Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ballet In My Living Room

We're watching ballet on t.v. right now.

Is it because:

A) We are an extremely cultured couple
B) "The Office" is a rerun
C) Because ballet is cool and Matt has perfect feet to excel in ballet
D) All of the above

YOU decide!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Goodbye, Valentino

Tonight after I tucked Z into bed, she called me back for one last question:

Z: Daddy, why didn't God make every day Valentine's Day?

Me: I don't know, sweetie. Why would you want every day to be Valentine's Day?

Z: Because I want to make Valentine's Day cards every day.

Me: You could make Valentine's Day cards every day if you want to.

Z: Daaaad, I want to make them on Valentine's Day.

Me: Okay. What are you going to do with all those cards.

Z: Give them to all my family.

Me: That's sweet. Good night.

Z: Good night. Dad?

Me: Yes?

Z: What if we had a baby born on Valentine's Day?

Me: Do you think we would have to name them "Valentine"?

Z: If she's a girl we would name her Valentina.

Me: And if he was a boy we would name him Valentino?

Z: No, if it's a boy we name him Valengina.

Note to BHR readers: No matter what day some future child comes, they shall not be named "Valengina" regardless of gender or really any other factor. FYI.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Three Days of Pure Creativity


Krista pointed out an article in the paper today about the 3 day novel contest. Basically, over Labor day weekend, people from all over the place set aside the weekend and write a novel. Last year's winner is a teacher from Portland who wrote a novel called "Day Shift Werewolf."

Here are the rules. Krista and I were saying tonight that it would be fun to enter it, but you have to really be able to set aside a full three days if you're going to write a novel in three days. Maybe next year, eh?

Anyway, be sure to let me know if you decide to represent the Burning Hearts Revolution in the contest so we can all cheer you on and send you coffee over the weekend!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Devo to go


There's a new devotional up at GNWstinters.com.

Blogger won't let me upload pictures right now or I would treat you to some Jesus Clip Art.

UPDATE: Here's my Jesus clip art. For some reason I can't put it up on the gnwstinters site. So, I guess it's just a bonus for the BHR.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Burly Man Works in His Yard

I spent a great part of today digging in my back yard. I was pleased to see frogs hopping all over the place. Pretty big ones, too!

Anyway, I needed to work on the rototiller I was using for a minute, so I pulled my gloves off and set them on the ground and did the Manly work that needed doing... I can't remember what it was exactly. Then I pulled my gloves on and felt something firm but slimy in the thumb of my right glove and I pulled it off FAST and threw the glove and--I figured this out about the time the glove flew off--the frog through the air.

I yelled aloud what I think people of all genders and cultures throughout time have said upon unexpectedly discovering a frog in their gloves: "Nnnnyyyaaaaagh!"

Lessons I have learned today:

1) Frogs think that gloves look like inviting caves.

2) Fingers think that frogs feel like slimy scariness when they are taken by surprise.

3) Frogs can FLY!

4) If I ever discover a rattlesnake in my sleeping bag, my reflexes are just fine.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Public Service Announcement

If you went to my high school (and I'm sure there's like, three of you out there), then you should go stumble around at this website. It's an alumni site where you can put all your info in so that you can keep in touch with everyone who has disappeared and also, you know, be available for fundraising phone calls and stuff. Seriously, go sign up.

If you didn't go to my high school then you should probably not go to that link. You won't know anyone. Go find your own high school link. Man!

Comments from the floor of my house

My daughter, A, is currently laying on the floor having a rather quiet and polite tantrum. She's groaning and frowning because she doesn't like what's for dinner. It's actually a special sort of dinner we don't do that often called "breakfast for dinner." I made waffles and scrambled eggs.

Me: A, are you okay?

A: No.

Me: Does something hurt?

A: No.

Me: Are you tired?

A: No.

Me: Are you just cranky?

A: Yes.

Mikalatosville Mail Call

My mailbox yielded yet more good news today. The Wittenburg Door wants some more! They just accepted "Heaven's Suggestion Box". This means it will be in either an upcoming magazine, on the internet or sent out in their e-newsletter.

