Category Archives: about me

I guess I had more to say… I’m not a pile of crap.

2/13/17

I thought the last post would be my last. Turns out that I have more to say. The last post was written in pain and anguish. This, however, is written in joy.

A dear friend who I had not seen in some time told me recently that they were bewildered as to when “this” happened to me. It sort of made me giggle. Leaving the “faith” and the church is one of the best things to happen to me. But, this is for that dear friend.

To those who are believers, this may be your final straw for me. If so, I understand. I’ll give you a few minutes to say your goodbyes and unsubscribe.

I’m much more comfortable in my skin now than I was at the time I wrote the last post. I was trying to sort of say goodbye, to reassure folk, to please people and help them to not worry about me. I felt that I was betraying them.

But the truth is, cognitive dissonance is more dangerous than virtually anything that I can think of. I believe that many of us walk around with it and we’ve just learned to live with it. We’ve learned to simply accept brazen contradiction. We’ve allowed ourselves to compartmentalize and do mental gymnastics to no end.

For years, I had been coping with cognitive dissonance. I was tortured inside with conflicting ideas, thoughts, whatever…

So, how did this happen to me?

Well, I started paying attention to the cognitive dissonance.

What does that mean?

Year by year over the last decade, I found myself searching for harmony in logic. I’ve always adored studying apologetics. As I studied, I would try to pay attention to what would “click” and what would not.

If we’re all honest, we know that there’s things we *all* believe that, were we to examine them, and apply even just a bit of the socratic method to, they’d fall apart. We like to assure ourselves of our surety, but, it’s somewhat desperate.

Year by year, I found myself dismissing more and more of the scriptures. I would pick and choose what made sense in light of science and reason. Less and less would hold weight. To me, I found the Bible to be more and more of a mess.

But there was a sort of turning point. You know that sort of moment when you say something out loud and realize that it really means something to you.

Well, one morning, I woke up early and stumbled upon an article about this mom realizing how unbalanced her son’s views of prominent women were. He had complained that *all* of their books had girls as the main character. So, she had him get all of the books out, and they counted which ones really did. It was only about 27 out of 100.

She was fascinated by this. She did research and found that it’s a big cultural problem. Our minds are conditioned to see women, even if given an equal time share, as taking up *too* much time.

I reposted this article on my facebook page. On the way to work, a friend commented that he read it, and said something along the lines of, “I think the woman is misguided. God made us that way because men are supposed to lead the way.”

I was disgusted inside by the sentiment. I realized right then and there that I had to pick one or the other. I asked this fellow, “So, let me ask you, if science tells you that your faith or religion is wrong, shouldn’t you do away with a misguided belief once science has explained what is *actually* going on?”

He said no. Faith is faith, and always trumps science…

I know, his case is extreme. There are many, many folk of faith who DO NOT feel this way. I get that. But, you know very well that there’s a problem there.

Some atheists (you knew I was going to say the word eventually, didn’t you) like to use the phrase, “we go one god further. “The point is that, no matter what your faith, you are an atheist in regards to thousands of gods who’ve come before yours.

It’s worth questioning it all.

It was little moments like what I listed above that simply got the ball rolling. Moving outside of the religious/church community that we were living in gave me the permission that I needed to start tugging on the yarn.

The more that I pulled, the more it all fell apart in piles of logic.

I found myself realizing just how convenient all of my “faith” was. It was my upbringing and culture (as it is yours). It was always tailored to suit my needs. It always conveniently helped my find my car keys. I think you get the point.

Stepping back, I realized just how much of the Bible I had cherry picked. I see in a ton of the Emergent Church. They’re making their own god. It used to bug me, but now I see that I did as well. I tailored my god to suit my needs.

Right now, our culture needs a social justice working Jesus who won’t banish the LGBT crowd, who will defend refugees and oppose injustice. But, oddly, that same Jesus is being used by Trump’s supporters to back up other actions as well. Hell, Bannon, mr. White Power himself claims to have a personal relationship with Jesus.

I found it odd how much we can all use this book to defend what we want it to be.

I started giving myself permission to listen to podcasts and videos from secular humanists, atheists and the like. I found their questions to be quite profound.

One that got me thinking the most was that, if the God of the Bible, or even of the Q’ran really wanted us to know him, and know him well, was this really the best he could do? I mean, really, this was bleak? A book that is endlessly contested. Translations upon translations. Denominations galore… I mean, if YOU wanted to communicate your existence to people, wouldn’t you do better?

