Category Archives: Family

Movie Review: We Bought a Zoo

I’m not a movie buff nor am I a movie critic. Because of my critical nature in general, I have a hard time not picking any movie apart and I have a difficult time sitting still and watching anything for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. I do, however, know when a movie meets the kind of standards my family and I need to be feeding our eyes on.

This past Christmas day as we’ve done for the last few years, my wife and kids went out to see a movie. The movie we saw was a movie named We Bought A Zoo.. The movie stars Matt Damon and Scarlett Johanassen. In a nutshell, We Bought A Zoo is about a family consisting of a father raising two children, a 14-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl, without their mother. The mother has passed away approximately 6-months earlier and the family needs a change of scenery in order to help with their grieiving. The father, Matt Damon, had inherited some money from his father sometime earlier and buys an old dilapidated zoo in the country. He feels that fixing up the zoo and helping save some endangered animals would be just the sort of distraction his young family needs to distract them from their grief and allow them a level of healing.

In general, I thought the movie was a little long and drawn out and certainly could have been condensed somewhat. However, the general plot of the movie was good and piqued the interest of my wife and daughters when they were deciding which movie to watch. But that was where I feel the goodness ends. This movie was a PG movie and was billed as a family movie. We won’t watch PG-13 movies with the family and even my wife and I are generally selective with PG-13 movies we watch by ourselves. We won’t watch movies with excessive cursing, extreme violence, nudity, etc. There are certainly exceptions to this, an example being the movie Schindler’s List. The nudity, violence, and cursing in that movie was historically accurate and added to the gravity of the Holocaust.

Back to the movie at hand. During the course of the movie there was very little rough language. However there were pockets of filthy language and the sad part of it was the large part of it was used by the children. The language was very strong and was absolutely not something my 10-year-old had ever heard. The saddest part was the little girl in the movie was a cutie, but used one of the foulest words in the movie….it turned my stomach.

In addition to the foul language, there was a little teenage crush between a 13-year-old girl that worked at the zoo and the 14-year-old son of Matt Damon. Toward the end they were telling each other they loved each other and were kissing passionately…..I know this is what’s going on out there in the world, but it has no place in a Christian’s life.

And finally, the zookeeper, played by Scarlett Johannasen, was a 28-year old woman in the movie. Matt Damon was approximately a 45-year-old man in the movie. Toward the end they ended up falling in love and sharing a passionate kiss. I know this is minor, but this was just icing on the cake of an already edgy movie. In the grand scheme of things by today’s standards I guess it was a pretty tame movie. But with all the foul language and the young teenage love affair I feel like it was more like a PG-13 movie. The movie could have been a good family-friendly movie, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to any family with young kids.

By the way, we didn’t walk out….hindsight is that we should have. We had too much “PG-ing” to do to our 10-year-old afterwords. I’m a little disappointed in myself for allowing us to stay.

It disgusts me that Hollywood can take a rather innocent movie and turn it into something that’s too rough to watch…….I guess that’s why in the early days of movies the church resisted movies and television.

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Filed under Entertainment, Family, Movie Reviews

Spared Rods

I was reading an article here in the Seattle times yesterday that made me ill to my stomach.

It’s a story about a young girl in the Seattle area that was locked outside by her parents and allowed to die of exposure. She was locked outside as a form of discipline. These parents homeschooled this girl and followed the parenting methods laid out in a book called To Train Up a Child.

To Train Up a Child is authored by a man and his wife out of Tennessee named Michael and Debi Pearl. Michael Pearl is an evangelist and pastors a marriage and family counseling ministry called No Greater Joy Ministries here on this website. Essentially, Michael Pearl and his wife Debi adhere to a literal interpretation of the “spare the rod spoil the child” part of the Old Testament in the Bible.

The article in the Seattle Times goes on to describe 3 other child deaths by the hands of parents that were followers of Michael Pearl’s child rearing advice. They had several other things in common also, most notably they each were homeschooled.

My wife and I homeschool our children. In most instances I am an advocate of homeschooling, but not in every circumstance. As I’ve stated here before, we got a lot of flack from people when we first decided to homeshcool. Even now, when people ask where our kids go to school, we get quite a few raised eyebrows. However, I understand homeschooling is not for everybody.

