Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kai goes to the park...

Nothing more to add. We just took the little critter to the playground next to campus this past weekend.

More word-based postings to come soon...

Friday, March 26, 2010

A brief interlude...and reflection...

One year ago today (26 March 2009), the single most exciting, most nerve-wracking, and most amazing journey in my life began at 1:33 pm EST when my tour guide - Malakai Joseph - was born. And for as confused/frustrated as I get at times when trying to figure out what I'm supposed to be or do, one part of my life because crystal clear: I was born to be his dad.

Or, as I guess it could be summed up: how do you measure a year in the life? 525,600 diapers...

Monday, March 22, 2010

What the Psalms Are Psaying (Part 1 of 2)

Psalm 46:10. Be still and know that I am God (NIV). The key verse that any parent needs to read and quote more than any other.

There have been a number of times that, between the hours of 1:00 am and 6:00 am, I have found myself on the couch in the living room rocking a certain young man back to sleep. Or, more often than not, TRYING to rock him back to sleep. And, on more than one occasion, I have found myself constructing my own paraphrase of this verse: “Kid, if you’re not still, you may come to know God firsthand as you meet Him in heaven.” (No, I wouldn’t actually do anything to harm the little dickens; but find me ONE parent who hasn’t, in a moment of exasperation, at least comically entertained the notion of wanting to take their kid back to the hospital, with birth certificate in hand, and treat it like a Best Buy and ask to exchange for a newer modal, as this one is clearly broken…and you even have the original receipt to show proof of purchase.)

As with many things, when God slams a verse or passage like this into my noggin and won’t let it get out, I find that there is a greater reason for it. …more than just to saddle me with the refrain of an old Kim Hill song. And today, I think I’ve found two reasons:

REASON #1 – the “be still” bit. I told Ashley this morning that the reason I’ve been so on edge and agitated as of late is that I’ve not had any still moments. That every day (using today as a template) consists of me going at full-steam once I get out of bed. Between taking care of Kai, taking care of Maggie, trying to find time for the two of us as a couple to remember what each others’ face looks like…the fleeting moments of “me” time are so few and far between, and I will readily admit that I need those moments of alone time in order to recalibrate myself. It’s just that (a) when I find them, they’re eaten up by other needed activities, and (b) sometimes, I’m just so stinkin’ worn out, that my “being still” winds up “being comatose” in front of the television. I need to breathe, and stop being the earthquake, the rushing wind, and the uber-husband/father sometimes and…and let that still, small voice echo loudly into my soul.

REASON #2 – the “know that he is God” bit. Sometimes I have to ask myself: do I know? Do I trust? Do I inherently believe and have faith and God knows the plans for my life? Or do I spend too much mental energy conceiving of every possible scenario for my life, worrying about the path my life will go down. If I have the faith claim to have, why do I doubt? Worry? Question? Get angry? Get frustrated? Get depressed? Why can I not simply think about the future without getting all antsy or “yeah, well – no one will ever hire me for [fill in the blank] because [fill in the blank with my own sense of self-defeatist anxiety].” What do I know (and just for kicks, try saying that out loud, inflecting each word separately, just like I do)? Will I bear fruit in my season?

Maybe I should just take the “advice” I give to Kai and give it to myself: be still. And know. Be still and stop racing about as if the fate of the world rested on your shoulders. Be still and allow yourself to catch your breath. Be still and focus on something other than what just came in from Netflix. Be still. And liten.

Know that He is God. Know that there is a plan for your life, and that if you’ve learned ANYTHING from the past two decades, that plan will take a shape that it completely in a different form from anything you planned or thought out. Know that what you’re supposed to do with your life – you will do it. It may not seem fair or even just when breaks come to others. It may not be that your career (so to speak) should, in fact, look like anyone else’s. It may not be that you are supposed to do what you keep throwing yourself at like so much Silly Putty, hoping to stick against something.

And maybe – just maybe – you should go beyond putting these words down on paper, and act in faith on what they say, knowing that you didn’t really write them in the first place, but that God used them to speak a lesson to you.

Be still and know.

But first: go refill your coffee cup.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Things I Learned While In Chicago

1. I miss colder weather. Yes, I know that my perspective towards living environments has been skewed after living in Miami for almost three years, but I forgot how good it feels to walk outside in the morning and not break a sweat due to the humidity.

