“Maggie Grace, General Mills, and do Chocolate Fruit Roll-Ups make sense for your diet.”

As I watch my wife hang out with my daughter it’s natural to have quite a bucket full of emotion and thought.  During their hang-out time I walked over to the couch and took this picture.  It looks like Maggie Grace wanted a fist bump.  I obliged.

She is close to a month old.  We didn’t hear too many positive bits of advice, sadly, before she was born.  I would say 95% of the advice we received was in the category of, “Your life will never be the same.  You have no idea what you’re in for.”  Fair enough.  But it would have been nice to hear something positive.  My wife and I took mental notes to be positive advice givers.

I want to take this moment to say I never finished this post.  I will tonight.  I am continuing this about six months later.

I wonder about the world in which we have brought Maggie Grace.   Below is a pretty recent picture.  She has already changed so much.  But this post isn’t about the melancholy of the days zooming by.

mg7

Aaaaaaaaaaand I still haven’t finished this post.  Maybe it’s a sign?  

Stop typing!!! Stop typing!!! It’s a trap!!!  

Let’s finish this post with random thoughts and anecdotes.  That’ll show ’em….and it will also get this post out of my queue.

I just finished a bowl of generic Fruit Loops for dinner.  No Toucan Sam for this guy.  It’s some wacko looking dragon thing on the box.  Weird man.  I think something is in those loops.

We need new furniture.  Our couch and chair are peeling.  Maggie Grace probably thinks their chocolate Fruit Roll-Ups or something the way they release themselves from the cushions.  As if she knows what Fruit Roll-Ups are.  But still.

That reminds me of seminary.  Rented a house with some guys and if I remember correctly we didn’t have a couch but we did have four recliners in the living room.  Maybe three.  I remember watching the debut single from Audioslave on the television while sitting in recliner #2, Brutus, and thinking the band was going to be great.  The singer from Soundgarden and the band from Rage Against the Machine.  Can’t miss!  I played the song for Nikki and after the blistering opening rips your ears off she said, “This sounds unbelievable.  What a riff!”  Or something like that.  Audioslave didn’t work out like I’d hoped.

Miss that place.  I really miss seeing cockroaches scattering when I would stagger into the bathroom in the middle of the night.  (By the way, after a couple of weeks the jumping stops.)  I miss sitting in a chair with wheels at the entrance of the kitchen and being able to roll to the refrigerator without any force on my part because the house was literally splitting in two and that particular half of the house was the slanted half.  (That, my friends, is a run-on sentence.)  I sincerely miss those days.

I’ve never slept so well as I have since we’ve had a baby.  Weirdness but it’s so true.  For me, great sleep is longer naps through the night.  I’m not much of a sleeper.  I always wake up with a song in my head.  So frustrating.  But still.  I sleep great now.  All the Negative Nancy’s and Negative Norbert’s were wrong.  She hasn’t interrupted our sleep.  The kid sleeps 12 hours and when she wakes up she just lays there until we go get her from her bed thing.  Yeah.  I know.

Oh.  You were wondering about Negative Norbert?  No.  It’s not a thing.  I’m not a sexist.  Negative Nancy?  Yeah.  I’ve heard it.  We need a male version.  Want to keep the peace.  So I went with Norbert.  Great name.

That sounds really close to Go-Gurt.  Norbert.  Go-Gurt.   Okay.  Not real close.  But Go-Gurt?  Is that the best the Yoplait and General Mills marriage could come up with?

Let’s do an experiment.  I’ll start typing again in ten seconds……..

Awesome-Gurt.

I bet myself I could come up with a better name in ten seconds.  I came up with Awesome-Gurt.  I win General Mills.  I won my bet with myself.  What did I win from myself?  A Fruit Roll-Up.

Uh-oh.  Fruit Roll-Ups.  Which are also owned by General Mills.  This is getting weird.  It’s those generic Fruit Loops man.  They get in your head.  All of those delicious fake fruit flavors turn your brain all wiggly.  Wait………………………hold on………I need to do something……….no.  The real Fruit Loops are not owned by General Mills.

Maggie Grace really likes it when I play guitar.  Or is she laughing at me?  Nah.  She wouldn’t do that.  She’s too busy peeling crap off our couch.

Here’s another picture.  Sleep my little lady.   Dream of your Savior and beautiful music.

Photo on 2013-02-22 at 16.50 #2

Goodnight.

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R.I.P. Cornerstone Festival

“Can I help you?”  This was the question I had for the bloke who jumped into my tent for no apparent reason.  The guy had been drinking something a bit stronger than Snapple.  I was in the middle of zoning out to Iona, a UK band who reminded me of The Cocteau Twins, when my new acquaintance jumped into the tent.  This happened at Cornerstone Festival.  A music festival started over 25 years ago which drew crowds of the tens of thousands.