For those of you keeping track, that's my fifth accepted story since April! Pretty exciting. If I had a webcam you could see me doing my traditional celebratory dance right now.

Don't worry, I'm not planning to ever get a webcam.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

If I could change my name

If I could change my name, I would change it to "Justice." It is, first of all, a real name. That is a bonus.

Second of all: MATT JUSTICE!

That's just rad.

JUSTICE!

Another night out

Our fancy dinner on our anniversary night was a gift from my Mom. It was very, very nice.

Krista's mom also gave us a gift, which was a night out at the Greenlake Guesthouse. My mom took the kids! K's mom called ahead and ordered a cheese and fruit platter which was delicious (and a weird flashback, because on the night of our wedding we hadn't had anything to eat when we got back to the hotel and we ordered a cheese and fruit platter).

Last night we went out to dinner at Taste of India, one of our favorite restaurants. Mmmmm. Palak paneer! Butter chicken (real name unknown)!

We miss Seattle. It's a beautiful town.

Smartest Animals On Earth


I always think it's funny when people on documentaries say that various animals are "the smartest on earth." On the list: dolphins, various types of monkeys and chimps and pigs.

And how do we measure intelligence in these geniuses of the animal world?

Well, it's because they do what we say.

Dolphins, for instance, will push a button with their nose in response to seeing the right combination of flash cards. They train pretty easily.

Not that it's any different with human beings. We socialize kids to "know" the right answers but it really has more to do with obedience to what they have been taught then to independent, intelligent observation of the world around them.

Case in point: What color is the sky?

And of course the answer: Blue.

Unless it's at night. Unless it's sunset or sunrise. Unless it's overcast. Unless there is smog. In fact, I would guess the sky is blue far less than 50% of the time most places on earth. But it's still the correct answer. The answer "blue" has very little to do with intelligence.

All that to say this: it is possible, nay, likely that the smartest animal in the world is the common household cat. It does not do what it is told. It does whatever it wants. It trains human beings to feed it, to pet it, and to clean up its feces. It also tricks human beings into thinking that they are in charge. That is pretty smart.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Dinner Out



Tonight we are blogging together after a lovely dinner at Tabla. Here you can see me and my entree: duck confit. We also had rabbit with pasta, an olives appetizer, heirloom tomatoes and fresh mozarella and melon salad with serrano ham and feta.

Afterwards we went for dessert at Pix Patisserie. Krista had a coffee and a chocolate mousse called "Aphrodite." I had homemade vanilla ice cream and a mango fruit square thing.

Our conclusion after this wonderful evening: we would make excellent wealthy people.

Anniversary Lunch


I made lunch for me and Krista today. It looks fancy, doesn't it? The tomatoes are from our garden. There are four different varieties represented.

It looks gourmet, but those who were around last night know that it's really leftovers. Yes, you eat well in Mikalatosville. Come on by and have something to eat!

Eight Years Ago



Eight years ago today my life irrevocably changed. That was the day I married Krista, and in many ways it was one of the most significant, altering and important days of my life. Since it is our eighth anniversary, I thought I would share eight things I have learned from Krista since getting married.

1) Faith. I honestly don't know anyone who has a greater gift of faith in God. She really believes anything he says. She believes he can do more than we ask or imagine. And because she believes, I have started to grow and understand faith better. She has taught me how to have faith in God in a way I did not think was possible... what I mean is not faith that he exists, I already had that... but faith to do the things that he asks of us, even when they seem impossible.

2) Faithfulness. The Bible says that "perfect love casts out fear." Krista has taught me the meaning of that, too. When I met Krista I was paranoid about being ditched in relationships. She has taught me what it means to be a loyal and steadfast friend (and spouse). I never worry about Krista leaving me, no matter the situation. She is not that kind of person. She is unwaveringly faithful. It is a great gift from God that she is so loyal, faithful, and loving.

3) Fashion. I am not going to try to make this list start all with "F's" but it is working out that way. Krista buys my clothes. In addition to being an enormous relief, I am a much snappier dresser than I was back in the day. Of course, she still has to work with the limitations of what I am willing to wear. But believe me, I look better.