2. Yes, I would walk eight blocks to find a Whole Foods to get food for Kai.

3. The Placement Exchange looked more like a mortician's convention than a mass gathering of people in Student Affairs. Seriously - I know that we were all there to interview for jobs or interview on the behalf of a college/university, but I have never seen such a dour gathering of people in my life. I'm not going to suggest that people go all coo-coo and - I don't know - wear something with a color other than dark blue or black, but I would like to see the radical idea of people smiling be implemented.

Here's a hint: if you can't show the least bit of excitement or joy over what you do or want to do, maybe that should tell you something. I don't turn cartwheels every day when I think about all I have to do with Kai, but I still get excited when I see him.

Let your professional competencies speak for themselves. If you've got the talent and skills, that will be evident. The passion you have for that job should be what shines through. Again: I use Kai as my framework.

4. Speaking of The Placement I totally skewed the median age by hanging out in the candidate area. It was like sitting in a Chuck-E-Cheese for professionals., all fresh-faced and with their whole careers in front of made me wonder where they might be when they hit my geriatric age, and if they would still be in the field, or if they would find themselves called elsewhere...and what that means for the future of student affairs.

And then I realized I was thinking too much, so I started humming the theme from Dr. Who, trying to use it as a clarion call to see if any of these kids were fellow nerds.

5. Chicago has some good microbrews. And I am now spoiled on pizza for the rest of my life. I want to just run into Papa John's and tell them they're all liars for selling what they do.

6. I loved reconnecting with some old friends (DRS. Rush and Akers), and making new ones (you never know who you'll run into while sitting in the lobby of your hotel. You might wind up sharing a drink or two with a former president of NASPA). And then there were some people that...well...

When I ran into a professional acquaintance I'd known for over ten years, she introduced me to a colleague of hers this way: "I've known Sonny for a number of years. He's been very involved in the field, has had some excellent presentations and articles, and has held some excellent positions. Now he's just a stay at home dad." And with that comment, she said we'd catch up later, and then she turned her back to me.

Chicago got a lot colder at that moment.

And I'm not sure which I felt more of: sorrow and pity for her, or a tinge of anger at her dismissing of me. Whichever it was, I got over it rather quickly.

Especially when I got my next performance review from my supervisor: a hug and a smile from Kai.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Thanks, Brad. Brad whose last name I don't know.

Weird the way your life goes sometimes, ain't it?

Yesterday, I was thinking about something Ashley said to me. We've both started looking for jobs/careers outside of our current field or area of expertise because we both believe (a) we should be passionate about and not just competent in the job we have, and (b) we both feel drawn to serve something bigger than ourselves. I mean, as much as we both love working in Res Life (oh, stop your snickering) we both feel like this season is coming to a close. That there is more out there than just what we've known.

Because of this, the majority of the jobs we've applied for look like they're taking a sharp left turn away from what our respective resumes show we have direct experience in.

This has, in turn, led both of us to have a wee bit of anxiety about if people might take us seriously as applicants for these jobs. That there probably are individuals more qualified (on paper) with more direct experience than we possess - but we're taking that chance. Stepping out in faith, as it is, to see what happens.

Me? I was contemplating the possibility of working full-time in campus ministry, and began to think: "Am I truly ready for this? Do I have what it takes (curse you, Lost)? Can I do this, or would people just look at me like an idiot?"

And as I was thinking this, I was in line at the coffee shop across the street.

And as I was thinking this, a guy named Brad stood in line behind me, talking to Kai, who was trying his best to chew on a bag of coffee beans.

And as I was thinking this, Brad asked me Kai's name. And then Brad told me one of his favorite verses in the Bible was found in the book of Malachi. And then Brad told me he is a PhD candidate at UM in English. And then Brad and I spoke about Kai's name, the meaning behind it, and the significance in why Ash and I chose it. And then Brad and I struck up a brief conversation about spiritual matters.

And as I was thinking about and debating my self-imposed "legitimacy" in ministry, Brad asked me if I was in seminary or a pastor.

And as Kai and I walked out of the coffee shop, I looked off in the sky and told God to quit smirking, and thanks for the moment of clarity.

And so, I offer thanks to you as well, Unknown Brad. For allowing yourself, whether you knew it or not, to be used.