On The Mom’s In My Life

I am blessed to have to have two amazing mothers that I cherish in my life – the mother of my children, and my own Mom.

Let me tell you a quick bit about both.

When I tell people about my wife, Tori, about who she is and what she does – they respond somewhere in the conversation with “your wife must be a Saint!”  I always nod and appreciate the sentiment. It’s true. I married up. Way up.

To me, one of the most important roles anyone can play is to be a parent. Probably even more so, the role of the mother.  My wife has led an amazing life – serving her country, traveling a good part of the world, teaching – working, and utilizing her creativity and compassion for others in the process.  I’m in awe of what she has been able to accomplish in her 33 years on this Earth – I’d have to pause time for 10 years just to catch up.

But the truth is, I never will. Why? She’s devoted the last 10 years of her life to one of the biggest roles of them all – raising and caring for our children. To our kids – she’s a teacher as a homeschooler, a Doctor as a caregiver, and playdate in the Playroom after school, a disciplinarian when all else fails, and a comforter in the time of need.  When I asked my littlest one, Noah – our four year old, recently, what he loved most about his Mom, he told me “she makes me laugh.”

I’m not certain, but I’d set my watch and warrant to the idea that if you can make that type of impression on a four year old, you’re doing something right.  She’s more deserving of anything I could ever give her, more precious to me than anything or anyone on this Earth – taking care of the most precious gift God or she has ever given me.

Sure this is sappy, it’s heavy, and it’s over the top.

So what? I don’t care. Some things are just that way. I love her. And she’s freaking awesome.

So – to the mother of my children –

This is for the Mom whose job never really ends – from your alarm clock of 3 children early in the morning to the final tucking in at night.

For the Mom whose compassion is overwhelming – from comforting the fear of thunderstorms and the discomfort of an illness.

For the Mom who never has time for rest – to the homeschooling, piano lessons, voice lessons, and life lessons.

For the Mom who got yet another phone call with rowdy kids in the background telling her that her husband was still at the office, late again.

For the Mom who teaches our children right from wrong, of God’s love, of love for others, of acceptance over intolerance and beauty in the world.

For the Mom whose art and creativity decorate our walls and migrate into the hearts and minds of our children.

For the Mom who still finds time for her husband and her marriage, even through the chaos of life.

For the Mom whose sacrificed and continues to sacrifice so much, for so little in return.

I love you. Our kids love you.

Happy Mother’s Day.


Then there’s my mother.

Where to begin?

When you raise 2 boys in a foreign Middle East Country, two curious – ambitious – and one of them pretty mischievous boys – you pretty much win the Gold Medal out the gate.

When I was younger, in my teenage years, I clashed with my Mom a lot. Truth is, it had a lot to do with the fact we were way too much alike. I didn’t give her near the respect she deserved.  She still loved me through it.

When I hit my mid-twenties, and my life hit a turning point, I looked around at who was left. There was my mom.  And isn’t that how it’s supposed to be?  She’s a Grandma now – and a pretty darn good one. She’s everything you would want a Grandma to be too, a cookie baker and a hug giver.

Today, I’m closer to my Mom than I have ever been before. I have more respect for her than ever, and when she’s away, I miss her a heck of a lot.

My mom, without asking you, will tell you she lives for her family. She’s not lying. I’ve never met anyone with as much devotion and heart for her family as her – well maybe my Grandma, but she’s with Jesus now and that’s okay – because my Mom’s around to walk in her legacy.

So for you Mom –

To the Mom who sacrificed so much for my brother and I. To late night last minute science fair projects, to those 20 bucks you’d hand me randomly to “go have fun.”

To all the times I made you nervous, anxious, and worried.

To the Mom who told me like it was, never sugar coating, never too harsh.

To the Mom who’d watch horror and Sci-Fi movies with me until 3 AM (and still does).

To the Mom who’d show up when all the other Moms were too busy.

To the Mom who will text me late into the night and still makes me laugh.

To the Mom who taught me what parenting really was about – Having a LOT of fun!

I love you – Happy Mother’s Day!

The below picture likely has value only to you – a recreating of a circa 1989 favorite 🙂


On Grandma

Writing for me has always been something cathartic. There’s something self-healing about putting your thoughts to paper – something that I have found brings me whole again when I feel unrest.  In the past, I’ve used my writings to talk about my views on religion, my children, and life. Today, I use my words to honor someone – my Grandmother.  My Grandmother is very ill, in hospice at her home, surrounded by family.

My Grandmother is by all accounts one of the most amazing people I ever had to opportunity to call family. In all honesty, when I look at the top 5 most influential people on my life, she’s easily in that list.

For those that know her, or had a chance to ever cross paths with her, Virginia Geib is one of the coolest, happiest, most down to earth people you will ever meet. She is a wife, a mother, a Grandmother, a Great Grandmother, and many other roles – roles she excels in.  She is a God-fearing, Elvis-Loving, Star Trek fan who can cook better than anyone you ever met. I could fill this writing with paragraphs of adjectives to describe how wonderful a person my Grandmother is – but instead, I’ll leave you with the lessons she’s taught me instead:

She taught me about loving nature and beauty. I was the second grandchild of many, my brother being the first.  Growing up, we juggled from spending time overseas where my parents were contractors in the Middle East, to spending long vacation-like stints with my Grandparents at their home in Ohio.  These visits were some of the highlights of my childhood. My Grandmother absolutely loves to garden.  Her backyard was a utopia of fruits and vegetables, of flowers and exciting things for a young child to get lost in.  She used to let me walk around with her, watering flowers as she took the time and patience to explain each and every flower to me. I was (and continue to be) mesmerized by her love of nature and beauty, and thankful for her forgiveness when my cousin Victoria and I decided it might be a good idea to dig a hole in her flowerbed to China (we didn’t make it, but I’d like to think we got pretty far).

