Category Archives: Colin

A Virtue Family Oral History of Game 7 of the World Series

It’s been a couple months, but there are times I’m still nervous. I’m still in disbelief it actually happened. But the Cubs winning the World Series is one of my great life moments.  One of my earliest memories of my grandfather is him taking us to Wrigley Field in the early 80’s, before lights were installed. I remember the Cubs were playing the Dodgers when the Dodgers had players like Mike Marshall and Fernando Valenzuela. It’s the first baseball park memory I have.

Both of my grandfathers lived and died in Illinois without seeing a Cubs World Series Championship. My dad, born in 1950, had not seen it. I’m in my 40’s and it’s been a rough go. It took me an embarrassingly long time to get over Bartman and the 2003 experience.  2007 and 2008 were stuff that leads to learned helplessness.

So the last couple of years have been an amazing run. Like many others did with loved ones, when the Cubs beat the Dodgers to advance to the World Series I thought of that game with my Grandfather back in the early 80’s.

But I almost missed it. I almost didn’t watch Game 7.

Because I live in Manila, the majority of MLB Playoff Games started at 8am my time. And it so happens I spent most of October in PhD intensives starting at….8am.  It was a month of confliction, but I was getting used to not watching. In fact, Game 7 took place on a work day so I was planning, for some odd reason, to head to campus like normal. (What was I thinking?)  But that’s when fate stepped in…or God’s sovereignty…or sheer dumb luck stepped in.

My wife hit a tree.  Pulling out of our driveway she backed into a tree and shattered the rear-view window of our van. T minus 90 minutes until game time.  This is the mighty oak of a tree that did such great damage to our car.

Pulling out of our driveway she backed into a tree and shattered the rear-view window of our van. T minus 90 minutes until game time.  This is the mighty oak of a tree that did such great damage to our car.

This is the mighty oak of a tree that did such great damage to our car.

But it was raining, our kids needed to get to school, and our other car was coded. For those not in Manila, the system to help the traffic problem is that every car is banned from the road for one day out of the week. So we were in a bind – we couldn’t drive the coded car and we couldn’t drive the van without a rear window in the rain.

So we gave up and decided to let the kids stay home, while we balanced watching Game 7 with getting our rear window fixed.  Through the Filipino network – a friend of a friend of the guy raking leaves next store, we got a lead on a place that could do the window and my wife graciously offered to take the car in so that we could watch the game.

The game begins.  I felt sick to my stomach. But Fowler’s lead-off homer helped my nerves.

A few innings later, Kris Bryant scored on an improbably tag-up on a short fly ball.  I yelled something incoherent with intense excitement. My 9-year-old son looks at me, who only knew a few years of Cubs futility before this says to me, “Wow Dad. I’ve never seen you that emotional and excited.”

After the Javy Baez homer in the 5th, I start to let me myself dream a bit and it’s a party in the house. At this point, the van window is fixed and fully restored $100 later. Now our whole family is watching the game.

In the bottom of the 5th, the umpire makes an egregious call on a Kyle Hendricks strikeout pitch and prolongs the inning. I start to fume and bark at the umpire.  My six-year-old daughter looks at me with a disapproving look. This sets the stage for the pitching change and wild pitch and Cleveland scoring a couple runs. I start to feel sick again.

But in the 6th David Ross homers and all is well again and Lester starts mowing down hitters.  Things are looking good again and I’m starting to trip out that this might actually happen.  Then the 8th inning. That awful 8th inning.

Just prior to the Davis gut punch home run, my kids were sensing my excitement and decided to treat me to an early celebration. Bless their hearts. They don’t know about Bartman or Durham or all the other kicks to the groin Cubs fans have endured, leaving us to behave like battered dogs during these moments. My kids were all set to surprise me with full on head to toe Cubs gear, ready to kick off the celebration when – Rajai Davis ties it up with a 2 run home run. I go to my dark place and tell the kids anxiously – “Not now. Not now.  This is bad and they may not win!” My kids are confused. I feel like I’m starting to look at the very gates of hell.

But then, because we’re in Manila – the internet starts going out.  I struggle to watch the bottom of the ninth and rain delay because the stream has to buffer so long. We watch one minute and then wait two minutes, which adds to the agony of the experience.  I thank God for the rain delay but have hope because Schwarber leads off the 10th and he is Babe ruth reincarnated.

