Why? (Or things that a 4 year-old is teaching me about my relationship to God)

whyMy wife and I recently welcomed a 4 year old foster child into our home. It’s been an adjustment for all of us, but the biggest thing we’ve had to get used to is the questions.  The constant questions.  Of why?

Why?

Why?

Why?

Everything is why? Why this, why that, why is it raining, why isn’t it raining, why?

So the other day, in the middle of a why chain, my wife looks at me and says, “Do you think we sound this way to God?”

And you know what? I think she’s right. Far too often I find myself asking God why.  And I think it is a legitimate question, but I think that sometimes I sound like a four year-old to God. Why? Why didn’t I get that job? Why did my friend get cancer? Why do I have to do this? Why can’t I do that? And then my questioning of God becomes something more than just questioning, it becomes idolatry.

Idolatry?

When I’m questioning God about everything, mostly I think it’s because I think I know better than God, and when that’s the case, I’m telling Him that I should be god and not Him, and that’s idolatry. So questions of why are fine, but they should be firmly grounded in a view of God’s sovereignty and trust in His goodness.  The road may not always be easy and I likely won’t always understand, but this I do know, I can trust God with my life.  He’ll never fail me, even when I don’t understand.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

– Isaiah 55:8-9

Things I think I think on a Wednesday

Here are some things that I think I think…

1. I think that seeing The Lone Bellow play a show here in Birmingham a couple of weeks ago was incredibly awesome.  It had been way too long since I’d see Zach Williams play live in person and I have been lacking because of it.  You know it is a good show when you go home and listen to the band’s music for the next week.  If The Lone Bellow are playing anywhere near you you owe it to yourself to go see them.  The live experience of wonderful people making amazing music and leaving it all on the stage is not to be missed.

2. I think that speaking of music, I can’t stop listening to the following bands: the aforementioned Lone Bellow, Lord Huron, and the Alabama Shakes.  If you aren’t familiar with any or all of these guys you need to check them out.

3. I think that I’ve ventured into some new and unknown territory.  Yes, I broke down and joined Twitter.  You can follow me at @samfielder22 but I can’t really promise anything remotely interesting or entertaining.  I’m trying to think of things that I can live tweet that might be funny, like standing in line at airport security, riding the rental car shuttle, or conference calls.  But I suspect those things might A) get me on the TSA no-fly list, B) be too short and uneventful, or C) get me fired, so I’ll keep on working on my ideas.  If you can think of things you want me to live tweet, hit me and let me know.

4. I think that this was the WORST pollen season EVER.  My long-suffering wife disagrees and tells me that I say this every year (I don’t) and has seen/read an article about exaggeration where pollen/allergy season was used as the example, but I still stand by my assertion and I promise that next year I will NOT say the same thing.  (Unless it actually IS the worst season ever, even worse than this season, then I will gladly bestow the title to 2014).

5. I think I was right when I was worried that winter was going to slide right into summer with little to no spring.  It was nice for about a week here in Alabama and now it is muggy and hot.  I want my spring back.

6. I think that having 3 dogs is great.  When we only had 2 the thought of 3 was ridiculous and insane, but now that we have 3 I can’t imagine not having all of them.

7. I think that putting seeds into soil, watering them, and then watching them grow is one of the coolest things ever.  If our garden manages to produce about half of what we planted we’ll be having you over for plenty of veggies…

I think that is about all for now, but thanks for reading.

Love and sweatpants.

Thinking on a Rainy Thursday

It’s rainy outside, the wife is out, and the dogs are asleep on the floor in the office.  I’m finally home after a long trip away and it is so nice to be here.  So here’s some thoughts I have right now, expressed in my former style of 5 Things I Think I Think (check out some former The Week That Was posts if you don’t understand).

1. I think that my time last week with friends from different walks of life taught me two things: First, that you really do have some friends that you will never ever not be friends with no matter how long between visits you go or how different your lives become.  Some people are just friends for life and that’s it.  Second, time with those types of friends, that do live so far away, kinda make me ache for that type of friendship locally.

2. I think that I really, really needed to read the following last night “We need to learn from Abraham’s example and trust in the gospel promises even when we cannot understand what God is doing in out lives.”  And then this morning on the plane “This is the God we serve, the God who knew us before He made us.  The God who promises to be with us and rescue us.  The God who loves us and longs for us to love him back.”  Thank you Vaughn Roberts and Francis Chan for penning those words.

