sunshine, sunshine


We’ve been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award! The Sunshine Blogger award is an award for bloggers from bloggers. It’s a way of recognizing bloggers who are positive and who creatively inspire others, and we certainly hope that’s us.

Part of the award is answering eleven questions.

I’d like to thank Beth from AMileInMyShoes for nominating JMC. I love how Beth infuses love and sincerity in her poems, and read her poetry almost daily. Follow her writing; it will lift your spirits.

As part of this nomination, I’m supposed to answer 11 questions from Beth:

1. If you were to die today, what would be your greatest regret?

My greatest regret would be not knowing my children as adults—to see how tall they grow, hear how their voices sound, if they’ve retained any of their physical features or passions from childhood. I don’t want to miss out on rich conversations about their worldviews, to be there when their boyfriends or girlfriends break their hearts, to see if they get married or have children of their own. Most of all, to see them experience grace for themselves and give it to others.

2. Do you like yourself?

Yes, most of the time!

3. Why do you/do you not like yourself?

This is hard to answer. I’m an optimizer, so I spend little time thinking about why I like myself and more about what I can improve. I suppose you could say I need to improve thinking about why I like myself!

  • My friends call me hospitable. I love it when people drop by and want to make them feel at home in my house. And when we’re hanging out, I want to really know who you are and how you’re doing. I will also try to make you laugh.
  • I see patterns and connections between disparate things. When I was growing up, friends said I was “random.”  I realized I needed to explain the connection and logic better since few people see what I see. Not saying I’m right, just that I noticed a pattern or connection.
  • I’m a dreamer. I love looking at what could be, then if I think I can be a part of it, trying to make it happen. I believe in the possibilities in people, relationships, and the solutions we create. When someone tells me something can’t be done, I rarely believe it and sometimes take it as a personal challenge.

4. Describe a perfect day.

This is a fun one. I’ll combine my favorite things I’ve actually done on multiple days into one day, with a little bit of dreaming mixed in.

It’s the Saturday of a 3-day weekend. My body does its customary 6:25 AM wake up to the dawning light. My wife and children lay sleeping when I put on my socks and running shoes. I tune into the Freakonomics podcast while I head out into 65 degrees weather–the perfect temperature for a run. When I come back, my wife and children are up and we head to Green Eggs where I order myself this:



Afterward, we drive to Highland Orchards for some peach picking. At 11AM, we order at the deli then feed the goats nearby as we wait for our sandwiches to be made.

After lunch, it’s family craft time. My kids dream up something interesting, design it, and we figure out how make it out of old boxes. On this day, we make a cardboard tiger the size of a cocker spaniel.

It’s now early afternoon, 85 degrees. Time for the beach. I’ve suddenly transformed from an embarrassing surfer to a good one. On this day, my wife and children somehow picked up surfing as well. After 2 hours of exertion and fun, we’re hungry.

(Dream sequence starts)

In the evening, chefs Thomas Keller, Eric Ripert, Mario Batali, David Chang, and Marc Vetri all decide they want to make us a meal, just for the heck of it, and they bring their finest wines. “Invite 20 friends,” they say. They want to clean up too? I certainly don’t protest.

(Wakes up)

It’s 7:30pm and I tuck my children in for the night. I read them either a C.S. Lewis or Kate DiCamillo novel. We act out one of the scenes. We each say a prayer of thanks for the day.

While our children are asleep, my wife and I go out on a dessert date and talk about life.

Back at home, I read for an hour—probably the biography of someone who changed the world, a parenting book, or a Malcolm Gladwell-type book.

Lights out.

5. Clinton or Trump–if you HAD to vote for one, who would you vote for?

The one who helps cast a vision with a pragmatic bent. The one who inspires us to be our best selves. The one I’ve admired for decades. (In other words: beer.)

6. What are your 3 favorite songs?

There are songs that I love listening to, and then there are songs that sound as if they’ve been listening to me, to my innermost soul. I’ll list the latter.

  • “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” – U2. I don’t sound anything like Bono, sadly, but he’s somehow captured the voice of my yearning soul.
  • “Badlands” – Bruce Springsteen. Bruce’s intensity fanned the fire to will myself out of poverty while Max Weinberg’s unceasing drumming can march you through a mountain. For many years, it was my life’s theme song. I’m thinking of writing a post on this song and what it’s meant for me.
  • Messiah – George Frideric Handel. The closest picture of Heaven, glory, and majesty that I can imagine. I feel like I’m standing before the full awesomeness of the Creator of the universe when I hear the chorus.

7. Tell me something that you love about yourself.

In addition to my responses in #3, I get very curious (and then passionate) about things. I care a lot about making things better.

