Raise a Glass to Will and Erwynn

This week, here in San Diego, is PRIDE week. Just like the past few years, our church, Missiongathering Christian Church, has put up a billboard in an effort to communicate God’s love for ALL.

I was talking with one friend yesterday who was bringing me up to speed on how, for the first time in SD history, servicemembers will be marching in uniform in the Saturday PRIDE Parade. (This effort has been led by another friend of mine, Sean Sala. Attaboy Sean!) What a fantastic moment that will be!

Naturally, my mind was taken back to last September when DADT was repealed. And if you know my story, you’ll remember that on that night I posted on my Facebook page a link to an article announcing DADT’s repeal, with my caption of, “Glad this day finally came!”

And, as fate would have it, I was then ceremoniously fired from my job seven days later when my church discovered my beliefs on sexuality and the Bible.

But then ALSO yesterday, another friend of mine sent me an email with a link to this incredible story about two gay servicemembers who just recently got married (er, um, “civil unioned,” excuse me… ergh…). They had the first publicly announced gay civil union or wedding ever to take place on an American military installation. It’s a fairly lengthy story, but well worth your time. Such a sweet story.

Something stood out to me, though, and that is the reason for this post.

The two men, Will and Erwynn, had been secretly dating each other for a while, but neither could be open about it because they were both active servicemembers and DADT was still in full force. However, the night DADT was repealed, while I was busy getting myself fired, they ALSO posted on their Facebook and announced their relationship for the first time publicly.

Check out this excerpt from the article:

But last September, on the day DADT was repealed, Will and Erwynn celebrated by coming out on Facebook. They posted pictures together and declared that they were engaged. The news immediately sparked a wave of surprise through the Behrens family (ed note: that’s Will’s family). His aunts reached out to him. Since Will isn’t on speaking terms with his parents, he had assumed that no one in the family wanted anything to do with him. Facebook allowed him to reconnect with his father’s family.

How amazing is that?

On the same night, while I was sharing about DADT’s repeal and unknowingly setting in to motion my termination, Will and Erwynn on the other side of the country were simultaneously sharing about the repeal, but THEIR status update led to some beautiful reconciliation.

Mine led to death.
Their’s led to life.

Mine led to pain.
Their’s to healing.

And you know what? I’ll take it.

Any day, I’ll take it.

If just a little bit of my “white-straight-male” privileged self gets taken away, damaged, or broken, but it can mean in some small way that two gay servicemembers find a path to healing, hope and reconciliation… then I’ll take it.

So I lift a glass to you Will and to you Erwynn. Congratulations on your marriage, and may you share a life of happiness together.

And I’m honored that both of our lives were radically altered back on Sept 20th when we both decided to post that night to our Facebook page.


Hi. My Name is Colby, and I am a Coffee Snob

In the Beginning

I vividly remember my first dance with the black liquid gold, my first wide-eyed wonderment at the magic bean, my first caffeinated high at the “puts-hair-on-your-chest” concoction (for the record, it did).

It was the summer of  1996 and I was at an Assemblies of God church camp with my aunt and uncle, who was the pastor of the church. The night before we all stayed up late playing a game called “KGB,” a mix of capture the flag, kick the can, and hide and seek.

The following morning I sauntered in to the mess hall and found myself mindlessly wandering towards the “coffee station.”

Certain I would despise the taste, but deciding the possible energy kick would be worth it, I grab a Styrofoam cup and proceed to pour from this oversized, stinky, probably-been-here-since-1967 percolator. Mixing in some sugar packets (clearly this would help the taste, right?) I stirred and stared at this bubbling blackness, slightly cringing at the smell.

Rising the cup to my lips, tentative so as not to burn my mouth, I let the steaming tar flow towards my tongue.

And it tasted like shit.

(For the record, that might officially be the first time I dropped the word “shit” on my blog. But if that word doesn’t describe the taste perfectly, then I don’t know what would!)

Vowing to never drink the stuff again, I tossed the remainder of the cup in the trash.

Discovering Starchunks (aka: Starbucks)

Then in college, something else happened.

Sure, there were plenty of late nights that led to early morning classes, wherein SOME sort of energy kick was needed. But it wasn’t until I discovered the sugary-sweet-foamy world of lattes and mochas that I really started to understand the draw of coffee.

It turns out, it doesn’t HAVE to suck.

