Professor Media Matters

I am a media professional with 6 years as a TV producer and reporter, and college professor in the field of Communications. I am also a Conservative with a passion for pop culture. This will be my attempt to put the "me" in media. It will be my take on movies, TV, books, magazines, newspapers, the Internet and all that is the worldwide media.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

PARKER'S STORY (with extras)

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, I am posting a devotional from my book about my son, Parker's Story: Essays on Autism and Awesometism.

KEY VERSE:

He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. Job 5:9

ESSAY:

            “There’s something wrong with his brain.” Those were the words my wife shared with me on the telephone more than 6 years ago. Her doctor had called two days after a routine ultrasound to give her the bad news. Actually there were a bunch of somethings wrong with his brain. My wife bravely relayed the medical information to me. But of course all I focused on was, “THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH HIS BRAIN.” I tried to remain calm and reassuring, reminding her that people would pray. God was in control. But as soon as she hung up I startled my co-workers with my sobbing. I couldn’t talk I was so overwhelmed. All I could get out was “There’s something wrong with his brain.” I was 38 years old and this was my one chance to be a parent. My wife had already had one miscarriage and the doctor told us it would be difficult to conceive again. And then, miracle number one, we did. Now it seemed it was all slipping away. But it didn’t, it just got more difficult. Most things in life worth fighting for are more difficult. There were multiple ultrasounds, MRI’s, heart monitorings, surgery consultations. Our son had more doctors than the state of Kansas and he wasn’t even born yet. And we weren’t sure he ever would be. But now the rest of the story. Six years ago today, after a long and arduous pregnancy, my beautiful wife gave birth to our son Parker, miracle number two. Then came every miracle after that – sitting up, crawling, feeding himself, walking, talking. The miracles have become too numerous to mention. But we must mention them. People say God only performed miracles in the Old and New Testament. They are wrong. God still performs miracles today. I have one living in my house. He calls me “Daddy.” Maybe the reason we don’t see more miracles is after one tough phone call, we abort the miracle process. And when we do it’s because there’s something wrong with our brain.

APPLICATION:
            My hope is that there are two lessons to be learned from this essay. The first lesson is that God is still in the miracle business. God’s ability to perform miracles is just as alive and well today as it was in the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The second lesson is that life itself is a miracle and as Christians we should celebrate and protect all life, even unborn life. Even the life of the (potentially) disabled. Today find a pro-life organization that you can support with your prayer, time, talent and/or money.

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Blogging about Blinkers

We have lost our ability to use our blinkers. As a nation, collectively, we have lost our ability to use our blinkers. Just like we have lost the ability to resist trashy reality TV programming. The Kartrashians could move next to the Osbournes and they could open up lemonade stands in their driveways and it would be a top ten hit. I think our blinker issue is because of all the processed food we eat nowadays. Let’s blame it on the Twinkies. I am convinced there is some chemical in Twinkies that has altered our mental ability to anticipate and use our car blinkers. Even when Twinkies went away for a while (Oh, the horror. My therapist is still on speed dial.) we still failed to use the blinker. Maybe if there had been an afterschool special when we were younger about the trauma caused by not using our blinkers, starring Scott Baio and Cloris Leachman, we would have changed our blinker-avoiding ways. But we’re beyond that now. All because of Twinkies. And NASCAR. Yah, NASCAR doesn’t help. You don’t see Kurt Busch using his blinker when he cuts off Brad Keselowski on the third curve of the 240th lap. That is about as likely as Jeff Gordon stopping in the middle of a race, blocking a lane and rolling down his window to ask Jimmie Johnson, “pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?” Not gonna happen. NASCAR vehicles don’t even have blinkers. When I die, hopefully not as a result of someone failing to use their blinker, I want a simple phrase on my tombstone. “He always used his blinker.” It’s true. Always have, always will. Except occasionally when I forget or I am in a hurry to get home because I really have to pee. But most of the time I use my blinker. It frustrates me when people don’t use their blinker. Perhaps we could save the younger generation by inventing a video game where the goal is to use your blinker. In order to save the queen, or win the battle, or plunder the treasure (or whatever you do in video games these days), you have to excel at using the blinker. Use your blinker and get 500 points. Use it two times in a row and get an extra life. Use it with your left hand while holding your cell phone in your right hand and you get nothing. Because talking on your cell phone while driving is even worse than not using your blinker. I can’t put anything about that on my tombstone because, in all honesty, I need to work on that. But you can put the part about the blinker. Maybe my tombstone could even have a blinker, a light that flashes on and on while the throngs of people come to visit my grave. Or not. Just when you come to visit, please use your blinker. 

