love

Attitude Alignment Algorithm (or, Sour Neon Worms)

What’s worse than runner’s knee? Knunner’s ree. But that’s another story for another time.

Yesterday my wife and I were training for our half-marathon—one month away in Cleveland. It was a ten mile run. The weather was a surprising 80 degrees; other people were outside. I waved. Mile 2 my knee became stiff, and I ran through it. Mile 5 my knee seized and my body dug into the asphalt like Iron Man falling from the sky. “Ah poop,” I said.

Kneedy

The great thing about living in Rochester is that I’m constantly given opportunities to have a bad attitude a great attitude. It’s been a tough winter (as I’ve said and said and said) but we’re finally out of it! (Tomorrow a snow storm is expected). And though I’m limping like a sailor, I’m happy to say—

Okay.

I can’t do it.

Guys.

I’ve reached my max here.

This knee thing is the pits. I’m well aware that I signed up for 23 credits with a part-time job and, well, what should I have expected? But this marathon? It was going to be everything. It would represent my ascension into post-Spring semester heaven. I would be running. Those cheering on the sidelines would be yelling, “Kevin, you made the right choice moving to Rochester. Way to go!” Or, “Keep up the good work, Kevin! Never mind the opportunity costs associated with uprooting and college. You’re almost there!” And finally, as I’m given a small cup of water, with extra, because I deserve it: “You can do it! Your wife’s career is mildly suffering but it is worth it for you to study at a private school! Woo!” (more…)

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Years Later, My Favorite Wedding Gift

You twist, you spin, I pull you apart; you are my favorite wedding gift. Years have passed. The avocado colored bowls, plates, and cups have cracked, chipped, and splattered–thrown out in the garbage can, also since replaced. How do you throw away a garbage can?

You are my favorite wedding gift.

You are dependable and full of life, easy to convince. At your best you come through when I need you. Paper airplanes and renegade shoes have flown across rooms to kill visiting spiders; picture frames were hit and dented the floors. They didn’t last. (more…)

Ode to Toast

Just shy of a month since we rolled into Rochester, our poor, packed Prius carried everything she could across the continent, leaving everything else (everyone else) behind. What have I missed most? Good question.

My toaster.

Excuse me, toaster oven.

I’ve really missed my toaster oven. You see, I’ve never been a fan of microwaves. Some people say the radiation is dangerous and that’s cool. To me, it just makes everything taste rubbery and cheap. Microwaves are convenient; I get that, but convenient at what price? Rubbery everything?

Plus, it seems obvious microwaves are constructed and mass-produced for the weak. You would never see, for instance, a ninja using a microwave.

A plain toaster is fine for bread, bagels, and english muffins, but there’s no other options. What if I want to reheat my pizza? What if I want to create my own delicious cheesy bread with pasta?

Sure. I could use the oven. This is where you chime in: “Kevin,  you don’t care for microwaves, yet you’re too impatient for ovens.”

First of all, you are rude.

Second of all, you are correct.

The toaster oven isn’t just a convenience, it’s the greatest achievement of the twentieth century. My proof? Let’s talk toast.

A toaster oven let’s you see the bread toasting! You can flip the bread if one side is too dark and the other not so much. You can toast your bread with a chunk of butter on top (and watch it deliciously melt in to every crevice of grain and gluten). Best yet, the stressful action of grabbing a butter-knife to free a trapped piece of bread has become obsolete. I mean, you COULD stick a knife in a toaster-oven if you wanted to. Your call.

Estate of Mind

It’s been a month since I’ve had toast, you understand? I’ve been quite terrible. Megan and I are short on cash (and not as heavy on credit as we used to be) so every purchase requires frugality and great purpose.

I ask you this: what greater purpose is there than toast?

Don’t worry. The issue has been solved. Estate sales, my old friend, has relieved the suffering.