It doesn’t have to taste like a 1967 percolator from an Assemblies of God church camp.

Several friends in college worked at the local Starbucks and were more than willing to broaden my exposure to the world of coffee.

Now, mind you, I STILL wouldn’t drink it black. On the rare ocassion that I ordered just plain coffee I would always lighten it up with some half-n-half.

But my love for vanilla lattes and mocha frappuccinos grew. (even as my wallet shrunk)

And these would be my drinks of choice for years. Shots of espresso with steamed milk, in some shape or form. Iced when the day called for it. And generally sweetened in some for or another. Yummy to drink. Good for energy. And heck, the rest of the world was doing it, so now I fit in!

The Promise Land (aka: Cartel Coffee Lab)

In 2008, while working at The Grove in Chandler, AZ, one of my dear friends, the Pastor of Spiritual Formation Matt Stowell, started telling me about this coffee shop he found up in Tempe, by ASU. It was called Cartel Coffee Lab, and Matt began describing the vibe of the place. (Later, another friend would accuse it of being too full of “hipster shit heads.” Which was true. And now, I’ve dropped shit twice. <————- #awesomesentencealert

Matt talked about how, when you order a cup of coffee, you don’t dare order a “medium.” Small or large only.

And if you order a mocha, they’ll probably laugh at you.

And then after you order, they ask you what kind of coffee you want. As in, what type of beans. As in, from what region of the world would you like to drink today? None of this “blend” junk that most places serve. No, it’s all about single-origin coffee. Beans from one farm, from one region of the world. Capturing all the nuances of that area (soil type, elevation, weather, etc).

Once you pick your beans, they weigh out exactly the amount of grams needed for just one cup of coffee. They grind up the beans, and pull out this funky contraption that sits above your coffee cup and holds a single ceramic cone device.

This, my friends, is commonly referred to as the “pour over method” of brewing coffee.

And it is brilliant.

They pour the water in the filter in just such a way as to maximize the extraction of the flavors of the coffee. And all the love and attention is just for you. Just for your cup.

When I tried my first pour over coffee, I didn’t dare jack it up by adding anything silly (like sweetener or half n half). No, you gotta respect the bean, man. And upon that first drink, I knew that was it.

Goodbye frappuccinos.

Goodbye sugary lattes.

Goodbye flavored creamers.

And hello, Coffee.

In Search for a San Diego Cup

About a year after discovering Cartel, our own church opened up a coffee shop on our campus, The Grove Coffee Co, and we actually served Cartel Coffee. Their baristas trained our baristas, and I had instant access to amazing coffee every day of the week. Just a 20 second walk away.

Life was good.

Then, after moving back to Oregon last November, the house we rented was right across the street from Broadway Coffee, arguably the cities premiere coffee-snobbery locale. They got their coffee from the geniuses up at Stumptown in Portland, and they also practiced the pour-over (as well as other fantastic brewing methods like the Chemex and the Aeropress.)

Again, I was spoiled by access to fantastic coffee, brewed just the way Jesus probably makes it every morning for the saints around the throne.

But once we moved to our new home, here in San Diego, I was bummed.

I could not find a coffee shop that would fulfill the full-fledged coffee snob in me.
Sure, there are great little shops like Santos Coffee, and Filter is nice. Cafe Calabria has pretty good coffee, too.

But it’s just not the same. Trust me.

Once you go black (from a pour-over), you never bo back.

Then, one Sunday morning during sound check, I overheard our guitar player, Dave, talking to someone about a new coffee shop his buddy just opened up. Right around the corner from the church. I kept one ear on the conversation, just out of curiosity.

And then… it happened.

I heard the magic words I’d been longing to hear.

Pour. Over.

Yes, Dave’s friend had just opened up Coffe & Tea Collective, right here on El Cajon Blvd, and they serve their coffe one cup at a time. Via the pour-over method.

This is their Sign out front of the building. Love it!

inside the shop. super clean and simple decor.

Daniel Holcomb, the genius that fulfills my coffee needs.

Spreading my Snobbery

Since discovering Coffee & Tea Collective about a month ago I’ve already taken 5 people there to help expose them to the beauty of how coffee ought to be consumed. One of my missions in life is to elevate people BEYOND the world of Starchunks. To expose them to how coffee is supposed to taste.