It terrified me at first, and took great courage to muster up the bravery to say, “I would do better.” I would also have made the moral questions a whole lot more clear.

Wait a minute… am I more moral than the god I grew up worshipping?

When I realized that even my 9-year-old could easily improve on the unclarity and morality of what is supposedly the proof that a god exists, I had to rethink things.

I may be offending you, but it was an honest question. God isn’t supposed to be the author of confusion. But pew to pew and corner church to corner church, YOU GET A DIFFERENT PICTURE OF WHAT IS SUPPOSEDLY THE SAME GOD. That’s NOT clarity.

It all fell apart the more questions I asked. Even exploring the historicity of it all, the origins of the idea of hell, and the outright mythical nature of the entire book.

I could go on and on. But, for those who’ve known me for years, I wasn’t “faking” it. I was trying so hard to please god. I was desperate to make him happy and do his will. I pushed past my conscience so often. But I hated myself so much… I hated me with a vengeance, I had to keep pushing to be better and get better.

But in the crowd, all telling you to keep pushing, keep trying to be “holy” it’s very, very hard to hear your inner voice saying, “Stop it! I can’t think! I can’t see straight!”

It’s amazing what we can do and give our lives to when we work together, both for good and bad. We are powerful as a species. I mean, we are amazing. We can create such magic and wonder… or destruction, pressure and doubt.

There’s an old friend of mine… actually, I’m not entirely sure I can call him that. You see, he was part of the church group we lived in for 11 years. But, he believed some weird, wacky stuff. He didn’t toe the party line like I did. He wasn’t a people pleaser like me. I would set aside reason and critical thinking to get approval. And boy, when you stop doing that, people sure notice.

But this fellow, he was a friend to me. I was not to him, however. I looked down on him for his odd ideas. On the same note, though, I loved his kindness and sincerity. He would look at you and see through you.

One evening I was actually enjoying some time with him, having a glass or two of wine together. He said something that occurred to me the day I finally admitted out loud that I no longer believed in the god of the Bible. He said something along the lines of, “John, I think that the end of all of this is atheism.”

I was shocked. (this was about 10 years ago) “What are you talking about?”

He laughed and replied, “I think that the culmination of all of our struggles with religion, belief and all of this, is atheism. We’re going to realize that it’s us. It’s been US all along. We, together, make this.”

What a bold claim. And from what I can see, it’s true.

You see, this supposed god had answered my prayers since I was a kid. Now, I was taught as a young one, as well as an adult as recently as a few years ago, that there was nothing good in me. If it was good, it came from a god. If there was beauty that anyone saw in me, it was the creator, and not the creation.

The end thought, that I still feel in my very skin, (and I’m sorry to be crude) is that I’m a piece of shit, and god is what is lovely. Sure, people will tell you that god loves you and such, but, in the end, they’re still teaching this idea that he really can’t stand who you *actually* are day to do, you need a blood sacrifice for that… for the *father* to be able to look at you without revulsion.

Now, you may bristle at this. “Not my god… no, that’s not Jesus.” But it’s a seething undercurrent in ALL of the theistic religions. We’re messed up to the core, and we need this other thing to save us. We long to be saved from ourselves and it’s so, so relieving to put the pressure on something else, to hope in something other than our desperate, ever evolving selves.

But, from what I can tell, it’s us.

It’s me. All those times that I came around and did the right thing… it was me. All of those times that we got through, it was us. Because we are beautiful and wonderful.

We ARE what we make ourselves.

I’m going to therapy now. It’s helping. We’re talking about deep seeded beliefs about ourselves. One that came up for me, right away, was believing that I’m *always* ruining the world for everyone around me.

But I don’t ruin things. Frankly, I love to make the world more fun and beautiful for everyone around me.

Quite frankly, I’m learning to look in the mirror, and actually smile a bit.

So, yes, in regards to faith, I am an atheist… and it’s been a longer time coming than I think I even know. All that means is that I don’t see proof that there’s a god of any sort behind all of this.

This is not my belief… Atheism has no tenants. It has no belief system.

As far as belief systems… I’m re-learning those. The ideas of Secular Humanism are helping and make a whole lot of sense to me. I’m trying to be slow to adopt any beliefs. The only real one that I have is that I am precious. YOU are precious. We are precious.

We are precious because of the value we put on ourselves and others.

Life has more meaning to me now that it ever has. Ever. This just might be the only day that I have. Each day, I get to ask myself, “How will you spend this day? What will you do with these, quite possibly, your only moments with breath?”