We’ve been hitting estate sales like they’re dropping dead. My first stop—every time I enter a specter’s house—is the kitchen. There’s rules though, like in Zombieland, to buying a toaster oven from a dead person’s house. You can’t just buy the first one you see.

1. Never pay more than $5 for a used dead-person’s toaster oven. You can find new ones for $20.

2. There’s a difference between dirty and decrepit. It’s not CAN you clean it, but rather, do you WANT to even touch it?

3. Test it on the spot!

4. If the house shakes as you start to walk away with the toaster oven, pay quickly and run out.

The toaster oven I found passed all four purchasing rules, so I’m golden. This morning I thoroughly cleaned it, cleaned it one more time, and then prayed for God to remove any lingering entities.

photo

Love

It’s amazing what we take for granted. I love you toast; I’ll never leave you again.

The Christian Dilemma of Disagreement

Do you remember your first time? I do. A bet a lot of Christians do. There’s nothing like the first time, the one where you expose everything and… share a theological stance when—worst case scenario—the ear on the other side of the table disagrees with you.

Disagrees? Can Christians do that? Should Christians do that?

My First Time

I’ve gotten better, since my first time that is. I remember it well. I was in youth group, in high school, and the hot topic of teenage dating came up. I argued for it; he argued against it. I hated him. Well no, but he was the type of Christian who always seemed to think the opposite of what I was thinking. I’ve grown to cherish people like this—because, well, it seems that everyone disagrees with me these days—but back then, I couldn’t really handle it.

I remember feeling so caught off guard, I didn’t know what to do. One of us is right, I would think, which means God is against one of us—obviously, not me. 

Processing disagreement has less to do with spirituality and more to do with maturity. At some point we become adults and our emotions dwindle down a bit. We learn to listen and smile—even when we feel like calling someone Mr. Poopy Pants.

For some reason though, spiritual arguments exist on a different level. Our beliefs are very special to us. We’re allowed to have political arguments, sports arguments, American Idol arguments, but when we disagree over spiritual arguments, we take real offense.

Offense/Defense

The reason we take great offense to spiritual disagreements is because we associate God with our beliefs. If I’m wrong then God is wrong then there is no God. I would argue that this is not healthy; however, we have all done it.

I’ve had to learn this lesson many times over. I remember singing along to the mewithoutYou classic song, “Four Part Letter Pt. 2” where the singer yells, “We don’t want our beliefs, God of peace, we want you.” I would sing along and think I knew what that meant. Then I would get into an argument over salvation and walk away with my faith shaken.

If we are one body, if there is one God, if there is one truth, why are we disagreeing so much? 

Our beliefs are not God, but we associate God with our beliefs.

A Dull Stab

Since I chose (yes chose) the route of becoming a slightly left leaning, emergent apologetic Christian—I’m only labeling myself, which I hate doing, for the sake of this blog post—I’ve signed up for my fair share of disagreements. To make things worse, I also dislike the majority of whatever the church does these days. There are other things, but you get the point. I’ve signed myself up for a lot flak.

I’ve grown a pretty thick skin, and I’ve also matured a bit. At the end of the day, regarding our spirituality, we are all just taking stabs. Some use a duller knife than others, yes. But we are all just taking stabs.

There are few things the Bible maps out for us very clearly. Most topics in scripture, however, are meant for a life of meditation, reflection, conversation, and argumentation. We are not meant to have the answer to every question in our pocket, not yet at least.

Is there predestination? Are homosexuals allowed in Heaven? Is there even a Hell—in regards to how we currently think of it? Is church suppose to be how it currently is? And yes, have we made a mess of worship?

We may get the answer in Heaven; we may not care when we get there. What I’ve learned is that it’s okay to ask; it’s okay to argue; we should expect disagreement from one another. Argument proceeds understanding and develops our faith.

Listen, learn, and share what’s in your heart! Be mindful and understand that God speaks to other people as well. Also, you are allowed to be wrong. I do it all the time.

