Fraud Alert

I received a phone call from a scam artist today. It was kind of surreal, actually. You don’t really expect those and when they do happen, your brain is all, “WTF?” It was an interesting conversation, mostly because I was kind caught off guard. This scam claimed to be from VISA representing Publisher’s House. No, not Publisher’s Clearing House, because no person in their right mind would believe an actual legitimate business would be contacting them. That would be just crazy. No, they had to come up with the fictional Publisher’s House because that’s just more believable. Anyhow, this scammer was a sweet lady at the ripe old age of forty-six, or at least that’s how I’m imagining her by the sound of her voice. She didn’t give me her name, but I’m going to say it was June, because that’s just the kind of lady she was.

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Thanks, June.

Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress LC-USZ62- 42001

Now, June had called to inform me that I had been entered into a drawing that will be held on May 31st because of my standing and payment history with my VISA cards. She was so delighted and encouraged me to keep on being a good VISA user. Anyhow, I’d been entered to win $25,000, a 2016 Ford Mustang, or a complete kitchen remodel. I really wanted the kitchen remodel, but since I live in apartment, I decided to go with the cash. Sorry, Barbara. You’re a wonderful landlord, but when having to choose between a cash sum and remodeling your kitchen, I’m going to take the money.

Anyhow, in addition to being in the drawing, I was also going to be given five complimentary magazine subscriptions for 48 months. June, being the sweet lady that she is, asked me what types of magazines I liked. “Gosh,” I said. “I honestly can’t remember the last time I read a magazine.” That was a lie. I had just read an issue of The Lutheran Witness the other day, but since I assumed they weren’t selling good theology, I didn’t think that counted. She informed me that they have all sorts of magazines and asked me if I had children. When I said I had very young ones she told me about the wonderful parenting magazines they had to offer and about parents who trade magazines with each other. Oh June, you’re so sweet. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I would never read a parenting magazine.

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I didn’t have the heart to tell her about the internet.

Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress LC-USF344-007364-ZB

Now June, she wanted to make a little small talk and told me that the publishers liked to know a little bit about their clients. She then verified my address, name, and phone number. While all of these can easily be found online, I was delighted to know that June was so dedicated to her work that she took the time to double check my name and phone number, despite the fact that she had in fact called my phone and asked for me by name. We could learn a lot about manners from our elderly. She asked me how old I was and what I did for work. I told her, not having the heart to tell her about the wonders of Google+. We had a delightful conversation, though. She wanted to know all about the weather patterns in Maine and even invited me to come visit her in California when I won the $25,000.

After the chit-chat, she also told me that I was also was going to be given a complimentary watch. Now, she assured me that this wasn’t like a Rolex or anything like that, but that it was a nice watch. Now, I could get one for a man or a woman. When I told her I don’t wear a watch, she said I could get the ladies one for my wife. I like June. In this day and age when I could have say a husband or a wife who has become a husband or both, she assumed that I had a wife. Such old school sensibilities. Alas, June, I have never seen a watch laid upon my wife’s wrist. I asked her what if I don’t want the watch. She informed me that it was a gift as part of the magazine subscriptions.

Wait. I’m entered to win $25,000, I get a whole bunch of magazines, and a free watch? I had to back track and ask June about the five free subscriptions. That was when June informed that there was some term I cannot recall, but basically, I buy one magazine subscription and I get the other four for free. What on earth would I do with one magazine subscription, let alone five? I needed June to be straight with me. “June,” I didn’t say but did follow up with, “Do I need the magazines to get the $25,000?” “No,” she said, “you’ve already been entered. You can win whether you get the magazines or not.” Okay, moment of honesty. “Okay, I don’t really care about the watch or the magazines, so let’s forget those.””Alright. Good luck. I hope you win.” Click.

June? JUNE!? Oh, June. Where have you gone!? Was it all a lie? Everybody. I need you to help me find June. Her phone number is (310) 519-1008. If you hear from June, please tell her that I like her. Please tell her that I’m waiting. Please tell her, I want to visit if I win the money.

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What’s the Real Story?