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Friday, April 21, 2017

CALLING ALL SOLDIERS

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, I am posting a devotional from my book about my son, Parker's Story: Essays on Autism and Awesometism.

KEY VERSE:

 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13

ESSAY:

            A while back a caller on the radio version of the Sean Hannity Show said her son was leaving soon for armed forces basic training. She described his decision to join the military as a “calling,” as if it was something he was born to do. She said she was very proud of her son and his decision, and indeed we all should be.

            For those like me who grew up in Christianity, we’re familiar with the idea of a “calling.” It seems it is most closely identified with religion, as if God has “called” you into the ministry. He has spoken directly to you and told you to become a pastor or a missionary. But I believe it can be applied to other career fields as well, outside of religion. After all, this young man felt “called” to be a soldier. And in these dangerous times that we live in, we should all be thankful he did.

            I read an interesting book t about that elaborates on this drive in men and boys. Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul by John Eldredge talks about how God creates boys to be rambunctious, rowdy, to play with toy guns and pretend to be cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers. My six year old son likes to pretend to play Wipeout and jumps from chair to chair imitating the obstacles he sees on the hit ABC television show. I used to try and stop him, fearing he would get hurt. But now I realize it is just the way he is wired. No matter where we are: McDonald’s, the mall, a hotel room – give my son a few steps to climb and some chairs and he will turn it into a Wipeout-worthy obstacle course. He is so creative and active.

            So this is how Parker has been playing Wipeout all weekend. We pushed his bed along the back wall. Then he stands on a little footstool about two feet away from his bed. And he jumps to the bed. If he makes it without falling off, he has advanced to the Wipeout Zone. If he lands short or falls off, then he has to pretend to swim back and try again. He lets me do the play by play announcing like I am one of the star hosts of the show, John Henson. We are loving it. Then there is another obstacle course game he has invented. It is named “Kamikaze” after a Wipeout stunt. It involves me getting on my hands and knees, which is getting harder to do the older I get. Then Parker yells, “Kamikaze” and jumps on my back. It is fun and hilarious. But when a 60 pound six year old repeatedly jumps on you, who knows how long this 44 year old’s back will last. Oh well, it will be fun in the meantime.

            We need boys to play like this. Our society needs to let boys be boys. Sure, they need to follow the rules at school and obey the law, but don’t try to feminize them and take away their toy guns or their rowdiness. Let them be and act like boys. For one day we may need them to harness that rowdiness, that energy to become soldiers. Thank God there are so many men who are willing to do just that. Men like my dad who served in the Korean War and my nephew Kyle (U.S. Air Force) and another nephew Micah (U.S. Army). They epitomize John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

ABOUT AUTISM:

            While my son loves to be rowdy and rambunctious like other boys, he is not likely to ever serve in the military. With autism, cerebral palsy and other significant issues affecting his brain, the U.S. military is not likely to accept him into their ranks.

APPLICATION:

            Is there an area of your life where you feel God is calling you? It may be to become an actual soldier or it may be to step up your game in the spiritual war and become a greater soldier for Christ. Listen to God and His word and answer the call. It won’t be easy, but you also won’t ever regret it.



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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Buy We Bought A Zoo

The Mrs. and I saw a great DVD this weekend: We Bought A Zoo. Such a heartwarming film. Matt Damon is terrific as a harried single dad. He has played that part before, in the infectious disease film Contagion. Maggie Elizabeth Jones is luminescent as his daughter. She is going to be a BIG star. This film teaches so many valuable and/or biblical lessons: 1) do all that you can to protect animals that are under your care, 2) things that you believe in require sacrifice, even financial sacrifice, 3) grief is a process and everyone handles it differently, 4) families have to decide to stick together during the hard times. It is a sad film as one of the main characters has died before the film even begins. So be prepared with Kleenex. There are about 4 swear words in the entire film, so I think it is appropriate for ages 8 and up but requires parental supervision. Watch it with your family. You'll be glad you did.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Neighborhood Diplomacy