Questions to Argue

1. Have you ever had a spiritual argument that shook your faith?

2. Is there danger in equating God with beliefs (denomination, translation, political views, etc.)? Or should they be one in the same? Is that even possible?

3. If we learn to disagree—to listen and respond in grace—could the Body build a tighter bond?

The Folly of Academic Faith

A couple nights ago, one of my best friends sent me a text:

I was reading 1st Corinthians the other night and came across one of my favorite verses… it reminds me a lot of you and what I think is a major message you are tying to get across to other Christians.

He had my attention. Finding myself in scripture? I’ve given up on that. I find God; I find ancient people with worn stories. I find context and complexity. I don’t find myself.

I used to, but not anymore.

A side-effect of embracing the academic faith? No doubt. My spiritual journey of debates and alternate perspectives is what I know now.

Why would I be in scripture? I don’t need that any more.

The next text came through and my eyes filled with tears.

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but a croaking, rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

I hesitated sharing this. Have I accomplished this? No way. Has anyone? Probably not.

We don’t find ourselves in scripture, but scripture finds us. It speaks to us. It grabs us and leads us. Scripture reveals the bits and pieces of us that God is shaping.

My friend Scott thought of me when he read this passage of Paul. I was honored, yet felt more like an impostor. I’m no man of love; more often than not, I fall into the “croaking, rusty gate” category.

My attitudes as of late… I think I’ve lost my way.

The Folly of Academic Faith

In these moments, I’m reminded of the folly of academic faith. We get so wrapped up in ideas. We get wrapped up in our heads, in ourselves. Beautiful simplicity—all too often, we forget it.

This last year I’ve been obsessed with meanings: Heaven, Hell, gay marriage, politics, gender roles, you get the idea.

It’s been rewarding—I would say I prefer it—though I must be cautious.

The academic faith. It’s a door to a man-made mansion with rooms added daily. We’ll never fully explore it, nor will we ever find our way back. Unless, of course, we mark our steps with love.

A warning to all of you like me. Though we yearn for debates and arguments, and we feel as if we must always dive to the bottom of every issue and search endlessly for every solution, we must not forget love.

Thank you Scott for sending me those kind words, and the wonderful reminder.

Signed,

 

A Modern Day Pharisee. 

Congrats Engagement Dos Amigos

Today, a good friend of mine became engaged. Well, yesterday, I think; he lives in Australia so who really knows? No body knows.

Anyways, it made me think about a lot of things. Like how awesome it was to feel engaged. To be completely wrapped up in enchantment, bewilderment, and in the unknown. There is simply nothing like it.

There’s nothing like looking at a woman who is wearing your ring and swearing to her something beyond your means, something that only God could accomplish between any two people… I’ll be with you until either you kill me, I kill you, or we both die. 

What made it truly special, is that she promised the same for me.

So I saw the Facebook post, I smiled and told Megan. Then I looked at her, sick in bed, and again, I smiled. Marriage is awesome.

It’s a team effort for sure. And if you remember team, then in fact, you’ll be fine. But honestly, it’s more work than anyone ever tells you. How could they?

See, everyday you have to make someone more important than yourself. It sounds easy, but it truly isn’t. People say you have to work on marriage, this part is the work. You have to be selfless from when the sun rises to when it sets. (Also in between, but you get the metaphor). I’m not as good at it as she is, but I’m getting there anyways.

I realized that I needed Megan, like in every way. She’s the other half. She’s the dough, I’m the sauce. She’s the window, I’m the frame. She’s the football, I’m Peyton Manning.

Hold on, I have a couple more: 

She’s the bean burger, I’m the pickle. She’s the grinder, I’m the coffee bean. Ok, ok, I think this is getting weird.

Well, anyways, Justin and Krysta, I’m not sure if you’ll get around to reading this (I remember being swarmed with phone calls and emails after we announced our engagement), but if you do, we are so excited for you two and wanted you both to know that we love you.

Remember to pray for each other, to listen, and to share.

Also, the man is always right.

IMG_0310Just kidding.