Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Extended-Release tablet (tm)

For those of you who have young children and any extended family, you understand the abominable booty of gifts that shower your kids during Christmas. For the past 3 years, we haven't been able to fit all of the presents in our car when coming home from the grandparents, and separate trips had to be made to bring them to us. It makes it hard to teach your kids how to be grateful, generous, outward thinking, etc. when they get a Toys R Us shipment every year for Jesus' birthday. Since we've discovered that it's impossible to get your family to buy your kids less crap, we've come up with a couple traditions to help reduce to the overwhelming feeling of gift blizzard.

First, we purge. We actually do this a few times a year, but right before Christmas we do the big one. We take the kids in their room and let them choose which toys they want to give away. Surprisingly, they're pretty willing to give up large supplies of toys without much fuss. For the toys that are in good shape, we donate those. The other toys we melt down and pour into a fantastic Santa mold, so they can worship his statue all year long instead of the short month between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Second, we make a reservoir. We intentionally box up about half their presents right after Christmas and hide them in the garage. They are so distracted with the other metric ton of gifts that they don't notice. Then periodically throughout the next several months, we release a new toy from the box. It's an extended-release formulation that has better long-term cure rates for boredom than your standard one-time high-dose Christmas formulation. It's highly recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and this guy.

Third, we burn down the statue of Santa and tell the kids about the real St. Nicolaus and the real baby Jesus. Then we make them promise not to tell other kids that Santa isn't real.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

On Breaking Wood and Cultural Templates

I don't like to talk about feelings. I hate the phone. Sometimes I stink. Other times I reek of Irish Spring. I fantasize about maiming bad men breaking into our home. I'm a man. I play fight with my 4 year-old son. I like to shoot crap. I still watch action movies that I know are going to be terrible just because I can. I split a bunch of wood today and felt really strong. I'm a man. I'm such a man that I didn't even notice the microabrasion on my arm that caused a tiny trickle of blood to sparkle in the sunlight catching my son's eye and arousing an interrogation about what happened to me. I played it cool and winced not.

So when my neighbor comes home dirty after doing something involving a natural gas rig and a fantastically large duelly, why am I little embarrassed when he catches me planting daffodil bulbs in the front yard? I'll answer that for you. It's because I'm a man. I shouldn't be planting daffodils until I'm like 65 and living the Medicare goodlife (tm). I should planting large trees, and mines, and deer carcasses. I should be watching ESPN 4 hours a day and a bunch of college football the entire weekend. I shouldn't be sitting on the couch enjoying an episode of Curious George with the kids because it's the only time they'll sit on my lap. I should out fishing in my camo waders.

I'm honestly not too insecure about my manhood, but those feelings of not belonging do sometimes creep up on me, especially considering my current habitation in rural Arkansas. As I type, every husband is out shooting some sort of projectile at large male deer. I'm not. I'm in here enjoying Starbuxx coffee and writing a blog. And I'm doing it with a sweet baby on my lap. And I love it. I can't imagine too many local Arkansans are intimidated by my lifestyle.
I love the fact that Jesus was man who worked with his hands as a carpenter up until about my current age and then went on a rampage loving people in weird, unexpected ways. He welcomed little punk kids onto his lap. He saved the lives of prostitutes. He healed the hearts of dirty politicians and government employees. When his follower was wielding a sword, Jesus was mending a dude's ear. I guarantee Jesus did not question his role as a man. He lived a life of crazy love. He wept. He told good news. He came to seek and save. And though it's not written, I'm certain he knows all the secret ninja moves.

I may not know all the secret ninja moves, I know I'm where I need to be. My occasional insecurity about not caring about the NFL game is evidence of my lack of faith about who I am. I am a man. The Yahweh is my Father. I love. I weep. I (try to) mend people. And when I need to, I can split wood or deliver a forceful sidekick to the face.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Don't Let a Ninja Ruin Your Autumn

Everybody knows that it's foolhardy to engage in an exchange of fisticuffs with a ninja, unless of course, you too are a ninja and are dressed just a little bit cooler than the other guy. But let's face it, sometimes it can't be avoided. Ninjas are freaking everywhere and the ninja industry has not been immune to the global economic recession either. They're always looking for a way to keep busy, and aside from applejacking your iPods, their only form of revenue is the ninja millage they generate with each successful bystander attack. It's important to be on guard against such attacks, so here are a few helpful tips to keep you safe this fall.

1. Ninja Attack Insurance. Your local insurance agent would be happy to steal more of your money with this safety net. If you're displeased with our currently existing, or lack of, ninja attack insurance, a public option will soon become available.

2. Wash Your Hands.

3. Dress Smart. In the end, it's always the better looking ninja that wins. Reference: American Ninja series, Ninja Gaiden, G.I. Joe

4. Stock Your Stars. Statistically, the vast majority of ninjas will begin their attacks with a breathtaking rigid warrior posture at a far striking distance. For a well-prepared pre-victim, this provides just enough time and space to dispense a few accurately-aimed throwing stars to disable the attacker.