Because of the internet delays, I go dark on social media and we watch the 10th. I’m yelling, screaming, and talking at the television like a mad man.  My youngest daughter is disturbed and uncomfortable with the tension in the room – scared by the cheers coming with each hit and play.  She cries “Too loud! Too loud!” But I find out a couple weeks later than somewhere in this period of time she prayed to God that the Cubs would win...probably out of concern for her father’s well being.

The internet speeds up a bit and the Zobrist hit sends us into a frenzy, followed by Montero’s insurance RBI. I’m a nervous wreck that Carl Edwards Jr. is going to try to close the game, all 80 lbs of him. The Indians score and I start to feel sick again. One out away. So close, but so far.

But the internet stops. I have to re-set the router as there is a pitching change being made with the tying run on base. We’re back to internet buffering. My wife is looking at her phone and making a weird look.

The internet gives us just enough to watch the final out and celebration. I realize my wife was sneaking a peak online and got the news a few minutes before we got to watch it. Fortunately, she kept it a secret.

Then my family gave me an authentic Ryne Sandberg jersey (my favorite player as a kid) they found for 10$ at a local mall (God Bless the Philippines!).

And I haven’t been able to stop watching highlights and replays and bad youtube montages since.

I.CAN’T.GET.ENOUGH.

But I still feel nervous thinking about it because there’s part of me that has a hard time believing it happened.

So it was a stressful, gut-wrenching, exhilarating experience that is a life highlight, given I got to experience it with my family. It was especially fun to go through the playoff journey with Colin because he’s really gotten into the Cubs in the last year or two.

And it was all because my wife backed into a tiny, but powerful tree.

 

 

Pre-School Theology: Origin Story of A Vegetarian

This entry is part 13 of 14 in the series Pre-School Theology

We have a kid who is a picky eater.  Like way picky and it drives us crazy.  He’s essentially vegetarian, maybe even vegan in practice. We’ve tried many a things to expand his range, but sometimes it’s hard to see change when deep values are at work.  Here’s a recent conversation that surfaces my son’s theology of food.

Me:  “Colin, don’t you want to start eating meat to get more protein and build muscle?”

IMG_4254Colin: “There’s other ways to get protein.  I don’t want to eat animals.”

Me:  “I think you should try to see what types of meat you could eat, maybe you’ll like different kinds and we can cook it more often.”

Colin: “I just don’t want to eat animals.  I mean, God made the animals.  I love animals.  I really love nature.”

Me: “Well you eat chicken nuggets, so you do eat meat sometimes!”

Colin:  “Dad, chicken nuggets aren’t real chicken. Everyone knows that!”

Me:  “Well it’s close enough.  How can I get you to try more meat?”

Colin: “I just don’t want to eat animals.  I want to have them as my pets.”

Me:  “Is the taste of meat or is it the idea that you are eating animals really the hard thing for you?  I really want to know.”

Colin:  “Well, it’s both really.  I don’t like the taste, but I don’t like thinking I’m eating an animal.   I mean…..how do you know the meat you are eating isn’t the animal’s butt?”

There you have it…true confessions of an 8 year old vegetarian 😀

We all have our motivations and values.  Change is hard!

1 Day 3 Kids 3 Ways of Affection

SAMSUNG

Our family is in a bit of transition, and we have been it seems for about 2 1/2 years now!  But recently we made a move to a different part of the city so our kids could make the move to a new school as part of our continued journey here in Manila.  This past week was a rude awakening as we were all up about 5am every day and because of traffic here there were days I didn’t even get to see my kids at night.

That’s what made Friday night such a relief – to make it through our first big week with our new schedule and everyone having their own world’s after a couple years of being together a lot.  But we missed each other and I couldn’t wait to be with my kids this weekend.  And I was encouraged that the three of them missed me too and the ways they expressed it enhanced my appreciation for their uniqueness.  So let me share the 3 different and unique ways my kids expressed affection for me that reflects their own unique personalities.

First, my oldest daughter Morgan (10) wanted to share everything she did at school. She wanted me to know what she did and what she has to do. She wanted me to know the types of things she enjoyed doing and the things she didn’t enjoy doing. (Probable ISTJ on the MBTI!) She connects a lot through talking and interacting about what she does, though I’m glad I got a “Dad, I really missed you this week” from her too!

Next up is our middle child, our 7 year old son Colin. He is a probable ENFP on the MBTI if that means anything to you, but if not – here’s how he expressed himself to me while we were hanging out on the couch Friday night. He said, “Dad, if I were a squirrel I would just crawl up right on your shoulder and get super cozy and let my big fluffy tail hang down your arm and I would be so warm and comfy.”  He communicates a little different than our oldest daughter 🙂

And finally our 4 year old Kaelyn who just started pre-school. She doesn’t quite have the same vocabulary, but I got a deep and hearty “Daddy, I love you.” I say deep and hearty because she has a deep and hearty voice!  But she also offered, “Daddy, will you sit next to me at dinner?” I don’t quite  have a beat on my youngest’s personality type, but I know that getting invited to sit next to her at dinner is a big deal so I was excited to sit in the place of honor!

