Investing in Others

My son is only two weeks away. That is pretty unbelievable. Claudia and I are overwhelmed with excitement to meet him. She’s a little bit more excited because she’s so incredibly over being pregnant. She has constant back pain and is tired because he moves during the night and wakes her up.

The good thing is that once he’s born, she’ll finally get the rest she needs. Right? Because he’ll always be asleep? Why would the saying “Sleeps like a baby” exist if that wasn’t true?

Now that we’re so close, it’s easy to see the love we’ve received from others. We are incredibly blessed to have had more than a few baby showers, and the guys even did a diaper bash for me. Again, incredibly thankful.

We were leaving church this past Sunday and as I was putting more gifts that we’ve received in the car when Sue, a lady who lives in the neighborhood, came up to me. Sue has lived near the church for a number of years and has visited us a few times and has quite the story which I may write about at a later time. If you didn’t know who she was, you would think she was homeless, which she might be at times.

Sue comes up to me and asks if we’re the ones who had a baby shower the week before. I reply yes.

“Here. For the baby,” she says as she extends her hand with a crumpled up $5 bill.

I’m loading up my trunk with boxes of diapers and more gifts and Sue is here offering the little money that she has.

“Oh no. I can’t take that. We have more than enough. Thank you, though.”

“You sure? Ok,” she says as she leaves and goes about her business.

Dang it, Sue. Thanks for slapping me in the face with a bible. I know there are several times when I could have been a better Christian to someone in need. And I’m not referring only to people asking for money. I mean someone who might only need a word of encouragement or a show of support. Or maybe just stop to have a conversation and spend some time with them.

This is something that I want to teach my son. We need to invest in others in whichever way we can. But I know that I need to make sure to learn that first.

Love of Country: Update

I’ve written about immigration and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) before because, being a first generation American, immigration is something I hold near and dear.

The fate of DACA wasn’t clear as it was being decided in the courts but things were looking a little bit better.

From Axios

A federal judge in New York ruled today that while the Trump administration has the right to rescind DACA, it has not provided sufficient legal reasons to do so and thus the program must remain in place while a legal battle plays out. A judge in California made a similar ruling last month.

It then went to the Supreme Court where they decided if the self-imposed termination of the original executive order might have violated the Administrative Procedure Act. Turns out the Supreme Court wouldn’t even hear the case because the administration tried to skip the court of appeals and go straight to the top.

By rejecting the administration’s request, the Supreme Court isn’t saying anything about the merits of the DACA program itself, or about the legal arguments over the Trump administration’s decision to end it. It’s just insisting that the case proceed the normal way, with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals hearing the administration’s appeal of the California judge’s order (and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on the East Coast hearing an appeal of a similar order issued in February by a New York judge).

So they’re good? Not really.

From CNN

So does this mean DACA recipients have nothing to worry about?

That’s a question immigrant rights advocates answer with a resounding, “No.”

They’ve been campaigning hard online and in the streets to make the case that things are still dire.

Even though DACA recipients can still renew their protections, advocates say many could find themselves in limbo. Inevitably, they argue, some recipients’ renewal applications won’t be processed before their current work permits and other protections expire.

On another frustrating note, 20,000 immigrants who have applied for DACA before September 2017, when the government stopped taking new applications, haven’t been processed.

As stated in the article

That’s 177 days that immigrants haven’t been able to get a job in the US legally because the work permits they applied for before September haven’t come through. It’s 177 days that they’ve had to worry about being stopped by police and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

It seems like there’s a new political issue every day1Look closely, those are five different links. Since I had it open, I literally just clicked around on Axios for all of this. so it may feel like Dreamers are taking a back seat. That’s something we can’t let happen. Do what you can by contacting your elected officials. Don’t know who they are? Don’t worry, I got you.

And if you don’t like what they do, vote.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.Look closely, those are five different links. Since I had it open, I literally just clicked around on Axios for all of this.

Speak Up

I don’t think I’ve thought about this since it happened about 20 years ago.