5. Drums of Dairy. Historically, ninjas have almost always been Asians, and it's a fact of Eastern proportions that most Asians are lactose-intolerant. Ninjas are much less likely to attack one who is carrying large quantities of dairy products, usually in quantities of 5 gallons or more.

6. Avoid the Banzai. It's been said if you want to avoid accidental groin strikes, stay out of the rake factory. That's also true for avoiding ninja-induced groin strikes. Avoid areas of heavy ninja infestation if you want to avoid ninjas and their low blows. Stay away from rice paddies, banzai farms, ninja uniform stores, swordsmiths, TNMT movies, Green Party conventions, pagodas, and the Eastern hemisphere.

7. Clone a Carter. It is inarguable that Jimmy Carter has never been attacked by a ninja. Throw on that Carter mask any time you go in public, and your life will be blessed.

8. Bone Up on Your Norris Skillz (with a "z"). Check out a Norris training video from your local self-offense library. I highly recommend So You're a Ninja and You Think You Can Step to This: A Simple Instructional DVD on Disarming Stealth Warriors, by Charles Norris.

9. Know Your Rights, the "Bill of" that is. One important lesson that we all gleaned from The Last Samurai is that ninjas don't do well against gatlin guns. Take advantage of your right to bear arms and carry a gatlin gun on a horse-drawn trailer every where you go, and you won't be disappointed.

10. Sidestep the Swine. Don't get the freaking swine flu like I'm pretty sure I have right now. If you do get it, count the blessing that you won't need a H1N1 vaccine, which we all know President Obama personally brewed to contain the maximum number of unsafe toxins. Glen Beck confirms that it was created in a secret intern camp where radioactive Democrat waste is stored.

Monday, August 17, 2009

What Jean-Claude Taught Me About Peace

Trouble is compounding. I'm not talking about "when it rains, it pours" or death coming in 3's. I'm referring to people who live lives of tumult. We all have friends or family members who exist in such a state of instability that we immediately doubt any new relationship or job that they engage in. Their lives are like Jean-Claude Van Damme in any straight-to-video movie he's ever done the splits in. Despite the fact that he's always just minding his own, he inevitably invites trouble, and disaster abounds in the form of triple-replay side kicks and slow-mo close-ups of his face yelling, "Bwaaaaaaaaa!" He is empowered by conflict. Troubled people are empowered by conflict. They exist in a tornadic crapball of drama that ills them and keeps them alive at the same time. Their hearts yearn for peace, yet their actions crush it.
Emotionally healthy people, safe people, are like bars of fresh Irish Spring that the dude just shaved with his Irish pocketknife for the sake of wafting its mossy, green goodness to his nose. The incredible thing about my bar of Irish Spring is, that if I drop that little green nugget of virtue on the ground and it gets covered in hair and bugs and such, it cleans right off in the shower. Freshness fills the steamy air and it can clean others again. That's the kind of health that changes lives. That's where God wants to take us, and I'm sure it's the abundant life Jesus was talking about.
How does one move from Jean-Claude to Irish Spring? I don't think it happens without a big ol' journey, and I think it may start with insight into oneself. Acknowledgement of a problem is the first step to addressing it. Troubled people live in a constant state of denial and blame. Peaceful people have insight. And at the core of insight is humility. Humility is really freaking hard. I guess that's why a lot of us are still thriving on roundhouse kicks, poor acting, and excuses to fight.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Looking at/for Stuff

Through the windows of my office I can behold the beauty of the rolling green hills of central Arkansas. This is the Natural State, and I am at work. I am at work and blogging.

Obviously, work is a little slow for me right now. I just started 2 weeks ago. I'm the "new doctor," and I've pretty well acquired a Norris-like status in this small, hospitable town. Kinda weird. I feel like a novelty, and yet we don't really have any friends at this point. What we do have are woods, a lake, a Wal-Mart, and a really old twin cinema made of scraps of Terminator robots, tin cans, and film reels.

We are in search for a church and have tried 5 different ones of varying denominations. I've realized my desire for real fellowship with people. I love the body of Christ and don't particularly care what label is on their sign or what they believe about election vs. free-will or whether one has to sprinkled or dunked or has to speak in tongues or know how to look up the Hebrew or Greek word and add meaning to it. I just want to meet with other believers to spur and be spurred toward love and good deeds. I want to meet with people who really love Jesus and want to make His name known in their lives. I've tasted community like that during my residency, so now I'm like the dude in Plato's cave allegory who found the way out of the cave.

Unfortunately, we haven't found that yet. We've found a lot of churches who have been doing the way things have been done since their existence in this country. They love Sunday night service. Sunday night service is the Jr. Varsity B-version of the Sunday morning service, and I wonder if anyone really likes it. I'm pretty sure it only exists as the skimmer. It pulls off the cream of the crop and lets the pastor and those in attendance know who the dedicated ones are. On a brighter note, we have taken advantage of these Sunday night services to squeeze in 2 visits to 2 different churches on Sundays. However, the 28-second welcome session announced by "Turn and shake the hands of the people around you" hasn't really fostered any friendships for us yet.

I know these green hills have to be harboring some Jesus friends for us. Until then, I'll just keep watching movie trailers while at work and weighing whether or not I want to watch them at the crappy twin cinema.