I love my kids. I am grateful that they love me and I love the unique ways they show it. It reminded me that we all show care and affection in different ways and it’s important to recognize what is meaningful to others even when on the surface it doesn’t connect right away with our preferences.

 

Pre-School Theology: The Hand of Blessing

This entry is part 11 of 14 in the series Pre-School Theology

IMG_2014

A while back we were coming out of church and our four year old daughter started an interesting conversation about her Sunday School experience this way,

“One of the teachers was leaving or something and we all prayed for her and they made us hold our hand up pointed towards her for a really long time and it hurt my arm because it was so long!”

But it turns out all our kids were together during this experience and they had a lot to say about it.  My son (7) added as only a true Star Wars fan could,

“It’s true. It was really long.  Why do they have us hold up our arms?  It looked like everyone was trying to use the force on her.”

Our oldest agreed with that assessment wholeheartedly and added that it also looked like the pose that the Iron Man statues from the Avengers are in at the mall (see above).

This was an entertaining conversation about “the hand of blessing.”  The Scriptures contain the idea of the laying on of hands as a means of blessing.  But logistics sometimes prevent that and instead of getting up close and personal, we just raise a stretched out hand in that direction of the blessing.  It’s a practical, yet engaged means of having the whole community participate in the conveying of a certain blessing upon someone or a group of people.

I don’t mind it. But funny how my kids interpret what’s going on when they aren’t used to seeing those types of things.

They have adopted it now though.  When I’m icing my knees after basketball, it’s not uncommon for my son to randomly extend his hand towards me while trying to keep a straight face.  I asked him the first time what he was doing.  He said, “I’m doing that hand prayer thing!”  And there’s been a couple moments at dinner where I humorously get the “hand of blessing” from all 3 of my kids if it’s clear I’m really stressed.  I’m glad my kids have a sense of humor 🙂

And now I can’t look at Iron Man the same anymore either.

 

Choosing Pain

This past week our older two kids were riding bikes with their mom and they were out a long time.  My wife relayed the story how my daughter, who has mild cerebral palsy, was starting to get tired and weary. She was struggling to keep up with her little brother who can ride all day long no worse for the wear.

My wife called back and told her she could take a break and walk for a bit or just catch her breath.  He was visibly fatigued, but this was her response,

“No. I’m going to choose pain!”

And then with a surge of new motivation Morgan began peddling at a faster rate and aggressively sought to bridge the gap between her and Colin.

It was a moment we’ll remember because it resonates with our life.

This season of moving our family to the Philippines has been chaos and complex and required energy and determination and perseverance beyond much of what we’ve ever faced.   We’ve had many moments where we’ve been so weary, tired, overwhelmed, or discouraged.  I supposed quitting would have been an option – we sure were tested and challenged to remember at points why we are doing this in the first place.

So we’ve faced that same moment at many points – get off the bike…or choose pain and go after it.

There are challenges in life and moments where you just have to dig deep and keep going.  That’s the season we’ve been in of late.

And to drive home the point, our son a couple nights ago spontaneously started to share.  He’s felt the change the most and has had the hardest time dealing with the loss and the change.  As such he’s been pretty anxious of late.  But this is what he shared at our family dinner,

“You know sometimes there’s things you don’t want to do because they’re really hard or they’re really scary, but sometimes you just have to go through them.”  

Later on when clarifying he said,

“Yeah, like trusting God and stuff.”

It’s amazing watching our kids grow through being stretched, especially when they didn’t choose the challenges they are facing.

It’s an encouragement to us to keep persevering in faith and maybe it’ll serve as an encouragement to you the next time you find yourself having to choose between getting off the bike and “Choosing Pain!”

Quotes From Kids in Transition

Here’s another installment of direct quotes from my kids as they are in the heart of their transition as our family moves to Manila….