It was an early dismissal day and I was walking home from school. My buddy and I were just talking, probably about video games, when we saw the parked truck move from side to side. Then we heard screaming.

“What’s that?”

“Who’s that in there?”

We saw him hit her. Then he slapped her. Then he hit her again. A flurry of open hands and fists were raining down on this girl, my age, from a grown man. She fought back but what, really, could she do?

All the kids that were around just stood there. Frozen.

After what seemed like an eternity, one girl, who some would probably describe as a troublemaker, yelled out, “Why isn’t anyone doing anything???”

“We’re just kids! We can’t do anything!” one person yelled back.

The troublemaker books it back to the school while the yelling and fists continued in the parked truck.

A school official comes running out, with his walkie-talkie in hand, but by that time it was all over. The yelling, the swings, the crying, all stopped. The only evidence was the tears of the girl.

I don’t know what happened to her or the man but I’d probably be right if I said absolutely nothing good came out of that.

Speak Up

In late 2017, the #metoo movement exposes sexual assaulters with women, and men (some of whom you’d never expect, like Terry Crews) speaking up and not backing down.

On February 14, 2018, tragedy struck at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida with a shooting leaving 17 people dead. CNN holds a town hall where students, parents, and teachers have an open conversation on gun control. Student Cameron Caskey asks Marco Rubio if he will continue to take money from the NRA. He doesn’t get a direct answer so he speaks up and asks again. He doesn’t back down.

Speak Up.

That’s what I take from this. If you see an injustice, you need to speak up. No matter your circumstance, no matter the situation, no matter your age, speak up.

And you know what? It’s not going to be easy. People in power will try to silence you. People may not want to listen to you. People may try to hurt you. But if you want to see change, speak up. Don’t back down.

I’ll never know what would have happened to that girl 20 years ago had I spoken up. I wish I had the gumption of that troublemaker. That’s a lesson I want to teach my son.

You need to speak up, don’t back down.

Clock is Ticking

Follow up

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post what I did last week since it’s somewhat political, but I’m glad I did. I got a lot of positive response and quite a bit of traffic to the site1For me, anyway. and most importantly, got DACA on people’s minds. Unfortunately, a proposed bipartisan bill didn’t pass the Senate earlier this week. The only thing that is keeping DACA alive is that the Supreme Court is meeting today to discuss if the self-imposed termination of the original executive order might have violated the Administrative Procedure Act. The clock is ticking.

Some Housekeeping

If you look back at my very first post, I’m a fiddler. Well, it started again this week. I was all set on a new look for my site.2Only two months in. A record for me. Worked on it for a little bit, was disappointed, and took it down. But I did end up adding a cool little progress bar at the top of the page so you can see how much of the post you’ve read. Go ahead and scroll. See? Pretty cool. You’re welcome, dear reader.

And Now for Something a Little Lighter

Last Saturday we had our first baby shower and I’m incredibly thankful for all those who helped. It truly meant a lot to the both of us. Thank you for your presence and your presents.3One of many, many more dad jokes to come. Now we’re seeing all the little things that are going to help give him character, his clothes, toys, bottles, and diapers.

Oh, the diapers. I can’t wait.4Sarcasm.

The baby shower was a nice reminder that he’s coming, practically, any day now. We actually just got news that his due date is moving up 4 days. The clock is ticking. I need to keep watch because I don’t know the day or the hour.5Mini Jesus Juke?

The only thing I know is that I can’t wait for the world to meet Baby Jonah.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.For me, anyway.
2.Only two months in. A record for me.
3.One of many, many more dad jokes to come.
4.Sarcasm.
5.Mini Jesus Juke?

Love of Country

My wife and I went to a Christian marriage seminar in early August of last year where one of the keynote speakers was mid-1980s comedic cultural icon, Yakov Smirnoff. Yes, that one.1Be careful, you will get sucked down that rabbit hole. You have been warned. Seriously, this guy was hilarious. Anyway, he talked about how beautiful America is and how he was able to achieve success in this country with a lot of hard work. One of the happiest days of his life was when he took the Oath of Allegiance to become an American citizen.