4) Love. I know, this sounds like a corny thing to say. But I mean it in more ways than I could adequately express here. For one thing, she has taught me the marvelous blessings available when we choose to remain in purposeful relationship with another human being. But I've also learned from watching the ways she interacts with our daughters, or the little things she does to show me that she cares.

5) Fancy food. No, really. I'm quite the gormand after marrying my lovely wife.

6) Self-improvement. One of the things I love about Krista is the way she shows her care by being honest about the people around her. She tells it like it is, even when it is painful, because of two things: 1) She doesn't tell lies and 2) She cares too much to let people live as less than what they are capable of becoming. Krista has lovingly shown me my own shortcomings so that I could become a better person. And I am profoundly grateful for that.

7) The power and voice of God. When I first met Krista I thought God spoke in a very narrow, defined way. I didn't believe that he could or would speak outside of the contextual, precise meaning of the Bible. I have since found a richness of relationship with him that comes merely from realizing that he can (and does) speak when I am praying, from nature, via the Holy Spirit when I am reading the Bible and a lot of other ways. This alone is a lesson that has revolutionized my life.

8) Who I can be. I have already alluded to this, but Krista has made me acutely aware of the better person that I can be. I think this is partly because I am a better person already just by having her in my life. She balances my imbalances. She keeps me centered. She points me to Christ by her example.

Krista-- I love you. I am so thankful to have you in my life, and I want you to know that this first eight years is the only beginning. I look forward to the next eighty, if the Lord would be so generous. I'm not going anywhere without you. Wherever you go, I'll be there... "your people will be my people and your God my God." Thank you for the wonderful gift of yourself, and for providing me with my two most precious daughters. You are the most beautiful person in my life. Thank you for agreeing to be my wife. I love you. I can't imagine a life without you ever again. I can scarcely remember the years before we came together... it's like another life, a lesser one. You are my life now, and I am glad to share it with you!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

New Short Story

I just got home today... I'll try to catch you all up on the week over the next few days. In the meanwhile, the literary magazine Haruah has just published my short story, The Gardener. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Greetings from Colorado

So, I'm in Copper Mountain, Colorado for the stint Global Briefing.

I think it's going to be great. I checked into my little room at "the Edge" which smells slightly of wet dog but overall is quite nice. I met with my leadership team to pray and prepare for the stinters' arrival.

And I ate half a burrito today, which always makes for a good day.

I did say goodbye to my family, though, which inevitably makes for a sad day.

Tomorrow the stinters start to arrive. I'm speaking in the evening about "Legacy"... the legacy we find ourselves in as Christians, as missionaries, as human beings. I'm really feeling like the Lord has plans to show up this week, and I am excited about. You know what I mean by "show up" right? Not like he isn't here already.

And, bonus-- we're sharing the conference center with a group of vacationing Hassidic Jews! No, really! It's awesome.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Beautiful Spam


I received some spam-mail the other day. It didn't even get past my spam blocker. But I like to dig around and see the strange e-mails I receive. I rather liked the poetry of the opening line of this one:

"The Brotherhood is broken," the gulls intoned together.

After that there was only unintelligible nonsense. But that first sentence was well worth it.

Transitions

Twice during my fast the Lord and I had words about transition. Part of the purpose of this fast, I believe, was to help me recapture some discipline in my life to prepare for some coming transitions.

The three major areas we discussed were work, family and writing. I guess I need a "w" word for "family". Feel free to brainstorm in the comments section. At the same time, all three of the coming transitions are, I think, positive ones. But greater discipline on my part will be necessary. Follow along with me:

Work. Pretty soon here I am going to get a new co-worker. We call them "ARD"s. Who is it? There's no one officially lined up at all. When will this happen? Not sure. BUT, when it does, it will require transition. This will be hugely positive and will impact my life, family and work in a major way. But it will still require some change, some shuffling of responsibilities, some new lessons in working together with other human beings.

Family. K and I have been talking for a while about having a third kid. There is no news to announce, meaning there is no baby on the way right now. But will there be another little Mikalatos in the next 18 months? We'd like to think so. Again, huge, positive transition.