We are the only non-minority (white) family in our neighborhood and it is a decent-sized block. There are multiple Hispanic households. Across the street is a nice Samoan couple. Our next door neighbors are black. And we have several immigrant families from Russia and the Ukraine. At our most recent garage sale we were attempting to sell a nice picture frame for 10 cents. An older Russian gentleman wanted to buy it. He gestured to me, as if to ask how much it was. For about 30 awkward seconds I repeated "Dime" "Dime" "Dime" over and over. He did not speak English and I unfortunately did not speak Russian. If there had been onlookers they probably would have laughed at our inability to communicate as I imagine it was pretty entertaining. But the old man was getting stressed. He really wanted that picture frame but we were not understanding one another. So I had an idea and I ran to our cash box. I grabbed the first coin I could find, a nickel. I ran back to the older gentleman and I held the nickel up so he could see it. He still didn't completely understand but he reached into his pants pockets and pulled out a ton of coins. He held them in front of me with both hands. He was letting me take any amount I wanted. I politely reached over to his hands and combed through his money until I found another nickel. Then I help up my nickel and his nickel and smiled. He breathed a sigh of relief and I smiled and said "thank you." He nodded and smiled and walked away a happy customer. Language barrier crisis averted and I even managed to make the sale. Perhaps I should have gone into diplomacy.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Carny Encouragement

“5 darts for $5. Pop 3 balloons and win a BIIIG prize,” he barked. As the carnival crowd ignored him and bustled by, he darted behind the booth for another drag on his cigarette. When he popped his head back around he was startled to see her, as if one of his giant balloons had just exploded.
“Hi dad,” she said.
With the hot sun beating down on his balloon booth he shielded his eyes, pretending to look at her. But it wasn’t really the sun, it was the shame that made him avert her gaze.
“Mom told me where I could find you. She said you had trouble finding work and this was the only place that would hire you.” She paused to fight back the tears. She didn’t realize this would be so hard. His obvious discomfort wasn’t making it any easier.
“I’m sorry I never came to visit you,” she continued.
This was too painful for him and he turned to walk away, though he had no escape. She noticed how thin his frame was, how old and tired he looked. Sure carny workers always look old and tired, but this was different. She had never seen him like this before.
“Don’t go,” she gasped. “It wasn’t just you. I never visited mom, either. When I came back to town I was shocked that you two were still together. That she had waited for you.”
That made him smile and he stopped in his tracks.
“She said she decided to forgive you and that she still loved you. Always loved you. She waited five long years.”
“I don’t deserve your mother,” he stammered.  He thought his baby girl was gone forever. Instead she was here and he was dirty and smelly. He had never wanted her to see him like this. He grabbed some balloons and began blowing them up, trying to keep busy. He needed something to do with his nervous energy.
“I didn’t wait,” she sobbed. Without realizing it, her crying had caused quite a commotion. Carnival goers, always eager to see a freak show, began to stop and stare.
“I got outta town as fast as I could. The only reason I got all those college scholarships is that people felt sorry for me. The good girl from the good family, until the dad got charged with a felony. I was so embarrassed. And I was so angry at you.” The sheer force of that sentence, the first time she had ever spoken those words, compelled her to look directly at him. For one brief moment they locked eyes and he was stung by her anger. He stopped exhaling and the balloon in his mouth shriveled up and fell to the floor. He wished he could do the same.
“My anger was so out of control I ended up following in your footsteps. I became the very thing I hated.”
Those words were a dagger. The last thing a father ever wants to do is hurt his child and he could see how deep a wound he inflicted. He reached out for her but shrunk back in fear.
“I didn’t come back to town because I wanted to. I had to. My anger consumed me and I couldn’t focus on school. I got expelled for cheating. Like father, like daughter.”
As he began to cry he noticed the onlookers and tried to shoo them away. He popped a balloon to break the tension and yelled “Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.”
She thought he was trying to shut her up and she needed to finish. She had to get this off her chest. “No, I’ll pay,” she blurted. “Here’s $5” as she fumbled through her purse. She started talking faster, afraid that he would bolt.
“I came across the letters you wrote me from prison. I had never opened them. I was too good for you. You had hurt me and I wanted nothing to do with you. But then when I saw them again I thought maybe it will be comforting to read about someone’s life that is more messed up than mine.”
An older lady from the crowd approached and handed her a tissue. She wiped away a tear and let out a sigh that could have deflated a row of balloons.
“But I was wrong,” she admitted. “Your letters weren’t messed up. You told me how sorry you were. That you loved me. You took responsibility for your mistake. You shared about the Bible study in your cellblock and asking God to forgive you. You sounded so at peace. And I didn’t have any peace. So I knew I needed to forgive you.”
Murmurs rose up from the crowd like an episode of the Jerry Springer show. Some agreed with her, some walked way in disgust. She turned to look at the crowd, as if to persuade them. “Mom and I agreed. I need to forgive you. I do forgive you, dad.”
Applause broke out amongst her supporters as she looked back at her dad. He ran to the edge of the booth and leaped over the counter. He swung her around in his arms as the remaining crowd hollered their support.