3. I think that as I sit here listening to the rain pound on my roof, the thunder rumble outside, and Joe Purdy singing and playing the guitar on my iTunes, I’m struck by how incredible it is that God actually created all of these things, so different and strange, and yet all under His command.

4. I think that Clam Chowder is the best soup ever.  I ate 2 bowls for dinner tonight and they were both so delicious.  I can’t explain it to you, but know that if you buy me some Clam Chowder you’ll be my hero (it doesn’t take much).

5. I think that I have to have married the most incredible woman on the planet.  She put up with me being gone for a week while both of our dogs were sick and depositing all manner of bodily fluids all over our carpet.  And while she was frustrated, she still kept cleaning everything up, finding new remedies for them to try to feel better, and still loving on both of them.  Pretty sure I owe her pretty big.

The Week That Was

TWTW3And here is logo #3 for The Week That Was.  Let me know if you are partial to a particular one and I’ll note your preference.

Music That I Am Listening To and Enjoying – You knew Wilco would head the list.  Their new album comes out tomorrow and it is currently streaming on NPR.com and it is fantastic.  I’ll do a fuller review later this week, time permitting.  But I’ve also been listening to Son Volt, Pete Yorn, Wheat, and Sunny Day Real Estate (who announced a reunion tour…awesome!).

Customer Service Moment of the Week – In lieu of me providing customer service this week, I’ll share one where I was the customer.  We were out to eat for Kristen’s birthday dinner and our waiter shared all of the following: He was in a mid-life crisis, was divorced, retained custody of his daughter, was in law school due to a career shift, wanted to be a politician, and did not have a great relationship with his ex-wife.  And that was all unsolicited information…a little more than I expected.

Sports Moment of the Week – Federer, Murray, and Roddick are all still rolling at Wimbledon, but U.S. Soccer easily garners the top spot here.  After advancing in the Confederations Cup (A World Cup tune-up for next year), they defeated Spain, the number one team in the world, who was riding a 35 game unbeaten streak.  The U.S. then took a 2 goal lead into halftime of the final before giving up 3 goals to Brazil.  But if the boys keep playing this way, the future is bright for U.S. Soccer at next summer’s World Cup.

Books and Movies of the Week – Nothing new to report here.  But I am headed on vacation this week, so I’ll definitely have some book news, and I might even catch a movie too.

Video of the Week – In memory of Michael Jackson, I give you one of the funniest scenes ever in any movie, along with one of the greatest songs ever.

Bonus Video of the Week – Michael Llodra has no brakes.  With disastrous results.

5 Things I Think I Think

1. I think that last week I thought getting sick was a terrible idea.  It still is, but the visit to the E.R. this week was a worse idea.  I’d like for the the slope to head upwards this week, thank you very much.

2. I think that I am ready for a week off and out of town.  Kristen and I are heading to Florida tomorrow to do the parent tour.  We’ll spend a few days with both sets and then head home.   I’m hoping for relaxing, fun, interesting, and uneventful.  I’ll tell you all about it next week in this here spot…

3. I think that the kitchen project is rolling and it is both more work and more overwhelming than I thought…Kristen has totally been a trooper, picking up my slack and providing much needed organization and motivation to the cause.  Most of the demolition (including my head) and removal is done now and some painting has been started.  Walls are starting today and then things really start rolling.  I’ll try and post some pics next week.

4. I think that there is nothing better for cooling off on a hot summer day than Pop-Ice.  You know, those radioactive looking clear plastic tubes of liquid that you freeze and then cut the top off and slurp down like you are 8?  I love those.  And I’ve been eating them 3 at a time all summer.  Perfect for a sugar rush while cooling off.  Good clean fun for the whole family!

5. I think that it was a bad week to be a celebrity.  Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and Billy Mays all passed away.  Incredibly sad for all of their families and reminder for all of us that we live in a broken world that has no answer for death and dying.  We can try to postpone it as long as we can, but really, only Jesus has come back form the grave and only He offers eternal life.

Thanks for reading this week and I’ll be back next week, hopefully relaxed and tan.