A few days ago as I stood in line at the grocery store, I glanced over at the rack of magazines and saw something hilarious. There was a picture of Jared from Subway looking sad and underneath it said in plain black letters, “Jared beaten up in prison.” But then, right below it in larger bright pink letters, “PLUS: HE’S GAINED 30 LBS!” You can tell where the media feels our priorities lie. On one hand, you have the spokesman for a healthier society who was shown to be an active pedophile and now he’s getting beaten up for it in prison. A stark warning to anybody who considers committing the unspeakable crimes. On the other hand, you have the story about how the guy who lost all the weight at Subway is getting fat again. What’s the bigger story?

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“Holy shit! The Subway guy gained 30 lbs. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!”

I looked at some of the articles online and many of them talked about how he eats cakes for breakfast and the other junk he’s consuming with only brief mention of the assault. The story that’s being reported is less about a pedophile getting his ass kicked and more about a pedophile on his way to diabetes. The reporting that’s been done (from what I’ve seen) has clearly been less on the actual news and more about making people feel better about themselves. I can imagine some poor obese person whom Jared once gave hope but could never achieve the weight loss saying aloud, “HA! That’s what you get for making me feel fat. Now who’s the fatty!?”

bigfatty

It’s still you.

And that’s how I realized why magazines are still around this in this day and age. Bullshit headlines for bullshit stories to makes us feel better for few minutes as we laugh at someone else’s expense, even when the actual story is almost totally ignored. You might point out that it’s typical for tabloids and celebrity magazines to have headlines along the lines of, “Look who got fat!” and you would be right, but the difference here is that there is an actual big story and it all gets glossed over. If there is a silver lining to all of this it is this; if you’re famous and you commit some horrible crime, just get fat and it may overshadow every terrible thing you’ve ever done.

Repentless Child

Last evening as I sat down at the computer to do a few things before playing Yahtzee with my wife, my two and a half year old daughter ran up to me exclaiming, “Daddy, daddy! Play some music.” Being the totally responsible parent that I am, I obliged and put on some Judas Priest. I was initially disappointed when she told me “Daddy, I don’t like this one,” as Judas Priest is my favorite band. Worried, that I was going to have to disown her, she surprised me when she pointed at my screen and said, “Daddy, I want to play that one.” She was too far away for me to see exactly what she was pointing at so I picked her up and brought her close enough to point directly to it. When I asked her what one she wanted again, she placed her finger on the screen and said that one. It was Slayer’s newest album.

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You can really see the childlike appeal.

“Slayer?” I asked.

“Yeah! I love Slayer!” she exclaimed with great delight.

Despite having never used the Amazon music player before nor ever seen me use it, my daughter deftly grabbed the mouse that was on the desk, moved the curser over the album cover to reveal the PLAY button and pressed it. Immediately, the soothing tones of Slayer’s Implode came bursting out of my computer’s speakers. With a squeal of glee, my daughter got down on the floor and began thrashing about like a true metal head. Normally, I wouldn’t allow her to listen to Slayer, but the sheer hilarity of it all coupled with the fact that my daughter picked and seemed to genuinely enjoy good music, I decided to allow her in this instance. Following with the song Repentless, she ran back and forth screaming with a psychotic giddiness as her arms flailed in the air. Truly this was my child.

This morning as we got ready for church, my daughter politely informed me, “I want some Slayer, Dada.” Sorry Olive, but I’m not turning the computer on as I get us ready for Church just so you can listen to Slayer. In the car, my wife decided to put on some Gangnam Style to make the ride more enjoyable. Olive was whole unimpressed and appeared to be quite disappointed in us. I feigned mild disappointment but deep down, I was proud of my little girl.

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Too imature for a two year old, yet adults everywhere were mesmerized for a year straight.

After Church, we visited some of my wife’s good friends. My daughter somehow managed to quickly find the CDs in their house which is amusing because we almost never use CDs, so I’m not fully sure where she picked on the fact that these discs play music. Kids will always manage to surprise you, I suppose. When one of the girls of the house asked what she was doing, my daughter politely responded with, “I want to listen to Slayer.”

The poor girl was taken aback, as if she didn’t know what to say. “Slayer?” she managed to get out.

“Yeah!” said my child. “I love Slayer!”