I’ll never know the joy and pride of that but I had already witnessed it when my parents took that same oath about 20 years ago. I remember being taken out of school and going to the M.O. Campbell Center, which to my childhood-self was a day’s journey away.2Coincidentally enough, it’s about 15 minutes from my job now. I remember sitting in that auditorium being surrounded by people from, literally, around the globe. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that moment left a long-lasting impression on me.

At my current job, we’ve partnered with an incredible non-profit called the National Immigration Forum and the New American Workforce Initiative where we help legal residents complete their path to citizenship with the help of their employer. It’s a small part of my job, in that it doesn’t take up a lot of my time, but the impact it has on individual lives is unquantifiable.

Whenever they have the seminars where they explain the process of citizenship, I can see it in people’s faces that they genuinely want to be a part of this country. They have tons of different stories about how they came, either 20 or 30 years ago to just a few. Several who you wouldn’t even know they weren’t born in the US since they’ve been here for so long and look and talk just like any other American.

One group of people we aren’t able to help with through this program are DACA recipients otherwise known as Dreamers. Dreamers are the 800,000 people who were brought to the US illegally as children but are currently shielded from deportation by Executive Order. Here’s a quick breakdown on how to qualify to be a Dreamer:

  • They were younger than 18 years old on the date of their initial entry to the United States
  • Have proof of having arrived in the United States before age 16
  • Have proof of residence in the United States for at least four consecutive years since their date of arrival
  • If male, have registered with the Selective Service
  • Be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of bill enactment
  • Have graduated from an American high school, obtained a GED, or been admitted to an institution of higher education
  • Be of good moral character

In my opinion, these are incredibly reasonable requirements. So why is it that a program that seventy-six percent of Americans support can’t be signed into law?

As a Christian, I believe the Church must put pressure on American leadership to make this happen. The Bible even addresses immigration.

  • ‘”When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. ‘ Leviticus 19:33-34
  • ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, ‘ Matthew 25:35
  • ‘”‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ ‘ Deuteronomy 27:19
  • ‘Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. ‘ Hebrews 13:2
  • ‘”Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” ‘ Zechariah 7:9-10
  • ‘You shall allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the sojourners who reside among you and have had children among you. They shall be to you as native-born children of Israel. With you they shall be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. ‘ Ezekiel 47:22
  • ‘”For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever. ‘ Jeremiah 7:5-7

See?

So when someone like Franklin Graham (Billy Graham’s son), says that immigration isn’t a “Bible issue,” it upsets me to no end. Nonsense like this is why so many Christians feel like non-believers persecute them.

And all of this isn’t even mentioning the refugee crisis. Which, unbeknownst to me, are majority Christians.

From Christianity Today:

The number of Christian refugees from Iraq, Iran, and Syria—which have long ranked among the top countries for Christian persecution—has dropped by 60 percent over that period. (Last year, Pew Research Center found that Christians still outpace Muslims—or any other religion—among refugees to the US.)

“Over the past decade, more of those admitted to the US have been Christians than those of any other faith background, so the dramatic reduction in refugee arrivals this year means far fewer persecuted Christians will have the opportunity to rebuild their lives in safety in the US,” World Relief president Scott Arbeiter said last summer.

Based on the arrivals so far, 2018 is on track to bring in the lowest number of refugees since the resettlement program was formalized in 1980.

“This, at a time when there are more refugees in the world than ever before in recorded history,” the letter said. “Our prayer is that the U.S. would continue to be a beacon of hope for those fleeing persecution.”

The fact that they’re Christians shouldn’t even matter though. It’s the fact that they are people who want to make their lives better, that’s what matters.

I do find solace that there are leaders in the Church, like Max Lucado, Beth Moore, and Samuel Rodriguez who are speaking out about this. Some people are speaking up and I challenge you to do the same.