So, when someone messages me, or tells me, “I still see god in you.” More than anything, I find this to be offensive. Not because of your intent, your intent I’m sure is good, but because we aren’t acknowledging what we’re actually saying there.

We’re saying that god, or “good” hasn’t left you. You’re not a godless shell. But I’m more me now than I’ve ever been. And I patently reject the idea that if it’s beautiful in me, then it is otherworldly. No, what you’re seeing in me, is me. It’s the me that you loved. It’s what you’ve always seen in me, and in many cases, I’m finding “me” to be more amplified than ever.

I am actually starting to like and enjoy being me.

I’m not crap, and neither are you.

____________________________

In regards to the questions of faith, I didn’t get into those on purpose. If you want to question yours, which I actually do recommend EVERYONE doing here and there, there are plenty of places to start.  I’m not going to create a blog about those things. This blog has always been about life and loving life. I’d like to keep it that way.

If you have questions, fire away… I may or may not answer. If you get nasty, I will simply delete your comment and move on with my life.

Recommended reading –
On The Historicity of Jesus – Richard Carrier

The End of Faith – Sam Harris

Anything by Matt Dillahunty

A Universe out of Nothing – Lawrence Krauss

Winnie The Pooh – Milne (just seeing if you’re still reading)

Final Post – A matter of conscience

What do you do when it just stops? What do you do when you just can’t muster any energy to have faith anymore… to believe in something that you’ve devoted your life to?

I haven’t written on this blog for some time, and I believe that it’s indicative of just what I was going through for the last couple of years. A lot of people write about this after they’ve figured it out, or really solidified what they are. I thought it could be nice to say goodbye to this blog, and begin a new chapter.

Up front, I’m not an atheist. This isn’t that announcement. Sometimes, because of my incessant guilt and shame obsession, I wish I were.

Sometimes I really doubt a lot. But, I talk to God… at least, I think I do.

I don’t even know that I’m an agnostic. I don’t quite know what it is that you might want to label what I believe. But that’s actually kinda the point, I’ve grown weary with worrying about beliefs, and stuck in a rut of not living. But, I talk to God, all day… at least I think I do.

Sometimes it’s hard to know. But am I saying that to just make people feel better about where I’m at? Maybe. That’s another big part of the point.

I’m writing this because I don’t want to tell the same story over and over. I don’t want to explain myself over and over. In reality, I don’t have to explain myself to anyone, but there are people who have invested many years in my life, and I’m attempting to explain my heart in order to honor them. They matter. They know who they are. (and if they’re taking the time to read this, thank you)

What is happening to me is difficult to explain to those who’ve poured love, help and concern into the last 11 years of my life. I have been hesitant for fear of disappointing them. I adore them. They helped me through some of the toughest years I ever experienced.

For decades, however, as long as I can remember, I’ve believed myself a monster. It wasn’t a constant thing, but more like one of those core memories that shape the constant things. If it were in Inside Out, I’d have a Monster-Demon-Possessed-Island. I didn’t think about it all the time, but you know, it’s back there.

Mom and dad would have their church friends rebuke the “demons” in me. They always wanted to fix me. And I found great comfort in the structure of the children’s home that I lived in as an 11-15 year old.

Looking back, it seems that after that I sort of went from authority structure to authority structure, finding people to please and make happy. I learned to survive that way. Adapt and become what they really want you to be… that was my motto. But I didn’t know that.

I am no victim. If I am, I do not know who by. It’s just me, it’s mine. It’s the path I’ve been walking.

All the time that I’ve been walking my path I kept looking off into the distance, hoping that one day I wouldn’t be a monster anymore. I was hoping that one day I wouldn’t be the piece of crud that I believed myself to be.

People pleasing, blending in to someone else’s agenda, became the prime way that I fought my own self-hatred. If I was making them happy and becoming a good me, then I could feel good.

Again, no one made me do this… I thought I had to in order to survive. It’s mine.

If I’m honest with myself, I know that over the last two years I’d been becoming increasingly skeptical of the stories in the Bible. I was having a very difficult time enjoying fellowship with my church. I simply could hardly relate to it anymore.

In June, we did a concert at that same Children’s home I lived in so long ago, and that day something just clicked inside my head. I was driving down the road, listening to our Dragons EP, (which, by the way, is all about this… though I didn’t know it when I wrote it) and I just started bawling.

I’ve been believing a whole lot of lies about myself. I’m a grown man and I don’t have to be afraid of being who I am.