To notice the high notes of the beans, not just the dark and murky low tones that are generally over extracted or even burned by roasters like Starchunks.

To enjoy it at the ideal temperature. Not super hot, because that masks the flavor profiles. Serve any beverage at extreme temperatures and you can cover a multitude of sins. Which is why Coors Light demands their beer be so friggin cold! Because, well, it tastes like crap. But if it’s cold enough, and the label will tell you, then drink up! You’ll never notice.

Same with places like Starchunks. Serve the coffee really hot and nobody can tell it tastes terrible.

So, if you live around San Diego, I would highly encourage you to go and check out Coffee & Tea Collective.

Here’s a great write up that UT San Diego just did on them.

Ask them what beans they have roasted that day (they roast right in their shop). Ask them what the differences are, and what to expect. And then watch them as they make a perfect cup JUST for you (and please, don’t muck it up with half n half or sugar. Just try it. Trust me.)

Daniel does free tastings on Saturdays at 9am. As he says,

“We’re going to go over the roasting process. It’s going to be super geeky. But I hope people can connect to the fine aspects of coffee. The dry fragrance or the wet aroma…”

I hope that you too, one day, will become a Coffee Snob.


REVEAL: A Night for Worship in Urban San Diego

We are starting a new initiative here at Missiongathering Christian Church.

It is a consistently non-consistent Sunday Night Worship Gathering. (Meaning, it won’t happen every week… so you’ll just have to follow along to find out when it’s happening next!)

Beginning at 7pm, here at Missiongathering, we invite you to come and join us for a night of worship through music, prayer, meditation, reflection, etc.

Here’s a video to tell you more about it.

See you then!

REVEAL: A Night Of Worship from Missiongathering on Vimeo.

Thoughts on Mr Weed, a Gay Mormon

Josh and Lolly Weed, and their three girls

The other day I came across this story (that broke back in early June… Did I just say “broke back?”) of a guy named Josh Weed and his wife Lolly. I would encourage you to, if you haven’t already, take about 15 minutes and read it. Whatever your current position is on the “gay issue,” I almost promise you that your paradigm will shift as a result. And I have no idea WHICH way it will shift for you, either, and perhaps it will be ever so slightly, but I think a shift will occur nonetheless. If nothing else, it is an incredible love story and there are some great nuggets in it.

Essentially, the gist of the story is this:

Josh discovered at the age of 11 that he was gay. That his only attraction was to boys. Not girls. However, Josh was a part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and within that religion there currently exists no space for someone to be a practicing gay.

As he grew up he become dear friends with Lolly. Also from the LDS church. Eventually he confided in her that he was gay, and together they grew even closer.

They tell the story of how they came to realize that they both loved each other so much (although for him, of course, there was no “attraction” to Lolly), but there was mutual respect, and trust, and intimacy. And neither felt like they could do life without the other, so they married.

Josh talks about how, for him, his commitment to the Mormon church and his desire to have and raise a family were more important to him than his sexual desires and attractions. He talks about how we all, in life, inevitably make sacrifices to live whatever lives we choose. For him, then, he was willing to sacrifice a practicing gay lifestyle so that he could have and raise a family, spend his life with his best friend Lolly, and stay a part of the LDS church. (I’m seriously doing injustice to their story with my recap. You really should read it.)

They also describe how they have a very happy sex life. For him, Josh says, the most important aspect, or GOAL of sex is intimacy. And so, as they tell it, regardless of whether or not Josh is attracted to Lolly, they still find deep intimacy in their sex life because of their commitment to honesty and openness and communication, etc.

I haven’t been able to get their story out of my head, and I’ve engaged on FB a little about it with others.

There were things about this story that I just LOVED!
And things about it that bummed me out.

So here’s a couple thoughts I’d like to share about their story, and I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.
Thoughts on what I appreciated about the blog, and what bummed me out.

(And, in the event you feel weird talking about other people’s story, THAT is one of the reasons they put it out there. On their blog. For the world to read. They are encouraging open dialogue on these issues. Now, I will do my best to not make judgements or assumptions about them, because really we only know what they tell us.)

I Appreciated the Reminder that Love is About More than Sex

This should go without saying, and yet I think it needs to be said in light of a story like this. Some people would seriously doubt that an openly gay man can marry a straight woman and be happy! But don’t we all know that loving someone is about more than the sex we have with them? I have zero doubts that these two love each other deeply, and are extremely committed to one another. Sex probably ranks differently for different couples with regards to how important it is to their love life, but all would agree that it does not start or stop there.