The beauty of America is that we can all come together from different backgrounds and make the world better not only for ourselves but our future generations, that’s the American dream.

I’ll end this unintentionally lengthy post with the same words Yakov Smirnoff closed with at the marriage seminar:

“You can go to France, but you’ll never become French. You can go to Germany, but you’ll never become German. But you can come to America and you can become American.”

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.Be careful, you will get sucked down that rabbit hole. You have been warned.
2.Coincidentally enough, it’s about 15 minutes from my job now.

One Second Everyday

First off, I want to thank everyone for the positive feedback you’ve been sending. I’m just a dude writing what’s on my mind and I’m glad that you’re enjoying it.1Incoming hate mail in 3…2…

For this post, I’m going to do something a little different. I took on the task of recording something every day to catalog the three months leading up to the birth of our son and then, for rest of the year. I recorded everything on my iPhone using the 1 Second Everyday app.

I’m pretty excited to see how this evolves after he’s born. So for now, here’s this past month.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.Incoming hate mail in 3…2…

Wave of Worry

He’s the size of a bongo drum right now. Neat.

I had a little wave of worry come over me earlier this week.1I had considered writing ‘wittle wave of worry’ for the alliteration and baby allusion but not worth it, y’all. We’re about 32 weeks into this thing and of course, you think of all of the joy that comes from your first child, all of the accomplishments that you get to experience with your newly formed family. Learning how to walk, how to read or even hearing him speak Spanish, I can’t wait for all of this. But, well, there’s other stuff too.

I had a meeting at work with a vendor who turns out, just had a baby four months ago. Of course, I let her know we were expecting. She asked if it was our first and I said yes. Her eyes welled up.

She regained her composure and said oh it’s so much fun, you never knew you could love someone so much, the same things all parents say.

Then she talks about the unpleasantness. Like how you fight a lot with your spouse over basically nothing, mostly because of the lack of sleep. How your heart breaks when you leave them with someone else for the first time. How you’re always so incredibly tired.

I’m not going to lie, this took me back a little.

I’ve been so caught up in the joy of what comes with having a child I neglected to think about the other side. But is it really negative? In the grand scheme of things, no. They’re just inconveniences that are going to be overshadowed by the awesomeness of actually having a son.

From time to time my boss likes to talk to me about life. He had his kids later in life, he was actually older than I am when he had his first, and he has a different perspective than a lot of people I’ve spoken with. During one of our conversations, he said something that made an impression on me.

“Yeah, you can have a good career, a nice house, a nice car, a good life. But once you have your first kid, man, that changes things. Now you have a legacy.”

Once I remembered this, my wave of worry was washed away.

A Legacy. My legacy.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.I had considered writing ‘wittle wave of worry’ for the alliteration and baby allusion but not worth it, y’all.

I’m Back, Baby

The switch flipped.

Last Friday night I had a dream where I saw my son.1Adorable, just like his dad In terms of dreams, it was pretty uneventful, no flying Cheetos or being chased by fire-breathing marbles. We were visiting my parent’s house and my mom was holding him. That’s pretty much it, nothing more. But the feeling I had when I woke up was one of peace and happiness. One of the only other times I had the same feeling was when I knew I wanted to marry Claudia.

The feeling continued through the morning when we went to our first parenting class. We arrived early to the 9:30 AM class 2Even though I missed the turn. Don’t be hard headed, use your maps., anxious to learn about the birthing process. Other excited/anxious-looking couples arrived to the class, probably in the same headspace as us.

At about 9:40 the instructor hadn’t arrived yet, so one of the students went to see what the hold up was. It turned out the person giving the class no longer worked at the hospital. Great. The staff there was trying to find a solution for us. My cynicism kicked in and I told Claudia “How good can it be if it’s last minute?”

Luckily, I was wrong.

What ended up happening was a nurse gave the class and she was incredible. She told us the original instructor, while she knew her stuff, wasn’t a nurse or a doctor. Nurse Liz was able to talk from her everyday experience and answered any question the class would throw at her.