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Monday, April 17, 2017

What's In a (Nick) Name?


In honor of Autism Awareness Month, I am posting a devotional from my book about my son, Parker's Story: Essays on Autism and Awesometism.

KEY VERSE:

The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. John 10:3

ESSAY:

            My handsome Parker is six months old. In those six short months, I have come up with a variety of nicknames for him. I use them all intermittently. None has necessarily risen above the rest and become permanent yet. Here they are, in no particular order. Let me know which one you like best. I'm sure Parker will do the same when he is old enough. Hopefully he won’t be mad at me and think any of them are too silly.

1. Man Cub - what the animals called Mowgli in the film The Jungle Book.
2. Parker Doodles - I stole this one from his Aunt Robin.
3. Sweet Pea - his MRI technician called him that, too. So I know it's universal.
4. Sweetey Petey - a derivative of Sweet Pea.
5. Sweet Potato - a slight change from Sweet Pea, brought about by the recent introduction of this baby food vegetable into Parker's diet.
6. Sweeps or Sweepers – another derivative of Sweet Pea that most recently has really started to stick. I probably use this name the most now, even more than calling him Parker. He really seems to respond to it.
7. Bubba – shortened from Bubba Chunks. My wife gave him this nickname due to his chubby cheeks in infancy.

APPLICATION:

Revel in the fact that Jesus knows your name. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords knows your name. He even knows your nickname, if you have one. And if you have a relationship with Him, He will call you by your name and lead you. If you don’t yet have a relationship with Him, pray these words and believe them in your heart as you do. “Dear Jesus, I am a sinner. Please call me by name and come into my heart. Forgive my sins and be my Savior. Amen.” If you did that for the first time just now, congratulations! Angels in heaven are rejoicing at your decision to follow Jesus. If you are already a Christian, pray right now for someone you know who needs to come to Christ and hear Him calling their name.



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Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Doctor Is Sin

PRO-LIFE MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
You may remember Kevin Sorbo as the muscular action star of the long-running television adventure series Hercules. But now the well-known actor is throwing his muscle into a pro-life media cause.
Sorbo and his wife Sam are putting their weight behind a movie production entitled Gosnell: America’s Biggest Serial Killer. The movie, with the tagline “The Doctor Is Sin,” intends to tell the horrific story of Kermit Gosnell.  A late term abortion doctor in Philadelphia for thirty years, Gosnell was found guilty of multiple murders, including at least 21 late term abortions. In 2013, according to several news outlets, he was sentenced to life without parole.

Mr. and Mrs. Sorbo recorded a video to help promote the fundraising effort designed to get the film into production. According to the film’s Web site, gosnellmovie.com, the crowdfunding effort has raised $2.25 million to pay for the project. The television drama is being made by friends of the Sorbos, journalists Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney. The filmmaking pair may base the drama on actual grand jury testimony and trial transcripts. 

“We pray that the thousands of babies slaughtered are not forgotten,” says Kevin Sorbo in the video. “It’s the crime of the century but most of Hollywood and the media have ignored the story. If the media won’t do their job, then we can do it ourselves.”


Sorbo’s most recent acting effort was in the surprise hit film, God’s Not Dead.

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

PROFESSOR PARKER


In honor of Autism Awareness Month, I am posting a devotional from my book about my son, Parker's Story: Essays on Autism and Awesometism.

KEY VERSE:

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11

ESSAY:

            For six years I worked at a Christian university and loved it. I was even blessed to have an opportunity to teach a number of courses to young people who were preparing to live their lives in service to God. But even though I was once a teacher, being a parent has made me more
of a student.

            See, I have been on a leave of absence from work for three days now, taking care of my newborn son. I am enjoying it immensely, and learning some valuable lessons along the way.

Lesson #1: (Not) Ready, Set, Go!

