In response to the 2020 US Election: The Word of the Lord

Wednesday morning around 4:30 am, I began to pray. I think Biden was technically ahead in the popular vote at the time, but over 65 million people had cast votes for Trump. One comment on Reddit summed up my feelings perfectly: my heart is broken.

Donald Trump is demonstrably evil. He created a policy to separate children from their parents and put them into concentration camps. He undermined our education system. His actions contributed to the death of over 230,000 Americans and counting. It seems likely that he has raped multiple women and gotten away with it. He has denigrated our military, our veterans, our teachers, our healthcare workers, the fourth estate, and pretty much everyone but himself. He abandoned our allies in the Middle East and left them to be slaughtered. He has demonstrated a level of sexism and racism that has made us numb to it. He ordered a physical attack on a church for a photo op. He encourages and aligns with white supremacists. He is a fascist who has sided with evil leaders in other countries while spurning both our allies and US intelligence agencies.

And as of this writing, we know that over 70 million Americans voted for him.

Heartbroken and confused, I began to pray. God, I asked, why is this happening? Is the USA under the sway of a fallen angel, one of those powers and principalities against which we must pray? Have you ordained the fall of the USA? Or is this just human sin and evil made manifest? The stories in the Old Testament give us lots of examples of what happens to a nation that has a sinful leader who is not following God. The wages of sin is death.

I prayed and I listened for God’s still, small voice. And what I heard was:

Seek first the kingdom of God. I, the Lord your God, will provide for and watch over you. Serve the Lord by leading your family and serving them. Serve the Lord by serving in your community and helping people. Take up your cross daily and remain faithful.

It doesn’t matter who wins, God says. Whether it’s Trump or Biden, you must serve me, and serve your family, and serve your neighbors. Whether it’s Trump or Biden, remain in me and I will be faithful to you.

There is work for me to do no matter who is president. Biden getting elected doesn’t absolve me of my responsibilities. I don’t get to stop advocating for good and leave it to the Democrats. It doesn’t make my work easier or my yoke lighter. Only the Lord can do that.

I am glad that Biden won the election, but this has given me a new perspective. I’m probably going to follow politics and news and other things a bit less. I’ll continue donating money to causes and organizations I believe in, and voting for good and against evil, but I need to spend less energy thinking and worrying about national and international politics.

I need to spend more time in the Word, more time praying for our leaders, and more time learning from God how I can best serve my family and my community.

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:36-40

Focus and visualization

I learned something interesting about myself in vision therapy this week.

I haven’t written about vision therapy here, so for those of you who don’t know, my left eye is intermittent exotropic. That means that sometimes, but not all the time, it drifts to the outside. And when this happens, my left eye turns off–I don’t see anything from it. This isn’t a problem with my eye, but with my brain. My brain is stopping using my eye, so it turns off and drifts, and this impacts my binocular vision, often without me realizing it. I don’t know that it’s turned off and I’m just seeing from my right eye. When my left eye is partially working, I have double vision.

I have been in therapy for it now for around 14 weeks, with another 20 weeks or so to go hopefully. One thing I learned a couple of months ago is that I don’t trust my vision as much as my other senses. Because I have had this problem since I was a kid, I have learned to compensate for it. Hearing and touch are my two primary means of compensating, and that’s evident in a few different ways. For example, I learned to play violin more by listening than by reading music, and I learned to touch-type rather than ever looking at the keyboard.

But this week taught me something new. We did an exercise where there were two pieces of paper, one on the wall and a smaller duplicate in my hands. The paper had coordinates around the edge using letters and numbers like the game Battleship. The therapist would call out a coordinate and I had to find the letter and say it. She’d call out a second coordinate and I had to look to the other piece of paper (wall or hand) and say it. I then had to remember all these letters as she went, and at the end say the word that was spelled.

There are a few different things addressed with this exercise. It’s making me focus near and far, back and forth. It’s requiring me to first find coordinates then to trace a line (horizontally and vertically) to find the letter. And it’s requiring me to put the word together. She encouraged me to visualize the letters and then visualize what they were spelling.

I really struggled with that last goal. Instead, I memorized the letters as I went because that’s how I was taught to spell. I memorized word spelling, and if there was a word I struggled with, I wrote it hundreds of times until I had it down. I am generally good at remembering spelling now for many words.