One guy kept asking about the need for using drugs. Realizing he was asking a lot of drug-related questions, he says, “We’re trying to have a natural childbirth.”

“Within reason,” interrupted the wife.

Good luck with that, bro.

We left the class with loads of information and I had a renewed sense of intrigue.

Nine weeks left.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.Adorable, just like his dad
2.Even though I missed the turn. Don’t be hard headed, use your maps.

Expand Your Mind

I love to learn. As far back as I can remember, I’ve had an inquisitive mind.

A specific recollection of me being inquisitive happened when I was around 7 years old. I used to have 1You’ll see why I say “used to” a battery powered CHiPs motorcycle with a little Larry Wilcox2If there was a Ponch available I definitely would have wanted that one attached to it. It wasn’t small either. Officer Baker was easily 12” and the motorcycle itself was probably a foot and a half long. The battery powered the lights and sound as well as a small rotating set of wheels on the bottom so whenever you switched it on, the lights would flash and it would move around.

Over time, the wires that connected the battery to the little-motorized wheels on the bottom came loose until it finally just disconnected and I couldn’t fix it. No more lights and sound. Being the little thinker I thought I was; I figured, “It just needs power. Let’s give it some power.” I completely disconnected the red and white wires from the battery and stuck it in the electrical socket.

Poof.

Luckily, no damage to your truly but the same couldn’t be said about good ol’ Larry Wilcox. His bike was now scorched and slightly melted.

That inquisitive mind turned into a thirst for knowledge. Now, during my free time, of which there won’t be much soon, I try to teach myself something new. If it’s learning new riffs on the guitar, code websites, be a better photographer, edit audio and video, graphic design, new marketing techniques, the Bible, anything, I’m always trying to learn.

The internet has made learning so incredibly easy. If it existed back then as it does today, I could have easily seen that my idea wouldn’t have worked. One resource that I love is Lynda.com. I’ve taught myself so much on Lynda. Usually, it costs $20 a month for a subscription, but if you go through your local library, you can access it for free. Not go to the library and use it, I mean get a free account you can use anywhere. It’s incredible and I recommend it to anyone.

So what I find interesting about my desire to learn is that for the soon-to-be-born-baby, I’m not trying to learn everything I can about him. I mean, I know that he’s currently the weight of a baseball bat, but I don’t know a lot of everything else. It just strikes me as odd that I’m not using my inquisitive mind to research EVERYTHING.

We’ll soon be attending a birthing class and I’m hopeful that’s going to flip the switch for me.

One thing I know for sure is that I can’t wait to meet the little guy.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.You’ll see why I say “used to”
2.If there was a Ponch available I definitely would have wanted that one

It’s Starting to Get Real

As I said in my initial post, my wife is in her third trimester of our first child, so she’s very, very pregnant.

We’re in the process of getting ready for my son’s arrival. It started with the theme for his room. I wanted it to be space with rocket ships, planets, stars and maybe a little NASA logo thrown in there. As is typical in married life, I had to compromise, and we went with stars.

Our friend did a beautiful mural of the night sky scattered with stars. She did an incredible job and a lot of work, detail and love went into it. We couldn’t be happier.1Maybe if it had rocket ships, planets, and stars. C’est la vie.

Now that we’re getting closer to the due date and with his room coming along, it’s starting to settle in. I’m going to be a father. And it’s exciting. I’m excited to see this little guy grow up. I’m excited to see how he conquers his challenges, how he overcomes his failures, and how he celebrates his victories. Is he going to take after his mother or  me? Which parts of us is he going to carry on? Is he going to be quiet and keep to himself or will he be outgoing and never meet a stranger? And most importantly2Sarcasm., who is he going to look like? Not to brag3Totally bragging., but the kid’s got it made either way.

I can’t wait to meet you, son.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.Maybe if it had rocket ships, planets, and stars. C’est la vie.
2.Sarcasm.
3.Totally bragging.