Now, I don’t believe this family had any Slayer. They seemed like an earthy bunch and earthy people can’t stand Slayer. Not really sure why, but I suspect that when the sky rains blood, it isn’t very good for the plants. Anyhow, Olive kept asking this poor family to play Slayer for some time. Eventually, they were able to get her off the subject and have a delightful afternoon with the lass.

I still have much work to do in teaching my child of good music, but the Slayer incident has given me hope. There is a ray of sunshine that says I may not have to put up with the latest boy band or vapid pop singer in twelve or so years, but may instead be treated to the classics of my own youth, or at the very least, bands that don’t suck.

G.I. Joe Made Me Afraid of Refrigerators

Growing up in the eighties, we had access to some of the best cartoons ever. G.I. Joe, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Thundercats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and so on. On most of the programs I watched, there was a public service announcement (or PSA) at the end of every episode. These usually involved things like, “Stealing is wrong,” “Don’t do drugs,” or “Playing with matches is dangerous.” To me, most of these seemed quite obvious, but there was one that made me terrified of refrigerators for years. Basically, a group of kids were trying to find their friend, John. A G.I. Joe named Recondo just happens to be walking through and asks what’s going on. The children explain the situation and Recondo looks over to see an old refrigerator, and immediately assumes he’s in there (and he was right). Opening the door, Recondo finds John suffocating. The PSA never explains why John was in the fridge; we’re simply left to make our own assumptions about what led to this event.

fridgeofdeath

What the hell was he even doing in there? The world will never know.

You see, growing up when I did, I had no concept of a latching refrigerator. Every refrigerator I had ever seen and used worked the same way we do today. Open the door, get what you need, and when you close it the suction keeps it closed. Simple as that. I had no knowledge that a few decades prior, refrigerators were held closed by a latch that was released when you pulled the handle. When the door was closed, the latch simply fell back into place. And the time when I was growing up was when it more and more common for these refrigerators to be discarded.

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Beware! It’s lust for blood holds no boundries.

Once I saw that PSA, I knew that every time I went for food, I was playing a dangerous game, risking my life for a glass of milk or a delicious strawberry. I would swing the door open as wide as I could, grab what I needed, and leap out of the way before it would close. It wasn’t until sometime later that I decided to get over my fears once and for all. One day when my friend Rob was over and my mother hadn’t done the grocery shopping yet, I decided to take out the shelves and get in the fridge. I told him if I started banging on the door to open it up. So I got and he closed the door. Once sealed inside, I pushed the door back open with ease. I was elated. Refrigerators weren’t dangerous at all. Those guys on G.I. Joe were so stupid. What else were they wrong about? Downed power cables? Swimming in lightning storms? Surely if they had the refrigerator thing wrong, they must be wrong about other things too. Or maybe, they had teamed up with parents for some scare tactics. Contacting childrens cartoons to make kids obey sounds just like the sort of thing parents would do.

It was a few years later when I actually learned about latching refrigerators. Suddenly the PSA made a lot more sense to me. Thankfully, I never did get injured pushing againts the warnings of other PSAs, though I think I did go swimming in a lightning storm. That is until I saw a tree nearby. As we all know, lightnight loves trees and trees love water.

 

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Look at it there, waiting to kill.

Of Beards and Presidents

I stopped shaving sometime back in October in preparation for Grow-vember. Grow-vember came and went and I kept on not shaving. I’d thought about it, but then I remembered last year when the day after I shaved, we got the coldest weeks we’d had all winter. I’m not going to fall for that again. When spring arrives is when I’ll go back to my traditional appearance. My beard has become quite full over the months, so much so that my wife has informed me that I’m starting to look like the 19th United States President Rutherford B. Hayes and that it turns her on. Had I known that my wife was into well dressed bearded old men, I’d have perhaps updated my wardrobe and spoken more gruffly. As it stands, I have some work to do.

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Bringing sexy back.

