New website is live!

Well, after its initial launch at wordpress.com, Jason’s Life is moving over to its own domain!  All content has been transferred to www.jtmichelsen.com and future posts will be made there.  For those who have followed my wordpress site, thank you and I hope to see you at our new home!  There is a mailing list signup that will keep you updated as the site continues to grow, and signing up makes you the first to know every time there is a new post or new news on my books.  Thank you for your support and God bless!

Jason

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Down With Step-Fatherhood!

Disclaimer:  This post is not sexist, I am simply writing from my perspective as a man and therefore my word choice will reflect that.  It could just as easily be titled “Down With Step-Motherhood” and written from a female perspective with virtually no change to the content.  However, I have never been a step-mother, and barring some extraordinary and unforeseen circumstances, I never will be a step-mother.  Please take this message for the spirit of it, and do not get hung up on the semantics.

I am, for tax and insurance purposes, a stepfather.  When completing any of the wonderfully complicated forms the government requires of you in the process of begging to get back some of the money they took from you, I am succinctly labeled as a stepfather.  But I will never, unless absolutely pressed for my legal relationship to my children, name myself as such.  To me, the term is derogatory and implies that I am somehow less than a real father to them.  Do they share my DNA?  No (clearly they got most of their mother’s, because they are way cooler and cuter than either me or their biological father).  But when they scrape a knee, don’t they run to me?  Well, only if Mommy isn’t there.  When I get home from work, they come running.  When they go to bed, they give me hugs and kisses first.  When they have nightmares, they come to me (again, if I happen to wake up before Mommy).

So why am I only a step-father?  Do I step-love them or step-take care of them?  When they don’t listen should I step-discipline them?  When they bring home a great report card, am I step-proud?  Truth be told, a man who takes on these responsibilities of their own free will has taken more steps toward being an actual father than many who have biological claims on their kids.  Yet I consistently find myself hearing “Oh, you’re their stepfather…” when someone notices the different last names or realizes that they’ve been alive longer than I’ve known my wife.  If someone hears them call me Jason, I get the most confused looks.  One old lady actually yelled at them for being disrespectful and calling their father by his first name.  Guess what happened when she figured out why they said it?  “Oh, you’re just their stepfather….”

In so many ways our relationship is treated as a byproduct of my marriage.  I suppose in some ways it is, but there is so much more to it than that.  If, God forbid, something came between my wife and I, would I no longer have kids?  Maybe not legally, but can anyone really be a father to children for years and then let them go like they were the second car or the bedroom set?  It’s a ridiculous prospect.  What if (and again I am praying that God lets me make this point without speaking things into existence) something terrible happened to their mother?  Would it be alright for me to just walk away and leave them, saying that my relationship with them was strictly dependent on my living with their mother?  I would be crucified by every single person that heard what I did.  No one would accept the excuse that I was “just” their stepfather, then.

As a father of three amazing children, I refuse to add the “step.”  I refuse to see myself as anything less than their full-time father, and I absolutely refuse to see them or love them as anything other than mine.

And one final point on the subject.  This entire concept of voluntary and self-sacrificial love that every parent strives to enact is modeled to us by God Himself.  He chose us when He didn’t have to, loves us when we don’t deserve it, and will never leave us no matter what happens to everyone else around us.  If we lose our parents, our mentors, or anyone else we rely on; we can never lose God.

If you feel the lack of a missing parent, or if you have both your parents but still know that something is missing, I urge you to open up a Bible and find the love you have always wanted.  There is nothing that will fill that void like the love of God and a relationship with Jesus Christ.  If you have any questions or need any prayer or support in this, feel free to reach out to me or your local pastor.  Reach out to God and know that He will provide someone with the words you need to hear (please note that I didn’t say the words you want to hear), if you’re just willing to listen.

God bless you all, and let’s put an end to step-fatherhood!

The Dangers of Expectations

I watched or read a dozen different forecasts last night.  It was unanimous, we would be getting 4-8″ of snow and it would not stop until at least 6 a.m.  With weather like that, this area will shut down completely!  I mean, I never think of Maryland as a southern state, until it snows and I realize that an inch or two here has the effect a foot would have back in Detroit.  This would be a sorely needed snow day!

It’s amazing how much you can get done when getting enough sleep to work in the morning is not even a consideration.  Grocery shopping, laundry, dishes…I even cleaned the moving boxes out of the bedroom (7 months is not too long to be settling in!) so my wife would not trip and fall every time she walked through the room in the dark.  When all was said and done, I was very proud of my accomplishments for the day.  Of course, it was 2:30 a.m., but who cares?  I was about to settle down for a nice long sleep, interrupted only to get the call about work being cancelled and relay the message to my staff.

