Monday, October 31, 2005

Jack of the Lantern

Call me Ishmael, but I don't like pumpkin carving. I used to, when I was a boy. But now when I hear that it's time to carve pumpkins with the children, I shudder, gird up my loins, and fetch the hardware (newspapers, knives, spoons, Sharpie). Sure it's nice seeing the little people excited, but I can get them just as excited with a piece of candy or two.

These pumpkins stink, if you hadn't noticed. We opened one up tonight and it was reminiscent of two special diapers my one and only son had whipped up for me earlier in the day. Pumpkins smell like crap. And pumpkin guts feel like crap - refrigerated crap. Orange, refrigerated crap. Stringy, orange - you get the idea.

I love pumpkins. I love pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice, pumpkin seeds, and the rest of the world that is pumpkin. But paying homage to wily Jack by being up to my elbows in it, isn't my idea of holiday. I know - killjoy, party pooper, wet blanket - I know. Get me a couple of semi-scary movies and a bowl of popcorn, maybe a bag of peanut M&M's, and I'm happy. That's a holiday. Emasculated, sure. Empty, shallow, and void of tradition, definitely. Certain to be forgotten, yes. But it's cool. It's relaxed. It's casual. And I'm a casual kind-o'-guy.

Friday, October 28, 2005

A Life Lived

Instead of there, she sat here. And her choice began a change in us. She showed us that to be truly human you must work against a culture of hate, work against a society bent on subjection, work against a city bent on segregation. She showed us that to be truly human you must understand that within every person is the image of God: Shades of clay shaped together to house the divine.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


I haven't been much for writing lately - six-day migraine. Tonight I got some Imitrex off of eBay and voila! the headache is gone. Well, true, I didn't get it off of eBay, but boy-howdy the stuff is expensive. It's going to take a lot of Kool-Aid pouches to make up for those nine little pills. (Drink another, girls! Hey, take one to bed with you. We can wash the bedsheets.) Goodbye, sweet little NanoPod.

By the way: Congratulations, White Sox. Cheers! May your Halley's-Comet-esque Series wins become more frequent.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I Acheses in the Head

I hate headaches. They ruin my days; they spend my nights. They make the sun my enemy and the light my adversary.

I hate headaches. They make me angry and short-tempered. I become a do-nothing.

I hate headaches. They suck.

"Daddy, will you shave your head bald again, so we can laugh at you?"

Days roll into days around here. The temperature is cooling - it has been in the low 60s here for the past few days. And that's just plain chilly. Sickness sometimes is the only thing that separates one day from the next. Sophie came into our bedroom the other night, stood over the bed, and then proceeded to projectile vomit, bringing latent fears of the Exorcist to life.

The boy has a boil on his upper thigh. It was lanced on Sunday and he's been put on antibiotics. We call him Baby Job now. It's our version of Baby Einstein.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Justification by Faith

What is justification by faith?

"Justification by faith" should not be dividing the church, it should be bringing it together. It is, as N.T. Wright says, the great ecumenical doctrine. For we are not justified by believing in justification by faith. We are justified by believing in Jesus.


Google Print

Google lets me blog. It lets me search and research. It allows me to send and receive mail. And the ubiquitous Google is doing it again. Have you seen or heard of Google Print? I discoverd it through Steve McCoy on his blog, Reformissionary. The implications of this project are mind-blowing, especially if it is allowed to continue. Check it out. And if you do research of any kind, you must check it out. That's right, you do not have a choice. Go now.

I think they also opened a new department called MiniTrue - though that might just be a rumor.

Friday, October 21, 2005

People, Ordinary eBay People

People, eBay people, are a funny lot. I know because I'm one of them. My wife is selling Kool-Aid pouches on eBay right now. A lot of 24 empty pouches are, currently, selling for over $8. They use these pouches for making purses, backpacks, belts, etc. Kind of a strange idea, but it does recycle them and I have actually seen some products that were kind of cute. I think it's crazy. But I also think it's great. Because I can buy more than 24 juice pouches for $8, quite a bit more.

