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

Where does my security come from?

A couple of months ago, one of the windows was broken on my in-law’s van while it was parked in our driveway overnight. We have a dusk-to-dawn light over the garage, but that didn’t deter the burglar. I have felt guilty and frustrated by this, and have been thinking about installing security cameras around the house.

Continue reading

Abolish the Electoral College

Sent to Senator Blunt, Senator Hawley, and Representative Long on 2019-09-02

The electoral college is a holdover from a time when the majority of citizens could not reach a polling place in a reasonable amount of time. It is no longer needed.

Further, articles like this one from the Washington Post highlight the mathematical problems with the electoral college that undermine our democracy: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-electoral-college-is-in-trouble/2019/08/28/ba2b3a8c-c98f-11e9-be05-f76ac4ec618c_story.html

I would like to know your thoughts on the electoral college and what steps you are taking to ensure our elections are both secure and representative of the will of the people.

Thank you,

Matthew Stublefield

On Tue, Sep 3, 2019 at 3:11 PM Senator Roy Blunt <donotreply@blunt.senate.gov> wrote:

Dear Matthew:

Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts on the elimination of the Electoral College.  In America, the right to vote is one of the most significant freedoms we enjoy as members of a representative democracy. 

As you may know, the Founding Fathers established the Electoral College in the earliest days of our nation’s history as a compromise on the issue of presidential elections. The Electoral College, outlined in Article II of the Constitution, ensures states’ popular votes are taken into account when selecting our president. 

I appreciate your insight and advocacy on this issue.  Should legislation affecting the Electoral College come before the full Senate floor for consideration, I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind.

Again, thank you for contacting me.  I look forward to continuing our conversation on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SenatorBlunt) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/RoyBlunt) about the important issues facing Missouri and the country.  I also encourage you to visit my website (blunt.senate.gov) to learn more about where I stand on the issues and sign-up for my e-newsletter.

Sincere regards,

Roy Blunt
United States Senator

On Tue, Sep 10, 2019 at 5:00 PM Representative Billy Long <MO07BLIMA@mail.house.gov> wrote:

Dear Mr. Stublefield,

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns regarding the Electoral College. I am glad to have the benefit of your views on this issue.

Each state has a number of electors equal to the number of seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives assigned to that state. These electors make up the Electoral College and cast votes to determine the President of the United States. Electors to the Electoral College are selected at the direction of each individual state legislature. Almost all states have opted to designate their electors by popular vote within the state, with the presidential candidate receiving the most votes receiving all of that state’s electoral votes. As a result, it is possible for a candidate to win the Electoral College while losing the popular vote; however this is a rare occurrence. Critics of the current system say it is undemocratic because it is possible to lose the popular vote and still win the Presidency.

While it is true that smaller states receive more electoral votes relative to their population than large states, this is not an accidental feature of the Electoral College system. The Electoral College system strengthens the federal structure of our government by ensuring that rural areas and small states are still important to our nation’s political process. Any change to the Electoral College risks disenfranchising many rural Americans in favor of heavily urban areas. I strongly believe the President of the United States should be accountable to all Americans and all parts of America, not just specific areas or groups. I do not believe that the Electoral College is in need of reform at this time. Hearing the views of all Missourians gives me the opportunity to better understand how important issues could impact the people of the Seventh District and the future interests of the nation.

For additional information regarding current legislation, my representation of the Seventh District, and to sign up to receive my monthly newsletter, I invite you to visit my website at http://long.house.gov

Sincerely,

Billy Long
Member of Congress

No reply from Senator Hawley yet