This morning, I did the unthinkable: I downgraded my cable television package. My children watch too much television and I can’t really be bothered with parenting them and keeping track of all that. So, good bye Disney Channel! Goodbye, Nickelodeon! Good bye, Cartoon Network! I’ll miss you most of all. And, good bye, Comedy Central – I’ll enjoy your streaming episodes of the Daily Show.

I suppose this is just proof of Calvin’s total depravity.

Really, this was all too easy. I grabbed my laptop, hit “live chat” and let the destruction ensue. I even did the dishes and wrote a blog post while chatting with Rey Carlo. He was even so polite as to type, “That’s good to know. I’m happy you feel that way.” And, he finished the conversation with, “have a blessed weekend.”

This represents a large change around the Fox household. On Monday, the kids go back to school. Three weeks later, I go back to school. Time to buckle down and do some learning. One other reason for the change – I am a patriot and socialism is sin.

P.S. Here is a picture of Jake handling snakes at the men’s retreat. I would have taken more photos but I was busy drinking poison.

jake models true religion

jake models true religion

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After many months away from “space monkey manifesto”, I am making my triumphant return. In my mind, this is accompanied by the Queen classic… “FLASH! AwwwAW! Saviour of the uniVERSE!” Why have I chosen this day to rekindle your love of my written word? One word for ya: It’s summer vacation.

It’s 3:48 pm on the first day of summer vacation and Ione is already thrashing on the floor, crying out in a pathetic little whine, “but, there’s nothing to doooooooo…” Thelonious has already been victim to several time outs as he learns the meaning of the words “respect” and “antagonize.” However, I am determined, I will stay resolute. My children will learn how to entertain themselves this summer – even if it kills all three of us.

To help the Fox progeny learn this valuable lesson, we took a trip to Target to get Wham-O brand TracBall and a big bouncy ball. While we were out, we stopped by Petsmart (there was an argument: is it “pet smart” or “pet’s mart”?!?!?) to price Budgies. In a moment of weakness, brought on by the ridiculously low P.E.T.Club member prices, I let Thelonious buy a parakeet.

As I sat down to write this post, I felt a warm breeze against my ankles. Actually, not warm… hot! “Why is the thermostat set to 82?!?!?” “Dad, the book says it needs to be between 75 and 85 degrees for my parakeet!”

Ione just threw a note at me from the Creation Station. It is written on pink, heart shaped stationary, placed in a matching pink envelope and sealed. The note reads, “I need mu suitcase and my sleeping bag Because there’s nothing else to do.”

I think I better go.

This morning I did some light grocery shopping at the Safeway by our house – the same Safeway we’ve shopped at 2-3 times every week for the past 8 years. Everything seemed pretty normal… till I went to check out. I picked Samantha’s line because she is our favorite checker. I got all the way to the front and started entering my Safeway club card number before I realized it. Samantha was 8 inches taller than she was 3 days ago.

I leaned over the mini conveyor belt to see what she was standing on. There was nothing under her feet but a rubberized mat to counteract the damage done by standing on a concrete floor 8 hours a day. I was about to ask her how a 50 year old woman had grown so quickly. But, when I looked into her face, I suddenly became very confused: those lips look collagen filled; that mole is on the wrong side of the face; her voice is… different.

I didn’t understand. I mean, that was Samantha. She’s hard to miss – it’s as if she walked out of a Motley Crue show at the Troubadour 25 years ago and stepped directly behind the cash register at Safeway. She has a vine tattooed around her upper arm. She is painfully thin. Her hair is 14 different shades of “blonde” and halfway ratted out for a Saturday night in Lynnwood. This is not a grocery store clerk you easily forget – or mistake for someone else.

I thought to myself – could it be? Is it possible that the Safeway management had hired not one super friendly, aging blond hessian with a penchant for blue eyeshadow, but had decided to also hire her twin sister of amazonian height?

But, then… I saw her name tag… and, it read: Samantha!

How could this be? What was happening?!? It was her but it wasn’t her! I mean, she was Samantha, but not the version of Samantha I am used to.