She taught me that loving and getting together with family was simple, important, and vital. Every year, usually a couple weeks before Christmas, we had cookie day at Grandma’s house. My Grandmother opened up her kitchen to all of her grandchildren to decorate and cook cookies. This day always was a beautiful chaos of homemade icing, decorating sprinkles, and over-sugared grandchildren – in fact, cookie day was the highlight of my childhood career – more than Christmas.  It was in those moments I forged strong relationships with my extended family, and understood how simply beautiful time could be when all you had to do was decorate a cookie. Grandma was always willing to taste each one I made, even as I held out to her a cookie with 3 pounds of icing I was so proud of – of that I am sure to anyone over the age of 7 was utterly disgusting.

She taught me the value of learning and appreciating where you came from. My Grandmother treated genealogy like a calling from heaven. Even before she went into hospice, she was working on a book about our family line – a book that was forged from extensive travels with my Grandfather to areas only accessible by a rental car in rural Germany. One summer, I spent a longer than usual amount of time with just my Grandfather and my Grandmother.  We ate meals together, went for ice-cream together, argued about who was a bigger threat to the Federation – the Cardassians or the Romulans (remember, she was a Star Trek fan) and joked together. At dinner, she’d tell me stories of her childhood, her experiences, and of my family. I got to know my Grandmother on such a deep level that summer, and realized how special our relationship was. Her knowledge and passion for understanding who we were as a family was infectious.

Most of all, Grandma taught me about love.  This may seem cliché to you, but it’s not.  My Grandmother’s legacy was teaching us all that love begins with serving others, like Christ served us.  There wasn’t a meal I ate with my Grandmother where she wasn’t the last one to sit down. She’d muddle about the kitchen, getting anything you needed and making sure everyone was comfortable. She was always the last to sit down and eat, and I always waited until Grandma was done to get up from the table. Although I’d like to say this was always about respect, the truth is – I enjoyed her company.  I enjoyed her, and what she stood for.

As my Grandmother’s enters hospice, I am able to watch her legacy unfold. Her children are rallying. I’m watching my mother, whom I already recognize as one of the strongest women I will ever know (in part, no doubt, to her mother’s upbringing) become stronger. I’m watching a family band together, and gather around one amazing woman’s bedside.  Until the day my Grandmother was moved into hospital care, I called my Grandparents weekly, sometimes twice a week religiously on my way home from work.  I’d tell them about my life, about my family, about my career, and anything else that might be new. My Grandmother always answered the phone. She always looked forward to my calls, and she always listened intently. She always called back after we hung up to say she loved me, and told me to be sure to call again. You could set your watch to it. In each of those calls, I always promised her I’d call back again, and I never backed down on that promise. I’m glad I didn’t. It was some of the best phone conversations of my life. I’ll cherish those memories.

My last visit a week ago with my Grandmother was wonderful. She was able to see her Great Grandchildren, and my son, Ephraim sang her a song.  At one point in the visit, her meal arrived at her hospital bed from the nutrition office. I told her to please eat. She said she didn’t want to until she was sure all the babies had a chance to eat too.  I gently explained to her I would make sure they were fed, and that it was okay that she took care of herself for once. She still wouldn’t pick up her fork.

There is no doubt that when my Grandmother leaves this world, she’ll be with Jesus, happy – healthy – pain free, and hearing those words we all long so much to hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Grandma, if you get a chance to hear or read  this, which I know you will – because you never missed one of my writings – I hope I did you proud.  I love you, and I want you to know how special you are to me.

Your Grandson,

–        Grant Edward 🙂

On Homeschooling

There’s plenty of blog posts that defend or try to explain homeschooling. Here’s mine.

My wife and I homeschool our three children.  Actually, probably much more accurately – my wife homeschools our three children.  My daughter doesn’t own a jean skirt that goes to her ankles.  We don’t have a curriculum based on negating the “lies” of “evil-lution and global warming,”  we haven’t skipped school to attend a Tea Party rally where we make our kids hold signs about the demise of the public school system, and our school room doesn’t have a 1980’s felt board of all the Bible characters – and last time I checked, my 8-year old daughter’s read about half the “banned from a Children’s Library” books in print that were originally meant for her age. Sandy Hook, while devastating, didn’t cause us to dance in the streets gloating about the dangers of taking your kids to public school. That could happen anywhere, and probably will happen again somewhere.  That’s the nature of the world we live in.

So Homeschooling has a negative connotation. For example when a conversation inevitably occurs between my daughter (she’s the one most active in Homeschool at 8 – my boys are still Pre-K) and she mentions “My Mommy is my teacher” or a well-meaning coworker or acquaintance asked about “what school my kids attend” the answer of “We Homeschool” is almost always met with either queer looks, uncomfortable shock or a crazy amount of questions (often referring back to the extreme examples in my first paragraph).  I cringe every time I have to explain it. Thoughts immediately pop into people’s heads (almost so much you can watch it happening in a cartoon thought bubble above them) with ideas that my children are unsocial, permanently Sunday-school-afied zombies.

The truth is, like most things – what you see on television, what you read about on the Internet, or what you hear from political pundits on both sides, rarely – if ever translates to reality.  Are there homeschooling parents who ban books and shove religious ideas down their children’s throats? Sure. Are there public school teachers who push their own agendas and manipulate curriculum? Yep, that too.

The truth is, homeschooling is unique, misunderstood, and grossly misrepresented. Those three things make for a bad reputation – and an often unavoidable stigma about my family.  But here’s the truth – most homeschoolers don’t homeschool based on some divine and righteous religious principle.  Even more so, most homeschoolers I know and associate with are part of many social organizations, do well in groups, and have everlasting bonds with their families.  If I had to choose between my daughter getting bullied, and the ability to choose the social groups she hangs out with by strategically placing her in those groups – I chose the latter.  If that makes me a bad parent – guilty as charged. The media be damned – they’ll spend forever tearing apart something unique and unknown – in an attempt to vilify what my family and others are really trying to accomplish.