            When preparing to go on an outing, don't put your child in his car seat too soon. My mistake was it was one of the first things I did. Then I packed the diaper bag. Then I got my personal belongings together. By the time I was actually ready to leave, my son Parker had been in his car seat for 10 minutes and was screaming bloody murder. He was bored, uncomfortable and frustrated. Once we got moving in the car, he calmed down and fell asleep. Nevertheless, I won't make that mistake again. Next time, Parker is the last to get ready to go.

Lesson #2: Skin on Skin

            Give your kid what he wants. The doctors and nurses in the hospital where Parker was born stressed that for infants, skin on skin contact with both parents is essential. Especially during feeding time, let your baby's skin touch your skin. Makes sense, that's pretty much how it's done during breast feeding. So today, I took off my shirt while I gave Parker his bottle. (It's not a sight you want to see. Thank God there is no photographic evidence. ) With just a diaper on, he was sans shirt, too. I put his back up against my chest and rested his head against my arm as I began to feed him. Parker decided he wanted more of snuggle time with daddy, and scooted himself over so that his head was cuddled up against my chest. It was very cute. And it melted this daddy's heart. I didn't protest.

ABOUT AUTISM:

            I have learned more from my son than I will ever teach him. While autistic children often have difficulty bonding, don’t assume they won’t make connections or develop relationships. It might be more difficult, but it is possible. Even as an infant, Parker was cuddling up to his daddy and he has been a daddy’s boy ever since.

APPLICATION:


            If you are a parent, what is something that your child has taught you? Thank God for that right now in prayer. What is something that your child wants that you can give him or her? Often times, they just want more of your time and attention. How can you demonstrate to them that you are listening to them and want to provide for their needs? Pray about it and make a commitment today to spend more time with your children, whatever their age! Take action soon, before you forget your commitment, and make it happen.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Reader Quotes

Here’s what 10 different readers who bought the book have to say about my first novel, The Homeless Informant.

1.      “ 1. "Loving your book.” – Janie 

22. “Your book was a hit -- I loved it and read it in 2 days. Hope you write more soon.” – Alice

33. “It's soooo good.” – Carla 

44. “The price is WAY too low!!! It makes it seem like there must be something wrong with it. I would have paid regular price of at least 9.99 or more!! I LOVED IT!!” – JoLynn

55. “I am in the middle of chapter 9 and I can't stop reading!!!!” – Robert 

66.  “I really enjoyed reading this book. It flowed well and enjoyed the character development. I liked the positive message it provided.” – Anita

77. “This is a five star book. Could not stop reading it. Hope to read more from this author.” – Jan 

88. “Very well written. Good job. Enjoyed reading.” – Tina 

99.  “Enjoyed your book. Hope it becomes a best seller.” – Dell 

110. “I thought it was great.  It was a very easy read and you had many different twists interwoven into it.  It reminded me of Courageous, and almost has the feel of a movie script.  Don't stop writing!  You have a gift for it.” – Kristi 


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Thursday, April 13, 2017

PARKER TICKET



In honor of Autism Awareness Month, I am posting a devotional from my book about my son, Parker's Story: Essays on Autism and Awesometism.

KEY VERSE:

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

ESSAY:

City of Sacramento
PARKER TICKET

Date: 5/2/06
Location: Sutter Memorial Hospital, 5151 F Street
Time: 8:47 AM
Violation: C-Section

License: 19.5 IN., 8 LBS., 15 OZ.
Fine: A lifetime of expenses
Sentence: 18 years (at least) of blessings with Parker Drew Seiber

Officer: Dr. Huiga

Violators: Mr. & Mrs. Seiber

            This is one of the ways I announced Parker’s birth to our family and friends. Instead of a parking ticket, I posted Parker tickets. As expensive as traffic violations like a parking ticket can be, they never equal the expenses of raising a child.

            All kidding aside, please know that along with the expense, there is also joy in raising a child. God promises us that. He says in the Psalms that children are a blessing from the Lord. So don’t just focus on the inconveniences children bring in to our lives without also announcing their arrival and celebrating their lives, too.
ABOUT AUTISM:

            Notice this birth announcement did not mention his health concerns. This was a joyous occasion. There would be plenty of opportunities later to fill people in and ask them to pray about his health concerns. That was a personal choice my wife and I made to celebrate our son and leave his health and well-being in God’s hands.