That may sound stupid to some, but not to me. To me, it was the most liberating thing I’d ever experienced. EVER.

That weekend I knew that we would move out on our own.

If there’s anything my friends of faith and godlessness alike have taught me, it’s that you have to obey your conscience. If you can’t do it, then you just can’t do it.

I realized that my conscience was so messed up. I had to move out on my own. I had to figure it out and start over. I knew that I was pretending to be something that I wasn’t. I knew that this wasn’t a matter of disagreement, but of heart, and my heart simply wasn’t in it anymore. No one had hurt us and no one made us do it. I simply wasn’t there anymore.

But when I moved out, something happened that I simply didn’t expect.

Every passion for my “faith” or “religion” stopped. Every urge, every desire, every obligatory bit of drive was just done. I wanted to hide in a hermit hole and be alone… but no, I wanted to play with my kids. I wanted to just be done.

It was gone… just, not there. Suddenly I found myself panicking going, “What the heck do I even believe about anything?!?” I was terrified that I’d made a huge mistake.

This subsided when I saw the conversations growing between my daughters and I. When I saw myself making decisions based on what was good for our family and not what my guilt or shame was dictating.

So a month or so ago, I gave myself permission to be officially done, at least for now. I gave myself permission to say, “I am not a Christian.”

But I’m not done, and I know it.

I’ve tried learning about atheism, zen, whatever… I’ve talked to people who’ve left the faith. I’ve tried to bolster it. I’ve got nothing.

I get up each day and talk to “God.” I ask, “What are we doing today?”

And in some ways, I’m happier than I’ve been in a very long time.

My guilt and shame addictions are non-existent for the most part. That’s a big deal. A life-crippling, emotionally paralyzing big deal.

The self-hatred has no place in my home. I won’t allow it anymore.

I’m teaching my kids that it’s okay to question anything you don’t see evidence for. I’m teaching us to be kind and merciful to each other as well as our neighbors. I’m teaching them that they don’t have to be afraid to be themselves when they walk through the streets… that, in fact, the world needs more colorful little girls who are unabashedly themselves.

The world also needs more dads who have their dad bods and aren’t afraid to play with princesses.

I don’t know where I’ll land. Honestly, I’m not worried about it. My faith was so desperately tied up, twisted into and weaved into my people pleasing that I couldn’t, in any way, distinguish the two.

I can’t sort these out while still in the middle. Imagine trying to untangle a ball of twisted up twine from the center out. It won’t work. Instead you have to be on the outside of it all to sift through it.

So, we’re simply restarting many aspects of life. We’re going to move across the state and begin anew. We’re going to dance in the moment, right here and now. We’re going to keep asking questions because, well, anyone who knows us knows that this is what we do.

We’re going to play and live today.

Now, to some, this may sound like many things. Even the act of writing this was excruciating. For the most part lately, I just feel calm and peaceful, but when the voices of what I *think* others will think get going in my head, it brings on a stress that’s like no other… and then I get dishonest.

I can’t debate this, it’s simply my experience and where I’m at.

I can’t sit around and be talked into anything by some random blogger or facebook user that reads this. It’s simply not where I’m at.

I’m going to take some time to live. Some may think that this is a loss, that we’ve lost faith, or that we’re giving up.

I will argue this. I feel more alive than I can remember feeling in quite some time. I’m not hanging anything up. I felt a song calling me away, and I just had to follow it and see where it led. Now I can’t look back. Our hearts simply aren’t there anymore.

It’s hard to not fear disappointing, or even angering those who’ve invested in us. It’s hard to even work up the language to describe the experience or the thoughts.

But… declaring to my friends that my conscience wouldn’t allow me to work against them and pretend to be one of them was one of the hardest and best decisions that I’ve ever made. But I’m glad I did it, and I’m so crazy excited to see what’s next.

My wife and I, (and even our kids for the most part) believe that in our case, we simply need to start new to figure out what we even want, and who we even are.

How often do you have a chance to ask yourself, “Is this my life?” and if it’s not, how often do you get a chance to start all over.

I think it’s worth asking ourselves this question each and every day, and live life today, here and now, playing along with the music.

We’re going to take this time to celebrate our family and dig in to see who we are and what beauty is there. And hopefully, we’ll get chances celebrate everyone in our path.

Oh, to live… it’s the greatest adventure.

 

“Don’t let your struggle become your identity”

I have this lovely young friend with whom I’ve been sharing quotes as writing prompts. You see, she’s a great writer, but she doesn’t think she is, and she wants more practice. Practice is always good, right?

