Sunday, December 30, 2012


A while back, I read an article written by a man named Steve Stuckey about feeling God.  In it, he describes joining the high school band without much music background and not having much of a sense of tone and... musical ability.  He didn't already have the ability to hear the nuanced differences in musical notes or discern timing and rhythm.  Over time, with perseverance, he gradually began hearing these subtle changes and grew better musically.  Even with born talent, we need to practice and learn music.  We just aren't born with proficient skill in the classical guitar.  We need to spend hours learning how to pick, developing the finger callouses, learning how to tune a guitar by ear.  And even then the best guitarists out there need days upon weeks practicing a single song.  Steve finished the other half of his article pointing out how this memory taught him a lot about how we can "sense" or "feel" God around us.  Over time, with practice, we will grow better at sensing His presence.  It takes time and effort to figure out how God speaks to us individually and how to discern His direction in our lives. 

I believe prayer is the Holy Spirit speaking through us.  When we pray and when we worship in song, dance, or whatever, we allow God to speak through our physical bodies.  The tricky part is that we often have ideas, desires, prejudices, anger, and other things in our hearts that cloud our ability to let God clearly speak through us.  When I first became a Christian, my prayers were very direct and influenced by what I wanted to say.  If I didn't agree with someone, I would basically pray that God changes their mind and make them agree with me.  Over time, my zealousness quieted somewhat.  God has been teaching me to allow Him to speak.  When I sing worship, I am learning that my inhibitions cloud the songs God is singing through me. 

When we begin to learn a hobby, it is not always very easy at first.  Prayer is like that.  It's weird and its vulnerable.  You say things that you wouldn't tell anyone on a normal basis... and in front of people you wouldn't normally open yourself up to.  Over time, though,  you get used to it.  Maybe you get a group of people you pray with on a routine basis so that it's not random strangers every time.  Maybe you close your eyes so that you can't see anyone and get self-conscious.  Maybe you shut everything out and imagine it's just you and God.  Maybe you read the bible before praying so that your heart is in the right place.  Whatever it is, it takes time and commitment.  It gets easier though. 

And that's the thing.  It's supposed to get easier.  I think what makes praying hard is that I expect things to come out of prayer.  It's the token Christian thing to say "I'll pray for that" when your friend or even stranger describes a problem  And what if things don't go my way?  It totally feels pointless then.  I struggle praying for my day because I don't always feel like I need God.  "It's just a drive to work.  It's just another day at work.  It's not a big deal."  Because I don't pray for my daily life, however, I lose the habit and stop praying for the big things altogether.  But when I start praying more often, it becomes less weird, less pointless, and more often.  When prayer isn't weird, it gets easier.  When the habit sets in, I pray without thinking (kinda the definition of habit). 

OK so here's the point.  I've been thinking over the past couple days about how marriage is like prayer in that sense.  When I first got married to Kaytie, I spent a lot of time and effort making up for mistakes I made.  Her family is one of those that spends A LOT of time together and this was another thing I had to get used to.  I grew up pretty independent of my parents and brother and so this was a very invasive and weird thing for me at first.  Over time, though, it got easier.  I'm happy to say that it's pretty effortless now.  I just learned to keep my own personal schedule pretty open.    I also needed to learn to open my own life up to let someone else besides myself make changes. 

I think marriage was never meant to be those ridiculous fairy tale weddings you see in the movies.  And yet it I also believe marriage was never meant to be the 24/7 fighting I grew up around.  Marriage isn't easy but it doesn't have to be difficult either.  And that requires practice.  We're all complicated people and it takes a lot of time to figure each other out.  In fact, couples I've talked to who have been married 30+ years unanimously agree that the learning never really ends.  There's a lot of past hurts, fears, prejudices, and brokenness that follows us into a marriage and we need each other to work these things out of the bond. 

And the only way to do this is by putting God at the center of the marriage.

Christians hear this all the time.  It's one of those generic tips that  you hear at marriage conferences.  God at the center.  God at the center.  You also hear a lot about how much work there is at marriage.  Sacrifice here.  Surrender there. 

The way I like to look at it is that marriage is about allowing God to shine through the holy bond between a man and a woman.  The ultimate goal is to reach a point where love comes naturally.  When just being together is easy.  And it takes a lifetime to get there because we are broken but spending the rest of our lives being repaired by the God who makes all things new.

Here's an analogy / image that I like to use regarding this:  One time I was at a wedding where they had wine glasses stacked in one of those pyramids.  At champagne time, one of the waiters got up on a ladder and poured bottle after bottle into the very top glass.   As that top glass filled up and began to overflow, the spill-over began filing the glasses below and those glasses in turn began overflowing into the other glasses.  Pretty soon the entire pyramid was this giant fountain of overflowing wine glasses.  It was an incredibly beautiful and elegant sight but what I really noticed is that is an image of what worship really should be like for us.  For each glass, there was no effort on that glass to fill up the others.  Rather, it was filled to the brim with the drink, to the point where all it could do was spill over with champagne.  

