Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Top 10 Ways Kids Make Life Easier

1. Door-to-door salespeople don't want to come in your home. 


2. You're the last person anyone calls for help. 

"Hey, in the Austin caravan last weekend, my car got a flat, so I left it in Hillsboro. Could you drive me down to pick it up? Oh, we'll need to take all the kids with us for three hours in the car and stop every 30 minutes for potty breaks? I think my other friend said they might be able to help..."

3. Long, awkward conversations end before they get long and awkward.

You know those one-sided conversations with someone you just met who mistakenly thought you'd be super interested in the polymer building blocks of food-grade plastic storage containers? "Emergency texts" from the babysitter are always a valid out.

4. Weird personal questions can be avoided. 

"So, havin' any more, or are ya done?"

"Well, my kids are getting antsy, I need to go now. Let's pick this up again soon, stranger!" 

5. Someone will answer your weird personal questions for you. 

"Mom said she doesn't need any more little monkeys in the house." 

6. You're too old to act like a baby over long check-out lines, but your kids aren't. 

After 4 minutes in the check-out line, I stop singing "Twinkle, Twinkle," and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider," and just let the kids wail. Usually another line will open pretty quickly. 

7. Property taxes plummet. 
Did you know... the Appraisal Board can lower your property value and as a result your taxes owed, based on an overview of damages? (i.e. the missing drywall where a kid skateboarded into the wall, the water damage from a kid leaving the window open in a rainstorm, the patio door shattered by an errant soccer ball)

8. Kids think anything you do is hilarious.

"Peek-a-boo!" "...and this little piggy cried, 'Whee-whee-whee' all the way home!"


9. Uh, uh, uh...

I tried to make this a Top Ten list, but after weeks of wracking my brain, I've got nothing. Let's be real here. Kids bring messes, ER trips, and exhaustion. I'll grant that they make life more crazy, hopeful, fascinating, loving, and fun, but easier? No way.


Monday, September 9, 2013


Pope John Paul II wrote a letter in 1981. It was an official letter to the whole church, and proud Catholic intellectuals would probably refer to it as an encyclical, sigh deeply, and then correct the Latin pronunciation I haven't bothered to learn: Dives in Misericordia.

I kind of write off popes. They're holy, pious, important in the spiritual leadership of the Church, but they don't seem to understand the real world, what we're dealing with down here in the 9 - 5 / 5 - 9 tedium of every day over and over and over.

I think a lot of people feel that way about God. Nice idea, probably necessary in some sense, but not really relevant to me.

Well once again, the English language has failed us.

The same language that failed to give us backpfeifengesicht ("a face badly in need of a fist") and kummerspeck (literally, "emotional bacon"), also translated mercy into some meaningless God-word, best chanted, definitely with head bowed, maybe with eyes closed, pairs well with faith, hope, or love.

There's a man Catholics and Protestants both claim as their own, and truth be told, he probably laughs at us and prays indifferently for everyone. [Saint] Augustine was a late convert, early bishop, born in 354 AD. He broke mercy down for us, and somewhere along the way, we butchered it.

Mercy = Misericordia (Latin) = Miseris Cor Dare = "A heart which gives itself to the miserable"

This is a God I want to know. A God who gives his heart to the miserable.

Pope John Paul II must have known the trenches. Because in his letter, he wrote about mercy as "the greatest attribute of God," not as the ying-yang of justice, or a nice way to balance out the wrath of a God who won't be pleased.

The big takeaway JPII wanted us to know: there is a God who gives his heart to the miserable.