My goal is to get her free-writing and really expressing herself. She has so many amazing things inside of her. The whole thing is really reminding me of the very reason that I started this blog and named it what I did. The whole thought of, “No my dear… we’re already on an adventure.”

Life can be very good. But we’re just not very good to ourselves.

So, I gave her this quote yesterday. I also told her that I needed to write about it myself.

The more that I thought about it, the more it ate at me.

What is my struggle?

I really feel like I’m one of the biggest lugs of condescending crud around. I wrestle with being a chubby, volatile mess of emotions that keeps people on their guard to not trip the wire and unleash “the other guy.”

I hate it.

And you know what? I was taught to think this way.

I could get into parenting here, but suffice it to say that when I blow it, blow up, get snippy or anything, I have it in my head that it’s over. I’ve ruined it.

I have the thought in the back of my head that this is all a test, and if you miss one of the answers, or perform poorly on any of the questions, you’ve ruined it.

It’s the first thing that comes to my head when I mess up.

This is my biggest and ultimate struggle day to day. It leads me to want to give up, hide, sulk, fight more, drink… you name it. It takes me to dark places. It used to take me down so far that I would actually, physically punch myself in the head because I couldn’t handle it… I felt so helpless.

And yes, to this day, I wrestle with that helplessness every single day, multiple times a day.

My Identity

Am I a “ruiner” of days? Am I just a big, arrogant jerk that brings storm clouds? No.

It’s hard to embrace it, but no, I’m not.

I am John. I’m the one that Christ loved. He loved me even when I thought I ruined the day. He loved me when I felt so helpless that I would beat my face in panic and get high to calm down.

He loved me.

I will not let my struggle be my identity. No, I won’t.

I will let it roll off. I will back up when I mess up, and move forward in hope because that’s what’s true.

NOTHING is irreversible.

NOTHING is unrepairable.

I’ve seen more growth happen in my children from saying “I’m sorry” than anything else that I’ve done with them. I’ve grown closer than ever to my wife by backing down when I’m all in a wad inside and holding her instead.

This is my identity. I want to lay my head on the breast of Christ.

I don’t talk about this enough. Every day I have something that will happen, I lose it, I pop, I feel so out of control… if only for a moment. And I wonder, sometimes only for a split second, “Am I still that guy? Am I still the violent man who pummeled my sister and threatened my mother with a knife?”

No, I’m not.

When I shake inside, I will get still and lay my head on his breast. When the storm rages, I will learn to lie down in the boat with him and have faith.

Sure, I may have messed up. But he’s the king. I live in his kingdom. He will show me who I am. He will use it and set it all right.

I’m the one that he loves.

Confessions of an Ungrateful Heart. Pt 2

I tried really hard to keep this short… sorry… there’s just too much on my mind. I selected the pic for this post because it’s how I feel!

_____________

I am overwhelmed by the love of my God. He’s mine. I am His and He is mine.

I love this life!

I don’t deserve the love he gives. I don’t deserve the amazing life that he’s given me. It’s oh, so easy to get burned out. For those of you reading this that aren’t in the church, but merely attend a church on Sundays, there is a huge difference.

One is a form of encouraging or uplifting entertainment. It may spurn you to live better throughout the week, but it’s simply not the same.

But when you dedicate yourself to people who are, together, dedicating themselves to God, you have a completely different phenomena. There really is a huge difference.

Living a life that is immersed in the church, (not necessarily communally, I’m not saying that) you are proclaiming the Gospel that the gospels talk of Christ proclaiming, namely, “The Kingdom of God is at Hand!” This is where his rule is. You can’t live a kingdom life on your own.

I get in a funk. I want to live a kingdom life on my own. But my bones simply won’t accept it anymore. I can’t make my God happy or appease his wrath. I can’t offer any sacrifice. I … am … empty.

I can only be with him. That’s all I’ve got left. I’m not good enough, I’m not noble enough, I’m nothing without my King. And I love being with a whole lot of people who feel the same way. It’s an overwhelming gratefulness.

One of the most amazing aspects of living a Kingdom life is that you get to see the Father’s hand all the more… the other day, I got to see it touch me, and heard him speak to me in a mighty way.

I already told you about how tired and burned out I’d become.  God meets us there… he met me there. But I needed more, though I didn’t know that I needed more.

I went to my sister’s house with my family and a couple wonderful young friends for the weekend. We had a nice time. One friend warned me to be sure to not take on too much, but to help my family pull together and rest.