8. What has been your best ever experience

When my wife and I are aligned and supportive of each other, when my children know deeply that they’re loved, and moments when I more fully realize the Tim Keller quote:

“We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”

Also any time my children all crawl into our bed in the morning (and aren’t kicking each other!).

9. Your most awful experience?

  • Seeing children suffer with life threatening illnesses, hunger, or poverty.
  • After I had my ACL surgery and it felt like a truck had parked on my knee.  All night. 

10. Best place you’ve ever been?

I didn’t think anything could beat Paris until I experienced Barcelona. Cosmopolitan like NYC, weather (at least when I was there) and water like LA. And the food!

In a few weeks my wife and I will be in Greece for 10 days, though, so maybe I’ll have a new favorite?

11. Your biggest disappointment in life?

They’ve changed. It used to be more when I didn’t measure up: in college it was not passing chemistry, thereby taking me off the medical school track. After college, it was when I didn’t get jobs I really wanted. I don’t mind those types these days.

Now, it’s more about not doing something I really wanted to try because I was too scared to fail, or not talking to someone I really wanted to meet because I was too scared of rejection. That sort of regret sticks with me like dog poop that won’t wash off the bottom of your shoes.

Nominate 11 others.

I’m not a rule follower, so 11 seems too few. Instead, I’m nominating the below because I like reading their posts. I tried not to nominate ones who have already been nominated—sorry OnAnotherCoast and AMileInMyShoes—but I would love to hear your answers to the questions I came up with if you’re willing to share!

I’d like to nominate the following:

Rules (follow them if you wish):

  • Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the eleven questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate eleven new blogs to receive the award and write them eleven new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog.

Here are your questions:

  1. What is your real-life super power?
  2. How do you use this power?
  3. What do you dream about?
  4. What makes you wince?
  5. If you can go back and change one thing about your life, what would it be and why?
  6. How were you raised to think about money?
  7. If you’re a parent, how do you teach your children about money?
  8. If you make more than enough to cover your basic needs, travel, and some savings, has more money beyond basic needs/travel/some savings made you more happy?
  9. Do you give to charity or research? Why or why not?
  10. You have a magic wand. If you could zap into existence one thing to make your finances better, what would it be?
  11. With this magic wand, what else would you create to make your life better?


  • amileinmyshoes September 28, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    I love those answers and I’m also now realising just how personal the questions were! Your perfect day sounded just that – perfect. Ouch on the surgery (I had to look it up). I went to see U2 in concert once. We were so close to the stage and got asked to dance with Bono. We declined due to shyness. I say we because there’s some debate on who was asked haha! Lucky you going to Greece and thanks for your kind words 🙂

    • justmakingcentscom September 28, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      Thank you for nominating us! It was fun to answer your questions!

      Re: Bono, my guess is that next time, you’ll dance.

      I’ve seen a lot of celebrities. Having grown up in LA, went to school with some of them, and in NYC bumped into them all the time — Matt Damon, Jerry Seinfeld, Matt Dillon, you name it. They’re normal people like you and me, so I’m not awed and don’t bug them. Until I saw Bono.

      I saw the energy around him before I saw him. He was waiting at a street corner on the Upper West Side with his daughters. No one else was around so he looked like any other person in NYC, but the traffic pattern around him changed, and there was curious honking from cabs. When he got into the cab, my wife and I looked into the cab window to confirm. It was definitely him. We waved. He gave us 2 enthusiastic thumbs up. Then we freaked out the rest of the day.

      • amileinmyshoes September 28, 2016 at 2:45 pm

        haha good story. We don’t get many celebs around these parts, but as you say they’re just people.

  • Lauren Fortenberry September 28, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    I think your perfect day sounds pretty amazing 🙂 U2, The Boss…I could relate to many of the passions/experiences/dreams you shared here. I look forward to following your positive and insightful blogging!

    • justmakingcentscom September 28, 2016 at 9:11 pm

      Thank you Lauren! Sometimes when I read your posts, I feel like I’m you in a parallel universe, so it makes sense that you relate!

  • Happily Tanned September 29, 2016 at 12:05 am

    Thank you for the nomination. As this is my first award, it will always be special to me.

    Best Place You have been – Paris – I could no agree more. That city is just beautiful 🙂

    About the questions – It is gonna be really tough to answers these questions 🙂 but I am sure I will enjoy writing these 🙂

    • justmakingcentscom September 29, 2016 at 8:49 am

      Can’t wait to read your answers! And I’ll let you know how Santorini is!

  • Happily Tanned October 1, 2016 at 10:28 am

    Hi, Thank you for the nomination. You can read my answers –


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