And then it hit me: alternate universe. It’s the only possibility. I must have stepped out of my minivan on Earth Prime and walked through the automatic sliding doors to Earth 2. It just makes sense. Everything is the same, yet just a little bit different. My mind started racing – how else had the reality I’d known been altered here? In this universe, did my wife still love me? Had W taken permanent hold of the executive branch? Were all women 8 inches taller? Was Lex Luthor a good guy?

Simply put, I’ve decided to see the glass as half full and grab this opportunity by the proverbial horns. So, in this universe, I eat 100% of the suggested daily intake of bran every day, exercise 5 times a week, and take my vitamins.

That was easy.

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BOD is shorthand for Board of Directors. Did you know that? I’ll never forget the day that secret chunk of knowledge was revealed to me. I felt so smart, like my level of professionalism jumped from “soggy sock” to “red hot lover” in an instant. At that time, I was a member of the Puget Sound American Marketing Association’s board. We did planning/visioning retreats every year. I didn’t enjoy them.

This weekend, I’ll be attending the VCC staff and BOD planning/visioning retreat. This will be the first planning retreat I have been a part of with VCC. At least, I think it will be the first one. I’m totally going to get fired if it turns out we had a planning retreat just three months ago and I have completely forgotten the entire event. Anyways, I’m very excited. Ya see, I secretly love planning and visioning. It’s true. Mission and vision and purpose… well, they are the wind beneath my wings. In hindsight, I’ve realized every bout of depression I’ve had has been fueled by the unanswered question, “what’s it all mean, what’s the purpose of it all?” That is to say, if I don’t have a clear mission and purpose, I literally go insane.

For Christmas, Ione wanted one thing and one thing only: the Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker. She didn’t want Barbies, video games, or My Little Ponies. She didn’t even want a Camaro with a princess riding a flying donut airbrushed on the hood. For her, it was all about the Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker. I guess the VCC BOD planning/visioning retreat is my Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker.

from disciple to partner

Several months ago, I off handedly mentioned the chili cheese omelette©. to my good friend, Joel Bratt. Much to my dismay, this Michigan native had never even heard of a chili cheese omelette™. Right then and there, I committed to join Joel in a spiritual journey, a quest if you will. The Rastafari may have the herb; but, we have the chili cheese omelette®. Over the course of several months, Joel and I have searched across two counties and three zip codes to find the ultimate chili cheese omelette™. Sure, we’ve found some disappointment along the way. But, as I explained to my young (and good looking) padowan, disappointment is just part of fulfillment.

This morning, we found fulfillment. I present you with the 6 egg chili cheese omelette©.

the promised land

6 eggs sound daunting for one man, no matter what his level of spiritual maturity. So, when we discovered the hash browns were bottomless, we opted to share. As we wiped the last of the sour cream infused chili juice with our slices of white toast from our plates, something glorious happened. Joel looked at me and said, “I think I could do another.” So, we did. Today, a disciple became a partner.

I love church work.

And, now, I think I will nap.

I’ve lost my creative edge. First, there was that damned election and, quite seriously, that thing sucked all the energy out of my life. I just wanted to die when it was over. Instead, we got a new puppy. Then the snow came and vacation and winter malaise. I don’t wanna blog anymore, but I know how disappointed you will be if I don’t. SO! I’ve made a short list of things that I was going to write about during the past two months if I had had enough energy.

1. In high school, I was surrounded by hessians. They were everywhere. We got along but I hated their music and they hated mine. I really hate metal. But, due to lunchtime ghetto blaster wars and riding in Bobby Randles’ Duster, I know at least one line to every heavy metal song written between 1982 and 1988. Something took over my decision making faculties on November 7th and I downloaded 19 songs by Stryper and their nemeses: Maiden, Crüe, and Priest. For over a week I listened to those songs over and over and over again. I listened to nothing else. And, I hated every second of it.

2. I had an extremely profound thought about “core values.”

3. Thelonious, Ione and I were driving in the car. Thelonious said, “Hey dad, I learned some new words to a Christmas carol: Deck the hall with balls of money, fa lala la lalalala, tis the season to be greedy, fa lala la lalalala.” Ione immediately interrupted him and scolded, “Stop singing that! Your Lord would not appreciate it!”