In this case, it made the exercise much harder because I naturally try to remember the letters and put them together, but I couldn’t differentiate between the letters and the coordinates. I memorized all of them. But because they were mixed together (two coordinates, then letter, then two coordinates, then letter, etc.), it made it more challenging to get the word. And as the words got longer, it became really hard. We stopped at six letters, by which point “flower” became “glewer” because I had substituted some coordinate letters for the word letters.

Visualization was hard in this context. What’s interesting to me about this is that I am able to visualize very well in other contexts. I read a lot, and when I read a good book, I became imaginatively immersed in it. I fully see the setting, the characters, and what’s happening as if I am there or as if I’m watching it on an IMAX screen. Also notable is that I read pretty fast, but without skimming (or skipping): I’m getting the words, but I’m diving into the scene. When I really get into the flow, I’m not even necessarily noting the individual words, but rather the scene that they’re constructing: I’m putting the sentences and paragraphs together.

This dovetails with another exercise I am doing: reading with a red/green bar screen on my Kindle and red/green glasses. I keep the green lens over my left eye, and as a result, the green bars are very hard to see through while the red are mostly transparent. This will help me develop binocular vision where both eyes are active at the same time, and my brain will learn to receive input from both eyes simultaneously and process it.

What ends up happening is that I’m focusing really hard on individual words and reading quite a bit more slowly, and the green bars continue to be pretty dark. It’s almost impossible for me to get into the scene. If I close my right eye, though, the green bars practically disappear, similar to how the red bars are all the time.

I began to wonder this morning if the problem is that I’m naturally too focused on the individual words. That is to say, maybe I’m focusing too much on those individual letters and words instead of widening my focus and seeing the whole page at the same time.

This is another thing I have been learning through vision therapy, and which my last assessment demonstrated I am improving on: widening my perspective. I have learned to compensate for my lazy eye by forcing myself to focus really hard on one point. When that happens, only one of my eyes is typically active, which is not ideal. I need to learn how to use both of my eyes, see both the point in space I’m looking at while also being aware of everything around, ahead of, and behind that point, and see the point clearly. I think this is easy for many people, but it’s quite challenging for me.

There is a psychological aspect to this therapy in addition to the physical. I am having to learn to trust my vision at least as much as I trust my other senses, which is surprisingly hard for me. My vision hasn’t been reliable almost my entire life. It’s like asking me to trust a person who hasn’t been reliable, and that’s hard. And this concept of widening my perspective so I can see the whole instead of a single point also seems to have some psychological aspects to it.

I was working hard this morning with the bar screen to not try and read the words for now, but just to keep both eyes active, keep them looking at the overall screen, and try to get both the red and green bars to be transparent. I didn’t get there, and it kind of made me nauseous. What’s happening is my left eye is turning on and off rapidly, and while I don’t perceive much change in my vision while that happens, it shifts focus and distance perception very slightly and very quickly. Think of it like putting on 3D glasses and having the 3D screen do a strobe effect of turning the 3D effects on and off, but probably a bit less dramatic because my brain is struggling to process it.

Which is really the crux of the matter: my brain is getting overwhelmed with the processing. Like any muscle, I can develop and improve this. It has been done before, and I will do it also. But like most exercise, it is hard and takes time.

I have already showed a lot of improvement. In many areas, I went from outside the desired norms to having normal vision and function, so that’s pretty cool. My drawing is a bit better. I noticed a few weeks ago when we were at a park that I’m better able to watch Simon and also appreciate everything around us–I’m seeing the foreground and background of the point at which I’m looking more than I was before.

But I’m also reflecting on what this says about me as a person beyond what’s going on with my vision. The way I absorb letters to construct words, and the way I put together words into a sentence, and the way I combine words and sentences into meaning… I feel like that hints at something about how I perceive and interact with the world. It likely says something about how I approach my work.

I don’t yet know exactly what it says. This light bulb just started to come on and I wanted to write it down so I could reflect more on it later. But I sense that there’s more to this, and I think understanding it will help me improve both my physical vision and my mental and imaginative vision.

Deliberately starting a new chapter

I have been looking forward to October 1 for a while now.

Our second child is due in 5 weeks. That’s crazy exciting, and I want to be ready for it. We’re also about 5 weeks away from the election. That’s exciting in a whole different way.

October 1 is my date this year to make some changes as we prepare for the big changes ahead.

Keto

To ensure I have enough energy for a toddler plus a newborn plus helping my wife out, I am going back onto a keto diet. This will also help me hit my second goal weight, which I’ve been putting off pursuing for a while. Rice and ice cream are so good! But a few months of keto will get me to where I want to be.

  • Starting weight: 198.8 lbs.
  • Current weight: 198.8 lbs.
  • Goal weight: 170 lbs.