In fact, I have nothing specific against public school that causes me to homeschool, I wouldn’t necessarily be devastated if my children had to attend for some reason (although it isn’t my personal preference), and I don’t look down on people who do or don’t homeschool. There’s pros and cons to everything, Homeschooling not an exception. Homeschooling isn’t for everyone, and those that take it on aren’t necessarily the “elite” or the better parent. Besides, it’s time consuming, emotionally and mentally draining – and requires such a heightened level of organization to pull off.  Any homeschooling family who tells you they haven’t had their rough spots or hasn’t felt like giving up at least twice is lying.

Bottom line – It isn’t easy.

But it’s oh-so-rewarding:

1)      Being able to pick your own curriculum and design your own ala-carte learning system (don’t get my wife and I started about “unschooling” – unschooling isn’t homeschooling, and shouldn’t be grouped as homeschooling.)

2)      Your technology limitations aren’t based on the classroom budget.  Neither is your art program, your music program, or any other program you want to engage upon.

3)      It’s time-flexible and allows for unique learning experiences throughout the year.  There’s little administrative overhead as learning and instruction are the majority of your homeschooling time.

4)      Whatever effort you put into it, you’ll be rewarded two-fold.  My 8 year old daughter reads at a Middle-School level (no, I’m not exaggerating).  Ask her anything you want about the Curiosity Rover, current events in the Middle East, or animals.  She’ll answer. My four year old performs multiplication tables and can navigate flawlessly around 3 different operating systems and write sentences.  I don’t tell you this to gloat – there are plenty excellent programs for gifted children in public schools – but the truth is that homeschooling parents can, and often do, create the same atmosphere.

5)      It’s a blast. Some people say you can do it in your pajamas – but the truth is in our house you get ready, get dressed, and show up for school.  But you COULD do it in your pajamas. You could also spend the day going “off the deep end of learning” and focus on something unique because it just seems interesting.  The world’s your oyster, and if you really wanted to – you could spend the day learning about oysters, creating math about oyster populations, writing a paper on oysters, and finishing it up with cooking an oyster. Why not?

I’m not about to say it’s for everyone.  It isn’t. Some days, it doesn’t feel like it’s for anyone.  But to be honest, my wife and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  It’s become so much a part of our identity that I’m growing weary about not talking about it out of fear of judgment on my children or my family.

We homeschool.

And we love it.

Did you know oyster’s migrate?

–          Grant

On Voting

Since as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a good connection with the elderly – I even worked one summer and fall of High School for a nursing home doing data entry and helping with various computer tasks. On my breaks, I’d spend my time talking to the members of the home.  I truly enjoyed their company, and while I can’t be sure of the same – at least I think they enjoyed having a person to talk to.  I’m not confessing to anything, but maybe I’d bring them milk shakes from the next door restaurant – even though it may have gone against their suggested diet plans.  Most of them would make the argument that once you reach a certain age and check into your final “Senior Living Resort” destination, you can pretty much screw the diet plans. I concur.

Anyways, as I got to know the members of the nursing home, I also got to hear their stories.  One gentleman told me about his experience in World War II with such detail it would rival a History Channel Special.  One told me of his experiences with the Civil Rights movement and marching with local celebrities.  I remember clearly one man who made it a point to tell me of his escapades chasing women “in his prime” in Chicago.  Sometimes, I told them stories – but, most of the time, I just listened.  Truth is, I was genuinely interested in what they had to say.

I remember showing up for work one day on Election Day.  At the time, I still wasn’t old enough to vote.  I walked into the man lobby just in time to see a busload of nursing home patients unloading. Each were in their signature “cardigans and sweaters” with their “I Voted” stickers proudly displayed.

There’s a conversation I had that day that I probably won’t forget – at least, every time I go to the polls I’ll be reminded of it. It’s not exactly something that’s profound enough to recall all the time – but it never escapes me when I walk up to a voting machine.

One gentlemen grabbed my wrist with the strong grip that old men have, even when their bones are brittle – the kind that surprises you, but commands your attention nonetheless.

“Did you vote, Grant?”

“No, I can’t yet. I’m not old enough.”

“When you do vote Grant – make sure you vote for the guy that you’d invite over for dinner – and when dinner was over – he’d stay and help you do the dishes.”


“Because anyone who can clean his own plate as a guest in your house will likely be the guy who is humble enough to appreciate the guy who cooked it.”

I think my elderly friend had it right. If you’re going to be a leader – you have to do the dishes.  And if you’re going to agree to do the dishes, then you’d better appreciate those that feed you, or you’re simply going through the motions.

Just some food for thought, from an old friend at a nursing home – full of wisdom, wit, and timeless advice for picking a politician.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a dinner date to book.

–          Grant

On Missing The Point

Dear America,

I watched you closely today.  I followed you on Twitter. I scrolled through on Facebook.  I poked around your Blogs. And America?

You’re missing the point.

When I was a small child, we lived overseas, specifically in Saudi Arabia.    Over there, as you can readily imagine, there’s not much Western influence. One of the few Western influences I grew to cling to was American Wrestling.  Specifically, the WWF.  Sure, it’s just as much entertainment as it is sport, but I clung to it just the same – as many other young boys my age. My hero?

Hulk Hogan.