I Appreciated the Thought that Sex is About More than Attraction… Right?

Okay, so yes, I agree with Josh when he writes,

when sex is done right, at its deepest level it is about intimacy. It is about one human-being connecting with another human-being they love. It is a beautiful physical manifestation of two people being connected in a truly vulnerable, intimate manner because they love each other profoundly. It is bodies connecting and souls connecting. It is beautiful and rich and fulfilling and spiritual and amazing.

It isn’t just about being attracted to the other person.

But, that being said, I’m not sure that for ME I could accomplish the above (intimacy, connectivity, etc) without being attracted to the other person. Now, what does it MEAN to be “attracted?” I think, in this context at least, it isn’t about whether or not the other person is “attractive.” It’s about whether or not I am wired to be attracted to this or that type of person. And for Josh, as he says, he is not attracted to females. So he is saying that he is able to achieve the above reality in spite of not being attracted to his wife.

This seems strange and unlikely to me.
But again, that is just me.
I have no reason not to trust them.

(An aside: one thing their blog didn’t address was whether or not Lolly was physically/sexually attracted to Josh. I’m curious about that dynamic. Does SHE, as a straight woman, find Josh to be attractive in THAT way? Wow… this feels really weird to talk about, doesn’t it…)

I Appreciate Their Sacrifices… They are Incredible

When Josh describes how, for him, he wasn’t willing to give up the Mormon Church, or give up raising a biological family IN the Mormon Church, or give up his best friend, Lolly, so that he could live a gay lifestyle, I find that pretty amazing.

People for millennia have been sacrificing sexual desires for the sake of following Christ (i.e. nuns, priests, missionaries in the vein of the Apostle Paul), but not many are on record for something like this. An openly gay person choosing to stay and enjoy a mixed marriage for the sake of the above. I think it’s a beautiful thing.

I am Bummed and Wish They Didn’t Have to Make Such Sacrifices

That being said, I am of the opinion that this type of sacrifice should not HAVE to be chosen. Meaning, I wish that a person’s religious context (and some of them do, but definitely not this one) supported them in their orientation and blessed them to have a marriage with the type of person they were created to want to be with. If the Mormon church was Open and Affirming towards LGBTQ, then perhaps Josh would never feel like he HAD to make a choice: Religion or Orientation. If the Mormon church was Open and Affirming and didn’t have such narrow definitions of what makes a real marriage and a real family, then perhaps Josh would never feel like he HAD to make a choice: Dream of Biological/Accepted Family or Different Kind of Family but Still Accepted and Encouraged. And if Josh felt, in all these ways, like he could truly be who God made him to be, then I imagine maybe he could have still maintained an incredibly close relationship with Lolly without needing/wanting to marry her.

(I am trying not to judge them or their relationship. I am just postulating what might have been had these two grown up in a more inclusive, tolerant and open environment. Who knows, perhaps even if all that WAS the case, maybe they’d STILL want to be married. Maybe… but I doubt it.)

And I’m not picking on the Mormon Church at ALL, here. Almost any and all other “Christian” religions/denominations also create this same sort of environment, where gay people have to make choices on what to sacrifice.

Do I stay in the closet and maintain my community of friends and family?
Do I stay in the closet so I can still be a part of my church?
Do I stay in the closet and just marry someone of the opposite sex so that I can have a family?

I Appreciate that They Have Given their Kids an Incredible Story

Their three little girls will be growing up in to quite the amazing home.

They will get to see that “being gay” is not evil.

They will get to see what commitment and sacrifice really mean.

They will be loved, I’m sure, in an overflowing way.

They will have a story to tell for the rest of their lives.

I Hope it Continues to Work Out the Way it Has Thus Far 

This is, unfortunately, the “skeptic” in me coming out. As I read this, I had to continually challenge the thoughts that kept creeping in to my mind like, “yeah, that’ll blow up in their face one day,” or “wow, that won’t last,” or other such related thoughts.

I want to take them at their word. I want to believe them when they talk about being happy and healthy.

And so I will choose to.

However, forgive me if I still have my reservations.