I did the best I could, and I think we had a very nice time. I love my sister, she’s one of my heroes. We’ve been through a lot and God has been very good to us.

At the end of it all I loaded up the van for the trek back home. We made good time and were home around 4:30 in the afternoon. Not bad. But it turned out that I had mistakenly stolen my sister’s purse.

She needed it asap, as she’s a foster parent, and had much to do the next day and really couldn’t be without it.

You could imagine that I was a bit derailed from my peacefulness… or rather, the peace I had conjured.

You see, our God isn’t interested in us conjuring some shallow peace that we can muster ourselves: rather, our God is interested in showing us who we truly are as sons and daughters of the Most High, heirs to the one and only Kingdom, and he will stop at nothing to bring us to that life and freedom.

One of the friends who had come with us called me as I was figuring out what to do. I had only just dropped her off. She’d lost her phone somewhere in our van. I told her what had just happened and that I was going to have to do another trip to Nashville and back.

“Can I come?”

My heart instantly lightened. “Please do. I would love that.”

Yvonne, my sweet bride told me that she felt like this was all God’s doing… he set this up. So I set off with that thought in mind. (it’s never a bad thought to keep in front of you)

The next 6 hours were 6 of the sweetest hours of my life. This young friend and I had a blast. We talked and picked on each other and laughed… she thinks I’m sappy the way that I love the fall trees soooooooooo much. That gave her material for a good couple hours till the sun set.

But what was really amazing, was the underlying things that God said to me throughout the evening. We talked about life, parenting and discipline. She told me what she saw in me and how I handle my family.

I view myself as such a basket case. I know my heart, weariness and emotional nonsense. I know how maniacal I can get inside and how often I’m just barely getting by. Sometimes I feel like such a failure in front of everyone…

But she wasn’t seeing this. She was telling me just how encouraged she was watching the way I dealt with my kids and family.

You know, I don’t even know if she knew what God was saying to me while we talked, but what I heard was that God wasn’t seeing this. Even though I may fumble, he is so much stronger.

In our weakness and struggle, someone else is being lifted up and encouraged. In her case, she was getting hope and vision where I thought of myself as a miserable failure.

One neat little sweet thing that God did for us as we drove: Her mom called us to tell us that a gas station along the route had found her phone and was holding it for her. That’s a normal courtesy, right? But in this instant, we were 10 feet from the driveway of this gas station.

I don’t care if you agree, that’s God being such a sweet father.

He loves me. He sees me. He knows that I’m trying and he’s happy because I’m with him. He doesn’t care about my religion or my rituals or my sacrifices… he cares that I stay next to him and rest in him.

He arranges my steps and I could not be in better hands.

Praise the God who loves us the way no earthly father could. Praise him because of his patience and long-suffering! Praise him because he turns our mudpies into feasts of plenty.

My friends and I have a whole lot of mud-pies… and we’re eating at the most incredible banquet ever!!!

How God Unschooled Me

I haven’t done a whole lot on this blog as of late. There’s a good few projects I’m working on.

A new, full length cd with my wife and a few friends.

http://www.thechristianunschooler.com

And an ebook. The eBook is an incarnation of this blog in carry-along-with-you print form. Right now it’s for sale on Kindle for a mere $3.95. Your purchase will fund future projects. I’m actually working on another book tentatively called “Don’t Call Me Father”… it’s about daddy issues as you could imagine. But I’m pretty excited to write an intentional, and (hopefully) full length book.

The ebook is called “Bigger than my Box.”

I really like how it’s turned out. Organizing it, editing and commenting really brought on a whole whirlwind of emotions. God has done so much to go after me and call me his son. That is the point of the book.  I want to allow him to teach me to be a parent like he is to me. I want to treat my kids with the same affection and zeal he has bestowed on me.

The book is is not an unschooling guide, but rather, a book about how God has Unschooled me. Please take a look. 

For the most part, I won’t be posting much on this blog anymore, but I’ll be focusing most of my efforts on thechristianunschooler.com

My hope is to create a real platform to encourage “unschooling” parents, in a culture filled with secular views on the subject, who are looking at doing this through the perspective of being disciples of Christ. If you’ve enjoyed this blog, thank you, and thank you for the encouragement. Please take a minute to check out the new one.

With love,

John Bob

Afraid of the Light

It’s a very good practice to have a healthy assessment of ourselves. Not in some vague, “I think I’m kind of a jerk…” sort of way, but in a real, “Wow, I certainly missed it on that one” sort of way.