APPLICATION:

            Think of someone in your life who has just recently had a baby. If you are like me, you can immediately think of several from church or work who have been blessed with a newborn. The next time you are out and about, buy something for that child. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. It could be a toy, or diapers or a cute onesie. Help that family celebrate their new child. And pray for them and the healthy physical and spiritual development of the newest addition to their family.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Pregnancy Cravings

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, I am posting a devotional from my book about my son, Parker's Story: Essays on Autism and Awesometism.

KEY VERSE:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

ESSAY:

            Why is it that my wife is pregnant, but I am the one gaining all of the weight? I hate that.

            It has got me thinking, though, about all of my wife’s pregnancy cravings. She hasn’t really ventured into anything too weird, like pickles dipped in peanut butter, or stuff along those lines. And I am grateful for that. I was never looking forward to the midnight runs to the grocery store for sardines and caramel sauce. Her cravings have been mostly standard, yet surprising, food items.

            At first it was orange soda. We almost bought stock in the beverage company she was guzzling the soda pop so fast. Then we realized that particular brand of orange soda had caffeine, and many healthcare professionals discourage caffeine intake during pregnancy, so that craving was nipped in the bud.

            Then it delved into milkshakes. The thick and creamy ones from a popular fast food joint were a favorite. Until she learned I could make them at home just as good. She traded back and forth between chocolate, chocolate peanut butter and strawberry banana flavored milkshakes. All three flavors got a thumbs up in my book. In fact, I think I’ll go make me a milkshake as soon as I am finished writing this essay. (I just answered my initial question. This is why I am the one gaining all of the pregnancy weight. J )

            Lately it has been peanut butter and jelly sandwiches she is craving. Maybe that is why kids love them so much when they are growing up. Because all their moms ate PB & J while they were in utero. I guess we just revert back to the familiar. I ate sooooooo many peanut butter and jelly “samiches” as a kid. A certain quantity of peanut butter flows through my veins, I am positive of it.

            With only six weeks to go, who knows what food it will be next. But I am guessing it will be delicious. And maybe she’ll let me have a bite!

            The blessing in this cravings distraction is it allows my wife and me to focus on something else rather than worry about the difficulties with her pregnancy and the health of our unborn son. That is in God’s hands and in Philippians 4:6-7 He has commanded us not to worry or be anxious. If we avoid worrying, He will grant us peace, even in the midst of the uncertainty.

ABOUT AUTISM:

We are still in the dark, so to speak, about autism at this juncture. That diagnosis does not come until much later. Still, there are so many other health risks to be concerned about at this point. So I am grateful to God that he did not burden us with the fear of autism as well. We were already on edge.

APPLICATION:


My wife craved certain foods during her pregnancy. But during all times of our lives, we should crave after God’s word. If we do, we’ll learn not to worry and earn the promise of God’s peace. What worry keeps you up at night? What in your life write now is making you anxious? Turn it over to the Prince of Peace. Write a prayer in your journal confessing your worry and counter it with praises and thanksgiving to the God who is always in control.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

IF I ONLY HAD A (HEALTHY) BRAIN

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, I am posting a devotional from my book about my son, Parker's Story: Essays on Autism and Awesometism.

KEY VERSE:

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. 3 John 1:2

ESSAY:

One of my favorite films of all time is the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz. The famous Hollywood musical features a number of song and dance numbers, perhaps none more revealing than the Scarecrow’s plea in his song If I Only Had a Brain.

            That song took on new meaning this week. My wife Stephanie is currently six months pregnant with our first child. A son, his name is Parker. We named him very early on and have been calling him that while he is in the womb. I even have some silly songs, though not as famous as the Scarecrow’s, I sing to him about his name.

            But there was no singing when my wife received the results from her regularly scheduled pregnancy checkup. During the routine and regular ultrasound appointment the doctor discovered a cyst on our son's brain. He immediately referred us to a specialist.

            We had our scheduled appointment with that specialist, a perinatologist, earlier this week. I would characterize most of what we learned as disappointing or scary news, but with the possibility that all might turn out fine. There is still a lot that remains unknown.

            The perinatologist did confirm that Parker has a cyst on his brain. The cyst is, to my eye, quite large, compared to the size of his brain. It is not on the skull, but inside on his actual brain. That is what makes it potentially so dangerous.

            They have determined, for now, there is no medical or surgical procedure they should do for Parker until after he is born. Stephanie has been referred to a pediatric neurosurgeon and for an appointment to have an MRI. The MRI will tell the medical professionals more about where the cyst is located on the brain and what the tissue surrounding the cyst looks like. The neurosurgeon will then interpret the results of the MRI for us and help us determine next steps.