I know a guy who suppressed his orientation for decades while in an opposite-sex marriage. Raised a family. Had a career. Was happy and “healthy.” Until, well, it all sort of blew up on him… and his family. Now he is out (finally) and living in to his orientation and identity and is happier than ever, but his family was wrecked as a result. A person can only suppress who they are for so long before generally bad things will happen. Of course, this guy and Josh’s story are different in that Josh is open about being gay, and is not trying to actively pray it away (like this other guy was). But still, I wonder how long a person can truly “live straight,” when they’re gay.

I know another guy who is gay, and is still in a straight marriage. But has not come out (and doesn’t seem to be any time soon). And I see, from a distance, how it is eating him up and slowly chipping away at his stability and sanity.

And there are stories after stories of people who were gay and tried to live in a straight relationship only to have it not work out. Most of those, I believe, are stories where the gay person stays in the closet. So maybe because Josh is out, that will help… I HOPE it helps.

I hope that ten, twenty, thirty years from now, there is not another blog that comes out from them and recants. Says that they were wrong to have married. That would be a travesty and devastation, and even writing it feels awful. I hope they can be the exception, because they both truly seem to WANT to be.

I Am Bummed that this Appears to Perpetuate the Idea that Being Gay is Okay as Long as You Don’t Do Gay Stuff

While this story is encouraging and inspiring on a number of levels, it does seem to perpetuate the notion that it’s okay if you’re gay, just so long as you don’t actually DO anything about your gayness. Now granted, this posture is better than the one that says just BEING gay is sinful. So there’s that. But practically speaking, I’m not sure this posture is much better.

Young people who are growing up and discovering they identify as queer need to be told that that is okay. That that is who God made them to be. And invite them to discover how to grow and mature in a healthy and loving and respectful manner.

As long as we keep creating environments that tell young people that it’s only okay to be gay if you don’t ACT gay, then we will continue to do great damage.

I don’t know how Josh ultimately feels about this issue. He didn’t seem to say, “to choose the gay lifestyle would be wrong, and should not be done.”

He just stated that for him it would have meant not getting to be a part of the LDS church.

So perhaps he believes that it would be “okay” for other people who are gay to live out their orientation. And if so, I hope that one day he will come out and says precisely that.

I Appreciated Their Courage

Opening yourselves up like this could NOT have been easy in any way. It took unbelievable courage to write that blog and to post it for the world to see. They are truly putting themselves out there, and I hope they are discovering more “good” out of it than “bad.”

They will certainly take shots from people (perhaps this blog post here, being one of them?), but I hope they receive even more encouragement.

I Appreciated their Love for their Readers

They took great pains to make sure that those reading their blog felt loved, appreciated and encouraged. They deeply wanted to support others in whatever ways they could. Their heart for people was clear!

Something I Wish I Could Ask Josh

My biggest question for Josh would be this: Do you believe that God created you to be Gay?

Based on his post, he clearly is aware that he didn’t CHOOSE to be gay. He is gay, he knows that, and he accepts it without question.

However, I wonder if he takes the next step and would say that God created him to be that way? He clearly believes in God, but does he think he is gay because of God’s design? That God did not screw up when making him as he is?

Because if he would say “yes, I believe this is how God made me,” then I wonder how he would respond to the following question: “do you think you are being disobedient to God, then, for not living in fuller acceptance of who you are?” Or, to put it differently, “do you think God is offended that you would choose to be with a woman when he clearly designed you to be with a man?”

I would be fascinated to know what his thoughts are on that.

Some could understand Paul’s words in Romans chapter 1 to suggest that people are sinning against God when they do what is unnatural for them.
What is against their nature.

Could it be said that for a gay man, like Josh, to be with a woman in a sexual way is going against his nature, and is therefore in direct opposition to God’s design?

I am just really curious as to how Josh reconciles his belief in God, his acceptance of the fact that his gay, his choosing to not live in that reality/orientation, and how that reflects back on the way in which God made him?

What About You?

If you read this, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section about what stood out to you. Positive or negative.

20 Cliches Christians Shouldn’t Use

My buddy Christian Piatt, who blogs over at Patheos.com, compiled last week a list of Ten Cliches Christians Shouldn’t Use. He followed up today with another list of Ten, after his first list prompted his readers to send in more cliches.

You should follow the links above, because he fleshes out each one a bit, and explains why he is against these cliches.

