Sunday, January 27, 2008

Example

To start off, I’d like to update everyone on how Susie and the baby are doing. The baby is 13 weeks “old,” and so far so good. In the last couple weeks Susie has returned to the world of chicken-eaters, which is more like normal. She is feeling great and we’re still very excited. Today Susie bought the first thing we’ve specifically purchased for our baby. You can see the picture below. Chili is about to be a big brother, so it’s an appropriate “onesie.” I love it, and it’ll work for a boy or a girl!




One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is my example to my kid. I think about my example a lot already since I work with youth. Everyone has their own set of values and norms that they constantly are living out. My goal is to align my norms, values, actions, thoughts, and words everyday with what Jesus would model. Anyone who spends time with me would agree that I have a ways to go to achieve that. There are things that are extremely black and white, like not killing someone or not taking things that don’t belong to me. There are other things that I think are grayer areas depending on who you talk to. These are things like certain words used in everyday conversation and issues like alcohol or what kind of movies or music you take in. This concept was reinforced to me at a very young age when I called my sister a “butthead” and was immediately punished by my parents. I couldn’t figure out why I was in trouble when my cousins routinely used that name on each other and never suffered consequences. But despite my useless protests I knew that it was inappropriate.

This was also reinforced to me in the last couple years in the other direction. Susie and I were leading a Bible study with some 7th and 8th graders and I used the phrase “pissed off.” I was reprimanded by one of the girls and when I offered a rebuttal she said that she got in trouble at home for using that phrase. Her response to her mom was that “my Bible study leader says pissed off so it must be ok.” Wow, that was an eye-opener. These kids aren’t even mine and they are watching and listening and, in some cases, emulating what they see and hear. That immediately brought to mind the first verse in James 3 in a section entitled “Taming the Tongue,” which says, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” I firmly believe that anyone who is a parent is also a teacher, which is what scares me.

The first point of reference my kid has as he or she develops from infancy to early childhood and on up is going to be Susie and me. This is how it should be, but being an example is a huge job. I thought about this during church this morning when our pastor read the passage about when God gave Solomon a blank check and he asked for a discerning heart. One thing Solomon says to God in I Kings 3:7 is “But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.” That is exactly how I feel right now. The idea of becoming a dad has been so humbling because I’m forced to take a look at myself and see how inadequate I am as a role model.

Here’s something I’d never noticed before (isn’t it cool that no matter how many times you read a passage God’s word takes on the form that speaks to you best EVERY time you earnestly look at it?): At the beginning of I Kings 3 Solomon offers a sacrifice at Gibeon, which was the most important high place. He was in a position to be an example since he had just been made king, but according to God’s law sacrifices were only to be made at the tent of meeting or tabernacle since no temple had been built yet (Leviticus 17). So he was setting a poor example by sinning when he offered a sacrifice at Gibeon. However, God still gave Solomon the blank check and Solomon made the correct choice in asking for discernment. God blessed Solomon because of his choice and what I’d never noticed before is that then he returned to Jerusalem and sacrificed in the proper place. The way I see it is that when God gave him discernment he realized what he was doing wrong and the first thing he did was go and correct his example by offering a proper sacrifice.

I can identify with Solomon and say that I am inadequate and have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to being an example for a kid. I screw up so many times. I mean, I’m a fan of Quentin Tarantino films. I think he’s a completely innovative and creative guy; he breaks the mold and walks to his own beat. So I have Pulp Fiction and the Kill Bill movies in the collection here. Do I want my kid picking those up and watching them? No. So how do I reconcile that with appreciating the guy’s work? I like the Beastie Boys. I think they’ve stayed a step ahead of the rest of the music industry. Do I agree with every lyric and want my kid to immerse him or herself in their music? No. So how do I reconcile that with enjoying their originality? As you can see, I’ve still not come close to any conclusions regarding a lot of things, and I don’t know if I will in the next six months. But I long to make my example as pure and Christ-like as possible.

If anyone has any take on this, I’d love to hear it. No parent is perfect, and there comes a time in every child’s life when they recognize that, but I want to be the parent that is a rock for my child and consistently modeling a Godly lifestyle.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Media Reviews!!!!

Welcome to the official babygronseth multimedia review blog post. Today I’ll comment on TV, books, music, and movies. It’ll be fun. The TV statement has nothing to do with the baby, but I’m currently watching the Giants/Packers game and it looks COLD! Tom Coughlin looks like he fell asleep in a tanning bed. I’m glad to be sitting in my big blue chair watching it from a warm house. (PS – As I was writing this blog post the game ended and Lawrence Tynes atoned for two missed figgies with one in overtime. Now he can go inside and have some hot chocolate, plus he gets a free trip to Phoenix.)