            Best case scenario: Parker is born with a cyst on his brain. Damage to him and his brain would be minimal or nonexistent. And after birth they would perform surgery to drain and/or remove the cyst and that would be a successful procedure.

            Worst case scenario: the existence of the cyst is the result of, or indication of, some sort of leakage or bleeding on the brain. This would/could lead to damaged tissue around the cyst. That damaged tissue could represent permanent brain damage. This is what the MRI is supposed to reveal: if there is any brain damage at this time and if so, to what extent.

            Parker seems fine in every other developmental category except for this problem on his brain. If only it were a hang nail or a stubbed toe. But it is much more serious in that, like Dorothy’s Scarecrow, it involves his brain.

            We are, of course, singing out our prayers to God that there is no brain damage.

ABOUT AUTISM:

At this early stage, we are still not concerned about autism. It has not been mentioned, discussed or diagnosed. Right now we are dealing with all of the other brain abnormalities that the doctors are discovering our son has.

APPLICATION:

In our world we all know someone who is suffering a health crisis. It could be a loved one, a co-worker or even you, the reader. First, start off by singing some praises to God. Lift up your voice in chorus to our Creator and Healer. Then spend a few moments in prayer praying for that person. Thank God for their life and lift up current their health struggles.



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Monday, April 10, 2017

Sutter News Plus: Parker's Story

My employer, Sutter Health, used an article and poem I wrote about my son to support March of Dimes.

"Donating to March of Dimes means donating to a miracle just like mine."




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Sunday, April 09, 2017

BOY OR GIRL? THE AGE OLD QUESTION

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, I am posting a devotional from my book about my son, Parker's Story: Essays on Autism and Awesometism.



KEY VERSE:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

ESSAY:

My beautiful wife is 15 weeks pregnant. Ever since she found out she was expecting, it has been her desire for us to have a baby girl (although I know she'd be happy with a boy). Last week I was inclined to agree with her. I told her with the crazy world that we live in right now, as unstable as it is, maybe if we have a daughter, she'll be less likely to have to grow up and fight in a war someday. (She might choose to join the military on her own, and that would be fine with us. We would support her and be full of pride.) However, my wife said something very wise and selfless in response. She said, if we have a boy, maybe we'll raise him in such a way as to prepare him to be a soldier if in fact his God or his country needs him some day. She's right. We need boys like that. Boys who are strong and courageous. We need families who raise boys like that. No one wants to go to war. But there are times when you must. And if someday my son (or daughter) decides to serve in the military, or even is expected to do so, my prayer is that he is up to the task and willing to do so. His mom and I will be so proud.

ABOUT AUTISM:

According to 2016 information provided by Autism Speaks, a non-profit organization dedicated to learning the impact of autism on individuals and families, boys get diagnosed with autism 5 times more often than girls. It is sobering to think of how a nation’s military is impacted by the large numbers of young men who are most likely not able to serve their country because of their autism.

APPLICATION:

Think of someone you know who is serving in the military. Perhaps it is you or someone in your family. Thank God for their service and bravery. Commit to telling them “thank you for your service” the next time you see them. Thank God that He is willing and able to go with them, wherever they must go and serve. Pray for their safety and for blessings on their family as they both show bravery and make sacrifices for their nation and for freedom.



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Saturday, April 08, 2017

HEARTBEAT, LOOKING FOR A HEARTBEAT

In recognition of Autism Awareness Month, I am posting devotionals from my book about my son, Parker's Story: Essays on Autism and Awesometism.
KEY VERSE:

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.
  Ecclesiastes 11:5

ESSAY:

Do you remember that corny, old Don Johnson song from the 1980s? (Yes, Don Johnson of Miami Vice fame, once thought he could sing, like Eddie Murphy.) The chorus was catchy, with him singing repeatedly about how he was looking for a heartbeat. Well, yesterday my wife and I found one. For the first time we heard the heartbeat of our almost 12-week old baby growing inside his mommy's tummy. It was very emotional. My wife teared up. I teared up just a few weeks earlier when the ultrasound allowed us to see our baby's heartbeat for the first time. A previous miscarriage had resulted in an ultrasound where there was no heartbeat to see (or hear). So hearing and seeing the baby's heartbeat this time around were moments of relief and excitement for us parents-to-be.