“If I cry really hard for 10 days do we still have to go to the Philippines?”
-Colin (5)

“If I would have known this Philippines thing would be as hard as it is I would have thrown a tantrum way back at the beginning.”
-Morgan (8)

“Just so you know, if the Olympics happens while we’re in the Philippines, I’m still rooting for the USA!”
-Colin

“I miss my house. Go Back.”
-Kaelyn (2 1/2)

“Is this whole Philippines thing just a bad dream or is it real?”
-Colin

“I feel like I could cry right now and it would fill the streets.”
-Morgan

“Dad, it’s YOUR fault we have to go to the Philippines!”
-Colin

“Jesus, thank you for the food. Please don’t make us go to the Philippines. Amen.”   — Colin

As you can see, there’s a fair amount of grieving and emotion involved here and navigating that as a family is just as involved as moving out of our house and into storage or lining up flights or all the details.  We’ll be resilient and bounce back, but transitions are big for big people and little people alike.

One thought my wife and I have had is that it’s pretty hard to follow Jesus as parents and not lead your children into painful territory or at time’s even harms way.   As parents you want to protect your kids, yet we’re very mindful know that we have made decisions in response to the Lord that are causing stretching and tearing in our kids as well as in ourselves.  We knew it was coming. They didn’t ask for it.

The instinct to keep your kids from all pain maybe has derailed the faith journeys of many parents more than many might want to admit – and we get it. It can really be hard.  But we know that stretching and tearing will be part of God’s plan to sow into their lives, lay a foundation for their future spiritual journeys, and develop who they are.  That’s the journey we’re excited to see and what God will do in all of us.

That’s the journey of faith and it beats the pants off of trying to control life for your kids or yourselves.

But for now – it kind of just hurts.

Here’s them in action as Morgan interviews the other two for her blog morganinmanila.com :

Morgan in Manila 7/7/13: Morgan Interviews Her Siblings from Brian Virtue on Vimeo.

And here’s where Colin interviews Morgan where he gets to display his Regis skills….

Morgan in Manila 7/7/13 from Brian Virtue on Vimeo.

 

 

Pre-School Theology: Grief

This entry is part 8 of 14 in the series Pre-School Theology

A couple of years ago I wrote a post entitled “The Gift Our Fish Gave Us” as a reflection on how navigating the death of their fish after two years was developmental and formational for our kids.  Well, we got another fish….and it died this week.  It too gave us the gift of grieving.  But it was quite the day with my 5 year old son Colin – the subject of many of these “pre-school theology” posts.

It all started with a little fumigation.  Daddy thought he had safely contained the fish to avoid the gas chamber experience.  But Daddy was wrong.  Dorothy the fish was belly up and good ole Dad was public enemy #1 for awhile.

It was amazing that during the course of a whole day I watched my son go through like all 5 stages of the grief process.

First – he was angry with me.  He blamed me. Direct quote, “You did it on purpose!” He attributed evil intentions to the mistake that caused him to experience loss.  He even came close to trying to hit me, but he held back at the last minute. But the pain of his loss was funneled toward anger and blaming.

Second – I took him on some errands to reconnect and work through the tension.  At one point he began to try to convince me that Dorothy really was in fact not dead, but sleeping. She was just really tired from holding her breath during all the gas.  He had a strong rationalization for how his loss was all a mistake. Denial at work.

Third – After realizing that the fish was dead and his rationalization broke down and wasn’t doing the job, he looked for other ways to deal with his loss.  He came up to me and said, “Dad, I have an idea! We can pretend to be happy!”  I see this as a combo of rationalization, denial, and bargaining.  I couldn’t believe he said it.  “We don’t have to feel sad if we just pretend we’re happy!”  (Lot of people living their lives with this philosophy! Amazing how early that thought can set in)

My son’s creative solution “to pretend” is a diabolical lie and there’s not much greater of a disservice I can do as a parent than reinforce such a lie that “pretending” is a valid life approach to facing loss and pain.  It’s our job as parents to help our kids embrace a vision of life that is so much bigger and so much deeper and powerful than….pretending. But it’s so tempting to pretend!

Fourth – We had our funeral as a family.  Everyone had done artwork as in the case of Fish #1.  Everyone shared what they drew (Including 2 year old Kaelyn who was experiencing grieving for the first time in this way).  Then they shared what they appreciated about the fish. It is so amazing to hear what little kids share about what was meaningful to them – even as it relates to a fish.   But the funeral had much sadness, much crying, even some wailing.  We prayed and then flushed Dorothy to Great Beyond.  My favorite memory was Kaelyn blowing kisses into the fishbowl as Dorothy was circling, saying, “Bye Bye Dorothy!”

Fifth – We did reach a point of acceptance.  Dad got forgiven. Order was restored. Yet sadness still lingered as kids shared throughout the week random feelings of sadness.  Even Kaelyn would randomly just walk around saying every once in a while, “Sad…Dorothy…Jesus.”

