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I guess while I’m praising my sons, I should mention my youngest. He and his Envirothon team (coached by his mother) are going to State. They competed in their first Envirothon competition last week. They played second in the competition (to a team that has been there several times) and first in our district. They won $75. (That was the most exciting part to the team members, they each got $15). Since they placed first in our district their entry fee to State will be paid. They also received a big honkin’ trophy. They’ll pass it around for a little while. I’m not sure where it’s final resting place will be. They really studied hard and learned a lot.

I’m proud of this son, too.

Just got back from my son’s play tonight. He played Captain Hussain in Scheherazade: Legend of the Arabian Nights. He did a great job. He’s big for his age, so he often seems cast next to next kids who are older than he. He speaks clearly and projects well. I think he worries about messing up, but he really does well. He’s already been in a few plays. His parts are getting a little bigger each time. He really enjoys acting.

I’m very proud of him.

From Henri Nouwen:

“Know yourself” is good advice. But to know ourselves doesn’t mean to analyse ourselves. Sometimes we want to know ourselves as if we were machines that could be taken apart and put back together at will. At certain critical times in our lives it might be helpful to explore in some detail the events that led us to our crises, but we make a mistake when we think that we can ever completely understand ourselves and explain the full meaning of our lives to others.

Solitude, silence, and prayer are often the best ways to self-knowledge. Not because they offer solutions for the complexity of our lives but because they bring us in touch with our sacred center, where God dwells. That sacred center may not be analysed. It is the place of adoration, thanksgiving, and praise.

For several days now I’ve been reading a book “Introverts In the Church.” Last night, for Guys’ Night Out, the boys wanted to go to Barnes and Noble. I didn’t have anything in particular I was looking for, so I asked at customer service if they had any books about introverts. They found me a couple and I skimmed them while the boys looked at their books.

On the way home I asked if they new what introverts and extroverts were. No, they didn’t. I gave a brief explanation and asked each what they were. I’m pretty confident #1 is an introvert, but I’m not sure about #2. He didn’t know either. “I think I’m a little of both.” The conversation ended and we went on. Soon, number #2 asked, “Dad, what do you think you might be?” #1 answered, “He’s intrusive.” “Do you mean introverted?” I asked. “Yeah, that I – N – T one.”

So, there you have it. I’m intrusive.

Jonathan has a part in the “Smiles and Frowns” play again this season. Their practice sessions are getting more serious. He has three practices this week alone. I’ve been taking him to practice. I drop him off and then head to McDonald’s to do a little work. I have an hour and a half to kill.

Yesterday, I went in and sat down. I picked a table with four seats so I could spread out my notebook and books. A gentleman came and sat at the two seat table next to me. He kind of gave me the eye when he sat down. I said, “hello.” I asked if I had taken his table. He answered, “No. Don’t worry about it.”

After we had sat there for several minutes another gentleman came in and sat down. He gave me the head nod greeting and began talking with the first gentleman. A third gentleman arrived. The second gentleman got up from his chair and sat down at the chair next to me. Not quite at my table; sort of in between the two, but he did set his cup on the table.

Soon a fourth gentleman showed up. He sat down at my table across from the second gentleman. I scooted my books and notebook over so he would have room. He introduced himself and we shook hands. Not long after that a fifth gentleman showed up. I moved to another table adjacent to where I had been sitting. The fourth gentleman tried to stop me. “You don’t need to move. He doesn’t need to sit down.”

I was back at McDonald’s tonight. The gentlemen were there before I was. They already had their table staked out. I picked a different booth.

My wife is hatching chicken eggs in an incubator in our dining room. It is the room with the most consistent heat source and easiest access. We started hearing peeps come from the eggs a couple of days ago. Our dog, Kelly, seems extremely fascinated by the sounds coming from this little box. Yesterday the eggs began to hatch. One had made it out last night. This morning we went in and checked the incubator to find five more had made it out during the night.

Sometimes its difficult to watch the chicks hatching. It’s not an easy process. They come out exhausted and heaving for breath. We’d like to intervene and help them out. Remove a bit of the shell. Make life easier on them. But most times, that’s the wrong thing to do. They need the struggle in order to properly mature. There may be an emergency where they are truly stuck and need help to escape, but most times that’s not the case. It takes an experienced eye to know when to intervene. Most times, we just have to sit back and watch them struggle.

It’s a little like that with our kids. We’d like to protect them from themselves and others. We’d like to help them out and make sure life is easy for them. But often, they need the struggles of life in order to properly mature. If they don’t face the struggle they never gain the strength necessary to make it on their own. Sometimes we may need to intervene. It takes an experienced eye to know when to step in. Most times we need to sit back and watch. It’s hard; I know. We let them know that we’re there. But they need to make it on their own.

So now I’m headed back to the dining room. The peeps are getting loud again. We’re at 11 and counting. I’ll see if any more have made the great escape.

Tonight is Guys’ Night Out. I take my sons out to dinner and then usually some other activity to give Traci some time to herself. It gives me some time to visit with the boys. We rotate the picking of the dinner places. My oldest enjoys CiCi’s pizza. The youngest usually picks Taco Bell.

Some night we run errands. The grocery store, WalMart, feed store, Sam’s. Some nights we hit the book store or library. Around Christmas time and birthdays we tend to fit in some toy stores. The boys like going to Incredible Flying Objects. It’s a local store with magic tricks, gag gifts, and juggling. The owner doesn’t mind if you play with the stuff. We used to go more often and started to pick up juggling. I had learned as a Boy Scout.

Any one have any suggestions about other activities we could do?

“Everybody is a mystic if he believes that God answers back when he prays — not spiritual chills and fevers but abiding faith. If the experience of God is genuine, the mystic will want to work with God to visit the sick, feed the hungry, and give hope to the oppressed.” – Frank Laubach

“Prayer is a subversive act performed in a world that constantly calls faith into question.” – Philip Yancey