I seriously don’t even need to finish this post at this point; you all know what happened.  I received the fateful call entirely too early in the morning:  All we were getting out of this massive, horrifying blizzard they promised me was a two hour delay.  TWO HOURS!!!  By the time I finished passing the word along, I was only going to get an extra hour of sleep.  Even that nap was essentially worthless because I had been awake on the phone too long that my body adamantly refused to return to the dreamy bliss I had been yanked from by the shrill beeping of my stupid phone telling me I had to go to stupid work after two stupid hours of delay!

All my accomplishments of the night before lost their value.  It was nothing but frivolous time.  We lasted 7 months running the obstacle course in the room, what was 7 more going to hurt?  And laundry?  God made clothes turn inside out for a reason….  I spent my entire drive to work mentally writing a piece of legislation that would force meteorologists to pay for doing this to people.  There would be active enforcement, a three strikes component, and possibly a new branch of the Department of Justice to oversee it.  I was going to get started immediately after work (I can’t say at work in case my boss reads this), and I fully intended to force a vote before congress takes their next recess.  The only snag I hit was trying to figure out how to take sleep away from the weatherman and distribute it to all the people he caused irreparable fatigue.

After I took a few hours to wake up and get over it, I was able to think clearly and place the blame where it really belonged:  On the weatherman (did you think a few hours would make me change my mind on that?).  But aside from that sadist, I suppose I was maybe slightly a little bit partly to kind of blame.  I counted my snowmen before they hatched, and I paid a price for it.  It was like writing a check that I was pretty sure I would have the money to cover by the time it was cashed.  Or taking out a mortgage that you’ll be able to pay as soon as you get that promotion you’re up for.  Or buying a Ferrari with $100k from a loan shark named Vito that you’re going to pay back after tonight’s lottery drawing.  Yes, I equate returned check fees, foreclosures, and broken kneecaps with being utterly exhausted at work.  If it was only one kneecap, I might be willing to trade it.  But either way, there is a valuable lesson to be learned.

Decisions should be made based on what is, not what you expect will be.  Sure, there is some room to take risks on occasion.  You can always roll the dice and set yourself up for a huge success if things work out just right.  But if they don’t, you have to be prepared to eat it.  In the end, I find myself so exhausted that I will be collapsing immediately after I finish this post.  The worst part is, I know there is no one to blame but myself.

And the weatherman.

Free eBook Promotion!

Well, sales of Early Release have not put me in position for early retirement yet, but in keeping with the idea of celebrating the accomplishment of each milestone, I’ve decided to not stress the sales.  Instead, I’ll be offering a free copy through the Amazon Kindle store on Tuesday, February 17th.  It is the 2 week anniversary of the release, so let’s see how many downloads it can get without costing anyone a penny!  If you like it, tell your friends (or offer a review on Amazon!).  If you don’t like it, tell me so I can grow as a writer!  Either way, Tuesday is free day, I hope you find it the best free you’ve ever spent!

Accomplishments and Their Downside

It’s been an interesting week for me.  I finally got around to publishing a book I wrote a few years ago.  Because I did that, it drove me to finally get around to starting this blog I signed up for a few months ago.  Heck, I even finally got around to cleaning out the hall closet like my wife has been asking me to for months!

So it’s been a good month, right?

Well, let me explain my point of view on that.  My book isn’t getting the downloads I wish it would.  I haven’t come up with any good ideas for blog posts like I thought I would.  And I have no idea what to do with all the space in that closet.

Accomplishments are great, until they’re not.  It’s good to get things done, as long as you can accept that they’re done.  If every accomplishment leads to more stress and anxiety, then we need to rethink some things.  I seem to have a tendency to chain my goals together.  Write a book becomes write and publish a book; which becomes write, publish, and sell a book; which becomes write and publish a NY Times bestseller!  Do you see what happened there?  I feel like I failed because I’m not a bestselling author, when in actuality, I met three of my four goals already (note that I said sell <i>a</i> book, singular).  So I put myself through the psychological torture of trying to figure out where I went wrong instead of celebrating the strides I have made.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying we shouldn’t set goals for ourselves and even reach for the stars occasionally.  But it’s important to separate the steps along the way and recognize the milestones we reach.  There is no value to setting a goal for yourself if you are not going to acknowledge when you reach it and declare yourself the winner for that particular day.  If you  were to fail in that goal, wouldn’t you be quick to call yourself the loser?

So today, I’m not aspiring to be a bestselling author.  Today I am a writer, and a published one at that!  Maybe I’m not rich, but I’m a guy who accomplished some goals in the past week, and I’m good with that.

The bestseller thing?  That’s a goal for another day….