I remember my father would wake us up in the middle of the night when it aired to let my brother and I watch Hogan wrestle.  We became pretty big fans of the Hulkster.   I remember one evening; Hulk Hogan was set to wrestle a gentleman named Earthquake.  Without going into much detail, Earthquake was this morbidly obese guy whose signature move was to jump on people and crush the life out of them (but you probably could have inferred that).  Anyway, as a child I remember watching the match as closely as a day trader watches the stock ticker after the bell.  Earthquake managed to pull off his signature move on Hogan, and much to my dismay (which I am sure was not only planned but faked so Mr. Hogan could take a couple months off), the match ended with Hogan being carried away on a stretcher with apparently every bone in his once muscular body crushed.

I’m pretty sure I was more crushed than Hogan.  Well, crushed? I was enraged and devastated.  I remember crying and getting really upset.  I vowed that I would always hate the man that crushed my childhood hero.  I was angry, disillusioned, and just a plain mess.  I was 6, at the time I think.

Now, I’m 29.  I have a successful career, a wife, and 3 kids. I pay taxes.  I go to church.  I give.  I participate in social events.  I follow the speeding limit.  I’m a generally nice guy.

Today, I watched my Twitter feed and Facebook feed from a conference I was at on my iPad shortly after the Supreme Court carried down it’s ruling on the healthcare act.  What I saw, albeit likely predictable if I stopped to think about it, was an outpouring of hate, anger, rage, quips, separation, and bewilderment from all over the political spectrum.

I’m not even going to tell you my opinion on the law, because frankly it doesn’t matter.  Those of you who know me closely know which way I lean.  I value people’s opinions.  I value debate, and I value our court system and our political system.  But somewhere… somewhere along the way we all became 6 year olds again. It felt seemingly like some of us were rooting for our childhood hero and others for the guy with the crushing blow as his celebrated weapon.

And did we celebrate. We did get enraged. We gloated, we cried foul.  Apparently, according to a newspaper, 5 politicians twittered either inappropriate messages of dissent or celebration, and thus quickly deleted them after the drunken stupor of their momentary loss of whatever good taste they had came bad to them.  Other places, I watch my Facebook feed fill with people claiming that they were convinced America was set to be ruined.  Some were elated in such a manor their gloating was incomprehensibly vulgar.  But on the other hand, one frustrated individual actually stated she was moving to Canada (ignorance of their foreign policy will catch up with her, I’m sure).

I’d pretty much guarantee that my 6 year old self, if equipped with Facebook and Twitter (and trust me, at 6, if it was there, I would have had it) would have posted some choice things about Earthquake destroying the Hulkster’s ribs.

I’ll get to my point.  What happened to us? When did we decidedly become so divided that technology tools that were meant to pull us together have separated us apart?  When did venomous hate towards someone who disagrees with you and quipping pictures become the normal posting?

Can I be your friend and think differently than you about Health Care?

The next Presidential election?

What about what and how I teach my kids?

Are you really willing to boycott a beloved cookie because they decided to make a rainbow one?

Look, friends, the bottom line is this: If we can’t respect the very powers God placed before us, whether it is the President of the United States, or our Court system, your neighbor, your Facebook friend, or just a guy in the grocery line, we’ve all failed miserably at the point.

Shame on all of us. We’re better than this.

If Hulk Hogan taught me anything, it’s that.

– Grant

On Indiana’s Superbowl Dinner Party

I had a pretty interesting childhood when it came to geography.  I spent my “childhood” years overseas – mostly in Saudi Arabia – my dad worked first for a military contractor and then for an airline in the Middle East.  It was a great experience.  Then, through my teenage years and now in my present adult years, I’ve grown up in Indiana.

Indiana.  This is the state where you strike up a conversation with someone in the grocery line, people will still pull over to help if your car runs out of gas, and you can walk the streets of Indianapolis after 9 PM, and outside a couple of obvious areas – feel free and safe.  The winters are ridiculously harsh, the weather’s unpredictable, the summers are humid enough that a simple walk from your car to the store entrance leaves you swimming in sweat, and save the small lakes peppered throughout the land and a Great Lake normally unfit to swim in- we’re landlocked and as flat as Kansas.  Compared to the Coast states, states with mountains and beautiful scenery,  or states with a huge capital city – we come across as dreadfully boring.

Truth is, most of us that live here, that call ourselves Hoosiers – we’re pretty darn okay about that.

Why? Much  what makes our state special, our capital city unique – and Indiana what is Indiana are the hidden gems laced throughout the Midwest Heartland.  It’s the people. Sure, we have things we’re proud about – the Indy 500, our Colts, our Basketball –  even our rich Historical story – but all those things merely put us on the map  – what those things didn’t do – what the people of Indiana so far have never allowed to happen – was it to become who we were or define Indiana.

Having lived here through some Grade School, Middle School, High School, and now my adult life raising my own family – I can say the definition of this state is about it’s people and their heritage.  It’s the “Hoosier Hospitality” and the bursting pride of our way of life.  You can still find towns in Indiana – within half a days drive of our capital – where you’d swear you just drove into Mayberry and Aunt Bee would have you over for a pie.

With the Superbowl on the Horizon this weekend, and media teams setup to devour “the best of Indiana” and what we have to offer – I hope only one thing. I hope those in charge of this 8-day dinner party followed by a big game do it right.

And by do it right?

I don’t mean hire someone to clean your house top to bottom, to polish the china you’d never normally use, throw the dog out back, replace the curtains, and spend too much on Wine you’d normally never budget for – all to impress.

You see, we don’t need to do anything like that.  We shouldn’t do anything like that. The best thing Indiana can to show “the best of Indiana” is to just do what we do.  The Superbowl for this state is an honor. A privilege. I get that.

We need to be our best.

But our best should be what makes us who we are, not how we want others to see us… That’s what New York is for. What Miami is for.  New Orleans. Let them have it, that’s what they do. Not us.