Sometimes I feel badly about selling last month's trash at a profit. But not that badly. Could you use a winter coat made entirely from used Luvs diapers? A blanket from old newspapers? A T-shirt from holey underwear? A wallet from empty condom wrappers? Let me know, people.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

This, That, and the Other

We had bolgna sandwiches and Cheesy Poofs for lunch today. I told Annie to thank Jesus for her food. Annie was in a rather silly mood, however, and I heard her in the next room being silly while she was praying.

"Be serious, Anna," I yelled to her from the other room.

"I was just joking, Jesus," she said and giggled.

A strand of spider web waves softly off the top of my iBook.

A 21st-Century eOde to my 4th-Generation iPod in Less-Than-Heroic Couplets

Carting music was a dirty deal
Till I chanced upon your sweet click wheel.
New iPods come and Jobs surely knows
That I can't play 5th-gen videos.
But that still won't chill your ever cool
'Cause you rock, you cock-a-doodle-rule.

(I clearly have too much time on my hands. Please send freelance work or more children.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Blog-Slack Excuses

I've been furiously trying to finish up some freelance work in the past few days. Then, in the midst of this work, my water heater went out. I mailed out my completed work just this morning, but the water heater still needs fixing (we have two in the house, so it's more of an inconvenience than a calamity). Apparently, I need to replace a heating element.

In the rush of work (brought on, I might add, by my own procrastination), I have gotten very little sleep in the past few days. Bible study is tonight. Sophie got released early from school today, which required nearly two hours of my time to pick her up. The dishes and laundry and house are in a bad way. I haven't seen the littlest children in days, which is problematic since I change their diapers on Wednesday. The lawn is groaning for one last mowing - I may find the children when I mow.

It's 85 and sunny today - beautiful. And all I want to do is draw the curtains, curl up à la fetus, and log a few hours in the land of Nod.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Out of Hand

Life is strange and strange thoughts are loose in my woolly head. They're out of hand. First, I've been coming back again and again to the question, "What is the gospel?" I know that sounds simple, but I'm pretty sure it is much more than getting yourself saved and I'm pretty sure it isn't about having all the right information in your head or in your heart when you die. Second, I've been thinking about certainty lately and how uncertain I've become about a good number of things. And how painful it has been for me. Third, and finally (at least for tonight), I've been thinking about church lately and where my family needs to be. Where does the Lord want us? What would he have us do? What would please him?

I wish life were easier the older I got. I certainly thought my thoughts on life would clarify as I grew older. But the older I get the more I realize how little I have hold of. I realize how arrogant I am and have been. Life is so big and I am so small. And I'm so confused about so very many things.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Avery's Earrings

Avery's Earrings
Originally uploaded by sixlyons.

The yellow-haired child got her ears pierced yesterday. I'm so proud of her. It was solely her decision, and she was the first of our legion of children to take the step. She didn't want earrings because her big sisters had earrings. She wanted them simply because she wanted them.

They couldn't pierce both ears at the same time because they only had one gun that was working. That sounded like trouble to me. I had to vacate the premises with Sophie and Anna who were about to explode at the thought of Avery getting her ears pierced. We mosied on down to a bench 50 feet away where we were able to watch and wait.

Avery sat in the seat as still as a statue. She looked ready to conquer the world. She had a pretty little pink jewelry box and a stuffed animal on her lap. She exuded confidence. Meanwhile, Anna, Sophie, Will, and I were making friendly wagers about whether she would scream, and how loudly.

When the first ear was pierced, the jewelry box and animal fell to the floor - shock and dismay, followed with screaming. We didn't quite reach "Defcon Banshee," but came close. Laura had to hold Avery's head to get the second ear pierced (we were committed after the first).

She cried for a few minutes afterward. Her older sisters solemnly vowed that they would never, never get their ears pierced. Then I made them run over to Avery and tell her how beautiful she looked. Avery got her blankey and the tears slowed and then stopped. The runny nose was blown and wiped clean. Pink fingernail polish was bought.

A day later, she loves her earrings. She doesn't like me coming near them to clean them and I never knew what a strong little monkey she is. But we'll try to make sure her ears don't become infected and gooey and fall off.

(The purple on her ears under the earrings is simply the marker they used to mark her ears for piercing - no need to worry.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Happy Birthday, Avery!

Birthday Booty
Originally uploaded by sixlyons.