Writing. I believe that the Lord is asking me to take my seriousness toward writing up a notch, to really try to move from being an amateur toward being a professional writer (not vocational, don't panic, I'm definitely not leaving my job).

Anyway, add that all together and there's an increased need in my life for discipline. How do I keep doing what I'm doing, get more serious about writing, have a baby and pour energy into new working relationships? Well, you just figure out a way. Maybe other things have to give, but maybe also you learn to get up a little earlier, you learn to get healthier physically so you have more endurance. Or, you know, you ditch everything, learn to juggle, join a circus and run far, far away. Which is, I guess, an option, though I'm not sure that my daughters are quite ready to learn to juggle. Maybe they could ride unicycles or something.

Three great benefits from my fast

There are three things that I think are the most obvious lessons/benfits from my fast these last couple of weeks:

1) An increase in discipline. Believe me, being somewhat of a glutton, it took immense discipline at times not to eat. Not to just take a quick bite of something while I was cooking, or something like that. I think this is actually one of the main reasons for the fast... I'll comment on that in the next post (which will, of course, be above this one). The discipline of not-eating translates into other areas. I was more disciplined in my work, in my spiritual habits, in pretty much everything. I am not a naturally disciplined person. This fast has been a sort of "reset" button for me.

2) An increase in thankfulness. There were times during my fast when I saw food that I dislike and I would think to myself, "Boy, I'd be glad to have a bite of that right now." For a while, it will be easy to be thankful for every bite of food I eat. I won't take it for granted. This increase in thankfulness has been a good lesson in how ungrateful I am, and how mechanical the "thanks" before a meal can be. It spills over beyond food, too. I am so blessed to have a home and a healthy family, while Lebanese refugees are being shunted from Syrian schools and public buildings and into tent cities right now.

3) An increased awareness of the poor. When I'm not eating I think more often of the people around the world who are not eating, and not by choice. This goes back to #2, the increase in thankfulness. It convicts me about things like saying, "I'm starving," which I know is a figure of speech, but, you know, there really are people starving out there (the actual physical process of starving for a healthy human being begins somewhere between day 30 and day 40 without food... not at minute 30 past my lunch time).

There are others, of course, but those are the major themes of my fast.

The Fast Has Slowed

I ended my fast tonight with a nice meal of rice, chicken and summer squash. It was a nice meal, and it was nice to sit and eat with Krista, not just sit at the table. Although my jaw muscles hurt a little from all that chewing.

K also set aside some time today to make sure I could get some quality time with the Lord. No earth-shattering revelations, but it was nice. I went and sat on a bench in Mt. Tabor park in Portland and just prayed for a while. No mystical fireworks, just a nice, intimate chat.

So, good-bye, fast! Until next time.

As soon as my stomach stops hurting, I am going to eat some cashews. :)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Whoa. Get ready.

Why Evangelicals Can't Write.

Oy!

via faith*in*fiction

You Can Do Hebrew

I don't think I've mentioned it yet, but I am taking a Hebrew class starting in September. I am, to tell the truth, a little frightened. I just got my books today and, well, I can't even read them. It reminds me of my first overseas language class.

It doesn't help that the syllabus has statements like: "Remember, lots of people have studied Biblical Hebrew; they weren't all smarter than you" and "Just keep reminding yourself how fortunate you are to learn Biblical Hebrew. Not everyone has that privelege."

Anyway, I went to this site and felt a little better about it. It seemed not-so-hard and some of the insights are really interesting (I particularly liked the section on parallelism and "block logic"). Go kick around and see what you can dig up.

Get Your Name In Lights


My friend Chris Well, the novelist. That's right. He's a novelist, I'm just novel.

As I was saying, my friend Chris Well, the novelist, is turning 40 this week. In honor of his own birthday he is giving away gifts to anyone who buys his second novel, Deliver Us From Evelyn, on Amazon.com tonight, tomorrow or Thursday morning. In addition to various swag, you will also receive a thank-you by name in Chris' next novel, coming out next April.