Perhaps this dinner party should be more along the allegorical lines of the  any-given Summer Sunday backyard cook-out; grills fired up, kids running through the sprinkler – and you offer your neighbor to come over for a beer and a Brat.

I’m hoping those visiting us see us for who we really are. Real people.  Good people.

And when it’s all over and the last bus leaves to their big cities?

That’ll give them something to talk about.

– Grant


On The Agnostic’s View of the Ten Commandments

Background on purpose of this post and future posts on topics of Religion:

One of the great things about life is that not everyone shares your viewpoints.  Adding to that, one of the great things about true friendship, is that you can enter in a relationship with someone –  a relationship forged on the cornerstone that while they may not necessarily share your viewpoint, they respect it for what it is.  My friend, Rob Slaven, maintains a blog entitled “The Tattered Thread”  In my opinion, he’s a great writer – with a style in some ways different than my own, but still oozing with talent and value.  I encourage you to check it out, and follow.

Back to Rob: Rob’s one of those guys that’s not afraid to throw his opinion out there.  Rob’s more charismatic than he appears when you first meet him, he has a good heart beyond his sarcastic witticism that reflects on paper, and generally is one of the more intelligent guys I know.  He’s consumes literature at a astounding rate, is well versed, and sometimes drips ounces or gallons of attitude into his prose. He’s not afraid to pen his thoughts. This, in my opinion, makes him an interesting writer.  We often disagree, often agree, and often enjoy conversation – something that, with the addition of technology, is becoming less and less of a practiced art.

Anyways, Rob and I got to talking about each of our blog ventures (Rob actually runs 3 blogs, one around general musings (see aforementioned link), one on classic advertising , and one on his love for photography. Rob, like most active creative minds, is one busy guy exploring what he truly loves.  Rob’s a self proclaimed agnostic, which means he generally falls under the viewpoint that God may exist, but certainly doesn’t have much to do with his creation.  The key difference from Rob and most (not all) agnostics / atheists I meet is that Rob isn’t against Religion.  In fact, I’d venture to say he’s actually fascinated with it.  Healthy fascination in my book leads often to discovery.

Rob and I decided that in order to garner a more solid topic trail to our general ramblings on the Internet, we’d try  in addition to our regularly scheduled programming to enter into conversation with each other assuming various blog posts concerning the main aspects of Christianity, agnosticism, and Religion in general.  I, myself, am a self-proclaimed thinking Christian, who considers Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. Rob’s an agnostic. We’re friends.  We always will be.  Part of the main aspects of friendship is respect.  Whatever we write to each other, even if it may seem in jest or critical, is just our banter and conversation made available to the world.  You may or may not agree with us, and that’s fine.  I’m a firm believer that one of the key areas to the Christian faith is our love and respect for others.  Jesus called us to love everyone, and not only those that believe what we believe.  I also believe that Christ, if here today, would encourage all Christians to challenge themselves, their minds, and their hearts.  By entering in respectful dialogue with those who share contrasting opinions, we open up new ways to challenge ourselves, and if done correctly – strengthen our faith.

With that being said, Rob’s already placed a post on his blog seeking a response from yours truly on the Ten Commandments. Go read it here: An agnostic view on the Ten(Twelve) Commandments.  Once you’re done, feel free to indulge yourself on my probably overkill response:

Boy. I’m glad I don’t live in the Old Testament times.  When Moses came down from that Mountain with the Old Covenant it was full of all sorts of things that would have led to some harsh punishments for yours truly.  Disobeying my parents means I could be stoned or put to death? I’d have been dead by 13.  Sacrifies? That could get messy.

So let’s step back a minute. Before I get too involved with each individual commandment and look at the much bigger picture of the Christian faith: the abolishment of The Old Covenant (listed in Exodus), in favor the New Covenant (brought upon by God becoming man and coming to Earth).  Jesus, the sacrificial lamb, paid for the transgressions of all that were there with him, and all that will come before him.  With his coming, he abolished the old Covenant.  That’s not to say that the old laws aren’t important.   That’s where different denominations of Christianity clash – but it’s safe to say at least this : the Ten Commandments are most certainly a moral guideline that have tested the sands of time.

So let’s break it down.

Rob begins by stating that Christians didn’t invent the Ten Commandments. That’s true. God wrote them with his own finger on a tablet.  Is it possible that these laws were implied / studied by ancient religions prior to God putting them on a tablet? Sure. Why not? That doesn’t negate the fact that God listed them for the people.  You see, the thing that must be remembered is that God was perfectly aware that in order for his people to reach the Promised Land they must have order, that they would sin and would need a method of sacrifice, and that all groups of people need a rule book. Shoot, most of the laws we’ve inherited in America came from the British.

There’s different numbering schemes / groupings for the Ten Commandments, but I’ll go with Rob’s. You may find your’s differ. In the end, they all get the point across regardless of numerical interpretation.

1 – I am the Lord Your God
Self explanatory.  Establishes authority.

2 – You shall have no other God’s before me
Rob calls this commandment unnecessary.  Bear in mind, that prior to these commandments being delivered to Moses’s people they were creating false idols with the help of Aaron.  The truth of the matter is that God gave man free will.  That’s the entire reason this commandment exists.  Rob claims that a true king could stand up and say “I AM KING, tough cookies.”  But God is unique in that he’s not here to force upon us a relationship with him.  He may be the Alpha and Omega, he may be a jealous God, but he’s going to give you the upfront option to acknowledge him. It’s sweeter to be loved by choice than someone to be forced to love you. Later, the establishment of Christ and the Savior begins the pursuit.

