Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Seven Things I Love about My Daughter

My eldest daughter Claire turned seven on Sunday. Becoming a father changed my life. As often as a groan about toilet paper waste and heaps of clothes on the floor, I would not trade being Claire's father for the world.

(Same with Margot, but this one's dedicated to Claire because of her birthday. I can hear the younger asking, "Did you write about me, Daddy?" And when I reply, "No," the outcry "That's not fair" would soon follow. You'll get yours when you turn six, My Dear.)

As a tribute to Claire's seventh birthday, I wanted to list seven things I love about my daughter. In no particular order...
Claire gets stylish.
  1. She learned to dress herself. There was a time when getting clothes on this child resulted in tantrums and fits suggesting mild abuse. I feared she might be stuck in flannel pajamas her whole life. Of course, the downfall of a child fond of clothing is the pricey affection for brand names.
  2. She shows bursts of independence. Whenever Claire finds me doing a task she believes she could complete, she demands an chance to help. Whether I'm holding a spatula or a circular saw, Claire thinks she can manage on her own. To date she has not lost a finger.
  3. She is just like her father. Claire does not only disbelief this notion, she rejects it. Unfortunately, her cleverness, calculated boisterousness, inability to hold a tune/remember a lyric, and penchant for narrative all reflect her father. Quite honestly, he's not a bad man to emulate. I just hope she doesn't grow into my eyebrows.
  4. She is kind. Teachers say it. Her friends say it. The cashier on aisle ten at Walmart says it. Claire shows a kindness common in quieter children, but uncommon in its constancy and selflessness.
  5. She poses good questions. Her queries reflect an understanding of God and maturing faith. She watches people and seeks to uncover their meaning. She shows an ability to read between lines and look beneath surfaces. She found her Christmas presents under our bed.
  6. She is creative. She makes up songs and stories. At times her vocabulary surprise me. While her mother and I struggle to enter Margot's Barbie marathons, Claire is at home when playing with her sister. I often pray the creative spirit will remain alive in our children as it reflects the heart of their Creator.
  7. Claire at a potty box.
  8. She is adventurous. Claire would ride a dinosaur or climb a mountain. She braves "potty boxes" and rides ahead of us on her bicycle. I expect her to board a plane some day and cross the ocean. I wouldn't be shocked if she chose to live where she landed. However, just last week she mentioned having her eye on the house across our alley. I'm okay with that scenario, too.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Why I Won't Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

I searched Walmart yesterday morning for Twinkies. After hearing the report that Hostess, the preservative-laden, snack cake maker would cease operations, I figured it was time to revisit my childhood indulgence. Walmart had none to offer. Simultaneously, sales on E-Bay spiked. 
For some people, the limited good of Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, and other Hostess factory favorites spelled profit. For me, the death of Twinkies spells disaster.

While I've done very little planning for the Zombie Apocalypse, three items on my list are batteries, bottled water, and Twinkies. I can think of no other food better suited for a global pandemic. Rumor has it a box of Twinkies can last decades. If not twenty years, it could nurture a remnant of survivors as they battled Zombies and rebuilt America (or whatever country has the supply) for at least five.

But I cannot afford $25.00 a box. Black Friday deals concern me more than alien invasions or undead uprisings.

And if I'm truly honest, I'm not sure I buy all the hype of surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. The Darwinian instinct is not so strong in me. In fact, I work from a different lens altogether. If Survival of the Fittest demands stockpiling sponge cake and AAA batteries, I'm going to assume I'm created for a different end. Alkaline and corn syrup aren't the recipe for a meaningful life.

No: I'll stick to the biblical version. Glorified bodies sound more promising than undead armies. Golden streets look better than golden cakes. Of course, the new earth will not skimp on the creme filling.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I'm a Pretty Big Deal

I spent Monday and Tuesday in meetings with guys who lead churches that could swallow mine in one gulp. They can also grow facial hair and request iPads with their administrative budget. They are visionaries, practitioners, and godly role models whose combined service in the Grace Brethren Fellowship adds up to half of a millennium. (Tom Julien tipped them over the landmark.) It is no surprise that such men do not want to see anything short of revival in our family of churches.