Complete details here. Tell him Mikalatos sent ya, and he'll enter us both in a drawing to get some free books. Tell him that President Bush sent ya, and he'll enter you and President Bush in a drawing to get some free books. And what can I do about that? Nothing.

Anyway, buy a book, be immortalized in the sequel. It's like paying to see "Star Wars: A New Hope" and then having Luke Skywalker in Empire Strikes Back say, "You're not my Father! I'll never join you" and then turning toward the camera and saying, "A very special thanks to Matt Mikalatos for making this moment possible." It's that good.

Imitation = Flattery

My daughter, A, was pretending to receive phone calls. Clearly she has been listening in on me:

"Hello? You want me to do what? I'm not sure I can do that. Why? Because I have another call coming in. Hold on. Hello? You want me to do what? I'm not sure I can do that...."

Monday, August 07, 2006

A Leader's Thoughts on Leadership #4

A leader must be flexible. For instance, if you are camping and realize you have forgotten your sleeping bag, a suitable replacement can be made by putting a few ducks or geese into a large garbage bag. So warm!

The Kids Figure It Out

Tonight my kids figured out--after twelve days--that I am fasting.

Z: Daddy, did you get some dinner tonight.

Me: No, sweetheart, I am fasting.

Z: What is fasting?

Me: (I explain it)

Z: Well, I still think you should eat some dinner so that you don't eat two breakfasts tomorrow.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

MONSTER HOUSE!


Get ready to be surprised: I actually liked this movie. Yes, the movie snob that wrote angry hate letters against "Superman Lives" and dissolved into tears at the utter stupidity of "Pirates 2" actually liked this one. In fact, I liked it better than any other thing I've seen in the theatre this summer.

The writers were clearly fed a steady diet of comic books, B-movies and video games as children, and this is what rose from the primordial stew of their subconscious. The plot of the movie is simple: the house across the street is, um, eating people. Dogs. Police cars. And of course no one believes the three kids who know the truth. So they have to somehow destroy the house themselves.

Before you roll your eyes and say, "Only Mikalatos could like a crazy movie like that" allow me to say that I took my *wife* and she also liked it. Go figure. In fact, we both agreed that the interactions of the three kids reminded us of an old family favorite, "The Goonies."

It was actually well written. And funny. I laughed out loud multiple times. And the animation was great, too.

Two caveats (because you know I am too cranky to ever give a movie the Golden Seal of Approval):

1) It was honestly a little too scary. When you're making a funny-scary movie, you have to be careful that the scary doesn't get too S-S-S-C-A-A-A-A-R-R-R-R-Y. And there were parts in this one that just went a little too far for me.

2) The house, yes, is haunted. There is a spirit in it. I felt it would be important for those of you who are sensitive to such things to know that. I would say that the writers appear to be secularists at heart who believe in the supernatural only long enough to be plot filler for their movie. I would say that on the Satanic Presentation Of Spirits scale it's well, well below Amityville Horror and is much closer to, say, the Munsters. Or maybe the Addams Family.

Overall, I really enjoyed this movie. It's a harmless love letter to B-movies more than anything, and it's fun and well done.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Kids Jokes

Z, A and their cousin J made up chicken jokes while we were driving to the beach today. They're pretty different.

Z: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: Because there was poop in his way?
Z: Because there was a branch on the sidewalk!

A: Why did the chicken cross the poopy poop?
Z: Because the poop was really made out of jelly?
A: Yes!

Z: J, did you think that was a funny joke?
J: yes.
Z: Then why aren't you laughing?
J: Because this is my favorite show.

J's comment was followed by insane and lengthy laughter from all the children. I am worried that they are more clever than me and that I just don't get the joke.

Bread

As you might expect, I have been mulling over the words, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."

This is particularly meaningful while I'm fasting because I realize how often I think about food. It's not even that I'm hungry right now (I'm not). But I am constantly catching myself about to eat out of habit. Making lunch for the kids? Eat a couple wheat thins. Coming into the house from working outside? Grab a handful of cashews. Try a friend's dish at a restaurant. Eat some popcorn while watching television. And then there's actual meals. I mean, we'll arrange our day around where and when we are eating.

