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Filed Under , on March 30th, 2019

Editor’s Note–TFF Issue #21

By Seth Kabala

On Easter Sunday afternoon, we took our kids to a trampoline/obstacle course park, but not just any ordinary park. This wasn’t a collection of four-feet-across questionable exercise equipment in the trailer park’s social activities room. (If we cobble together a bunch of small trampolines, we could market this place as a trampoline park, Merle. We’re already a park. It’s time to upscale our image.); this place had Olympic-caliber trampolines, vaulting competent users 10-15 feet in the air (incompetent users to the top of FailArmy playlists), performing all manner of flips and tricks that, somewhere, are making a Southern grandma say, “Lord have mercy. That child’s about to meet Jesus.”

My justification for choosing this as a Sunday afternoon activity was part entertainment, part spirituality. The entertainment part is simple. I like to find fun family activities for the kids, particularly those where Amy and I can sit on the sidelines, talk about how great our kids are, how we can assist them with weak areas, and discuss the absolute suckiness of all comparable children that we know. (Don’t hate. You’ve done it, too.)

I haven’t even gotten to the spirituality part, and the haters are already assembling in droves. Just hear me out before you cast your stones. Yeah, I see them there behind your back. Jesus sees them, too. So (royal court announcer voice) put-ee down-ee the stones-ee. Now that we’re all disarmed, here’s my reasoning: I think physical exercise gets us closer to God. Not in the sense that we can sweat and calorie burn ourselves into heaven. I’d never go that far. (Well, Ironman athletes aside. Those people should qualify for automatic sainthood.) I’m talking in the sense that when we exercise, we better ourselves, lower our stress, clear our minds of all the junk and detritus and non-value-added shit that’s been building up, and we try, for a while, to see what we can do.

That, I think, makes God smile. He accepts us as we are, sure, but when we strive to improve ourselves, to increase our capacity, I believe we’re living God’s design for us to the full. I believe this to be true whether one’s desire is to be the world’s fastest bed maker at a hotel chain or the grand prize winner of the eat-a-72-oz-steak-in-an-hour competition. Unlike most eating competitions, this one isn’t simple gluttony; it was started because of an altruistic cow’s dying wish to donate itself to the science of human potential to eat massive amounts of protein quickly and unnecessarily, also to see the effects on longevity and heart performance. So far, the cow’s utters are shaking as it laughs itself into a frenzy in the calf-terlife.

Acceptance, then, is more than just casual affirmation of someone’s life trajectory. It’s relational, influential leadership.

It’s always a challenge for us to get our kids to exercise at home. We homeschool. Thus, we control the curriculum, so we make sure our kids get a certain amount of physical activity. Problem is, they see this not as being good for them, but rather a replication of the opening scene from Les Misérables. 15 minutes, to them, seems like 20 years. Exercise for fun? It was a gamble. Did it work? Keep reading and find out.

Prior to hitting the trampoline park, on the way home from church, Ella, our seven-year-old, wrote a note to me and Amy that said “Thank you for adopting me.” Quick explanation: she’s our blood child, not adopted, so let’s quash those rumors. Is it funny that Ella confused adoption for natural birth and blood relation? Sure. But to leave the observation there is to miss the larger point: she was emotionally connected to the idea that we had adopted her. It meant something to her that we had, from her perspective, chosen her. She wasn’t the biological foregone conclusion of a fantastic night out (and in) for mom and dad; she was an intentional choice.

I’ve got friends who have adopted children. The process takes years. Takes energy. Takes dollars–thousands of them. Takes a large chunk of your heart, and then asks for more. Takes all you have to give, and asks you to dig a little deeper. That’s just what I’ve seen from an observer’s position (observations mostly done through Facebook, being totally honest. I do people-watch, but from afar). Everything about adoption is intentional, so can the same be said for biological relationships? I think, yes, and it’s the long-haul commitment that proves it.

Family acceptance is huge, no matter what jet stream pattern on which your stork flew. It’s what’s allowed us, in this issue, to explore science fiction and genetic engineering and Russian royalty in Ammo Arms, the virtues of microwaving rice in tube socks and keeping your mockumentaries close in Waiting for Sock, and raising awareness around the dangers of joke writing and affirmative consent in woodland creatures in Toxic Bambi.

It’s weird. It’s wacky. It’s mildly offensive? Meh. Only if you take life (and yourself) too seriously.

It’s The Family Farce. It’s who we are. It’s what we’ve done here for almost 10 years and will continue to do for as long as our families accept us and don’t sue us for making fun of them on the page. (We love you guys!)

Getting closer to God through exercise? That’s debatable. Our kids had great experiences at the trampoline park. I think most of them were more the FailArmy variety as opposed to the Aint No Mountain High Enough kind. Still, they worked out their brains and their bodies. Not a whine was heard for a solid two hours. I call that a win.

(Can’t say the same for Merle and his attempts to put his trailer park on the map. I hear he’s trying to market it as a complement to American Ninja Warrior, but that’s going nowhere. The problem stems from all the liability from overall buttons and large belt buckles getting stuck in netting.)

Expanding our capacity to accept and love who we are and accept and love those around us–and still retain enough influence to coach those we love to living their lives to the full?

For that, I think even Jesus would take a run at the warp wall.

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Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, musician, family man, and juggler of balls--big ones. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

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