One thing that I severely missed it in my life on was in getting to know a man named Bob. As I’m writing, Bob died yesterday, on March 11th, 2012. He was, truthfully, one of the most amazing men that I’ve ever met.

He was a quadriplegic, and needed help with nearly all of his daily activities. He could move his hand a bit to run his wheelchair. And somehow, he also ran a business, for a while at least, selling third world crafts to get the money back to indigenous peoples.

But the most remarkable thing about Bob was the glow that was nearly always on his face. It seemed to me that he was always gazing into God’s great eyes, and he wanted you to look at them too.

This amazed me, because by all counts, Bob had every single right to complain. Many a lesser man would be taken out by his circumstances. It can’t be an easy thing to have to have people bathe and feed you like a baby, day after day. But from what I could tell, Bob used it all for the glory of God.

Bob was blessed to live in a large Christian community in Chicago where he had loving, round the clock care. The bulk of this care was handled by the single guys in the community, though many married men helped as well.

When I lived in this particular commune, I was terrified and squeamish of handling these responsibilities. I would do some meals with him, but not the grotty stuff. No way. I was a big chicken.

But I watched the other guys work with him. It changed them. Bob never wasted a minute with you. He was all about God. From what I could tell, he was always praying, always searching, and always digging into your heart to be sure that you were free.

So what does this have to do with “the light?”

Have you ever been around someone that just makes you feel like they’re looking right into the depths of your heart? Have you ever gotten close to someone for a moment, and knew that they could know things about you, that you simply didn’t want them to know?

Bob made me feel this way. It seemed like he and God were talking all the time. Bob loved light. He had nothing to hide. But I had much to hide.

The fact is, I was a phony. I didn’t want people to pry in. I had my reality and my justifications, and I didn’t want anyone messing with that. I was afraid of people messing with that.

But Bob, in all of his love, with his smile that would light up the room, would sweetly mess with your reality. He would bring light into all of the dark spots. He had no interest in condemning, only in giving life and light. He wanted you to be well.

My wife and I left that community nearly 11 years ago. We visited once about 2 years after we left, and Bob still knew our names. We visited a few months ago as well, and he still knew our names. He carried people around in that amazing heart of his, and when you carry people around that way, when you hope and pray for them, God is very faithful to let you see remarkable things.

I hope that I can even be a bit like Bob when I grow up. It’s no small feat to live life in a wheelchair, barely able to move more than your head, and still believe, hope, and trust that Christ is king, and he will reign forever.

But next time that I meet a Bob, I’m determined not to run. I want to learn to sit in the light, and let it rip apart all of my fake nonsense and let the image of God remain upon my face.

Bob, thanks for being you. . .

I Taught My 7-year-old how to Puke!

the whole purpose of me writing posts like this is to give you, the reader something to relate to in our struggle to be good people… I don’t think I have some secret magic. I do however have a lot of help from God and the Church. This gives me hope for my kids. I hope this encourages.

______________________________________________________

First off, let me present my little warrior.

Adaryn and Audrey discover their inner warriors

Adaryn is on the left. She’s quite the girl. Her name mean “not bound by earthly limitations.” And boy oh boy does she live that out.

This kid is boundless. She has huge things on her heart. She’s creative, loves to bake and crochet, loves to design and organize… She’s the type of kid that can and will do anything she puts her mind to. The kid’s got skills.

One other amazing skill she has: blatant, bold faced, look you in the eye as though nothing ever happened lying. It’s incredible. She’ll look at you with those doe eyes and draw you in. YOU WILL BELIEVE HER! Then you find yourself doubting every conviction that you ever had.

But shake it off! You can do this. You saw what the kid did! Call her on it.

So, the struggle that I have, and that I think many parents have is to keep their child’s conscience clear and help them see the value in telling the truth. We all know that this is a good goal. The real trick, however, is helping them to see this without causing them to retreat within themselves.

In Addy’s case, if I get too big with my fury at the lie, she’ll close up completely and I’ll have to do twice the work to recover her trust. Addy desperately wants to look good. She wants to look good for mommy and daddy, as well as her friends. She never, EVER wants to be in the wrong or be found having done the dumb thing. And sometimes, telling the truth about the nasty thing you’ve done just flat out looks really bad.

On to the story…

So yesterday I come home from work. It’s Thursday, grocery day in our household. We live with another family, a single lady and two single guys, and Thursdays are the days when the lady folk head out to hunt and bring home the freshly bagged spoils of the grocery store.