Food is an integral part of my life. I think about it, prepare for it, critique it, share it. It's amazing how much more my life can be centered around my stomach instead of God. Is my life more centered around God because of this fast? I don't know. I don't think so, not really. But it's less centered around food, and the tyranny of my body's demands. And that's a good thing.

I end the fast next Friday night. I'm praying that I'll be out of the habit of unquestioning obedience to my body's demands and be on the way to a habit of unquestioning obedience to the Holy Spirit.

At the beach

We're at Depot Bay this weekend. It's the yearly family reunion at the coast for K's family. Right now we're staying at a place called the "Surfrider Resort". It's nice. There are three beds, and right now Z is in one, A is in one and their cousin J is in one, too. Obviously we're going to have to do some child juggling later this evening.

Okay, I take it back. Young A is now laying in my lap. She's the only one who took a nap today. Oops. Now she's in Grandma's lap.

Creativity and Rules

I've been thinking a little bit about creativity. It's interesting that some people emphasize the necessity of "complete freedom" and "creative environments" to foster creativity. All of which is well and good. But for some reason the role of rules in creative expression is somewhat marginalized.

I'm an outside-fo-the-box sort of guy. I'm not particularly fond of "the box". But you just can't think outside of the box if there's no box to begin with.

Check this out. Which of the following commands are more likely to produce quality creative expression?

"Write something."

"Write a story."

"Write a story about an ashtray."

"Write a story about an ashtray in less than 500 words."

It seems to me that as the rules pile up (i.e. the story must have an ashtray, must be a certain length or point of view) the more likely it is that the creative work will do something interesting.

Granted, some artists seem to work without rules. But I think they often give themselves a challenge, sort of self-inflicted rules (i.e. I don't like the photo-realistic paintings, I am going to try to do something different).

In fact, the Renaissance was an amazing explosion of quality art, and most of the artists were shackeled to an enormous number of rules. Their patrons often demanded a certain subject matter (Biblical scenes, portraits of the Medici family) in a certain medium, in a certain place (how about on this ceiling).

Anyway, maybe this is common knowledge. Chris, I'm guessing you studied this and have a more intelligent, well-thought-out opinion. But I thought it was strange looking around on the web and seeing so many people talking about needing freedom to create art.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

EARTHQUAKE!

Earthquakes are not a nice way to wake up. We just had a 3.3 earthquake, epicentered about nine kilometers from our house.

More details tomorrow, I mostly came downstairs just to make sure it was actually an earthquake and not, you know, an elephant leaning against the house.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Pop Culture Speaks!

Dave over at faith*in*fiction had a post today that was about some other guy's post from his blog. Which makes us the third generation.

Anyway, I thought Dave's ending was a classic of modern literature. He had a little paragraph that just made me happy. Here it is:

I don't really have any point here. I guess it just seems like another example of how we're all shouting at each other in various and sundry ways. "Christ is Lord!" "Our planet is doomed!" "Cowboys can be gay!" "$#&%# Bush!" "We love penguins!"

Ha ha! Let me add: "Superman can be destroyed by a school boy crush!" "Pirates are relatively nice and certainly nicer than supernatural sea creatures!"

Fasting Tip:

If you're going to be on an extended fast, be sure that your deoderant doesn't smell like Froot Loops.

Ditto on the apple-scented shampoo.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hip hip Haruah!

I got an email this morning from the editor of Haruah, saying that she would like to publish a short story of mine called "The Gardener."

I wrote this story after K's Uncle Forrest died; it was sort of a reflection on how I received comfort from the Lord while gardening during that weekend. In my mind I had dedicated it to Forrest, because he was a writer, too, although he never published any of his work, which had been his life-long ambition. So I am very pleased that it's going to be out there for the general public (in print and on the net, too).

It should also be nice for people who have had issues with my other pieces so far. Haruah is a "magazine of inspiration", so there will be no dead whores, giant extra-terrestrial turtles or satire in the magazine (not even in my story).

I'll put up a link when the story is available.

Sharing is nice

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