More to come, but right now I just can't believe the yellow-haired child is three.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Let's Talk about Sex

I don't remember exactly what grade it was, though I think it was third grade. We were at a museum on a field trip and the tour guide stopped the class in front of a statue of a fat, naked bald man.

"Is this a man or a woman?" She said.

A flurry of hands shot up. One, called on, said, "A man."

"That's right," she said. "How do we know that the statue is a man?"

I raised my hand high and was called on. "Because he doesn't have any hair," I said.

"No," said the tour guide. "You can tell because he has a penis." Now, everyone and his brother could see Mr. Wiggles, but most of us knew better than to be talking about it in mixed company.

Today, I took Anna, Avery, and Will to eat at Chick-fil-A. There was one lady who looked a little slow, God bless her, and was dressed in the sexless uniforms typical of fast-food joints. Her hair was short. Her face was not dinstinctively feminine. There was little that was distinctively feminine about her.

Avery, the yellow-haired child, said to me, "What's his name?"

"I don't know what her name is," I said.

"Maybe we should call him Ketchup Boy," she said.

I nodded thoughtfully - the employee was spending a lot of time around the condiment station. "How about 'Ketchup Girl'?" I said.

"Okay," said the yellow-haired child.

In Target today it struck me just how oversexed our culture is. Every woman's magazine I saw advertised tips on better sex. Diets and Sex. Diets and Sex. It's all the magazines advertised. Even Martha had a magazine: Diets and Prison Sex. Well, I didn't see the last one, but I've sent the idea to Martha. Sigh. So many dead trees, so little good sex.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Sonnets, Will, and Pneumopaedobaptism

Gerard Manley Hopkins is one of my favorite poets, and I recently found an Italian sonnet he wrote with which I was unfamiliar. My discovery came through the Eugene Peterson book, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, which was released this year. The title of the book is a line from the sonnet. (By the way, it is an excellent book on spiritual theology and I would highly recommend it.)

Will wore an orange plaid shirt and looked very handsome as he participated in his pneumopaedobaptism (child dedication ceremony) at church yesterday. I read the Hopkins poem, which contrasts how natural objects - kingfishers, dragonflies, stones, strings, bells - sing themselves while humanity ought to justice and grace. I want to show Will how to justice and grace in his world, and how to let Christ play through him.

It was one of those moments, however, as my baptism was, that was immersed in irony. Baptism is such a beautiful symbol of union with, of membership in, of identification with Christ and his body. The Sunday I was baptised came on the heels of the fellowship/denomination I was then a part of splitting over the issue of, well, baptism. In the same way, Will's air-baptism happened even as we learned of the dissolution of our baby church plant. As our mother congregation covenanted to raise Will in the fear-of-the-Lord, we understood that we would not be a part of this community much longer either - unless the Lord moves us closer than 40 minutes away.

The ironies, incidentally, don't bother me much. To me they point to something redeemed in the midst of brokenness, rather than something broken in the midst of redemption. It was a beautiful ceremony, and I wish all of you could have witnessed it.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Sans Teeth . . . Sans Everything

I went to the dentist yesterday to replace a filling that had fallen out. They replaced it and told me I didn't have to come back till spring. That sounded so nice. So nice.

So today I was eating a Tootsie Roll when half-way through it I realized it had ripped my lonely crown out - yeah, the one I got in June. I guess the re-crowning ceremonies will have to wait till Monday since all my dentists are at seminars today. I hope they learn how to make better cement.

Somewhere, in all her enameled splendor, the Tooth Fairy laughs uncontrollably, squirting milk out of her nose.

The Tooth Is Out There

The third tooth in four days came out last night. How Sophie loses her teeth in her sleep, I don't know. But it's hell on the Tooth Fairy. I'll try to get a picture posted soon.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Fighting Tooth and Nail for Normalcy

Sacagawea Golden Dollar

That is what it has been like around here the past couple of days.

Sophie lost a tooth on Monday and again on Tuesday. So now she has a top and bottom incisor missing and her other top front tooth hanging on by a thread. She gets a Sacagawea Golden Dollar for every tooth she looses. It's treasure. And it's not so expensive as to keep us from eating for a week. (My wife had one child she taught who got $20 per tooth! I'd be ripping out my own teeth for that kind of cash.)