Everyday I spend working to learn more and more about Kaytie and all the wonderful things that God does through her.  And yet, over time it's gotten easier.  Actually I gotta admit it's actually pretty easy.  It's not without struggle, don't get me wrong. I'd say the death of her mom posed the greatest challenge for us so far.  Not so much in danger to our marriage but really just shook us all to the core.  But when trials happen, we've gotten a lot better at handling them.  It's a lifelong thing but then we believe our marriage is a lifelong thing.

I think this is what prayer, marriage and life with God is meant to be like.

It takes work at first.  But let God fill you with light and soon you'll be overflowing with life.  And when that happens, the overflow will fill the empty glasses of your work life,  your family life, your marriage, your desires, your dreams... everything. 

Overflow and life can get just a little bit more effortless.

Happy new year!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Daniel Tiger breakfast

Chloe watches daniel tiger's neighborhood and requested i make the strawberry pancakes she saw on the show.  Of course she did not take the time to write down the recipe so i converted my standard pancake recipe to have strawberries.  Check the fridge... crap no fresh strawberries.  Looks like we have a mostly empty costco bag of frozen strawberries... but frozen berries have like no flavor to speak of.  Well if we macerate the strawberries I could use the juices to flavor the syrup and the extra sugar would probably help the strawberry chunks.  Here it is..

Strawberry Sourdough Pancakes with Strawberry Syrup

Defrost and rough chop
3 cups frozen strawberries (before chopping)

Add to strawberries, mix, and set over strainer, collecting juices (about 5 minutes)
1 T white sugar

Combine with collected juice in small sauce pan, heat & simmer on med-low for 3-5 minutes to slightly thicken then set aside
1/2 cup Grade A or B maple syrup (i prefer B because it tends to have a slightly smokier flavor)

Mix together part one
2 cups white sourdough starter (I refreshed my starter the night before to 50% hydration = equal parts flour to water)
2 egg yolks (save whites, see below)
2 cups light sour cream
1/2 cup skim milk

Mix together part two
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup traditional rolled oats
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

Whip to soft peaks
2 egg whites

Add part one into part two and mix until combined (ok to leave occassional lumps).  Gently fold in egg whites until for the most part combined but you should still see a few streaks / peaks of egg whites in the batter.  If you kept mixing you'd likely deflate the egg whites -> not the end of the world.  Finally gently fold in chopped strawberries, taking care not to turn the batter pink.

Cook pancakes (i use a 50% ratio olive oil / butter for greasing the skillet in between sets), pour syrup over and eat.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012


our lives change throughout the year and recently ours changed in a pretty big way with the addition of our new child.  holding the new baby in my arms, kissing his soft forehead, and taking in the new baby scent that is and always will be uniquely his, I realized that yet again, I need to be a bigger man than I can be on my own.

"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received."

I struggle, sometimes, with making friends with other guys my age.  I do not try to justify it and i'm trying to do better.  Some of it is a trust issue stemming from past hurts.  All too often I hear / meet men who run from responsibility of any form whether that be in the form of employment, finances, health, or in this case, parenthood.  The latter really hits me the hardest and motivates the majority of my lack of respect.  Countless times a year we hear of guys getting a girl pregnant only to run simply because they didn't feel they were ready to be a parent.  Who cares about what happens to the children as long as we achieve our dreams, right?

It's like when you wade upstream.  The water is forced to change direction for you because you have decided you don't want to live up to what people need of you.

I'm not a subscriber of the lifestyle in which you fill your life with everything except being around for your children and spouse.  I don't believe in searching for "me time" because I believe that by giving all of  yourself, God will give you more.  Within reason of course.  We parents should still shower and take time to eat and sleep.  I do not agree, however, with leaving your children in childcare because you "need" to go drinking and partying.

I think the hard part with being available to your family is that it's often misconstrued as being isolationist.  I think it's viewed as a sign of weakness when you don't spend more time with other people than your own family.

If you find yourself taking a vacation to spend more time with your children / spouse, then I think something is wrong with how your time is being used.  A vacation is not a remedy to your parental guilt and should not be used as one.  In fact, I think everyone knows those vacations never really fixed the gap that over-busy parents leave in our lives.

Becoming a parent is not a personality accessory.  You don't get to say "no thank you."  You take your weekly guy-hangout plans and put them aside in favor for being there for your new family.  Poker can wait.  Jack Daniels can wait.  Monday night football can wait.

I do and I don't understand how a guy can claim to be a man when he can't take responsibility for what he creates.  


It's bigger than me.  It should be better than me.  It means I live outside of myself.  For people besides myself.  It means I give up things I kept for myself because I know in return I will receive far better than what I give.  It means stretching myself because I know all the my dreams and possessions will return to dust while the souls I live for go on for eternity.  