Love and Sweatpants.

On Smashing My Face…

100105936_2d41c887f4First things first.  Incredibly sad about Michael Jackson.  Now I did not know him, but his influence and popularity is undeniable, as was his talent.  I was born a few years too late to really appreciate the scope of his popularity, but his music stands the test of time and if you tell me that your iTunes is not playing some MJ right now, I’d say you are lying.  But on to why we are here.

As you may recall, I last left you the loyal reader (all 4 of you…if you are keeping track, my readership is increasing…from 2 to 3 to 4…leaps and bounds people) in my Week That Was telling you that I was headed to do some kitchen demolition.  Which was true, but I did not realize I would also attempt to demolish my head too.  The plan was to take down the crown molding in the kitchen and then remove the drop ceiling.

Notice all the dangerous elements - Light, wood, ceiling tile, metal frame.

Notice all the dangerous elements - Light, wood, ceiling tile, metal frame.

Instead, I pulled a piece of crown molding off and dropped the ceiling on my head. I was making good progress and doing well in removing the crown molding but then I encountered a stubborn piece.  After much prying and pulling, I used the time-honored method of pulling much, much harder on the piece, which then resulted in me not only pulling down the crown molding, but also the ceiling tiles, the metal frame that was barely holding things in place, and also the large florescent light that weighs roughly 30 or so pounds and contains dangerous elements like metal, glass, electricity and the like.

I jumped back after having been hit in the face with something (the crown molding I think) and immediately did the blood check (you know, the one where you touch the hurting area to make sure it is not gushing blood using either your shirt or finger…).  It came up positive for blood so I ran upstairs, grabbed some toilet paper (vital to every first-aid kit) to apply pressure and prevent full-scale carpet destruction and called my roommate.

Guaranteed to cause damage to your head.

Guaranteed to cause damage to your head.

The call went something like this –

Me: You have to come home!

Him: Wha-

Me (interrupting): I cut myself and I’m bleeding.

Him: I’ll be there in a second.

Seriously.  That was the entire conversation.  We decided that a trip to the E.R. was probably in order, so we departed quickly.  At the E.R. we were greeting warmly and fairly quickly (by E.R. standards) ushered into a room where the doctor looked at my wound and decided that yes, it did need to be closed, but not with stitches but instead superglue called Dermabond.

Now I am not the greatest patient in the world as my roommate Jacob and I kept cracking jokes to the doctor about my wound and the like while he was working on it.  And he was either having the worst day ever or was the least funny person on the planet because he hardly ever cracked a smile.  Jokes about eye patches, disfigurement, street cred, tools, and the like flew thick and fast and they all flopped.  At least to him.  Jacob and I thought it funny.

So we left there relatively unscathed and I am now working on a pretty sweet black eye and gnarly looking scab.  I’d post a picture of it but you’ve probably eaten in the last 24 hours and I do not want to disturb you unnecessarily.  But rest assured, it is awesome!

The rest of the ceiling and frame and lights were removed last night without incident and the kitchen project moves on.  Just a little more gingerly…

The Week That Was

TWTW2Ok, here is logo number two for The Week That Was.  I know you were dying to see it. But now that I’ve had some sleep and some coffee after an extraordinarily long day yesterday, I’ll tell you about my week last week.

Music That I Am Listening To and Enjoying – Wilco and Augustana were my two main staples last week.  Wilco’s new album comes out a week from today and you know that I am very excited about that.  Other than that, I’ve been pretty boring on the music front.  I’ll work on stepping it up a little this week.

Customer Service Moment of the Week – In one night we had 3 people walk through the drive-thru.  Not only is this annoying, it is also dangerous, both for them and us.  Yet when we tell them so, they get annoyed and mad at us.  Look, I’ve seen how little people pay attention to the CARS that are in the drive-thru.  What makes you think someone will see a person standing there?  Just trust me and drive your car through the drive-thru.

Sports Moment of the Week – Wimbledon kicked off yesterday and that makes for a great fortnight.  But the highlight of the week was easily accomplished on Sunday afternoon but the U.S. Soccer team when they beat Egypt 3-0 at the same time that Brazil stomped Italy 3-0.  This is significant in that it allowed the U.S. to advance to the semifinals of the tournament, when they had no business doing so.  And it showed some signs of life from the U.S. side, something that could not really be said for their previous two efforts.  Spain is up next tomorrow and here’s hoping for a positive result.