Homeschooling is hard work. It’s a long-term commitment. But contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a degreed teacher to get your kids a good education. Mostly its dedication. For both of my kids, because of their personalities, it works out well. I understand, though, that certain personalities might not work well and I also understand that if both parents have to work outside the home it doesn’t work out well either. Nevertheless, I still believe educating your kids at home is still the best option if it’s available.

One thing we’ve run in to over the years is our fair share of “nuts” that homeschool. These are the ones that seem to always make it into the news, much like the ones mentioned in the Seattle Times article above. The ones who live in the woods and refuse to pay their taxes, the ones who read a passage in the Old Testament like “spare the rod and spoil the child” and interpret it to mean it’s okay to lock your child out of the house and allow them to die of exposure while at the same time ignoring New Testament passages the instruct us not to exasperate our children and discipline harshly to the point of discouragement. The ones who ignore the instructions by Paul telling men to be servant leaders and examples for their children, not discouragers.

These seem to be the types of homeschoolers the world hears about. The sad thing is, there are certainly plenty of them out there.

I’m a firm believer in discipline. The thing is, discipline isn’t only defined as physical punishment. When God wrote “Spare the rod and spoil the child”  that passage when interpreted in light of the New Testament means that if we love our children we will bring correction rather than ignoring destructive and sinful behavior. Discipline is sometimes physical, though I firmly believe far less than many Christians believe. Discipline is always consistent, it’s always loving, and it always builds up rather than tears down.

Many times in my life I’ve heard from well-meaning parents that discipline was intended to “break their spirit” and bring the child into line. That by “breaking their spirit” the child was less likely to stray  and was more likely to obey. Over the years, however, I’ve seen the result of this sort of discipline. In every case that I’m aware of it has led to nothing more than destruction and chaos. It’s lead to a hole in the child’s life that takes nearly a lifetime to dig out of.

I’ve made my share of parenting mistakes. There’s no doubt I’ll continue to make more. I also understand that a child is an individual with their own will; God deals with each of us as individuals. As time goes on, though, and I see the results of not only my own mistakes but the mistakes of others. One thing I’m convinced of is the results of harsh discipline.

Overly harsh discipline results in a child not seeing God as both a loving God, but a God who disciplines us because He loves us and wants to correct us. It results in an adult that has a hard time relating to others in a patient and loving way. In far too many instances it results in psychopathic behavior. But worst of all, harsh discipline results in a person that has a hard time not only trusting God as their Lord, but believing that He loves them and gave His life for them.

So next time we might have the idea that “spanking the devil” out of a child is the way to draw them closer to God, think again…..Is God patient with us? Yes. Does he give us many many chances before he “spanks”? Absolutely. Does he “smack” us every single time we do something wrong? No. God deals with each of us in the most patient and kind way. So where would a Christian possibly get the idea it’s okay for us to discipline our children that way?

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Filed under Family, Homeschooling, Life

Honor or Worship?

A couple of weeks ago my family and I went to San Antonio to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. There’s so many things about that city I love. It’s almost like visiting another Latin American country without having to leave the U.S.

For those who have never been to San Antonio, the  San Antonio River runs through the center of San Antonio. Along the river is a walkway. I’m not sure how long it is, but probably several miles long. The Riverwalk is lined with shops, restaurants, and hotels. They all have kind of an old Spanish charm to them with a lot of Spanish, Mexican, and Texas history thrown in. Additionally, San Antonio is home to at least two military bases. There might be more, but I don’t know.

One day while we were walking along the Riverwalk, there rose up a loud uproar with cheering, clapping and hollering. As we look down the Riverwalk, there was a steady stream of uniformed military personnel walking along the Riverwalk. I would guess more than a hundred people. Everybody stopped and stepped aside to let them pass. You could see on their faces they were a little embarrassed with all the fanfare because it was so loud and showy.

I’m guessing all they wanted to do was shop a little and eat at some of the restaurants and enjoy the day, but the clapping, whistling, screaming, and cheering was going on and on preventing them from staying in one place very long.

This got me to thinking a little.

The vast majority of people serving in the Military don’t serve in direct combat roles. There are base guards, doctors, lawyers, MP’s, maintenance personnel, toilet cleaners, cooks, warehouse personnel, etc. All serving in one branch or another of the U.S. military. Without a doubt, however, the people in combat roles wouldn’t be able to do their jobs without these people serving in non-combat roles. It takes everyone in the military working together to make it all work. No job is ultimately less important and all jobs are required to be done properly or someone loses their life.