My tent, and the tent of my friend, was one of thousands of tents spread throughout farmland in Bushnell, Illinois where the festival was held.    Other than a visit from “Stronger than Snapple” Cornerstone Festival was always the highlight of my summers when I was in college.  The discovery of Cornerstone Festival came at the perfect time in my life.  Up until then I grew up with a pretty bubble-wrapped view of the world.  I questioned my faith only because it had yet to be my own.  Many closest to me were scared of any music not deemed acceptable by the church.  I was confused.  All I knew was that a lot of the music of the church didn’t stir me and it was getting worse as I grew older.  The new church music, “praise music”, was growing in popularity and it moved me even less.  Was I not a Christian?  I didn’t like the church music.  I didn’t like the “praise music” (and it still doesn’t stir me.  Nothing personal.  Great stuff for many.)

Cornerstone had what one would call Christian artists who some would question their Christianity.  They sang about hopes, fears, loss, struggles, sex, drugs, etc.  This music moved me.

Even now our record collection lacks traditional Christian music, but the music we do own stirs us.  That is what is required to bring music into our home.

“If it doesn’t stir, it doesn’t stay.”

Cornerstone introduced me to a lot of the music that is in our collection.  I am greatly indebted to Cornerstone Festival for opening my eyes not to “edgy Christian bands” or anything so elementary or trivial, but to the fact that “Christian music” takes on many different forms and it’s okay not to be scared of it.

My only regret is not being able to take my lady, and my little lady, to a Cornerstone Festival.   May just have to go to Coachella.

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My political rant.

I usually refrain from starting a post with, “I usually refrain”, but because of the election and its importance I figured it was time. So here goes…..

I usually refrain from talking about politics but I really hope you read what I have to say. Unfortunately, I have probably waited too long as many of you have already voted but I am hoping for a situation like in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure when they lose their keys but use the time machine phone booth thingy to go into the future and tell themselves to make sure they remember to put their keys in the flower bed so that in the present they would find them in the flower bed and….train of thought gone.

Peanut butter cups are really good.

If you have not voted please consider the following…..

Please cast your vote for Akridge/Friend.

(Joel Akridge for President/Imaginary Friend for Vice President)

It will need to be a write-in vote. (I didn’t get my name in the hat in time in order to be placed on the ballot. Apparently someone in charge of these things has an issue with timeliness and crayons. Pfft.)

Here is what I would accomplish if elected.

First thing…….. I would make sure the price of the Grand Slam at Denny’s is rolled back to $1.99. Grand Slam, though I would probably never be friends with you again due to my digestive system not being made of titanium alloy and that other stuff like the dude in Terminator 2, I would simply like having you around at this great price because I do miss the 90’s where I could wear flannel without fear.  (Side note: I just gave you your band name.  Flannel Without Fear.)

Secondly….. Hostess would be given mad stimulus money in order to keep the Twinkie in circulation.

Third……. plastic packaging, the kind no human can open with their bare hands, the kind where scissors are only somewhat helpful in opening, would be outlawed.

Fourthly…….no one would be given speeding tickets of any kind. However many miles the driver is over the speed limit is how many packages they are required to open.  You know, the packages with the plastic packaging no human can open with their bare hands.  

“Thirteen miles over, Stew?  Here are your thirteen packages.  Welcome to your worst nightmare.  I hope you enjoyed your friend Sanity, because he just took the last train to Clarksville.”  (Monkees reference)   Worse than paying a fine if you ask me.

Fifthly……plastic bottles would be gone.  Everything tastes better in glass bottles.

Sixthly……cars would no longer be made to run on gasoline.  They would run on coconut shavings.  You know the stringy crap from coconut?  I hate the shavings.  Hate the shavings.  Put ’em to use.  I have no idea how I would do it but two birds would be killed with one stone.  Wow.  Never realized how cruel that saying is.  Hey!  Seventhly has been changed mid-post!  Keep reading!!

Seventhly….. the phrase “Kill two birds with one stone” will now be replaced with “Hug two birds with one hug” and NOW we’re getting things done. 

Eighthly…..high fructose corn syrup will be relabeled to save on printing.  Fewer words.  Fewer letters.  Lower costs.  High fructose corn syrup will now be known as “poop”.

Ninethly…… ummm….that’s about it. My Vice President will take care of the rest. His nickname is The Harvey.

Go vote and start praying for the four more years one or the first four years one. Even if we don’t know as of yet who has won, you can do the Bill & Ted thing and start praying now.

Whoever wins, please pray.  America is still pretty neato.  She needs prayer.

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August 25th, 2012

Rhapsody service tonight!  6pm. 17 Selma Ave, Webster Groves.  In the annex building of Christ Lutheran Church at the corner of Selma and Lockwood.  We will hear a testimony from a missionary Rhapsody was honored to sponsor.  Then we will collect rice bowls from our Rice Bowl campaign to feed hungry children.

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July 28th, 2012

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Where we are, what we like, where to go

I enjoy watching documentaries.  Though I prefer watching them about music, I will sit and watch them on just about anything.  (I know more about the llama than should ever be allowed.  I’m sorry, Mr. Arbitrator of Lost Time.  I’ll never get those moments back.  You win.)