Rutherford was one of only five Presidents to have a beard and one of only twelve to have facial hair of any sort. The last president to sport facial hair was William Howard Taft from 1909 to 1913, who had a moustache. It’s been over one hundred years since we’ve had a president with hair on their face which I’m sure has been of great detriment to our great country. Oh, sure, the founding fathers were clean shaven, but look at the time and what was taking place. A good shave was probably one of the few great luxuries they could enjoy, and yes, shaving can be luxurious if done proper. Between war, disease, back breaking labor, FOUNDING AN ENTIRE COUNTRY, and a myriad of other problems, the shaving ritual probably felt like one the few moments of pure bliss and delight. If you’ve never had a proper shave with a hot towel and a straight razor, you’ve never shaved a day in your life.

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Exactly what it feels like after a proper shave.

The last candidate to run for president with any kind of facial hair whatsoever (until now) was Thomas E. Dewey in 1948. Some have gone so far as to credit his moustache with the reason for losing. Both times. Now I’m not saying there’s any correlation here, but I find it mighty suspicious that the last time we see facial hair in the highest seat in the country is just before women got the right to vote. Now we’ve had a hundred plus year absence of the stuff. Then again, maybe it just goes with the fashion of the times. The longest streak of presidents with facial hair was 6 over a period of twenty years. That’s half of them in a twenty year span in the roughly two hundred and forty years we’ve been a nation. Still, until recently, there’s never been a century long gap in facial hair either. Perhaps todays ladies find facial hair threatening. Now that I think about it, perhaps this is the real reason Ben Carson won’t win.

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“Oh, god! What the hell is that on his face!?”

Let that be a lesson to the next Libertarian who want’s a shot at winning the presidency. Find a way to get the Republican and Democrat nominees to both have facial hair, then come out with a smooth face. There’s no way he could lose.

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“The beard, being a half-mask, should be forbidden by the police – It is, moreover, as a sexual symbol in the middle of the face, obscene: that is why it pleases women.” -Arthur Schopenhauer

I Fancied a Barbie Once

I had a Barbie doll once. I’d actually asked my mother for one. I wasn’t queer or effeminate or anything. The other side just had something that I didn’t and I wanted to know what the deal was. All the girls had them and seemed to love them, so clearly there was something cool about them and I was determined to find out what it was.

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It’s gotta be the shopping for accessories. Look at those pants!

So when I got one, I took it with me totally unashamed. In a time when being either a nerd or having a Barbie doll would get your ass kicked, I incredibly made it through unscathed as I was both was a nerd and carried a Barbie. Perhaps it was my gaze that kept people from taunting and dolling out endless wedgies. As I combed her hair and changed her outfits, my look was not one of joy and amusement but one of science and determination.

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FOR SCIENCE!

Alas, through all my study, I never discovered the joy that could be had in Barbies or dolls in general. Disinterested and unamused, the doll went to the wayside. I honestly don’t recall doing anything else with it, though I feel as though I would’ve had much more joy with it had I decapitated the damn thing. In fact, I hope I did, though I cannot say for certain whether I did or not.

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And totally would’ve been at the hands of Storm Shadow.

With a second child on the way, if it turns out to be a boy whom I shall teach manly things, I worry about the time when he too yearns to decapitate Barbie dolls. For my daughter loves dolls and even has a Barbie. How shall I react when the time comes to wrestle with my desire to defend my daughter from terror and horror and my delight in destruction of all things not manly. Oh, the struggles we must face as parents.

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Like “Should I put that money towards my child’s education or build that life size replica of Abe Lincoln out of ravioli.” What would make Jesus more proud? Does he even like ravioli or does he prefer tuna?

Duck & Cover

Most young adults today are much to young to remember to the Cold War, yet since they are perhaps the most vocal crowd in media, it’d be easy to for them forget that it wasn’t that long ago the Cold War came to an end. Less than twenty-five years ago, actually. The Cold War was a magical time of spies, espionage, no actual war, and constant threat of nuclear annihilation.

As a child growing up in the eighties, the Soviets were always our biggest fear. The world maps in our classrooms didn’t help matters any. Every country was color coded so that you could distinctly discern borders. Looking at a map you would see lots of small colors and then there would be this giant red mass labeled U.S.S.R. That thing was terrifying and the only thing keeping us safe from the Ruskies was ocean. And then we learned about the Bering Strait and realized that they could attack us from Canada if they so desired.

terror map

This is what a map made entirely out of terror looks like.