Modern technology is marvelous. It allows fathers a glimpse into the life of their unborn baby. The child doesn't grow inside us, kick us, or get our attention in any way besides noticing the growth in the size of our spouse's belly. But now through the ultrasound we get to see inside and I think that helps us feel less detached from the process, and more emotional about it. At least it did for me.

They have been saying for years that technology would make it more difficult for the pro-abortion movement. Now I understand why. When expectant mothers (and fathers) can hear and see their baby's heartbeat and development on a monitor, it becomes more difficult to abort the child. It is no longer an abstract idea, one you can detach yourself from. It becomes a living, breathing entity growing inside. And for me at least, that moment was a bonding experience. The baby doesn't live inside me, but from that moment I saw the heartbeat it began to live inside my heart. And so hearing (and seeing) my child's heartbeat is music to my ears.

ABOUT AUTISM:

Currently, to my knowledge, ultrasounds do not reveal a diagnosis of autism. There is no test that I know of that will determine, before birth, whether or not your child will be on the autism spectrum. So at this point in our journey, my wife and I had no idea what to expect. And I am thankful for that because it allowed me to bond early on with my child, absent of fear or worry. You quickly learn as a parent, and we were about to learn very soon, that there is plenty of time for that later on.

APPLICATION:

Are you or someone you know about to have a blessed new addition to the family? Thank God for creating that baby. Pray for that person, that pregnancy, and that family right now. Ask God to protect the mother, the pregnancy and the delivery. And ask God to give the parents moments of excited anticipation as they wait for their new arrival.




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Friday, April 07, 2017

Parker's Dedication Page


In honor of Autism Awareness Month, I am featuring sections from my book about my son: Parker's Story: Essays on Autism and Awesometism.

This book is dedicated to my son Parker.
You are the inspirational light of my life, Sweepers.
Thanks also to all of the teachers, doctors and therapists
who have poured into Parker’s life in such an
uplifting, patient and selfless way.

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Thursday, April 06, 2017

Song of Stress

In honor of Autism Awareness month, I am sharing this devotional from my book about my son: Parker's Story: Essays on Autism and Awesometism.

KEY VERSE:

 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

ESSAY:

            I wrote my very first praise chorus a while back. I don’t know how to post audio in this book. You don’t really want to hear me sing anyway. All you need to know is that when I try to sing, my son screams, “No!” So you will just have to trust me that it has an original tune to it.

Song of Stress

When I’m angry and I’m stressed,
Then I must remember I’m blessed.
I’m blessed just to worship the Lord.

When I’m angry and I’m stressed,
Then I must remember I’m blessed.
I’m blessed just to worship the Lord.

The Lord for all He’s done for me.
He’s saved me for all eternity.

When I’m angry and I’m stressed,
Then I must remember I’m blessed.
I’m blessed just to worship the Lord.

Oh yes, I will worship the Lord.
Yes I will worship the Lord.

            As you can probably tell by the lyrics, I wrote this song when I was…yes, you guessed it, stressed. I tend to remember to sing it when I am in stressful times, too. It came to mind today as I was worrying about finances. I sing it frequently when I am worried about my son’s health or when his autistic tantrums increase in frequency, duration or intensity. The chorus helps remind me not to focus on myself or the stress, but on God. In that way it has been a big blessing. Maybe one day it can be a blessing to others as well.

ABOUT AUTISM:

            I have not mentioned many details about my son’s tantrums. The truth is, they are difficult to discuss. It is easier and more joyful to write about the triumphant times. But his tantrums are intense and frequent.  They can occur at home or out in public. They can be violent, too – with hitting, kicking and throwing of items. He has broken two windows in our house by throwing items during a tantrum. As he has gotten older the tantrums have become more of a physical battle and he can sometimes land a punch or a hit that stings or even leaves a bruise. Autistic tantrums are not uncommon. Many people on the autism spectrum have them. These individuals cannot process how life is unfolding around them so they act out in one of the only ways they know how.

APPLICATION:

            Since this is a book and you cannot hear me singing the song I wrote, memorize the words and make up your own tune. Teach it to yourself and sing it as a song of praise the next time you find yourself in a stressful situation. It may help to calm you down and focus your thoughts on your Creator. He is the one who can rescue you from your stress. And the next time you see a parent and a child in public battling it out in a chaotic or violent confrontation, pray for them. It may be more than just an unruly situation. The child may have autism which makes it even more difficult to control or contain their behavior.


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