Books and Movies of the Week – Finally finished off both David Livingstone and Paul Shirley (well, their books, not them.  Africa took care of Livingstone and Shirley is still alive and kicking) I also read Henri Nouwen’s short tome In the Name of Jesus, which was a quick and fantastic read.  I also started a book called The Survivor’s Club, which is a fascinating study of people who survive things (you think?) and why they do and why they don’t.  Pretty interesting for sure.  And the only movie I caught was the last half of Wedding Crashers, which simply served to remind me how hilarious Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn are.  Classic.

Video of the Week – Yeah, I think I’ll take the stairs.

5 Things I Think I Think

1. I think that getting sick in the summer is a terrible idea.  I barely survived last week with congestion, a cough, fever, and general ill feeling.  Also, the regimen of Nyquil, dayquil, Sudafed, Tylenol and Advil make you loopy.  Just ask anyone that interacted with me last week.  I was totally out of it.  But I survived and am feeling much better this week.

2. I think that due to my sickness, I did not do much of anything that I wanted to which included: blogging, cooking for the Single Man Cooking feature, working on the kitchen, cleaning the house, and various other errands and things.  I hope to catch up this week.

3. I think that I have no idea who Jon and Kate are and I’ve never watched their show, but I think that it is sad that they’ve allowed their personal life to play out in the media.  My friend Leslie Ann has a great take on it here. It’s one thing to put yourself though something, but your kids?  What did they do to deserve this?

4. I think that I read one of the most unbelieveable things I’ve ever read yesterday.  Roy Williams, an NFL wide receiever and former star from the University of Texas has never been on a weight lifting program in his life.  Read about it here and see that I’ve shamelessly ripped off Peter King, but seriously, never?  Ever?  Unreal.

5. I think that it has been hotter than I can ever remember.  Maybe my memory is faulty or I’m just getting old, but a week straight of heat indices (is that right?  Plural of index?) over 105 is just out of control.  It’s only June people.  July and August will be miserable if this keeps up.  Mark it down.  I might just start sleeping in the pool.

Ok, that’s all I’ve got and I need to go start some demolition work on my kitchen.  Stay cool (literally.  It is really hot) and enjoy your friends and family.  They are truly valuable.

Love and Sweatpants.

Things I’m Looking Forward to this Summer

I should be studying for my last final, but this is way more fun. I’m looking forward to this summer more than any in recent memory, so I figured that I’d tell you why…in list form of course. So here it is.
1. No School – Obvious, but this has been my least favorite academic semester in grad school. My classes were all important but all fell short of capturing my imagination. So I’m definitely read for the break.
2. Redoing My Kitchen – Ever since I moved into my house I’ve wanted to redo my kitchen. It’s not that it is bad, it is just that it is not great. And a little outdated. So, with some help I’m planning a complete overhaul of everything. I’ll definitely post updates as things get done, along with pictures.
3. My Internship – Ok, so I lied about no school. But no classroom school. I’ll be doing my final internship for school at Tapestry of Hope, helping out with ministry and getting things checked off my list…I think that it will be a lot of fun.
4. Sun and Swim Time – In between jobs and the like, I hope to get some time both in and beside the pool. I swam last summer and tanned the summer before, so I’m hoping to combine my efforts this summer and get toned and tanned. And reading by the pool simply cannot be topped.
5. California – Kristen and I have planned a trip out west to my homeland near the end of the summer. It has been 7 years since I’ve been there and I plan to see San Francisco as a grown up, take in some baseball games, and visit with some friends and family. And just have an all-around good old fashioned vacation too.
6. Florida – A plan is afoot to visit FL at some point. No definites yet, but for the first time in 3 years I miss the beach. So Kristen and I will head down to our parents places (both conspicuously close to the beach) and spend some time there.
7. Music – If you know me at all you know I love music and this summer there are a few new albums coming out (Wilco, DMB anyone?) and I hope to catch a few shows here in Birmingham as well.

So that is pretty much it for the summer excitement for me. It all starts Thursday about 3pm, which cannot come fast enough!