The movie Red Dawn didn’t help things any either. I hadn’t even seen the movie at that point and yet there were many times I worried that I’d look out the window and see Russian paratroopers falling out of the sky. Remember, this was a plausible scenario back then. We already knew that there were Commie spies among us; we just didn’t know when they’d strike. Thankfully, we could take solace knowing that Patrick Swayze and Sylvester Stallone would be there to save us should things ever go down. That is if they didn’t drop the bomb on us first.

This being the Cold War, the possibility of nuclear winter was always a reality. The federal government made sure we were all prepared in case such an event happened. As elementary school students, we learned the importance of Duck and Cover. What’s that, you may ask. Duck and Cover is what you were to do in case of a nuclear attack. While you may all be familiar with fire drills, we had nuclear bomb drills. There was even an alarm for it. When the alarm would go off, we would stop what we were doing and hide underneath our desks. The drills were common enough that I can remember looking nervously out the window of my classroom at the water tower and expecting to see a mushroom cloud in the distance. The real terror came if we had a fire drill and had to run outside to a designated area in an orderly fashion. What if the Ruskies had decided to drop a bomb then? There were no desks to protect us. Why the school never had like five giant sized desks outside I’ll never know. Underfunding I suppose.

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No joke, this would save your life from a nuclear explosion. Don’t you dare question it!

Speaking of underfunding, I never realized just how underfunded the school system was until the Cold War ended. At the beginning of every school year up until freshman year of high school I think it was, out teachers would point to the big red spot on the map and say “By the way, that doesn’t exist anymore.” For the record, I started high school in 1996. 1996 and we still had maps that depicted the Soviet Union. When they were finally replaced, it seemed so surreal. No longer was there a big red menace casting it’s shadow on the world. Instead, there was just Russia and the world suddenly seemed a bit more open.

I’ve heard stories that Vladimir Putin is trying to bring the former Soviet countries back into Russia’s fold. Perhaps they have a lot of old maps that they still haven’t replaced yet. If this happens, I hope they at least have the good sense to call it the Soviet Reunion. I’d hate to see them blow an opportunity like that.

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“Hey, let’s get the gang back together and start Cold War 2: Cold Harder.”

Logic and Resolutions

On December 31st, I decided that I wasn’t going to wait until the new year to start getting in shape, I was going to start it right then and there. My faulty logic being that if I waited until the 1st then it would be a New Year’s Resolution and since New Year’s Resolutions are universally meant to be broken within ten to fourteen weeks, I should start beforehand to improve my odds.

Now, I knew that in order keep going, I needed a good workout app. There were some criteria that needed to be met before I would decide on the app I would use. First, it had to have week long routines pre-built into it. I knew I would make poor choices if I had to make my own AND I didn’t want to risk getting bored doing the same workout everyday. Secondly it needed to be intense but not overly long. Workouts twenty minutes or less are a lot easier to get in when I can than carving out a block of forty to sixty minutes on a regular basis. And finally, the workouts needed to be bodyweight. I didn’t want to risk getting equipment out to become a chore and I wanted to be able to do this anywhere.

moonexercise

“What do you mean I forgot the bench? I don’t need no stinkin’ bench!”

So with that criteria, I found a great app that met my needs. It was called Home Workout MMA Spartan Free. Excited to get into it, I took my lunch break, locked myself in the back room, took my shirt off, and loaded it up. I was promptly greeted with Leonidas in track pants, shirtless and screaming in my face.

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Clearly a workout designed for if I should ever need to kick someone into a hole.

I could tell that this was going to be intense, so I started with the newbie routine. Twenty minutes later, I was beat. It kicked my ass and I felt great. On New Year’s morning, I woke up and my glutes were so sore. The first words to my wife that morning were, “My butt hurts.” She responded with, “I promise I did not spank you in your sleep.”

It was then I remembered workout I had done the previous day as a sly smile and an elongated, “Oh yeah” came across my lips. I’m about halfway through my second week of the routine and it’s still a beast, but I must say I feel great and it doesn’t feel like a chore. Once the newbie routine starts to become easy, I’ll jump to the next routine up. Here’s hoping I keep with it.