For those of you who recall my last keto diet, I dropped from 240 lbs. to 190 lbs. I’ve been at 195 +/- 4 since then (around 1.5 years now, I think).

I expect to do this through the end of January, though if I hit my goal weight earlier, and if our sleep schedule is getting back to normal, I may end it early.

Social Media

With the election approaching, social media is more stressful than ever. We’re planning to vote absentee in-person tomorrow, and I plan to avoid Facebook and Reddit at least through the election and probably until after our baby is born.

I want to be focused on positive things and reserve my energy for my family. If you need to reach me, you can email, text, or call.

As an alternative to Facebook and Reddit, I’ve been reading a lot more. I carry my Kindle around and I’ve been checking out ebooks from the Library. I think this makes me a happier person, and it’s helping balance out other stressful areas of my life.

Outdoor Improvements

I also want to record here that we’re making a bit of progress on our outdoor work. Not that I have done anything, but I had a landscape company out today to look at things and start working on estimates, and I have an estimate (but not a bid, yet) for the patio roof. I’m cautiously optimistic that we can have the patio and other hardscaping done by February. We might be able to build the playground before then.

I suspect the patio roof would then be in April or May.

Work

And last but not least, a quick update on work since that was the top subject of my last blog post.

I got pretty down early last week. I’m struggling with burn-out. There’s a lot of pushing a boulder up a hill and trying to balance too many spinning plates, if I can mix my visual metaphors.

So last week I went for a walk and really confronted my challenges, and I asked myself, “What would it look like for things to be better? What do you need to have happen for that?”

I had some ideas, and I started pursuing them. And just a week and a half later, I’m feeling quite a bit better. I can’t express how great it is to work for a company that is generally supportive and invests in its employees. When I say, “To get from here to there, we need to do X,” often the response is, “OK, let’s do it.” I’m not told to just figure it out without X.

For my British colleagues, I don’t think they understand how rare that support is. At many American companies, if I said I was getting burnt out and we need to do X, the take-away would be that I can’t do my job so they probably ought to not promote me ever and potentially sideline or fire me. Adaptavist has a vision and pursues long-term gain. That’s why we succeed.

A long overdue, and subsequently brief(ish), update post

My last post was in June, and I haven’t written about the pandemic or anything else really going on in my life these days. Future-me might want to be reminded of some things, so here goes.

Work

I have 8 jobs, Bob. 8!

Right now, my focus is split between:

  1. Head of Education (developing and managing strategy for the Adaptavist product portfolio)
  2. Product manager for Learn for Jira
  3. Support person for Learn for Jira
  4. Lead for the Adaptavist Learn content team
  5. Education team personnel manager (5 direct reports and 5 indirect reports)
  6. Documentation toolsmith (managing the configuration and tooling for Adaptavist product documentation)
  7. Product manager for the Adaptavist Library
  8. Support for the Adaptavist Library

As part of all this, I also handle releases for L4J, work with marketing, meet with every other product manager monthly 1-on-1, work with managers in other teams at Adaptavist, and do a few other things.

Suffice it to say, progress in any one area is pretty slow. Thankfully, we’re getting some more people onto the teams and that will help a lot.

My goal is to have less of my time on the day-to-day, sprint-to-sprint work, and more time focused on 12-18 month strategy and quarterly goals for the 4 teams I work with.

The Library was only added to my portfolio about 4 weeks ago. I am very conscious of the fact that I only have about 2 months before our baby is due to get things solid before I disappear for two months.

I maintain my sanity by trying to stick to only 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. There is an unlimited amount of work for me to do, but I’ll get nothing done if I’m exhausted and burnt out. It’s pretty hard to keep my head above water as it is, and there are some weeks where I fail even if I mostly stick to my 40-hour limit.

But if I can play with Simon for an hour before work, and take off at 5 to have dinner with him and play and put him to bed at 7, then everything else is OK.

Church

We haven’t met in-person since March. In the last 5 months, Simon has gone from falling asleep in my arms during the church service (which is being streamed online) to needing to run and jump and wrestle and eat and then go down for a nap during the church service.

Suffice it to say, I don’t really attend the online church service anymore.

Without in-person church, even over Zoom, I’m actually finding my weekends to be more restful.

April and I have been doing an online Bible study this year. We have a set of chapters for each day (I listen to them, while April prefers to read them), and then a daily podcast. I regularly fall far behind, but I eventually get caught up.