Susie is twelve weeks along today, and this last week we were able to hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time. I mean, five weeks ago we saw the flicker of the heartbeat on the ultrasound screen, but this was completely different. The audible sound made it seem so much more real and was confirmation that everything is still going well. Since up to this point Susie isn’t really showing a lot, and since she hasn’t had any warning signs or reasons to be worried, we’re just trusting that it’s still growing and healthy. So this was a great encouragement. Too bad there wasn’t a way to record it and stick it on my iPod or something.

This week I received the first baby-related gift specifically for me. It came from Susie’s cousin and her husband. It’s a book called, “My Boys Can Swim!” by Ian Davis. I would highly recommend this book to any guy whose wife is expecting, or really anyone. It’s funny, irreverent, informational, and not too long. And as he promised in the book, it was possible to finish in four extended trips to the john. My thanks go out to Danielle and Carlos. I’ll pass it along to another expecting dad.

Last Friday night I went with some friends to see the new movie Juno. It’s a comedy about a high school girl that gets pregnant and about how she deals with the pregnancy and the related drama associated with being a teen mom. I was immediately sucked in when the first scene involved a great cameo by “The Office’s” Rainn Wilson. Overall I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. But something was different. I’ve seen quite a few movies throughout my life that somehow involved pregnancy and/or childbirth. But this was the first one I watched as an expectant dad. I have to say that despite knowing everything was jazzed up Hollywood-style, I was into it a lot more than I normally would have been. I guess my “baby radar” is in a heightened state right now. But I’m pretty sure I still would have liked it even if Susie wasn’t preggers.

I started listening to a band called Athlete just before we learned we were pregnant. They are from the UK and are similar to Coldplay. Their music is incredible. One song that I was initially drawn to is called “Wires.” If you have a minute, click on the link to their myspace page and listen to it. It was written by Joel Pott, the lead singer, and it's about when his first child was born prematurely. He sings of his fears and his longing just to hold his child that has to stay “in a plastic box.” The line that always gets me is: “first night of your life, curled up on your own.” You can just hear and feel his emotion and it’s obvious that he’s completely baring his soul in this song. I thought it was weird that I was so drawn to this song initially. Maybe subconsciously I knew that Susie was pregnant. I don’t know, but I can identify with Joel because I want so badly for my baby to be healthy and safe.

Well, that’s really all I have for now. I had a few people tell me this last week that they enjoy the blog and I really appreciate those comments and the fact that people are still reading it. It’s therapeutic to get my thoughts and feelings out on “paper” since I feel like I’ve been more emotional lately. Maybe it’s sympathy pregnant hormones or something. The baby widget for week 12 talks about Couvade syndrome. Couvade syndrome causes expectant fathers to produce hormones that give them typical pregnancy complaints. Hopefully there’s no such thing as sympathy labor pains. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers for us and the baby. We’ll be sure to keep you updated in the future.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

But I'm only 28!!!

This last week I made an important discovery. I was brushing my teeth when I first saw it. It was sneering at me and just daring me to grab the scissors. It was located just above my right ear. It was a gray hair, growing out of my very own head and shining like a neon sign on a dark night. I asked Susie to confirm it was there. I guess it’s just another sign post on the road to getting older. I’ve noticed a few of these over the last few years, things like how its harder to keep the pounds off, things like how I feel a little sore the next morning after snowboarding or playing basketball. Maybe someday I’ll finally be grown up. But that’s not really the subject of this blog, just a side note. For more on my internal struggle with growing up, here’s something I wrote about a year and a half ago on that subject.

Back to being a daddy (I guess that would also be considered a milestone of growing up). It’s been hard to update the blog more than once a week, but I’ll try to remain at least that faithful to it. I would probably blame it on life being very busy lately, but I have a feeling that with school starting tomorrow and Susie getting more pregnant by the minute the time will continue to be scarce. (And to correct my last sentence: can Susie actually get more pregnant? I guess I’d have to say no, since you’re either all pregnant or not pregnant. She can certainly get larger, but I don’t think that would make her more pregnant.) Susie’s doing great. She started school last week, is still healthy, is still sleeping a lot, and is still avoiding chicken.

One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is about how I will do as a parent. More and more when I hear about trying situations with kids or witness one myself it gets me thinking about how I would react as a parent in that situation. One thing that I’ve kept in mind a lot is the message I was trying to get across when I spoke to the youth last Wednesday night. I heard a lady make this point a couple months ago and I’ve been mulling it over ever since. John 21 tells the story of Jesus reinstating Peter. I think the thing I’ve always noticed about this story is that Jesus asks Peter three times if Peter loves him. This is obviously symbolic as a reference to Peter’s three denials. One thing I always missed, though, was that each exchange between Peter and Jesus was played out in a specific order. Jesus would ask Peter if he loved Jesus. Peter would reply that he did, and then Jesus would give him a command.