I’m well aware it takes a certain kind of toughness and guts to put your life on the line for others. Something I probably don’t have. I’m glad others have it so I can enjoy much of the life that I live.

But what if we extend that to all of our society? What about the aerospace engineer working long hours while his family life crumbles so our military personnel can have the best? What about the woman working two jobs to raise her kids after the father left so one of these two kids can grow up and become one of these honored military personnel mentioned above? What about the unseen people who cook our food, wash our cars, maintain our power lines? What about the IT people who work all night long creating internet communication sites, Twitter, Facebook, and cell phone networks so the families of those same military personnel can hear from their loved ones? What about morticians or sewer workers? Aren’t you glad someone does those jobs?

Every role in life we find ourselves in, no matter what our individual job may be, is important. While I’ll acknowledge that getting shot at is a whole lot less appealing than working in the aerospace industry or as a server in a restaurant, they’re all important roles nonetheless.

Though our military personnel deserve our honor and respect, I feel the fanfare displayed that day on the Riverwalk was a little over the top. Though we have no way of knowing, it would suffice to say that some of those same people standing that day clapping and cheering had only moments before treated their waiter or waitress like crap. Maybe only moments before had stepped off a water taxi and failed to tip the driver or had complained to their hotel staff that something wasn’t perfect.

Everyone who works for us and does our “bidding” performing tasks we can’t or won’t do deserves to be treated with respect. Deserves to be thanked. Deserves to be acknowledged. Not in an overly flamboyant way, but a simple thanks, or a larger than normal tip, or even a handshake while looking them in the eye.

Everyone. Not just our military personnel.

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Filed under Current Events, Family, Life

Happy Sweet 16 Emily!

6 Month Old Emily

Today, January 31st, is my oldest daughter Emily’s 16th birthday.

I remember along about the time this picture was taken that I would want to take her and pick her up and hug her so much it would probably hurt her. Obviously I didn’t, but that longing to just hug and hug and hug and never let her go was there.

In some ways it’s still there…..but she’s 16 now and really doesn’t want me hugging her………at all.

This past year of her life she’s grown into a beautiful young lady before our eyes. She’s finished her first semester of junior college while at the same time finishing up some of the most difficult high school classes she could take. She’s received her learners permit and is slowly learning to drive.

And soon I won’t be able to hug her any more. I know it sounds so cliché, but I can’t believe how fast the time has gone.

I’m so proud of you Emily! God’s got you right where He wants you.

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When You Come To A Fork In The Road, Take It

The title of this post is, of course, a famous quote by the former Yankees catcher, Yogi Berra. I chose it because, over the past couple of years, this seems to describe the most difficult part of my Christian walk.

I was laid off from my job effective Friday of last week. The threat of layoff has been looming over my head for nearly a year. I’ve seen my co-workers one-by-one pack their boxes, say their goodbyes and make the long walk down the hall and out of the factory over the last year.

God was good to me and I feel I was shown favor by being nearly one of the last ones laid off. I guess you could say I had plenty of warning to find another job. I guess I just kept hoping it would last.

My job field is limited as to where I can work. The pay is good and it’s interesting work but the locations of the companies that I can work at are sparsely scattered all over the country. As this layoff loomed I began looking and it looked like I was going to have to move to Seattle or Atlanta. I live in the Fort Worth, TX area and don’t want to leave. My roots are here.

I began to pray and still the layoff came and I still didn’t see any other options in sight. But on Wednesday this week, things changed.

On Wednesday I received a call from a former coworker in Seattle wanting me to go to work for him. The salary is a little low but I can work from home and the work is fairly easy.

Also on Wednesday, I received a call from a company in Atlanta. They want me to go to work for them, in Atlanta, for a very good salary. Much higher than I ‘ve ever made. But it’s in Atlanta.

And this is where I have the most difficult time with my faith. When I have several choices to make. I struggle the most when God gives me several choices and I fear I’ll make the wrong one.

I guess I feel that God has a “perfect will” for my life and I just want to be obedient. I prayed for a job and I got two. So, why if God gave me the jobs why would he have choose between the two? I mean, if it’s from God why not just give me the one?