This is my fourth time going through the Bible and I am engaging with it very differently than before. In the past, I would describe my reading of the Bible as more academic. I studied it, and it was interesting, but I didn’t emotionally connect with much of it. Perhaps because I’m listening to it instead of reading, it’s having more of an impact on me. The book of Jeremiah has been heartbreaking.

The podcast is fantastic. April and I are going to subscribe to the Patreon next month to start supporting them because we get so much value out of it.

Right now, listening to that podcast and the Bible app are my church. But they obviously don’t meet the community purposes of the church. I’ve got a pretty big lack of community right now, but I’m not feeling poorly because of that. Turns out, pandemics are less rough on those of us on the far end of introversion.

Pandemic-times

For the first few weeks of quarantining, back in March, I had a lot of anxiety and some depression. After 3 weeks, it became more normal. These days, it’s not usually a big deal at all. But I still struggle with wanting to see people normally, and having to be hyper-aware of (and asking about) other people’s travels and interactions and quarantines.

I’m OK being around (but physically distant) people who are following similar precautions to us. But if I know they’re not being cautious or I don’t know them… here in August, I’ve reached the point of avoiding altogether. Masks are great, and we wear them, but they mostly prevent you from spreading. If other people aren’t following mask best practices, then we’re not protected from them, and that’s no good.

I reckon we have a few more months until a vaccine and anti-virals are out, and then we can move on and return to normal socialness. For now, with a baby due in ~2 months, I’m going to be even more isolated than I have been the last few months.

We’ve been having our groceries delivered, getting take-out once a week, have a plethora of hand sanitizer bottles, several cloth masks each, and are trying to do our best to maintain distance from people.

There are a couple of people I play games with online occasionally. I talk with Jennie on the phone once every month or so. And that’s pretty much it for me.

I’m doing alright, but it sure would be nice to get together with some people and have a beer and talk about stuff without having to sit outside and 6+ feet away from each other.

Volunteering

I joined a professional organization as part of the Boys and Girls Club of Springfield named Club Blue. I actually became the Secretary, and ran a vision/mission workshop, and then wrote the vision and mission statements based on the outcome of that workshop:

Mission

Developing community leaders to serve as ambassadors for the Boys and Girls Club of Springfield.

Vision

We envision an inclusive community of businesses and professionals with inspiring empathy who share a desire to listen, serve, and mentor so that Springfield can better meet the needs of the kids who need us most.

So Club Blue has been a growing part of my community outside of church, and that has been kind of nice. For years, I feel like I have met so many people who only plan to live in Springfield “for another 5 years or so.” I don’t know why it’s always “around 5 years,” but that is often the case.

It’s nice to meet people who are committed to being in Springfield and improving it. And it’s doubly nice that we share the same value and vision for how to make Springfield better: by investing in our young people.

Kids

Simon is 23 months old. Almost 2 years!

And his baby brother will be here in 2 months, give or take.

Every day is awesome. I miss Simon after he goes to bed. I’m a bit sad when I have to work instead of getting to play with him. We have a lot of fun together and I’m just such a fan of him.

I have become one of those people whose pictures on Facebook are mostly of their kid.

I just ordered a Nugget.

Being Simon’s dad is great. I know having a second kid will change this dynamic, but I’m reasonably confident it’s just going to make things even better and it’s so wonderful.

House

A couple of years ago, before Simon was born, we finished the last major renovations needed on our house to make it solid. These were things that aren’t visible but which improve the house dramatically.

At long last, we’re going to start improving things that are visible and make our lives better, but which are less foundational like plumbing or a roof.

Simon loves to be outside, but our yard isn’t really nice for April and me right now. Our plans include tearing out the deck and having a larger covered deck put in, landscaping the flowerbeds with stone (instead of wood mulch) and native plants, adding 1-2 more rain gardens, building a playground for the kids (with rubber mulch below), some stone paths in the backyard, building some garden boxes, and planting a couple of apple trees.

We’ll have seating, and a dining table, and a new grill (turns out, the griddle was a huge mistake and I regret it), and more shade, and it’ll be lovely.

We’re also replacing our 6 ft. privacy fence with a 4 ft. picket fence. After 5+ months of quarantine, we’d like to be more connected to our neighbors, not less.

I want to get a couple of signs. I think this idea is hilarious and April disagrees.

  • For the front of the house, a sign by the door that says, “The Stublefield’s”
  • For the fence by the double gate, a sign that says, “The Stublefields”

Get it? Because the gardens and trees and playground are all part of the Stublefields… fields, eh? get it? get it?!