A free country lets me walk away from responsibility if it so much as makes me unhappy.  My "rights" as a US Citizen allow me to ditch my wife if I don't get my way and get another and another.  My forefathers died so I can have the freedom to do whatever I want and declare anyone who doesn't agree with me a "bigot."  My desires, my dreams, my ideas... they are all more important than anything and anyone who gets in my way is my enemy.  Mine.  Mine.  Mine.

Responsibility requires me to look at a situation and do the right thing, even if it means I may lose my "me time."  Even if it means I have to spend my valuable time with people I don't like or agree with.

It tells me that I need to be a bigger man.  And that a man gives everything for the sake of his family.  For his marriage.

I'm not perfect and in no way do I claim to be superior to other guys.  My inability to trust my peers doesn't stem from arrogance.  I feel that with each generation of men, we get weaker and more self-centered.  We claim our masculinity through a variety of excessively-large trucks, television sets, alcohol consumption limits, and such but in the end we grow farther and farther away from the men we are supposed to be... the men we need to be.  And yet, we continue to drift.  What happened to Promise Keepers?  Men of integrity?  What do you do with a generation of men who do not consider marriage a holy, sacred vow but instead an accessory?  Something to add to his social resume?

I didn't need the birth of a child to remind me of the calling I have received. But I do need the Bible to remind me how to live it out.

Sacrifice.  It's not just for Jesus.

That's the other half of responsibility.

Friday, July 27, 2012

shooters sandwich

no idea where this came from... a little research online tells me this is a version of a "shooters sandwich"

thinking of making this for kaytie's birthday or our wedding anniversary

God bless america!

From:                              Eric
Sent:                               Friday, July 27, 2012 8:05 AM
To:                                   Randy Wong
Subject:                          FW: F Chicken

From Kirk…. I thought you would appreciate this.


From: Kirk
Sent: Friday, July 27, 2012 7:57 AM
Subject: FW: F Chicken

Ultimate MAN's dinner!!! 
Here's what you are going to need:

I used a loaf of hard crusted Italian bread, 3 rib eye steaks 1 lb. mushrooms, 1/2 lb. Swiss cheese an onion and 1 lb. of  bacon.

Hollow out the bread.

Cook all of this.

Try to leave the steaks a little rare as they will cook a little more in the sandwich.

Shove one of the steaks in the bread.

Sauce the steak.

I like to have to halves of the sandwich different so I use half thick worchschire sauce and half dijon mustard and horse radish sauce.

Add a layer of bacon.

Add a layer of Swiss cheese.

Stuff in as much of the mushroom and onion mixture you can.

Then add the other steak along with the juices from the pan.

Add a little more sauce.

Top it off with more Swiss cheese.

Put the top of the loaf back on.

Wrap it tightly in butchers' paper

Wrap it tightly in foil

Put a heavy cutting board on top to squish it down.

Now add weight and wait and wait

I used 140lbs of weight and let it sit for 4 hours.

Take weight off

Cut and enjoy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


for the past few weeks we have been buckling down for the "finish line" and waiting for our lives to grow just a bit fuller than it already is. great bread has been baked, chloe's growing up really fast, and i've been thinking about how the concept of a nerd has been watered down by pop-culture.

anyways i haven't had much time to blog but here are a two Legend of Zelda themed links i thought worth looking at:

I don't know how i feel about this
Kaytie enjoys getting on my nerves by making fun of Link's features as feminine (which they are not... they are elvish... no one thought twice about legolas or any of the elves of middle earth) and this video does not help my case.  I appreciate her musical arrangement but... i don't know.  Link doesn't point his toes up in the air.  Ever.  Having said that, the costume is pretty rad.

You thought your parents were weird?
For those who think they have weird parents, imagine if you found this video tape amongst your parents old stuff.  For the record, no these are not my parents.  Although I admit i would be supremely jazzed if my parents were in this video.

Old Legend of Zelda Commercials
#8 is my personal favorite

It's funny because it's true...
YouTube - Peach and Zelda boyfriends

And finally...
YouTube - Zelda and Peach catch up

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dijon marinated chicken and olives

Last week was marked with cooler weather and this worked well on one of the breezier, cooler nights.

2 tablespoons whole-grain dijon mustard
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves

2 chicken breasts

1.5-2 cups green olives
1 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 pound tomatoes (i had romas on hand for this one)
2 cups white wine

Preheat oven to 425 deg F.

Mix the first four in a bowl and marinate the chicken breasts for 15+ minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a dutch oven on medium high until just smoking and sear the chicken breasts on both sides, about 2-3 minutes each side.  Remove chicken to a plate, lower the heat to medium, and add the wine and cook the alcohol off - about 1-2 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients, stir, place the chicken breasts on top, cover with lid, and place in oven for about 10-15 minutes until mushrooms are just cooked.  I like my mushrooms just barely cooked as the residual heat from the dutch oven will continue cooking the mushrooms after you take the pot out of the oven.

Spoon into a bowl with lots of sauce and serve with bread.  We used toasted pita which made great spoons.