3 – You shall not make for yourself an idol

Rob is truly  perplexed by this one.  He mentions the Cross as possibly being an idol, and the possible unfairness of God not allowing his people to chose something as a physical manifestation such as a statue of Jesus.  While I personally, and many Christians – look at the Cross as a reminder – we don’t worship the Cross. We worship who died (and then rose) on that Cross.  I personally have a problem with depcitions of Jesus on the Cross you often see in such religions as Catholicism.  While I think Passion Plays and the like can bring the story of Jesus front and center historically, ultimately it’s important to develop a Supernatural relationship. Additionally, physical statues of Jesus and “God” ultimately limit the scope of who God and what God really is.  God is everywhere.  Most Christians will tell you that once you enter a relationship with God, and gain the Holy Spirit – his presence is felt on a level that simply does not require a statue.  It’s much. much more powerful than that – a supernatural thing.  Another thing you’ll often hear preachers say is that idols can be anything that you put before God. Perhaps you worship your computer? Your car? Your checkbook? What’s keeping you from God?

4 – You shall not make wrongful use of the name of your God

Probably a bad idea to disrespect the supreme creator and ruler of the Universe.  Names and titles have meeting and reverence.  Even the staunchest Conservatives would address Obama as Mr. President.

5 – Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy

As Rob states, this is definitely one open for interpretation and truly less of a moral law.  While I believe God calls us to fellowship and worship, I’m not too caught up on the Calendar day or method for this.  There’s some crazy examples throughout history of people taking this way to literal. Again, you have to remember the audience of the time. These were recently freed from slavery, tired – weary, and unruly people.

6 – Honor your father and mother

Ohhhh a tough one for some!  The main premise here falls along the perspective that your parents and elders should be respected.  Keep in mind, I think God’s fully aware that some parents are horrible, abusive, and don’t deserve being called the name.  The important take away here is that God is the celestial example of how a Father should be on Earth.  The good news for those of us who parent is that Christ paid the price for our sins and ultimately has brought grace to those of us who will inevitably create emotional wounds on our children.  I think this is a good centerpiece to the idea that we should respect previous generations, regardless of faults and transgressions.

7 – You shall not murder

Again, enter in the old covenant vs new covenant debate.  In the New Testament it talks of there being a time to kill.  However – keep in mind that Christ was without sin.  And even in a time where Peter was about to raise his sword in defense of Christ, Christ probably saved the guard’s life and because Christ intervened, the guard  just ended up with an ear injury.  While most Christians to this day will tell you that taking a life to protect the innocent is noble and just, the truth remains that violence is often not the answer.

8 – You shall not commit adultery

To me this is a moral law. Here’s my take on this – I look at marriage as a gift from God.  When we enter in a relationship with someone else, we are pledging all of ourselves to this person – our body, our soul – everything.  Sex is something that the prudish Christians don’t want to admit is something God wanted us to enjoy.  However, I firmly believe that sex is something best shared with the mate we chose.  So here’s the kicker: I don’t believe sex is something just for procreation.  I don’t think God intended us to be breeders just to be breeders.  Sure, we are supposed to be fruitful and multiply – but I think God also gave us sex so we’d have fun and be able to give our spouse something special.  Once you take that away from your pledged mate and give it to someone else, it means less. Here’s a quick analogy – ask your wife if you can borrow her wedding ring so a woman at work can wear it for a while. See how she reacts.

9 – You shall not steal


10 – You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor

God is all knowing. It’s impossible to lie to God. He’d generally like all of us to have the same respect for each other we have for him and his power. Rob hit the nail on the head – it’s harder to tell a lie.  This commandement is a moral law, as in it’s just something we all should share.

11 – Here’s where the numbering get’s a little off, but basically We shouldn’t covet

The goal behind this commandment is more than just keeping us from stealing and protecting us from murder. God’s looking to create something that currently our society simply has forgotten how to do – be content with what we have.

A Very Quick Summary and Closing Thoughts:

I’ve written a lot on this subject, sandwiched with a introduction to this series of blog posts.  Future posts will most likely be much more brief: But I want to leave Rob and other’s with this thought: The Ten Commandments might be a set of moral laws that help define the history of the Christian faith and the Old Testament, and help pave the way for Church and the coming of Christ – but ultimately, there’s a reason many churches start with handing out the New Testament. It’s a New Covenant – a new beginning, an abolishment of the Old Covenant with Christ who allowed Christians to walk in the freedom away from the old laws, while still following the moral laws and gist of  what Rob pretty much refers to as (paraphrasing) “common school children sense.”

I’ll leave you with this: In Matthew, we are told of a religious leader (one of many reasons I can’t stand religion) challenging Christ on the laws (something I just spent a page or two summarizing) – In essence, Jesus starts to unwind the intricacies of the law and summarizing the real purpose of Christianity and our calling after his coming:

One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:35-40
New Living Translation (NLT)

– Grant


On Tebow

A disclaimer: Like anything else I say, the views on this blog are that of my own – and nobody else I am associated with. You may not agree with what I have to say, may agree to some of it, or may think I’m a total idiot.  That’s fine. Remember, writers write first for themselves. Also remember that I also believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It’s what makes this world a great place to live in – we all think differently.  Also, nothing of what I am about to say should be taken as a passive agressive attack on your own opinion, whether it has been silent or vocal – I value my friends and their cooresponding relationships, and would hope you’d look beyond my blog for a better understanding of who I am and what I believe.

So that being said;

Last night’s game was awesome.  Twitter and Facebook were on fire.  Tebow and crew pulled off an upset for the record books.  It was a fun game to watch. Then, once all the fanfare died down, the analysts – both armchair and professional came out to play.  They talked about his yardage (3:16 yards — go figure), the defense, the decision for the Steelers not to kick the possible (but improbable) game winning field goal.  All that was suspected.  But a more underlying question was being asked, sometimes out in the open (I saw several professional analysts elude to it), and sometimes in the deep recesses of social media.

Did God help Tebow win?