I love the subtlety of it. April wants “The Stuble Fields” on the fence. She may end up winning this one, but we’ll see.

Finances

To fund the outdoor renovations, I refinanced our house and took cash out of our equity. Turns out our house is worth $40,000 more than when we bought it, and we had paid off a chunk in the last 5 years. Not saying we got anywhere near that amount out, and what we did get in cash isn’t enough to complete all the projects I want to do, but refinancing helped a lot.

It also switched us from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year, decreased our interest rate, and we’re setup to pay off our mortgage 2 years sooner than we were going to with about $25,000 less in total interest paid. So that’s pretty cool.

I would recommend Rocket Mortgage if you’re looking to refinance.

Thanks to YNAB, we’re doing better financially than we ever have before. In the last year, our net worth is up 117% and I think YNAB has played a huge role in that.

Thanks to this Reddit post, I have opened a 529 account for Simon.

Thanks to the magic of investing and compound interest, Simon already has about 5x in college savings than I had when I started college. We’re getting about $1.30 added to every $1 we put in (or to put that another way, we’re getting a multiplier of 2.3x on our investments–by way of example, $100 turns into $230).

I’m working towards retiring early. I don’t know if I’ll actually want to retire, but right now I’m shooting to have enough invested and saved that I could retire around the age of 46, and definitely could by 50. The age of 50 is really what I’m shooting for. By then, kid number 2 will be 15 and Simon will be 17, our house will be paid off (probably for a few years by then), and I’ll have been at Adaptavist for 19 years (which, of course, something might change between now and then… but I certainly wouldn’t mind still being at Adaptavist!).

It’ll be interesting for future-me to read back over this and see if I hit those goals.

Philosophy

Coming out of my Bible studies this year, and having lots of time to reflect, I’ve been ruminating on “the end justifies the means.”

To make a long story short, I increasingly disagree with that statement. When I was younger, I was very utilitarian. These days, I’m leaning much more towards “the means must be justified and just, but I also recognize that humans are terrible at being just or recognizing the difference between unjust and just.”

I’m also trending more towards pacifism. Again, this is a big change from my youth.

I won’t go into more detail here because this blog post is supposed to be concise. Hopefully sometime soon I’ll be able to sit with some beers and talk about my thoughts with some people. Maybe next year.

Sitting in the garage

April is off to pick up dinner.

I’m sitting in the garage with the doors open.

And Simon is delightedly running circles around the garage, the van, and the doors.

It’s idyllic. And I wonder, are there people out there in similar circumstances who take this for granted? Who can just enjoy it without much analysis?

Because I am very aware of how blessed I am. And I am very aware of how temporal this is. It could pass in a moment.

I am deliberate in enjoying it. In soaking it in. Because I know how quickly and easily it could be gone.

Would being unaware be better? I don’t know. I think it might.

Is being aware better? I think it might. No way to know one way or the other, really. I can’t compare.

Oh well. I’ll appreciate it. I appreciate Simon’s excitement about the cat across the street, and the rain, and the old license plates we still have lying around.

None of this has been about you

Last weekend, I listened to a sermon from the SW Vineyard Church in London: How do we handle conflict?

And this was joined to my reflections on some situations at work, and BLM and the riots, and the racists who are opposed to BLM, and the people who refuse to wear masks because it “infringes on their freedom.” There are a lot of power struggles going on. There are people in power, or who are used to having a privileged position, who feel threatened.

And when combining all of these thoughts with that sermon, this song came to mind. I didn’t know why at the time, but I listened to it again.

And I had an epiphany. Forgiveness isn’t about you, it’s about me.

And people being racist, bigoted, disrespectful, dismissive, mean, vulgar, evil… whatever… that’s about them, not me.

Me being forgiving is about me, not them. It is my response, my choice, my practice, my discipline… it is not about their change.

And my forgiveness does not absolve. It does not exonerate. And God’s forgiveness is not the end of the story for me either. Being forgiven isn’t the last step on the journey, it’s one of the first. That was the other part of my epiphany last weekend:

What God wants from us is not actually perfection. Not right this moment, anyways. The fact that we’re not currently perfect means that we have fallen short and missed the mark, but it doesn’t mean that God is apart from us.

What God wants is repentance. He wants us to try to improve. He wants us to turn to Him.

28 Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. 29 May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 30 Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.

31 “When anyone wrongs their neighbor and is required to take an oath and they come and swear the oath before your altar in this temple, 32 then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty by bringing down on their heads what they have done, and vindicating the innocent by treating them in accordance with their innocence.