Here is his original Top 10 (in no particular order):

  1. Everything happens for a reason.
  2. If you died today, do you know where you’d spend eternity?
  3. He/She is in a better place.
  4. Can I share a little bit about my faith with you?
  5. You should come to church with me on Sunday
  6. Have you asked Jesus in to your heart?
  7. Do you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?
  8. This could be the End of Days!
  9. Jesus died for your sins.
  10. Will all the visitors this morning please stand up?

    And here’s the second, suplemental list:

  11. Love the sinner, hate the sin.
  12. The Bible clearly says…
  13. God must’ve needed another angel in Heaven, so he called him/her home.
  14. Are you saved?
  15. The Lord never gives someone more than they can handle.
  16. America was founded as a Christian nation.
  17. The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.
  18. It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.
  19. Jesus was a Democrat/Republican.
  20. (insert sin here) is an abomination in the eyes of God.

Most of these 20 cliches I whole-heartedly agree that followers of Jesus should simply eradicate from their vocabulary.

My personal favs (or should I say, unfavs?): 1, 6, 8, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18.

Those, I think, if never said again by another human, would almost instantly create a better society.

Others have, well, better intentions behind them, but can still be used in such poor taste that again, it might be better to leave them behind.

Here’s the ones that I think don’t necessarily have to be eradicated, as much as they have to be used sparingly, with great caution, and in the right context: 4, 5, 19.

What about you?

How does this list strike you?

4th of July: Beach, Fireworks, and When Lying to Your Kids Backfires

Yesterday, for July 4th, we took the kids up to La Jolla to hike around Scripps Coastal Reserve. We all loved watching hang-gliders casually float through the air right before our eyes. Kate and I pushed back envy as we surveyed the incredible houses lining the shore. The boys loved pushing the boundaries on how far out they could go on the cliffs before being reprimanded. It was a great time to get in a little nature, learn more about San Diego wildlife, and do something together as a family. Oh, and Huck thought the hiking backpack was the greatest thing in the world!

Then we made our way down to the beach where there are some really great tide pools. Kate finds never ending wonder in touching sea anemones and watching them close up. In that way, Zeke was just like mom. Tai however, much more like dad, “you want me to touch WHAT?!” Jae is still working through his love/hate relationship with the beach. Just the mention of the word at home fills him with giddy excitement, as he runs around yelling “we go to da beeech! Da beeech!” And yet, once we actually arrive at the sandy shores, he terrifyingly leaps in to my arms and refuses to be put down. Not on rocks. Not on sand. And absolutely not in the water.

Kate and the boys jumping rocks and searching for sea creatures

By the Pier

Returning home for dinner (some homemade chili over baked potatoes.. yum!), we all relaxed a bit and made our plans to walk a half mile west towards Bird Park, where there would be prime visibility to watch San Diego’s Big Bay Boom. A nationally famous firework show that gets set off from five floating barges spread throughout the bay. Kate’s love for fireworks has been passed on to especially Zeke, but all the boys were excitedly anticipating watching this show of epic proportions.

So, pushing two strollers filled with kids and blankets and carrying two camping chairs, we set out at 8:15 to make our way to the park. Once we arrived we realized just how popular this spot was for watching the show, but we luckily found an open patch of grass to set up our area. There were food trucks and family parties, outdoor games and people dancing. Many folks just all having a great time eating, drinking, (some smoking weed… I think Kate got second-hand high), and waiting for the fireworks show to start at 9pm.

Waiting anxiously for the SHOW that would never come.

Zeke kept asking about every two minutes, “what time is it now!?” … “is it 9 o’clock yet?!” The kid was silly excited. As was Tai. As was Kate. Even Jae couldn’t stop talking about the “color booms!” (an apropos euphemism, I think).

And then, at about five minutes till, we see in the distance a huge firey mess light up the sky. Coming from four of the five locations, what appeared to be a jumble of fireworks all sort of mashed together at one time. There appeared a brilliant display of fireworks that lasted all of ten seconds and then stopped. Followed by a very loud “boom!”

I’ve been to a few shows in my lifetime to know that it’s not uncommon to set off a few warning shots to let the crowd know it’s about to start. Akin to flickering the lights at a broadway show.

So now everyone has found their seats and the excitement in the air at Bird Park is palpable.

The kids are wrapped in a blanket and Jae keeps yelling and pointing, “color boom! color boom!”

Another minute goes by… nothing.

Two more minutes… nothing.