Before I try and answer that question from my perspective; let’s get one thing quickly out of the way.  Before this season, I honestly had not followed Tebow’s career that closely.  I vaugley recall his decision to appear in a commercial promoting Pro-Life.  I knew he won a Heisman.  I know he has a vehement fanclub, and a equal – if not larger, group of people who “don’t care for the guy.” But … I was not exactly a Denver Bronco’s or a Tebow fan.  I, for lack of a better term, jumped on the bandwagon.

Why? Maybe it had something to do with my team’s losing record sans a Quarterback.  Maybe it had something to do with the consistent 4th quarter heroics.  Look, when you’re not emotionally invested in the outcome of a game, watching 4th quarter heroics akin to that of Tim Tebow is if nothing else, widely entertaining.  When you love the game of Football like I do, you’ll watch certain players because people are talking. It’s just darn interesting. I started to read more about the guy, his accomplishments, his beliefs – his past – and I was intrigued. So, It’s the hype that brought me to cheer for Tebow last night. Yeah? What of it?  There’s nothing wrong with jumping into the hype.  Hype surrounds most things in our culture – such as “Hey, these iPod things are neat,” to “that movie is a must see!,” to the release of a catchy song.  Hype creates avenues for creativity and acknowledgement.  You don’t have to join in, but you can’t deny it’s there.

So snapping back to my original question :  Did God help Tebow win?

I’ve read several blog posts today and several social media links that God has nothing to do with football, and while Tebow may be this great guy; God and football are to very seperate things. I want to address the whole Tebow “madness,” with some of my own points, three to be exact.

1) God doesn’t have to prioritize.

One argument people often make that God “doesn’t care about the meaningless stuff like football,” is that God has other, more pressing matters.  However, if you buy into the idea that God is omnipresent, and all knowing, then you can then conclude that God has time and resources to devote to anything he deems worthy of devoting his time to.  God works in mysterious ways.  God’s whole goal – even with the sending of his son, was to bring people closer in a relationship with him – to know of him and know him.  He operates the universe’s most succesful marketing department. Tebow could very well be a catalyst.  If anything, he’s got the press talking. Perhaps Tebow’s success has opened up the door for others to experience the love of God and friendship, that if Tebow wasn’t successful – wouldn’t be an actual opportunity.   That also does not mean God doesn’t have other goals.  Throughout history, we’ve all been given this image of God as this righteous judger and accuser – always saying “No.” But the truth is far different. God wants his children to be happy, successful, engaged.  As parents, we want the best for our children.  If we could offer them tips and strategy to be better at what they love within the barriers of fair play, would we? Of course. Think about it.

2) Free will still exists, and can exist, even within miracles.

Do I think God threw the game Tebow’s direction? No.  Do I think God made available for Tebow the opportunities to be successful on the field? Sure, why not? The fact of the matter is God gave all of us free will.  Because of that, I believe God isn’t out their manipulating reality to fit that of his followers (in other words, I doubt anytime soon you’ll see Tebow fly through the air with a Halo, landing in the endzone in an angelic last second touchdown) – but I do believe that when we surrender to the will of God, we’re given opportunities and wisdom that we may have otherwise not uncovered ourselves. Look, that’s not to say that other Quarterbacks who follow other religions don’t have talent and direction.  I’m also not implying that if you are a Christian, and a football player – that you’re going to be better than your linebacker friend who’s an Atheist.  What I AM saying, is that it’s a very dangerous place when we put God in a box and say “God would not intervene there!”  Really? Just how would you know?

3) Tebow’s “Tebowing” is just Tebow being Tebow.

A lot of press has been given to Tebow’s victory prayer.  Athletes for as long as I can remember have thanked God for wins and victories to the press after games.  What of it?  The Bible talks about rejoicing in God always, about being able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me, about doing all things without complaining and with Thanksgiving.  It talks about a man’s hard work being noble.  When I have large accomplishments at work, I always try and go back and thank God for the opportunity and the talent he gave me.  Do I think God helped me achieve the compliance I worked on for a whole year? Vicariously, yes.  Because If it was not for God, I wouldn’t have the talents I have.  I wouldn’t be who I am.  Much has been said about the public display that Tebow makes of it – that these things “shouldn’t be on the field.”   I honestly would not care if a Muslim thanked Allah for a win on national television, or if a runner after winning a race held up her cat, thanking it for inspiration.  Our culture, for whatever reason, is historically terrified of letting someone acknowledge God publicly.   Just because Tebow kneels for a quick prayer after a play doesn’t mean that tomorrow the Ten Commandments are going to be posted at every stadium and we’re all going to be forced to recite the Apostles Creed at the bottom of the Ninth.  Relax. It’s just his thing. I say let him have it.

Tim Tebow mania will probably die down once he loses a game ,just like the latest news story will become old news when something interesting happens. It’s hype.  It’s a good article to read.  It’s part of our culture and our pop history.  All in all, wether you agree with everything or not, it’s also a little fun. It got people thinking. It’s sparked debate and it’s made for some great moments in football.

And afterall, great moments in football make everyone – except possibly the Steelers fan, happy.

– Grant

On What Pizza Hut Will Teach You About Life

I have a reputation for being sappy – but one of the greatest joys of writing is that it creates for just about anyone who will embrace it a timeline of retrospective viewpoints on your life.  This becomes even more obvious if you are willing to honestly write about yourself, especially on a public forum such as a blog.  Seemingly uninteresting events take on a grander meaning than we can readily establish when they are happening. We only need the forum and motivation to analyze them to come up with their purpose. Given that I’ve taken the first leap of creating the forum, it’s only natural to publish my thoughts honestly.  If anything, if nobody reads it, I’m left with a great diary to look back on one day.  That alone brings solace to the craft.