These moments are always wild, but so thankful for the fruit produced when we go through it together and don’t settle for the alternatives to grieving: denial, pretending, blaming.

This weekend we had some of our kids cousins’ in from out of town and they all had a great weekend together.  They left for the airport this afternoon and said goodbye. Afterward Kaelyn was eating dinner and she shared on her own, “Mama I sad.”  We both shared back, “Us too Kaelyn, we’re sad too.”   Later after we began packing up pictures and wall decorations for our move she also said, “Mama I sad. Pictures Gone.”

I love that my two year old sees sadness as normal, as something that can be articulated and shared. My kids still fight loss just like the rest of us, but we’re glad they are learning to talk about it!

There’s no shortage of human dysfunction that flows from the unwillingness or inability to grieve loss and pain and limitation.  I speak from experience. I fight it in all the ways my son tried to fight feeling the loss of his fish. I look for ways around it.

We’re all in process.  But I find myself resonating and even using the very words of my toddler in moments where I’m feeling very non-toddler types of loss…..”I sad.”

It’s amazing how simple a phrase can trigger such a sense of freedom, honesty, and intimacy in relationship.  Reminds me of a similar phrase in Scripture, “Jesus wept.” Such simple language that penetrates all of the complexities surrounding those moments when we’re most aware that we’re fallen people living in a fallen world.

 

 

Feeling Powerful

This entry is part 6 of 14 in the series Pre-School Theology

 

This edition of “Pre-School Theology” isn’t strict theology per se, but it’s in the neighborhood.

My five year old son walked by me today and looked at me with a funny look and then said to me,

“I feel really powerful right now.”

I don’t know if it’s watching superhero shows or what, but it struck me as an odd thing for a 5 year old to say.  So I asked him what he meant by that and what it means to feel powerful.

He said,

“It’s kinda like something in your brain isn’t working right.”

Pretty much sums up the effects of power on most people doesn’t it?

🙂

SAMSUNG

 

Pre-School Theology: Wretched Man!

This entry is part 5 of 14 in the series Pre-School Theology

In this installment of “pre-school theology” I want to go a different direction than the humorous or cute anecdotes This is a more tragic post, though ultimately hopeful. You should be able to relate to my five year old’s recent theological discovery. I know I do.

He’s an incredible kid, but the last month there’s been a couple times where his behavior has merited some serious consequences that he wanted no part of.  And in the last few weeks his defense of himself has noticeably shifted from desperate avoidance of any painful consequence to a sincere anguish over both the punishment as well as his own journey of acceptance that he could do things that go against his very self.  He pleaded verbatim with extreme passion,

“Dad, my heart, my heart did not want to do that.  I don’t know why I did that.  It just happened, but my heart did not want that to happen.  I don’t understand.”

IMG_9661And then my favorite,

“Dad, my heart didn’t want to do it!  I, I lost my mind!”

It was heartbreaking in so many ways, partly because of the sincerity of his repentance and the horror of self-realization that he can violate his own code of ethics so easily.  But it’s partly heartbreaking because I know his words, feelings, and thoughts in this moment all too well.

His pleas are my own.

His horror at himself is my own.

His confusion over the limitations of his love is my own.

His desire for such internal failure and struggle to be over is my own.

My son has now been initiated into Romans 7, the apostle Paul’s famous exposition of how sin has taken root and is doing its work to condemn and destroy us despite our having better intentions and hopes for ourselves and those around us.

My son’s theology has expanded to include an experience of Romans 7:24, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” And man, it’s hard to watch.  Watching a 5 year old who, as a kid as good as they come, bleeds compassion and mercy for others wrestle with such feelings of self-condemnation and guilt is really hard.

But that’s not the end.  And that’s the job we have as parents. Our job is to help guide them from Romans 7:24 to Romans 7:25 which takes a dramatic turn, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

My son’s just starting his Romans 7 journey. Wherever you may be in your spiritual journey – longtime believer, new believer, or non-believer, or skeptic, read Paul’s struggle below in light of the cries of a 5 year old boy who is just beginning to face the reality of our condition in this world and in light of your own story.

May he, and I, and you be able to claim the great truth in verse 25!

May we marvel at the truth this Christmas that the coming of the Christ was part of a cosmic and personal plan to redeem and deliver us from the law of evil that has taken root in all our hearts. God did not leave us in Romans 7:24. He send his Son, who alone brings the deliverance we long for!

 Romans 7:14-25

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!