Saturday Morning Post

Today is Saturday, October 29th, 2011. Richard Dreyfuss is 64.

Malachi came into our room at 8:21AM and said “get up”. There was no tacit to his tone. He understands that Saturday mornings are all about me being there with the kids while mommy keeps her eyes squinted shut amidst the shouting, crying, controlled explosions — and, worse, uncontrolled explosions — happening just down the hall.

“Get up.” Yes, he sounds kind of bossy, but I don’t blame him. He knows that I don’t get up easily. I ask for nine more minutes. Nine more, and then I’ll get up.
“Okay. I’ll go out to the living room and count to nine.”
Ah. Minutes are longer than milliseconds. “123456789! Get up, Daddy!”
At 8:21, I tell Mac to go and watch the oven clock. After it changes nine times, come and get me.
At 8:30, “Get up.”

In that moment my brain reminds me of the smell of coffee, and then immediately juxtaposes my smell memory with the smell reality of no coffee, followed by mentally examining the cupboard manifest file that indicates that there are 0 coffee grounds. I tell Malachi to get his shoes on quickly and quietly so that we can run down to Hutch’s and get some coffee before everyone else wakes up. “And some pop-tarts?” YesGet your shoes on. YesGet is a magical word in parenting that is employed whenever the child expresses their desire after yours, as if they’ve produced a carrot for you to tie to the end of a stick. He puts his shoes on in record time.

We get into the Jeep and head East. For kicks, I pass the first parking lot entrance and proceed to the second. “Why did you do that, Daddy?” I tell him that it’s Saturday. Anything goes! He doesn’t get the tomfoolery and instead makes note that we are to use only the East entrance on Saturdays.

We enter Hutch’s and are pulled by a gravitational force found in the mind of a 6 year old. His internal sensors are giving clear indication as to the location of the pop tarts. “I hope they have the kind I like!” I ask him what kind he likes. He says that he does not know.

We get to the pop tart section and he chooses a blue box of MountainBerryBlast(tm) made with real* froot! I don’t take the time to read the small print because my Daddy sensors are indicating the location of coffee two aisles over.

I point out to Malachi the array of coffee flavors (breakfast blend, french roast, MountainBerryBlast, etc.) and ask him which I should get. He chooses the one that’s blue, since blue is his favorite color. Sound reasoning. Let’s go.

Theresa the cashier tries to make small talk with Malachi but he won’t give in and engage. She does not have a toaster and he is not interested in things that aren’t toasters. A swipe and a bag, and we head out to the parking lot. “STOP, Daddy!”

“I need a dollar.”

I don’t have a dollar for him. He wants to use the claw to get a bouncy ball. He remarks that he will bring his dollar on the next outing to Hutch’s, so that he can get a blue one.

I explain to Malachi how the claw game works, that there’s actually a very slim chance you’ll get whatever it tries to pick up. Looking back, I realize that I painted a rather dim picture, even for the claw game. He chimed in with his genuine hope.

“Yeah. I want a blue one.”

We buckle into the Jeep. I go out the West driveway to M-60, followed by a gentle reprimand for using the wrong one on a Saturday.

Malachi’s Art

My son Malachi is really good at art. He’s 6. He draws better than me. I’m serious. Sometimes parents say that with a proud grin. I say it with a proud shame. The kid is actually better than me at drawing freehand objects. And I’m like 31.

When I was his age, I drew stick figures to represent any and all people. I also used them to represent trees, houses, and foreign wars. I pretty much stopped developing my artistry at age 5. And no, it wasn’t because I figured computers would just “make it happen” for me, since we had nothing but punch cards and bootlegged copies of Oregon Trail running on our school library Apple II brown loafs. It was because a teacher yelled at me.
Her name was (and, likely according to her death certificate), Mrs. Downing. I’m sure she had a first name, though I couldn’t tell you what it was (is). Picture it: there I was, four-year old Adam, sitting at a desk at Douglas Elementary School. A large ball of clay sat in front of me, and my job was to roll it out from circle to pancake. We set aside many hours and many days for our entire class to accomplish this project, each kindergarten student rolling like mad so that they could pull a Michelangelo and shape beautiful holiday statues from raw earth. A brown-nosing student who shall remain nameless (Melanie) finished the project in record time. Her Easter Bunny statue was out of the oven and glazed while Mrs. Downing was rolling my clay for me, saying discouraging words like “Oh, Adam, when it comes to art, I have to do everything for you” and “I bet you’ll use a computer to berate my teaching approach someday.” She was right about the second one.

