Online DVD Rentals
Online DVD Rentals

June 30, 2010

Freedom Sandwich

- - - - -

“…in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…”

from the US Constitution

- - - - -

There comes a day when a boy is of age to be granted choices. On that day he has a share in his fate, for more than one road lies before him.

On previous days, out of the blue, only grape jelly would suffice on the sandwich. Not strawberry or even grandma Gorinski's homemade peach. Then there would be no jelly at all, but only honey. Once this had been established, one particular kind of bread was deemed acceptable. Brown without "seeds," but not too brown.

Once these rules had been laid firm, suddenly, the crust was an abomination. While crust issues were understandable in those days, a two-inch crust buffer was not. Though guarding against the frightening possibility of inadvertently contacting crust, such a buffer allows only 2 or 3 good bites per half sandwich.

And when all suitable elements have finally been properly gathered, assembled and dispensed, questions of geometry come to pass. Cut up, "loaf shaped," triangles, rectangles, Iron Man plate, basketball plate, honey on the side, and without doubt, endless permutations into the future.

It has been calculated that one day only brand names will suffice. Then no peanut butter sandwich at all, but something set apart from the rest of our people, especially prepared to the flavor of the king on high. After that it will be that dads fishing pole is too creaky and mom’s old car is humiliation.

Every whim is an expectation, every luxury a necessity, and every comfort “just so.”

Oooh – how me the people despise the mentality of entitlement. It’s the principle, not the sandwich. It’s not like we’re serving fried monkey brains or even meat loaf and brustle sprouts.

Formulating and complying with precise sandwich specifications is not the answer. One Iron Man plate per child is not the answer. Uncrustables ready-made sandwiches and meticulous cutlery skills are not the answer. Saintly patience and perseverance are not even the answer.

The answer appeared as writing on a wall. It was a small sign hanging in the far corner Bret and Coleen Wagner's kitchen. I embraced that truth as good news for our home and for all homes; a fair and just, BS-stopping gospel of freedom.
That's why...

There are two choices for lunch today.

Take it or leave it.

June 19, 2010


I used nearly an entire role of duct tape that day. Medieval weaponry is what you get when you show them a clip of the movie Troy.

But it was worth it. For over an hour they ran around like mad men shouting "HECTOR," kicking the air, spearing weeds, and throwing small walnuts and blocking them with cardboard shields. I even saw Lidia dive for cover behind a tree trunk when there was nothing that I could see coming at her.

Two of my boys and three of their cousins camped out in our back yard the previous day, after an extended family trip to the pool. We partied hard on into the night. On the itinerary was frog catching, flashlighting, fireworks, and a camp fire. We ate, read, and prayed before finally signing off. We fell asleep, the six of us sardined into a hot tent smelling of gun powder and dead lightening bugs.

All smells aside, I didn't rest so well. I forgot to bring the small soft blanket that I usually use to shield light from my eyes. Amy calls it my "wubby", though I've never called it that. Any hint of sound also awakens me. I hate it, especially with the kind of days a parent of young kids typically has. But this time, I relaxed as brightness trickled into the tent. I listened to the birds in peace. It was the first time in a long while that I did that and thought "it's okay."

That was my fathers day gift.

You can't Paypal getting to goof off with your wife and kids and having quiet solitude. I usually have to pay off the debt later with dizzying fatigue and sometimes grouchiness, which usually isn't such a good thing for the family.

But this was Dad's day. I didn't have to work or follow through with any agenda or "to do" list. Amy is always happy to give some relief from the kids when I need it. Later, I could play with the family or I could rest. Tonight I opened a package of alone time with my thoughts, books, and computer.

What more could a dad ask for, especially one who doesn't enjoy eating out or cooking on a grill, golfing or watching sports on TV? Surely I have my consumerist weak points (like basketball sneaks), but overall I don't look or act much like the dads in the JC Penny flier.

Some would think that's all pretty lame and ask "but what do you do for fun? I can understand that perspective. But I have to add that there's time for other things; a little right now and (Lord willing) a lot later. Much of being a dad is the fun. Besides, what's a dad supposed to say on the day he gets to do what he wants? Say "it's fathers day, seee-ya, suckahz, ha ha" as the base booms and the SUV screeches out of the driveway?

On my day, I want to be with them doing something they enjoy. No doubt. I would also really enjoy a good rest. And more than a ball game or mountain bike ride with my homies, today I think I need time to sit and read and reflect. The blogging is always therapeutic.

"Oh. You shouldn't have."