9 o’clock comes… then goes… nothing.

At about 9:10, Zeke asks me what’s going on. “Any minute now it’ll start. Just hold on.” My exterior confidence betrays my interior musings… it’s unusual for an event of this magnitude to be this delayed…

At about 9:20, Zeke’s patience is all but gone. “Daddy, what’s going on?!”

“I don’t know, buddy,” I admit, “let me call the Firework Marshal and find out.” (Cause everyone knows there exists a Firework Marshal for this sort of thing).

I should say that I am totally cool with “lying” to your kids. I use the word “lie” kind of loosely, and regrettably. It sounds so harsh… I prefer, “stretch-the-imagination-of.”

At this point I should also tell you that, for the most part, my almost-8-year-old sees through pretty much all of my attempts at being ridiculous. He rarely will copy the funny things I ask him to repeat, or buy in to my suggestions that we just skip eating for the day when he asks for a snack, or give me two giant eye rolls if I try and convince him of anything that contradicts what he might have read in a book or a National Geographic. Despite Kate and mine’s best attempts to keep the wonder in our children, (and trust me, there is still a lot of wonder in Zeke’s mind), he still is demonstrating a remarkable resilience to the goofiness and truth-stretchings of Daddy.

For some reason, though, on this occasion, it seemed 100% normal that dad would have the cell number for the Firework Marshal, and also have the relational context to just call him up minutes after his expansive show was supposed to go off.

I couldn’t tell if:

A) Zeke thinks so highly of me that, well, of COURSE his daddy would know the Firework Marshal. He’s awesome.

B) At this point, he was so tired of waiting, and at 9:30 at night his defenses were down so he didn’t have the energy to question me.

C) In his world, the Firework Marshal is somebody that anybody can just call up. So it’s completely normal.

For what it’s worth, I chose to (and still choose to), believe it was A.

Anyways, so I grab my phone and pretend to call the Firework Marshal. When he “answers,” I create a conversation that leads Zeke and Tai to believe that I’m talking to the Marshal and he is explaining to me that they couldn’t find the matches to light the fireworks so they are waiting for someone to run to Walmart and get some.

And this explanation makes complete sense to the boys, and they are totally satisfied. They turn back around and commence their waiting, confident that the show would start as soon as someone gets the Firework Marshal some damn matches!

I put my phone away and smile to myself, feeling a bit proud that I actually pulled this one off.

And then, not two minutes after the “phone call,” a lady comes walking towards us with her blankets all folded up and her kids in tow.

“There won’t be any show,” she says, holding her smart phone out in front of her. “The news is reporting that all the fireworks went off a one time. No one was hurt, but there are no fireworks left and the show is cancelled.”

All fireworks going off at once.

Kate and I turn to each other in horror… no fireworks show… ah crap.

I quickly get in to beat-the-crowd-mode and start folding the blankets and taking the chairs down, barking out orders to start to filing out.

Meanwhile, Zeke’s emotional cup spilleth over. Buckets of tears laced with disappointment streamed down his face as the realization sunk in that there would be no fireworks. No color booms. No showers of sparks to fill the sky and capture the wonder and awe of this almost-8 year old’s soul.

Kate tried to comfort him, but little helped. He was crushed.

About 5 minutes in to our long walk home, feeling defeated and bummed, Zeke’s mind evidently was trying to reconcile what just happened with what his daddy told him only moments before. As I’m pushing Jae’s stroller across the broken sidewalks, Zeke turns to me with confusion and asks, “But daddy, I thought you called the Firework Marshal and he said they just needed some matches??”


Those are the moments that, as a parent, you question the value in “lying” to your children.

I had no answer. I think I just mumbled something like, “I know buddy… I’m sorry…” and then changed the subject.

One moment I was feeling great, thinking I’d bought our family some precious time in the patience-game by convincing my kids I had the Firework Marshal on speed dial.
The next moment I was confronted with the fact that the stories we tell our children don’t always work in our favor.

That being said, yesterday was a great first 4th of July for our family here in San Diego. I recorded a firework show on TV last night, so maybe Zeke, Tai and Jae will enjoy watching the color-booms in High Def. And then again, maybe not.

But I do know this: if for some reason the show didn’t record last night, I don’t plan on “calling the Dish Network Manager to find out what happened.”

(Here’s a video of the FireWORK show)