Malachi, I have no doubt, will eventually start teaching the art class at his school. Maybe he can teach me something, too. You know how parents sometimes pretend they don’t know something, just to see what their kid will do in that situation? When it comes to drawing, that’s me. Without the pretending part.

If you drive by our house tonight, 1) bring brownies and 2) look at the Jack-O’-Lanterns on our porch. He drew the faces and Emily did the cutting, following his lines like a pharmacist follows the scribble on a Doctor’s pad — counting each pill as if a lawsuit is around the corner and sipping on a Diet Pepsi she took from the refreshment center.

He drew a face on Lexi’s pumpkin of a princess. It looks like one. He’s that good.

Universal Questions

Welcome to my blog subseries: Universal Question. I’m your host, Adam Davidson.

Today we examine one of the most complex of the universal questions. A word of caution: this journey is not for the easily befuddled. Its quandary spans over the generations and will continue on until the end of time.

Why do children absolutely insist on shining a flashlight into their eyes for an inordinately long time, that is, until they hear the phrase “stop it” repeated 17 times — with gradual intensity.

If I were a desperate Ph.D. student, I would easily seek funding from a large corporation to do extensive (read: expensive) research into the matter. The EverReady battery people should pay up handsomely.

No one knows what causes this chronic case of flashlight-in-the-eyes syndrome, but it affects a vast majority of children from age 1 to at least 6, as far as my research goes.

Stop it.
Stop it.
STOP it.

High Output

Yesterday was a high output day. I watched as Worship Arts interns extraordinaire led, viewing everything from multiple angles while taking copious notes on the overall flow and feel of the service. Then, it was straight to building GeoTrax layouts with the boys — the kind of layouts that defy gravity and void the Fisher Price warranty. After that, a warm fire gently burned while I tried to get Lexi to sign the word “music”. Finally, back to my office to get ready to speak to the Senior High group, followed directly by a talk/discussion with our Young Adults. The day was capped off with homework, featuring words like “plenary inspiration” and “moodle”.

The day was actually capped off with me listening to Don Henley sing about the Sunset Grill. I’m not sure why, but I needed to hear it, as if the horn licks over the simple chord progression at the end would somehow allow me to decompress. Prayer, then zzzz.

God allows me to do a bunch of stuff that I love, and meets my high output with a filling up that can only come from Him. For this I’m glad.

Stories for my kids

I love to tell stories to my kids.  Most of the tales that I tell are character-based, and follow a predictable arc of conflict and resolution.

“Daddy, what’s going to happen to Cookie and Carrot this time?”

“Well…” (thinking) “I can tell you about the time that Cookie and Carrot went to the big city and got mugged” (thinking; regretting).

“What’s mugged mean?”

“Well…” (thinking) “mugged  means many things, including when someone gives you a new coffee mug.”

I make up details as I go, which is pretty easy for an average audience age of 5.  I imagine what it will be like as the years go by. I envision a scene where I tell him stories during his senior year of high school.

“Yo, Dad.  Get out.”

“Okay, but you won’t find out what happened to Cookie and Carrot!”

“Message me.” (SLAM)

These times are precious.

I’m captivated by Psalm 99:4a (ESV): “The King in his might loves justice.” Psalm 99 is the appointed psalm for the 18th Sunday after Pentecost. We also call it October 16, 2011. Church goers around the world will proclaim this Word as they gather to worship the King. Combined with the other lectionary readings for this week (Exodus 33:12-23, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 and Matthew 22:15-22), we get an eclectic description about what God is like, what we’re like, and what the world is all about. There is an issue with our worship service, as well as so many others: there’s just not enough time to really dwell in the myriad of Truths contained therein. As soon as you just start getting your mind and heart wrapped around part of the Majestic, we move on to the next thing. As a Worship Pastor and service builder, I’m willing to take the blame for some of that. However, it’s your job as a Worshiper to come prepared for Liturgy (which means “the work of the people”). With only a short amount of time together, it would be impossible to offer the nutrition needed for another week. Think of our worship gatherings as a big family meal at a huge table, with a substantial and delicious Turkey (or steak or Tofu) at the middle, of which we will all partake with thankful hearts. Imagine eating your fill on Sunday and then getting mad that you’re hungry on Tuesday. Fair? I think not. It’s up to you to do the work of Worship every day. If you don’t dwell daily in the presence of the King, you’re going to go hungry. And that’s never good.