Basic English

I keep hearing people talking about hoverboards and how cool they are. As someone who was lied to about hoverboards as a kid, I’ve maintained a healthy dose of skepticism. Still, we’ve made some incredible technological strides in the past few years alone and with this year being the year of Back to the Future 2, the excitement was there telling my more reasonable self to go die in a closet. So when I actually started reading articles proclaiming that you can actually buy them on places like Amazon.com, I got pumped. Could we finally be getting what I’ve waited nearly my entire life for?

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Lol, nope!

And then I saw them.

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Pictured: not hovering

I think we need to reinstate a literacy program in the United States because we’ve clearly forgotten the what basic words mean.

hov·er

ˈhəvər/

verb

1.

remain in one place in the air.

“army helicopters hovered overhead”

synonyms: be suspended, be poised, hang, levitate, float;

fly

“helicopters hovered overhead”

noun

1.

an act of remaining in the air in one place.

If your product relies on wheels to get from Point A to Point B, then it is not hovering. It is in fact rolling. Rolling involves resting on a surface which as you may know is the exact opposite of hovering. It’s as though Segway was making a last desperate attempt to be cool and decided to enter the skateboard market while completely ignoring the fact that you only looks stupid on a Skateboard if you suck at it and even then, you can sometimes look cool. This product, however, appears to be made for the sole purpose of making you look stupid and if you are on one, the product has succeeded splendidly.

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Pictured: Also not hovering

 The concept of a hoverboard is surprisingly simple. Take a board and make it float in the air. With so many other boards succeeding at their name, why do we feel the need to make the hoverboard not? The skateboard skates. The surfboard is used on surf. A bodyboard is a board you lie your body on. So why the hell are people calling a board that does the exact opposite of hover a hoverboard? So far, the only who seems to have it right is Lexus. Sure, it requires a special magnetic track to work, but at least the damn thing hovers.

lexus-hoverboard

Pictured: hovering accompanied by cool smoke effects.

In my personal opinion, it’s all a marketing scam. 2015 marks the year of Back to the Future 2 and if these companies can create the devices used in the movie, it would be huge bankroll for them. Or, if they can’t create the item, flat out lie to the consumer and hope they’re too stupid to understand basic English. Considering that the hype is working, I think it’s safe to say that the stupid gambit worked.

rednecks

This is what came up when I searched for stupid gambit. Not was I was hoping for, but can’t say that I’m disappointed either.

Oh God!

A week or so ago, we as a family were sitting down to a dinner. As it was, we happened to be consuming pizza. As we were eating, my wife and I were discussing our day as our daughter sat in her high chair eating her portion. As my wife conversed, we suddenly heard loudly from the direction of our child, “Oh God!”

We stopped suddenly and looked at each other, eyes wide with shock. I could tell by looking at my wife that she was thinking the same thing as I was. Our thoughts were, “Oh no! Our daughter must have heard one of us in some moment of frustration saying something we ought not say.” It was a perfectly reasonable thought. Everyone says things they wish they didn’t when they’re mad or frustrated and I don’t exactly have the most delicate tongue when I am such a state. This isn’t an excuse for any sinful actions I may incur; I’m merely just pointing out how sometimes our sin gets the better of us and sometimes we show more than we desire to.

Anyhow, when we turned and looked to our daughter, we were pleasantly surprised. There she was with her head down, eyes closed, and hands clasped, continuing her prayer. After the forcefully loud words of, “Oh God!,” we here the much softer words of, “Mama and dada,” and then a few seconds of silence. Before we could get an “Awww,” in, however, there was another boisterous, “Oh God!” followed a more normal toned, “the pizza. Amen.”

It was sweet, really it was. Though I realize I need to take better mind of my own tongue. Considering how loud the, “Oh God!” was compared to everything else in the prayer, I’ve little doubt that she must heard me exclaim it in frustration at some point. However, considering her use, I must presume that she saw it as some form of prayer.

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A very powerful prayer…

It reminds me of that certain amount of innocence in a child. There’s something really special about that. I’ve always stated I wanted to raise my children to be better than myself. This is a good reminder that although I’ve got a long way to go, I’ve at least got them started on the right path and that I need to make sure I don’t wander too much myself lest I lead them astray.