4. A quote from The Shaping of Things to Come
“An incarnational ministry draws not-yet-Christians toward God by exciting curiosity through storytelling, by provoking a sense of wonder and awe, by showing extraordinary love, by exploring how God has touched our lives, and by focusing on Jesus.”

5. My facial hair has grown into an homage to Castro’s Revolution

6. I called our new puppy “the pooper.” Ione asked why I called her that and I said it was because she (the puppy, not Ione) looked like poop. Ione thought that was ridiculous because the puppy is black and white. I asked her, “Haven’t you ever pooped black and white?” She looked incredulous and answered, “No! You only poop black and white in Canada!”

7. I made Thelonious sit at the dinner table for an hour and fifteen minutes and then go straight to bed because he wouldn’t eat three green beans. I think Erika was more angry at me than he was.

Now that I have all that out of my system, I might start writing more.

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In honor of the oppressed who gained some level of voice and empowerment in last night’s election, I decided to wear my Clash “Know Your Rights” t-shirt today. Ione and I were brushing our teeth (actually, I was brushing my teeth and she was just hanging out on the toilet) when she saw my shirt and asked, “Daddy, does your shirt say ‘now your rights’?”

“No, sweetie, it says Know. Know your rights.”

“But, daddy, you’re a left.”

Speaking of rights, this morning I came to the realization that I don’t have to be friends with anyone – on facebook that is. See, I’ve been getting riled up about what some people have entered as their “status.” I rile easy, and I de-rile with much work over a long period of time. So, avoiding the initial riling is important for my spiritual health and well being (not to mention the class project due tomorrow). After my blood boiled over one particularly shameful jingoistic “status” I read this morning, I was prepared to explode – figuratively and literally. And then, it occurred to me. I do not have to be facebook friends with individuals who express their vitriolic fear through jackassery. So, I deleted them and feel much better.

Speaking of jackassery, for many years I thought that word had been invented by my friend, Bill Power. Just a few years ago, I discovered it is a real word! I read it in a scholarly theological work on sin by Cornelius Plantinga. Who knew?

Speaking of Plantinga, he understands sin as the lack or absence of shalom (or, “the way things God intended them to be”). I think in last night’s election, a little bit of shalom was restored and the kingdom of God was made visible.

Erika left early this morning to go to her sister’s baby shower in Southern California. That means it’s the Saturday after Halloween alone with dad – this can not turn out well.

Ione cried for 27 minutes because she wanted me to go get her donuts for breakfast. I finally convinced them both to eat some waffles and sausages. The difficult part was convincing them that they did not need chocolate chips on the waffles or powdered sugar to dip the sausage in.

After breakfast, the kids were counting their candy and Thelonious said, “Hey, Dad, I got a joke book while trick or treating. Check it out… Why do gorillas have big noses?”

“I dunno.”

“Because they have big fingers. ha ha ha. What is the laziest mountain in the world?”

“Hmmm, I dunno.” 

“Mount Ever-rest!!! ha ha hee hee ha. Dad, dad, listen to this one… Who will everyone meet someday?”

(this is a weird set up for a joke) “I dunno, Thelonious. Who?”

“God’s son, the Lord Jesus Christ! Hey, here’s another… Will everyone go to heaven?”

“Wellllll…different people believe different things. Some people think everyone will go to heaven. Ya see, Jesus loves everyone –

“Nope! Says here: The Bible, God’s book says, ‘those who don’t believe and obey him shall never see heaven!'”

Ione laughs hysterically.

Thelonious continues, “Will the bad things I have done (sins) keep me from going to heaven?”

“Well, geez, son, these are kinda complex -”

“It says here: ‘YES! God hates sin! He will not allow sin into heaven! That means I’m in a lot of trouble!'”

Now I know why people think Halloween is evil.

Thelonious finishes with, “I’ve been wearing the same underwear since Wednesday.”

Why am I wasting all this time and money on grad school? Apparently, all truth can be learned by trick or treating.

Erika: Thelonious, you’re so smart, funny, handsome, creative, and fun. Who do you think you get that from – me or daddy?

Thelonious: (pause) Neither. I got them from that cool dude who’s name is spelled G – O – D.

I’ve seen a lot worse – for a lot less. But, seriously, don’t these people know they are supposed to run away once the police let go?

I’m just glad to see someone is finally taking this election seriously!