Tonight, I realized that for the past couple years of my life – scratch that – for the majority of my adult life, I’ve been concerned about “tomorrow.”  Many people say you should live in the moment – enjoy the day, because you may not have another – but I honestly can’t really give many examples of people I know that actually follow that sentiment.  In fact, I’d say it’s rare enough my interactions with people living in the moment is limited to single digits.

No fault to us, however. We’re trained at a young age to understand that when we grow up, we’ll be able to do things we can’t do now. Stay up later.  Drive a car. Get a job. Move out. Once we have those things, we start thinking about what we can do to better our situation.  Bettering anything, it seems, takes time. Bettering our finances. Bettering our car. Bettering our job.  Bettering our lives. It’s almost as if we regress to the point where the very crux of our nature is to figure out what comes next.

I think I’ve been missing the point, and I didn’t realize this until last night.  On a whim, I came home from work in a fairly decent mood. It wasn’t a great day – but it wasn’t necessarily a bad one either.  I scooped my kids up, cancelled the dinner my wife was starting to prepare, and after a brief car ride scoping out locations we ended up at the neighborhood sit-down Pizza Hut. Not exactly fine dining, but with 3 children, it may as well be the downtown Michelin Star Restaurant of the Year.

The entire meal for our humble family of 5 probably costs about 45 dollars.  We had the entire place seemingly to ourselves.  The service was grand. The company was even better.  I talked with the wife.  I ate pizza and acted silly with the kids.  Then, about halfway through the dinner (bear with me here, it might get cheesey – ha! Pun intended), time sort of slowed down. I realized at that moment looking across the table at my 7 year old daughter, pizza sauce all over her face, that she was indeed a great kid.  I laughed at my 2 year old as he attempted to eat Jello with a fork.  I grinned at my 3 year old as he smashed goldfish into smithereens on his plate, and I admired the fact God gave me the wife he did, that I don’t deserve, and given a lifetime of “working up to it” I never will.

The whole moment of retrospective lasted probably 15 seconds, but in that moment I had the opportunity to just shutdown for a moment before snapping back to reality and realizing that if I died that night in my sleep my life would have enough meaning for 50 more lifetimes.  At that moment, the next house, the next promotion, the next bill to be paid – the next rock to overturn simply didn’t matter.

What mattered was Pizza Hut.

Maybe, friends – that’s really all that does matter.

I’d like to think so.

– Grant

On Fear

Ever since I was a kid I’ve been afraid of the dark.  Notice something there. I said “ever since.”  In other words, at the risk of losing my man card via this blog post, I’m admitting I’m still afraid of the dark.

Actually, there are two things that terrify me. Electricity, and the dark.  Electricity terrifies me for a pretty good reason – as a toddler, about 3 or 4, I managed to grab a hold of a faulty electrical transformer that we used when we lived overseas to convert power for our American devices.  The device should have shut off, but it didn’t, and what occurred afterward was rather terrifying. Some people say when bad events happen it can appear as a “blur” or be remembered as such. Not me. Even though I was a young toddler, I can still close my eyes to this day and remember starring down at my hand as my skin melted off my bone from the electrical charge. I remember my brother reacting quickly, in essence probably saving my life.  Surgeries and skin grafts later, I still have pain in one of my fingers from the graft occasionally, and I can’t write very long with a pencil or pen without arthritis-like pain. Most people actually notice my deformed index finger on my right hand before they do the graft itself. Thank God for small miracles like keyboards.

Anyways, If you took that above paragraph to any psychologist, they’d probably say it was pretty normal for me to have deep rooted fear of electricity.   Giving that I work in IT, it’s often hard for me to avoid it, but I do when I can.  I literally start shaking when I have to manipulate 208V power in the Datacenter – it’s just not something I like to do.

But getting back to my first confession – the dark?  I don’t really have a good story for that one.  As I have gotten older, it’s sort of morphed into an uneasiness more than outright terror.  As a child, I couldn’t stand being in a completely dark room.  My mind would immediately start wandering, and images would pop up in my head.  I’d feel the darkness, in a way I guess, more than just “see” it.  I often wondered as a kid if I was being haunted.  Looking back, it might all seem a little silly, but maybe not.  I’m a firm believer in Ghosts, but that’s a topic for another post, I think.

I’m still the most comfortable today with a small light in my bedroom.  I never like it to be completely pitch black.  In the middle of the night, I often walk at a very fast pace to turn on a light when I walk across our dark house.  Doing it, I always feel silly and embarrassed, even though I know nobody is watching. But I don’t care, I just don’t like it.  I’ve shared this with others on a far-less public medium, and they all say that if I wanted to, I’d probably be able to get to the root of my fear.

So here’s the real kicker – I don’t want to know why I’m scared of the dark.  Not one bit.  The mysteriousness of a grown man being afraid of the dark has opened up a level of inspiration to a whole new avenue.  As I write this, I’m working on compiling years of work and brainstorming of what will probably be my first attempt at a novel.  It might fail horribly and never see the light of day with any publisher – but truth be told – this blog included, I don’t write particularly for anyone else but myself.  Any writer who is honest will tell you that writing is mostly a self-serving art, even if enjoyed by others.

As I write my story, my main protagonist is terrified of the dark, but not for the reason you would ultimately expect.  As I’ve been writing it, I’ve been discovering things about myself I didn’t even know.  Reliving memories long, long forgotten.  That’s the beauty of being a writer, especially an formally untrained one… You learn inspiration in the weirdest places.  I’m sure if I had a degree in Creative Writing, some class would have me writing about my fears as a source of inspiration on page 52 of “Sharping Your Writing Skills Workbook.”

I guess I just did just that.

So what are you afraid of? Tell me, I’m curious. Maybe I’ll find inspiration in it.

For me? Lights on tonight, dear readers..

– Grant