Thanks Amy, L, O, B, and M. This day and all days.

June 16, 2010

Last Minute Gift Ideas for Dad

Hey, I found one!

- - - - - -
"Kids don't believe in "later." So if you're never around right now so that you can provide a better life for them later, be careful."- Jonathan Acuff
- - - - - -

I'm unsure if it's true that 99% of fatherhood is showing up. What about doing a good job as a father? I'm certain that willingly or unwillingly, dads will have a drastic influence, for better or worse, over the life of their children.

Fatherhood is joy and a heavy weight. It's pride and reluctance and excitement. It's stamina and an entire life's work. Who knows a man who "showed up" better than his son? Strengths, weaknesses, preferences, all of it.

I know RJ Gorinski better than any other man, like, way more than Wikipedia and all of the innernets. That's a pretty powerful thing to lay claim to. As one privileged to such knowledge, what does it mean when I say "it was and is a genuinely good thing to be the son of RJG?"

What do I think of dad, tonight?
He rarely spoke directly on big life lessons. I never had "the talk" on a number of issues, sometimes when we should have. I know how he hates the awkward confrontation. But he also knew the low cost of talk.

I can say this. When the majority of my peers, sports heroes, Axl Rose, and all the rest of the world were screaming lots of things, dad was clearly, unmistakably "saying" the opposite. He respected his parents and his wife and women in general. He was fascinated by the natural world and his place in it. He had a healthy fear of God.

That's what his life told me.

Dad literally kicked my gluteal region over my shoulders, never for him and I don't think one time more or less than I needed it. Speaking of asses, he was usually quite careful with his words. Careful, but real. Many things I heard - we just didn't say those words - me and dad. He offered some comments on ignorance and what some words represented. It takes no words to teach a child the wisdom of sometimes holding your words.

What I can appreciate the most at this point is the delicate balance. Loving means doing your part and letting go. Working at stability and presence and provision for the children, sacrificing so much for them while not holding on too tightly. Not expecting perfection. Giving advice but not pushing it. Allowing lessons to happen when and where they need to.

The role is critical. But one man, one person, can only do so much. Like, how do you get a kid to understand the essential value of hard work without pushing them to rebellion or the foolishness of spending their entire life chasing the golden carrot?
I know there is no formula for this type of thing. But I do have a foundation of what worked for me growing up. I'm extremely thankful to know what a good dad looks like.

...And he saw these things, and they were impressed upon his heart.
- - - - -

June 12, 2010

BAPTIST back in

We almost changed our name from Lighthouse Baptist Church to Lighthouse Church. Just Lighthouse. As in, no mean-spirited fundamentalists who go around blabbering about hate and shun pants-wearing women and call every male in the club by “brother." We imagine thousands of seekers thumbing through the yellow pages, systematically skipping everything with a mention of the word Baptist. We tell family and friends about the great things happening at Lighthouse [mumble or subtly clear throat] Bpte Church, because Baptist is code for stodgy, closed mind-controlled, legalistic, old fools.

As if.

I do imagine that many people see our name and write us off; folks who would have found exactly what they’re looking for and need. Others have shown up expecting to find something we’re clearly not. People come as they are and sing contemporary stuff rather than (only) piano hymns. We take a beating from the right hand, too. It’s happened.

A dozen or so church leaders contemplated the potential benefits, time, and costs involved with a name change. When I was all for “Just Lighthouse,” I remember Pastor telling me “these are good points but I’m just not so sure yet.” A voice of wisdom has the patience and grace to say things like that.

About a year later, the issue has kind of fallen to the side. The church has moved on to different (better?) things, including a lot of doing. Problem solved, so it seems. Maybe it was intentional or maybe we just got too busy for changing names. Either way, I think that was divine.

So here we are as Baptists. Lighthouse BAPTIST Church. Yes, that’s our tradition. Baptizing is what we do here. Our family of believers takes to heart the deep symbolism behind being washed and rising again as a new person. We take literally the ideas from the Scriptures themselves; the need for a public pronouncement of faith; that we chose, individually, for ourselves and no other reason.

Owning up to the good and bad of our tradition also happens to save someone a lot of time and effort right now. Someday when our roots, tradition, and ceremony are heavy in style, like community this and crossroads that are right now, we won’t have the trouble of adding Baptist back in.

I think it's a good lesson in letting go. Our lives speak or they don't, and we'll have to accept whoever comes by that. Our church is here and it has a name. Whatever you call it, that's where my family and I will be going for a good long while.

- - - - - -