This seems to be the typical way God deals with me. I pray and the answer seems to come in the form of a choice rather than an obvious path to take. This always leaves me fretting over the choice I made and sucks the faith right out of me.

Nevertheless, I know the job offers were from God and I’m thankful for His favor once again in spite of my sin and unbelief.

This is going to be a struggle for the family to adjust to, as we also homeschool our kids.

Pray for me….I think my wife just might strangle me.

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Filed under Family, personal

Second 5K…It’s An Addiction

Today we were a couple of heathens and skipped church and ran another 5K in Trinity River Park. It was our second 5K. Well, other than this one here. But it was the second one that we were able to actually participate in.

The 5K was named the Honored Hero Run and it benefitted children with blood cancers.

As it seems with most 5K’s or any other organized runs for that matter, we received a t-shirt to wear while running. This year the logo on the t-shirts and awards were designed by a couple of children who are currently patients with blood cancer. I thought it was kinda cool that the logos are designed by the kids that are benefitting from the run.

The run started at 8 am and it was perfect weather for running. It was cool, a little humid, with a light breeze. We ran along the Trinity River. The fresh air and the scenery was great.

Laura Ann finally was able to run in a 1K fun run. She did pretty well and was able to run about half the way. She received a medal for finishing and my wife and I were so proud of her. She was pretty proud of herself too.

Kristine and I ran together just like we did last time. Once again, Kristine took second place in her age group and received a pretty cool trophy. I’m so proud of where she’s come from. I think her and I running together is one of the funnest things her and I have ever done as a couple since we’ve been married.

It’s still so hard to believe that she runs toward the top of her age group in speed. Sure, when you look at the results of other races and distances around the area, there are many that are much faster, but she certainly is in the top 10 percent of women aged 40-44.

May the LORD continue to bless us with physical strength and if He’s willing  I hope we can only get better, because my plans are for a 10K next time!

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Filed under Diet and Exercise, Family, Running

Running Your Mouth

My wife and I have been running now for a while. Every since she took second place in her last 5K, it’s lit a fire under her running. She is focused and really looks forward to running. She’s even trying to involve the whole family.

In looking for our next 5K to run in, she found one in a nearby town. A fairly popular 5K. In addition to a 5K, they were holding also a 10K and a 1K fun run.

It’s this 1K that she was using to get the rest of the family involved, namely Laura Ann, our 9 year-old.

Over the past month, Kristine, my wife, and Laura Ann have been training for the 1K. Surprising to us was how Laura Ann was so looking forward to the run. The excitement was building.

Well yesterday morning, new outfit on, full of anticipation, Laura Ann toed the starting line along with several other children about her age. The horn sounded and they were off.

Then 15 steps or so into the race, Laura Ann was down smack on her face. Shoved down by an overly aggressive girl her age who was shoving her way to the front. Notice the elbow into the gut of the girl next to her. Might make a good running back in the NFL.

Laura Ann’s face was messed up and her two front teeth were broken. No one seemed to care, dismissing it as merely something that happens. “Gotta pay if you wanna play”. Well, she’s going to the dentist first thing Monday morning and we’ll see what kind of damage was done. Worst of all, Laura Ann’s heart was broken. My anger came out probably a little too unchecked.

It’s exactly this sort of thing that has left me disgusted with sports in general. The aggressive grinding of others to powder in order for your climb to the top and our society’s worship of these type of “sports heroes” .

This is where I fail to understand my fellow Christian men and their almost obsessive love of sports. It’s one of the reasons I have such a difficult time fellowshipping with other Christian men. I can’t look up to, obsess over, discuss endlessly and commit my time to a group of “heroes” that have become almost “worshipped” for their elbow to the gut of another player.

I’m sorry, I don’t see that it’s something we as Christians need to be putting so much time and effort into.

It’s this sort of thing, as seen in the picture above, that I feel most kids are learning of the sports activities of today. You know, little league ball parks filled with aggressive, yelling, screaming parents is what seems to be the norm today.

I’m sickened from yesterday’s events. I don’t feel like this girl learned to behave this way on her own. I can almost guarantee that somewhere behind this elbowing little girl is an adult whose behavior she is mimicking.

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