The kids stay with a sitter named Rachie, who is a delight and wonder. She’s one of the greats when it comes to enriching, attentive substitutes for the parental role.

Last night though, Rachie had to have a little sitter/dad chat with me. Apparently Adaryn had made just about every task Rachie set her to difficult throughout the entire day. She would wander, get distracted, and sometimes just flat out do the exact opposite of what Rachie told her to do.

So, I bring Addy back to my room, sit her down on the couch. Her bright eyes beaming, playing (quite convincingly) excited to be here with me and the much hassled sitter.

“Addy, how did you do today?”

“Fine!” she answers quickly. “It was a good day!”

“Are you telling me the truth?” I ask.

“Yeah, it was fine.” and she tries to casually use her arms and hands to illustrate her confidence.

“Did you listen to Rachie?”

I was like I had cracked her in the gut with a wet towel. She changed color, dropped her shoulders and blurted, “Nooooooooooooooo!”

I dismissed our kind sitter and thought for a moment. I need her to tell me the truth. It’s not that I want to grill her on every detail. I don’t want blood. I don’t even want to do the whole “Why did you do this?” line of rubbish.

tangent –

One of the silliest wastes of time that a parent can do is to ask their child why they did what they did. For the most part, your little one has no clue why they did it. They just did it.

They have no impulse control… only a whim and a carnal urge – then whammo! They did what they wanted to do. (see Bill Cosby’s routine on ‘brain damage’ or ‘I don’t know’)

So, if you find yourself asking a tiny person this ridiculous, (yes, worthy of ridicule) question, and they respond with “I don’t know.” You’d better have the sense to go, “You know what honey? I believe you. Let me help you understand what you did.” ***(see note at bottom of post)

I wanted to help her get it off of her chest, learn from it, and be able to move on.

So I prayed. I asked God for something to keep this lighthearted and not heavy handed. I asked her to take a few minutes to think about what she should actually have told me about her day, and when she was ready, to come and get me.

She did. We went in my room, plopped on the bed, and locked eyes.

“So, what is it.”

“I disobeyed and was a bad girl.” She said contritely.

This was too simple. She was just saying what she thought I wanted to hear. I didn’t want to hear that she was a bad girl. She’s not. She did some dumb and slightly mischievous stuff, but bad, no. I told her this too.

When you’re talking to wee ones, you have to keep it a bit simple. Don’t over lecture. Don’t over analyze. Don’t be a psychologist. Look for what will give them new life.

I had an idea. . .

“Addy, you are not a bad girl. You just did some bad things today. We can handle that. In order to handle that though, you have to be honest about what you did. You’ve got a talk about it, and get it out before you can move on and be happy.”

“Why?” she asked. It was apparent that she didn’t want to talk about it. But this kid, of all of my kids, needs to get it out and not worry about the fact that she messed up.

“Well, it’s like if you eat some bad food, and it makes your belly sick. What does your body want to do with the bad food in your belly?”

“Throw up?”

“Yep, you’ve got to throw it up. You gotta puke. If you don’t, you’ll only get sicker and sicker.”

This is the part that really got me, she asked, “Are there some people that never puke it up?”

“Yes there are. If you never ever puke up the sickness inside of you, the bad things we do and swallow, then eventually, after long enough, you become the sickness. This is why you have to puke it up. Once it’s puked up, and you get rid of it, you can be done with it and move on.”

I saw this clicking. But then she got that sweet, concerned expression in her brow. “Daddy, but if I puke on you, you’ll get all messy.”

My heart was melting. Good grief that was cute. “Honey, that’s what daddy’s are made for. God made us to take the puke and get rid of it so that you can have a free and happy heart.”

She liked this, and she proceeded to talk openly about the pitfalls of her little day.

What’s the fruit, the rest of the evening she was happy as could be. She was excited about her punishment of no playing the next day and only doing all of the things Rachie had told her to do the previous day… only this time with vigor. She was excited to make it right.

May we help our little ones make it right. May we direct them toward a truly clear conscience and life abundantly.

***my dear sister Allison posted this comment that I’d like for all to see. “I do have to say that **occasionally** it can be useful to ask a kid why they did something, bc sometimes their answer shows some other misunderstanding that needs to be cleared up (ex: Why do you dump your toys out every night before bed? –Because Tommy said monsters will come out of the closet and eat me so I have to block the closet door with toys!) But that’s probably the exception more often than the rule. And, you know, I’m good at having experienced the exceptions.” I thought this was a good amendment.