jesus gave a reason why a marriage covenant could be broken, Paul said to let an unbelieving spouse leave, and I am acting out of love for everyone involved with this decision.

Current thought: Could God still tell me I'm wrong? Absolutely. I hope if He does it won't be the day of the wedding.

Favorite line: "So here I am, trying as hard as I can to give my passion up to Jesus."

6/14/05 ~ An open mind

Basic idea: I question the term 'open mind'. What does it really mean beyond a cliché that tells people they should change their mind to your viewpoint?

Favorite line: "But then, all of man's wisdom is bound by moth and rust."

6/16/05 ~ Therapeutic prayer

Basic idea: I tend to pray positive affirmations rather than God-directed petitions. I wish my faith could get a kick start with some radical, provable miracle.

Current thought: I guess I still struggle with this.

Favorite line: "I find myself suspicious of a prayer that sounds like it could come out of secular therapist."

6/17/05 ~ An open mind: Part 2

Basic idea: A rebuttal to some questions and arguments from some feedback I got regarding my first Open mind post.

Favorite line: "it's awfully presumptuous to be a tiny speck in the universe, trapped in time and space, and declare that there is no God!"

6/21/05 ~ I'm getting married so I can have sex.

Basic idea: Another response to some feedback that was assuming I could only be marrying so soon because I want sex. Oh, and the title is sarcasm.

Favorite line: "…when you are led to do a thing; do it. If I was being led to wait, I'd wait. If I was being led to scratch the whole thing altogether I would, without hesitation, do that. If I was being led to kill my neighbor, I'd do it. No wait!"

6/28/05 ~ A good family bonding experience

Basic idea: I had a family meeting where we established a family council and then we got in a horrible car wreck.

Favorite line: "So I'm glad we crashed instead of another trip to the beach."

7/5/05 ~ More religious ramblings

Basic idea: We wrapped up our class on 'doing what Jesus did', and I went into my take on spiritual warfare. How I believe most Christians overcomplicate the issue with extra-biblical hooey.

Favorite line: "How could physical, time-bound spirit/animals possibly understand that stuff any more than a germ could understand how a computer works. Any time you think you can understand the spiritual realm read [the book of] Revelations."

7/14/05 ~ Moderation in all things?

Basic idea: This is a discussion about the ideal of the moderate, and their spiritual sibling: agnosticism. Though I am drawn to these things, I find them lacking.

Current thought: I think this may be my favorite entry on this blog.

Favorite line: "I admit that were satan to tempt me with any forbidden fruit, it would be the Banana of Agnosticism. It's the ultimate wishy-washy, sweet fruit of uncertainty. A panacea of soul-searching weariness."

7/19/05 ~ Class envy

Basic idea: I got a ping of jealousy because I overheard to wealthy people talking about how much money they were making in real estate. I'm trying to buy a house, but it looks unlikely that I can.

Current thought: It's sad that people with money are able to make more money so much easier than people with little money. That's one of many injustices in this world. It's a good thing I won't be in this world forever or that might really upset me.

Favorite line: "So my whining about wanting a modest home, when compared to the historical norm, is like complaining that my palace is too small, and I need a bigger treasure room and a wider moat."

7/20/05 ~ How important is presentation?

Basic idea: I got a scathing reply to my 'Moderation in all things' post. So I wanted to examine myself to see if I can present my ideas better because I don't want myself to get in the way of God's message.

Favorite line: "I don't care if the message offends people. That is between them and God. But if my method for delivering that message is what is offensive then I have done a grave disservice to God and my audience."

7/22/05 ~ Southern discomfort

Basic idea: How do we separate our faith from our culture? How do we determine what is of God, and what is of man? And why do we evangelicals marginalize ourselves by cocooning ourselves in a separate sub-culture?

Favorite line: "…and we all know where fantasy comes from, don't we? That's right. Satan."

7/27/05 ~ I'm a mess o' pain

Basic idea: A month after my accident I had a relapse induced by child play and light-moshing.

Favorite line: "We do some serious swashbuckling, complete with jumping off of high things, swinging on ropes and tumbling around."

7/27/05 ~ What the bleep do I know? What the bleep do you know?

Basic idea: A review of the movie called What the Bleep Do We Know. In case you don't want to read about it: it sucked.

Favorite line: "One thing this movie really drove home for me is the fact that as a lay person with no inclination towards math, physics, etc., my opinions about the subject are going to very much be shaped by those who present the topic."

7/29/05 ~ I'm right and you're wrong.

Basic idea: Why do we accept that teachers and other authority can say this, but it's taboo to apply it to spiritual things? In order to learn, we recognize that our teachers are right. But when someone says they are right about a religious matter they are suddenly an arrogant bastard. But when I state my views, I'm not belittling you personally if I disagree with you. If I'm right and you're wrong, that doesn’t make me a better person than you and visa-versa.

Favorite line: ""It's not good for you to spit on your brother." is a true statement. I don't need to apologize when I tell that to my son."

8/9/05 ~ I found my snake again

Basic idea: My snake keeps escaping. This time I caught him a split second before he decapitated himself in my fan.

Favorite line: "I'm so grateful that God hasn't gotten tired of pulling my head out of fans."

8/11/05 ~ Getting left in the dust

Basic idea: I was told at my last review that if I got with the program I would probably get to head up a new division. Well, I haven't gotten with the program and the position just went to someone else.

Favorite line: "When I behave like a godly worker, a servant worthy of his wages, I will find grace in my employer's eyes."

8/19/05 ~ A year in review

Basic idea: I list all my posts and comment on them. Even this post. I hope commenting on a current entry won't cause a ripple in space-time or create a sub-space anomaly.

Favorite line: "I hope commenting on a current entry won't cause a ripple in space-time or create a sub-space anomaly."