My contribution to the meeting was minimal. I ate my share of chocolate cake and visited the Men's Restroom more often than others. Two or three times I piped up to ask a question or provide clarification. Mostly, I listened and learned from giants.

Below is a list of takeaways. (To those who were hoping to gather information on the topics of discussion, I can only say "Sorry." What's said in the Hilton, stays in the Hilton.)

  • Christians are not supposed to set Hairy goals, but Holy ones (the 'H' in Collins' BHAG has been Christianized).
  • Either men have become better at multitasking, or they find their mobile devices more engaging than group discussion.
  • There is a Farming Model of Evangelism, which is dirtier than Friendship Evangelism.
  • Movemental is a word (even though Blogger and Microsoft Word don't acknowledge it. Nor will I add it to my dictionary). However, if you type it into YouTube, you might watch some wicked Parkour videos.
  • Spontaneous prayer movements require detailed planning and good teleconference services.
  • "Irish pubs are good places to do evangelism," says an unnamed member of our meeting. They're also a good place to buy beer.
  • Church is hard to define.
  • Canadians like to box.
  • I'm a pretty big deal.
The last takeaway became my summary response to the question I was asked several times: "Why did you go to Ohio for meetings."

"Because I'm a pretty big deal."

Humor aside: There is work to do. Our Fellowship of Churches needs us. Great and small alike.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Father Makes Urgent Plea: No More Pets!

We put our fifth fish to rest the other day. Two days after its friend passed into the watery afterlife, Jeremy Goldfish turned belly up. Cause of death was not determined: it may have been grief or too many political ads. Perhaps, for fish, death is contagious. Or, more likely, my wife and I might be culpable because we rarely cleaned the tank. (Full disclosure: Three days passed before we removed the first floating carcass.)

Of the five goldfish that have lived in our home as temporary residents (and decoration), Liz and I have purchased only one. We did so to justify our decision to keep the fish tank her younger sister bought her years ago. Every time we've moved, we taken the ten dollar tank with us, hoping some day to grace it with an aquatic pet. One fateful day Liz pulled the tank from the basement and declared, "I'm going to buy a fish." She did; it stayed alive for two days.

The second fish came as a prize at a church fall festival. Margot won it for landing a ping pong ball in a bucket. The Methodists on Main Street apparently misunderstood Jesus' metaphor of fishing for men. That fish died within weeks.

A friend gave Claire our third goldfish for a birthday present. A Barbie doll must have been too predictable. Birthday Fish survived nearly a year, but also made its way down the pipes.

The final two entered our family toward the end of summer. They were party favors from my neice's sixth birthday. Dollar Tree was having a special on Fish Bowls ($1.00 a piece, if you can believe it), and goldfish go for a dime. It costs more to feed and flush them than it does to purchase a dozen.

The good news is that the fish are gone. We've rid ourselves of the tank, too. Unfortunately, our inventory of pets remains high:
  • One hermit crab that stinks like shrimp and does nothing
  • One Tuxedo cat with a mangy coat and recurring seizures
  • One Golden Doodle (say that and try to feel manly) who jumps fences and eats anything not made of cloth or metal
We bought the dog. The rest arrived on our porch unsolicited.

This blog entry is an attempt to limit future pet purchases for the Sprankle Familly. Self-control and monthly budgets are difficult enough on their own. We don't need any more pets. We don't want a pony or a kitten or a Gila Monster or a ferret or a bunny or a chinchilla or a parrot or a baby panda.


I'm not joking.


I'm begging you.

For the love of all that's good.

No more pets as presents and prizes!

(A gift card and block of cheese would be nice.)