This is huge, because I agree with the lady who explained this to me that Jesus is much more interested in our relationship than he is with enforcing the rules. Jesus wanted to make sure that Peter loved him before he gave him a command. After we have established that love and relationship with Jesus his guidelines for our life will be a joy to follow (I John 5:3 – “And his commands are not burdensome….). So as I mull this over I think that our overall strategy needs to be getting this child to love Jesus, because if we can do that, teaching the child Jesus’ commands will be a lot easier. And I think this also parallels with our own relationship with our child, because if we have a loving relationship with our child he/she will be much more inclined to obey us as parents. That sounds easy enough, right? Hmmm, well, I’m not na├»ve enough to think it will be easy. But one of the verses we read at church today sums it up very well when God tells Joshua (1:9): “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

This also has major implications in my own life, because viewing my relationship with God as an actual relationship is a major concept that I’ve been internally wrestling with a lot over the last six months or so. I’m no longer trying to follow rules because they’re good ideas to live by. I’m trying to follow them because not doing so affects a relationship I hold dear, just like cheating on Susie would affect my relationship with her. Maybe this is a concept that everyone else has a good grasp on and I’m behind the curve, but lately it’s made a huge difference to me in how I view the world overall and how I go about daily living. Maybe God was waiting for me to start grasping it. Maybe that was the thing he wanted me to get before he let me have a kid.

And by the way, I’m keeping the gray hair. Check out Proverbs 16:31: “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.” And I thought Isaiah 46:4 was pretty cool too: “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

Sunday, January 6, 2008

You can call me papa, I'll call you baby...

Susie is ten weeks along today. She’s still doing very well in that she’s not sick, just tired. One thing that’s kind of funny is her new aversion to chicken. Susie loves to eat chicken, but she hasn’t wanted it at all since being pregnant. I read that when you’re pregnant your hormonal changes affect the chemistry of your saliva which makes food taste different. Crazy. I can’t imagine not wanting to eat chicken. I have what a past dentist called “strawberry tongue.” He said my taste buds are bigger than most everyone else’s, so I taste foods more intensely than other people. If a certain flavor of ice cream tastes pretty good to you, you can be pretty sure it’s blowing my mind. So in the future if you see me really enjoying some food and it looks like I’m enjoying it a little too much, just leave me alone and let me enjoy it in my own little world.

It’s hard to believe she’s been pregnant for two and a half months. Of course, we’ve only known about it for three weeks, so maybe that’s why it still feels so new. The first sentence you’ll see if you click on the Baby Gronseth simulator is: “From now on I am no longer called an embryo, but a fetus.” I guess I’ll just call it my baby. I have this mental block about the word fetus since it’s thrown around a lot by groups that promote abortion. I can’t imagine thinking about this little guy or girl as just a mass of tissue. I can’t see how someone could experience the birth of a child and not at least wonder who designed all this and recognize that there’s someone out there who is very creative and has our best interests in mind.

The other night as I was falling asleep I watched Susie sleeping and I realized that very soon our time alone will come to an end. On one hand, that’s very exciting because I can’t wait to meet my first child. But on the other hand, I want to spend time with Susie now because it won’t be long before we will be sharing the responsibility of watching our kid. We’ve spent years together now and I can’t imagine life without her. She is the perfect complement to me; God has blessed me with a wonderful wife. So in the same way I can’t imagine being without her I also can’t imagine someone else living with us. But I also can't imagine growing old without kids (got all that?). But overall I think I’m as ready as I'll ever be.

It’s funny how life changes. I remember that I’ve always been one to embrace the challenges of change. I was ready to head off to college and get a taste of living on my own while still being dependent on my parents. I was ready when it was time to move to Texas, then Louisiana, when I started my first job out of college and really was on my own for the first time. I was definitely ready for Susie to move in with me when we returned from our honeymoon in Mexico. I’ve been ready each time we’ve moved since being married. Each time I’ve encountered a major change in my life I’ve found things to look forward to and been able to let go of the things I’d miss. I guess I’d consider myself a pretty adaptable person. But I have a feeling that my world is about to be rocked.

It’s ok, though, because God’s promise is to do immeasurably more than we could even ask or imagine (Eph 3:20). He’s already made His work in our lives obvious, and so why would I expect any different with this new venture? He sets our paths and blesses us as we follow Him. That’s the goal I strive for, so I’m waiting with anticipation for this change and for the new person that will live in our home with us and compete for our time and make us laugh and make us cry and wake us up at night. It will be taxing and it will be fun and it will be trying at times and it will be an adventure. But God will be with us each step and so because of that I say “bring it on!”