The other night I was watching a documentary about a can’t miss football prospect named, Todd Marinovich.  Todd was a gifted football player and from birth was trained relentlessly by his father. (Yes, by birth.  His father said he would stretch out Todd’s hamstrings while Todd was in the crib.  Yikes.) Todd eventually attained his two lifelong dreams of playing in the NFL and pleasing his father.

Once he had done these things he promptly lost interest in football, increased an already damaging drug habit, and continued on a downward spiral until finally hitting bottom, getting clean, and giving up football.  Todd had come to the realization that maybe he never played football because he actually wanted to play, but because everyone else wanted him to play.  “But Todd, you have to play, you’re so good at it.  If I had your ability…..”

He then said something that struck a chord with me.  He said, “Just because you’re good at something, does that mean you were born to do it?”

Quite a question.

I am in the opposite position of Mr. Marinovich.  He has a talent he isn’t sure he wants to use and squanders a blank canvas of opportunity.  I have talents and interests but find myself doing other things.

“Hey dude, suck it up, get a good job, pay your bills, and relax.  You were meant to work and provide money.”

That’s an option.

But I don’t want to cease the pursuit of living life to the full.  I want to continue pursuing the fully realized version of myself until God takes me Home.  Will the full version involve my talents?

“But Joel, you need to just find a good job and provide for your family.  Don’t make it so difficult.”

Nikki would be disappointed in me if I simply pursued a “good paying job that paid the bills.”  My wife wants a full-version husband.  Not some unfulfilled ATM.

I’m not going to lay on my death bed, look back on my life and say, “Man, I sure kept us in 350-thread count bed sheets, didn’t I?  Success in life has been attained.  I’m ready, Lord.”  (I’m assuming 350 is good.  Not sure about these things.  You get my point.)

Before I go further.  Great friends of mine are blessed with gobs of money and are doing what they were created to do.  This isn’t a money issue.  I used to make semi-gobs of money.  His path has taken me to a place where this isn’t the case anymore.  I’m okay with that.  I fully trust that God will provide for my family if I am obedient to Him as a man and as a child of God.    

We’ve never missed a meal or paid one bill late and it had absolutely nothing to do with me.  It was God working through me.  One aside..I provide my wife and future family with finances, sure.  But I (God through me) also provide emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally.  We men always equate provision with money.  Nopers.

Don’t get me wrong……

I really enjoy what I do.  I enjoy leading a non-profit and teaching.  It pays next to nothing.  About $3 an hour.  But the peace attained when a student or listener of a sermon “gets it” in the area of a life lesson is something you can’t put a price on.   A $4 an hour job couldn’t drag me away.

But…

Did God give me talents/interests to relieve stress as I continue in my career?  Did he give me talents/interests with the plan that one day they will melt into my career?  Am I not recognizing some talents I am using right now?  Or maybe he gave me talents/interests to see if I’m willing to give them up for Him?

I don’t know the way of God.  I get more confused the older I get trying to figure out the meaning of it all, why I do this, why I don’t do that, but if my pursuit continues then so be it because maybe the pursuit is the meaning.

Revelation 22:20-21   He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.”  Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.  Amen.

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The birth of something.

My first child is arriving in a matter of days or weeks.

I’m looking forward to meeting her.  I’ve been talking to her (the belly) and telling her about the important things.  (God, chicken bog, Cardinals baseball, Led Zeppelin, etc.)

She has already been a miracle to many.  She has brought people together and caused me to increase my level of disdain for the toddler across the street who keeps looking over here.  He’s a boy.  Maggie Grace is a girl.  I already don’t like him.

I lost it a bit last night.  Tears?  No.  I was putting baby furniture together and I couldn’t get the subwoofer underneath the crib to work correctly.  I kicked a few things.  It is important that our daughter be introduced to real music early on.  Wiggles?  Ummm, no. I don’t know why I lost it.  Everyone does.  We have been moving into a new home and as you know that process never ends.  The thoughts of becoming a father and all that is involved was perhaps weighing on me?  Who knows?  Whatever it was the cardboard box that previously contained said baby furniture will never live to house another piece of anything.

I am REALLY excited for people to stop saying to me and my lady, “Oh man, you have no idea what you’re in for.  You’re life is going to change soooo much.”  Really?  I had no idea.  In no other area of life do people, strangers included, feel so comfortable at giving advice.  My response to many of these (in my mind).

“I’ve seen how your kid behaves.  I will not take anything you say seriously.  Move along, please.”

It’s really been weird.  One guy who barely knows us patted my wife on the belly.  Yeah, people are a bit intrusive during a pregnancy.  Can’t wait to move on from that stuff.

I’m interested in discovering my skills as a father.  I feel confident as a husband.  Confident in other areas of life.  Father?  Like anything I’m leaning on the Lord to power me through it.  We’ll see.

Move along, Maggie Grace.  It’s time to say hello to the world and get started on the family band.

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