What might a daily intake of the Lectionary (appointed readings for Sunday Worship) look like? One might take and study the Old Testament reading on Monday, the Psalm on Tuesday, the Gospel on Wednesday, the Epistle on Thursday, and then maybe back to the Gospel again on Friday. Or perhaps just dwelling on one passage for the week — the Psalm reading, for example — might prove to be quite nutritious.
I read Psalm 99 on Monday morning and thought “that’s really cool.” I read it again on Wednesday and thought “no, wait, that’s REALLY cool!” I was drawn specifically to Psalm 99:4a, which I mentioned above: “The King in his might loves justice.” That verse alone tells us 50 things about the character and nature of God! This gets me rather excited! So, instead of remaining in the hyperbole, I went ahead and starting listing truths packed into this 7 word sentence. As a personal discipline, I list them below.  Some of these might blur into others and there may even be some redundancies, but this isn’t meant to be an academic pursuit.  This helps me think theologically about a profound Truth.  I see this as an act of worship.

The King in his might loves justice.

Psalm 99:4a (ESV)

  1. God is a King.
  2. God is the King.
  3. God is mighty.
  4. God acts out of His might.
  5. God loves.
  6. God loves justice.
  7. God loves in His might.
  8. God uses His position as King for good and not evil.
  9. God uses His position as King to watch out for His people.
  10. God has a value system.
  11. God values authority.
  12. God values strength.
  13. God values love.
  14. God values justice.
  15. God values me.
  16. God reveals Himself.
  17. God wants to be known.
  18. God wants His creation to know Him.
  19. God cares about how people interact.
  20. God is interested in being involved enough to rule.
  21. God is on a throne, wears a crown and robe (as a King would).
  22. God considers Himself to be higher than me.
  23. God considers me to be His subject.
  24. God has the power to call me to account if I do something that challenges His authority (as a King would).
  25. God is a King, which indicates monarchy (one rule) and not democracy (I have a vote, too).
  26. God’s might is His might, not might on loan from an even higher power.  Our might is given to us by the King.
  27. God hates injustice.
  28. God has my best interest in mind.
  29. God expects me to take on the practices of the Kingdom.
  30. God has given us exactly what we need (Salvation).
  31. God has not given us exactly what we deserve (eternal destruction).
  32. God operates from the place of justice, which means that the cross wasn’t just “bending the rules a little”.
  33. God is just, which means that calling Him “unfair” is inaccurate.
  34. God reigns, but not just over a person (me) — He reigns over people (us).
  35. God has designed you and I to dwell together in his Kingdom, under His rule.
  36. God intends for us to take on these qualities, especially loving justice.
  37. God is extremely gracious to endure our blatant acts of injustice, since He seems to have made justice a central part of His Kingdom.
  38. God expects that our response to injustice would be the same as His.
  39. God expects that we would hold justice in high regard, even to the place of loving it.
  40. God is the only King to whom all other kings bow, which is simply an act of responding justly, since any other kind of response would be unjust.
  41. God is the only King to whom I bow, which is an act of justice and love on my part, made possible by the might of His prevenient grace.
  42. God is okay with having the removed crowns of others strewn about the floor of His throne.
  43. God wants us to see Him as a sovereign, strong, loving, just ruler, and anything that doesn’t align doesn’t belong.
  44. God is serous enough about our dwelling in true peace that He is willing to fight for what is fair, which should put us at ease.
  45. God is serious enough about our dwelling in true peace that He is willing to fight for what is fair, which should terrify us because we know what we’ve done and what we truly deserve.
  46. God wants us to trust Him.
  47. God wants us to fear Him.
  48. God wants us to truly live in response to His kingly rule, which is a daily surrender to His mighty, loving justice.
  49. God wants us to respond to Him in faith, believing that these attributes are true and will cause us to live drastically different lives in response.
  50. God is good.  I mean really, really good.

Spiders in the Fall

We underestimate the effective jumping distance of spiders. Shiny web strings give account of where a spider has been, putting his travels from point A to point B on tangible display. Our trees are now interconnected by long, flimsy lines that coast in the wind, spanning long from branch to distant branch. How do spiders do this? Can they fly? Or do they tie one end up on a branch, climb down the tree, make the journey across the back yard, climb up the other tree and tighten it down with some kind of web turnbuckle, wiping his spider hands after a job well done?

Well done indeed, tenacious spider.

And now spider waits, hoping to trap delicious flying insects and keep the food chain intact. You’ll get no judgement here, spider friend. I get hungry all the time. But not for bugs.

I wonder if tying webs from limb to limb signals the trees to start releasing their leaves to the ground? If so, the timing is no advantage to the spider, since his cross-yard stitching will occasionally trap a tiny leaf, making it seem as if autumn foliage is able to defy gravity. Do flying prey see a floating leaf and think “oh, don’t fly there?” Obviously not, since spider keeps eating.

Autumn is so nice. Until you walk into one of those webs.

Didn’t you see the floating leaf, dude?