Then, yesterday, we were outside playing on the swingset when Anna stepped on something and began screaming. She started hopping over to me and I told her to stop. I went over to her and picked her foot up and saw an old, rusty roofing nail halfway into her foot. I quickly grabbed it and yanked it out. Thinking about it now makes me want to vomit, which I'm not prone to do. She stood there hollering at the top of her lungs as her blood pooled in an oak leaf. I carried her inside and bandaged it properly. Fortunately, she didn't need a tetanus shot, because it was part of her immunizations. I am still watching the boo-boo, but it looks good so far.

And now I've got to go put more nails and broken glass out under the swings.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Recently, I was watching a PBS show in which a primatologist was observing chimpanzees ("our closest relatives") in order to learn more about humans. The point of the study was to understand, perhaps a little better, our condition - specifically, our brokenness.

We study our world to learn more about ourselves. We also have our history, our literature, and our personal experience to teach us about ourselves. Yet even after we consider it all, we remain surprised at brokenness.

And surprise is an interesting response. It means something has taken us off guard, something is out of place, something is not as it ought to be. Unless it is late at night and we are exhaustedly shuffling to bed, we are not often surprised by the placement of our dining tables. More than likely, we placed the table where it is. We expect it everytime we see it. The surprise comes when we find that it is no longer where we put it. Being surprised by brokenness seems to me to be similar to being surprised by our dining tables.

We are surprised by brokenness because of our pride. We thought we were better than shooting at rescue workers trying to evacuate hurricane-stranded people. We thought we were better than torturing prisoners. We thought we were better than bombing innocent women and children. Some of us, content in our pride, shake our heads and say, "I am better than that." There is comfort in self-deception.

Our surprise also emerges because each of us has been stamped with our Creator's image. The scriptures tell us how we were created in and bear the image of God. This likeness identifies us as his creation, his children. That same story tells us how we broke that image, and how the cosmos broke with it. But the image, though broken, remains. It leaves us longing for wholeness. We long for things to be set right: oppression, war, poverty, disease, sin, and death. We long for the cosmos to be renewed, for the end of floods, fires, earthquakes, and tsunamis. And in the midst of this Sehnsucht, we get the surprise.

Of course, there's more to the story than brokenness.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Back from the Sea

Will on North Myrtle Beach
Originally uploaded by sixlyons.

The Three Furies
Originally uploaded by sixlyons.

We're back from the beach. It was a nice break from the normal routine. I couldn't even get on-line, which served as a good break from the blog. (I actually did sneak a quick peak from Atlanta Bread Company one morning.) Instead I got to spend an insane amount of time with my family and read and swim in the ocean and watch a couple of DVDs. It was good.

I've talked about the ocean on this blog before and the strange pull it has on me, the strange fascination it holds for me. It never fails to impress me. I suppose it's a lot like looking out at the stars and realizing the sheer expanse of it. But the cosmos is too big a thing for me. I can't even begin to understand its bigness and therefore fail to appreciate my smallness in relation to it. The ocean is somewhat more thinkable in that I can reach out and touch it. It has a physicality that I can feel. It has distance to it that, while I cannot see across it, I know there are people who live across it. I talk to them. They are friends and cousins. So there is distance that is quantifiable - none of this 10 to the 100th power or what not. I can't get my mind around $1,000,000,000, how am I supposed to be able to get such a huge quantity? It might as well be infinite.

All that to say that the ocean is pretty sweet. And the sweetest thing about it is watching my children fall in love with it. I watch them giggle and sing and dance and play in the surf. I watch them tentatively explore the power of the tide and discover shells and small sea mollusks. I race with them to build sand castles before Will or Avery destroys them. We draw pictures in the sand. We write our names. We make friends on the beach who we see each day. We attempt to get to the pier several times, but it is too far for the smaller ones.

I had a beer with my pizza one night, which was nice. You can't buy the stuff in the county in which I live. I know that sounds pretty funny, but it's true. (Digression: Recently, as I was about to get on the highway to come home, I stopped at a gas station to get some drinks [non-adult beverages] for the kids. At the front counter of the gas station was a magazine called "High Times" - with information on how to grow your own marijuana. Interesting that they can sell such a magazine. Interesting that they can sell such a magazine in a county where I cannot buy a beer.)

Anyway, the trip was refreshing, though short. The ocean is a good place.