33 “When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and give praise to your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple, 34 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their ancestors.

35 “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and give praise to your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, 36 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance.

37 “When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, 38 and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel—being aware of the afflictions of their own hearts, and spreading out their hands toward this temple— 39 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart), 40 so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors.

41 “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name— 42 for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, 43 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.

44 “When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to the Lord toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name, 45 then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.

46 “When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to their enemies, who take them captive to their own lands, far away or near; 47 and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly’; 48 and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; 49 then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. 50 And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their captors to show them mercy; 51 for they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out of Egypt, out of that iron-smelting furnace.

52 “May your eyes be open to your servant’s plea and to the plea of your people Israel, and may you listen to them whenever they cry out to you.

1 Kings 8:28-52 — New International Version

To the oppressed… the fault is with the oppressor. It’s about them and their sin. It’s not about you. Just like our forgiving someone else is all about us and our heart, someone else’s lack of forgiveness or kindness is about them and their sin.

I don’t know, but I take comfort in that. I hear, “None of this has been about you,” and I feel like the “you” in that sentence is both me and the other person. The wrongs done to me… it’s not about me.

But my choice to forgive… that’s not about you.

None of us earn forgiveness, not from God and not from each other. It must be given freely, not because of the other person–it’s not about them–but because of us.

And consequently, the only way we get out of conflict is for all of us–everyone involved in the conflict–to look to our own hearts and repent. (Some just have a lot more repenting to do.)

Deuteronomy 26:13

On tithing:

…then you shall say before the Lord your God, “I have removed the sacred portion out of my house, and moreover, I have given it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all your commandment that you have commanded me.”

Deuteronomy 26:13a in the English Standard Version

This really jumped out at me yesterday in regards to our giving:

  • The Levite: our tithe to Springfield Vineyard Church.
  • The sojourner: our donation to the ACLU who continue to advocate on behalf of immigrants, particularly the children imprisoned in internment camps on the southern border of the USA.
  • The fatherless: next month, we’ll begin giving to the Boys and Girls Club of Springfield. Those kids aren’t necessarily fatherless, but this fits with the idea of helping provide for kids.
  • The widow: our donation to both Planned Parenthood and the Pregnancy Care Center. Again, not specifically to widows, but potentially to help women who aren’t otherwise getting the help they need.

Verse 13 continues through verse 14:

I have not transgressed any of your commandments, nor have I forgotten them. I have not eaten of the tithe while I was mourning, or removed any of it while I was unclean, or offered any of it to the dead. I have obeyed the voice of the Lord my God. I have done according to all that you have commanded me.

Deuteronomy 26:13b-14 in the English Standard Version

Robert passed away

I decided in December that this blog is really me writing to future-me. So while I don’t want to write about this, I think future-me would want this to be written down.

Yesterday, I found out that Robert Bleeker passed away late last week. Robert headed up the online and Atlassian Summit portions of Atlassian University. AU is Atlassian’s training program.

We had worked together for around the last 5 years, but beyond that professional relationship, he was just a really nice guy. I always enjoyed hearing about his motorcycle trips with his son, and his daughter’s academic studies, and how his family was getting on. And Robert was (more recently) always quick to ask after my son Simon and want to see pictures of him.

Robert was a role-model to me of a good dad. I was really looking forward to seeing him in a few weeks at Summit and catching up, and now he’s suddenly gone.

I’m just so sad. Goodbye, Robert.

I know he was just mimicking, but…

Simon said, “Love you,” this morning.

He was sitting on my lap in the nursery, just after getting up, and taking a break from drinking milk. He was looking up at me, watching my lips move and listening closely while I told him that I love him, and he repeated it back perfectly.

He doesn’t know what it means yet, but I couldn’t be more joyful. My son’s first sentence may be, “I love you,” and that is wonderful.

It’s January 2020 and Simon…

  • can walk up to 10 steps
  • loves music videos
    • particularly ones with dancing
    • mostly pop music and Disney
    • apparently also loves Steampowered Giraffe
  • tonight said “goodnight” for the first time!
  • can also say
    • bye
    • cat
    • kitty
    • no
    • dada
    • daddy
    • mama
    • nana (for banana)
  • loves to sit on our laps, or on our backs, or on our shoulders, or be snuggled and hugged, or all of these all at the same time somehow
  • can stack things, sort things, carry things, lift 5 lbs. (barely with one hand, most easily with two), and climb things (he can get onto sofas now)
  • is just the best