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Archive for October, 2009

Baby Legs Argument

October 29th, 2009 7 comments

Beth and I have been married for 5 years and for those most part, we have been conflict free. That has all changed in the last month. I know I should not air out our dirty laundry for the whole blogosphere, but I have to get this off my chest.

Ever since the weather has gotten colder, Beth has been on this baby leg warmer kick. We probably have 10 pairs either in the house or on order. I think they are hideous (Think 1980’s aerobics outfits meet grandpa’s sock drawer). Have a look for yourself. Beth has written a blog post about how much she loves these leg warmers. Here is a picture of our daughter wearing them:

Mikaylas Baby Legs

Mikayla's Baby Legs

Here is the rub… I am not against the “idea” of these infant accessories — in fact, I think they are brilliant. You can keep your baby’s legs warm without having to deal with an extra pair of pants when changing diapers. You can keep them in the damper bag and always have an option if it gets cold. The problem is they are so gosh-darn ugly. No self-respecting father is going to put pink argyle leg warmers on his baby and take her out into public.

Rather than try to convince Beth to lay off purchasing these things (Hey, at least she only buys $7 knit tubes and not $7,000 jewelery — I can live with that), I have decided to advocate for the perfect pair. Something that is functional and not floundering in fashion faux pas. Here is what I want to see. I want a pair of black leg warmers made out of water-proof soft-shell material and complete with adjustable elastic bands. That way it will super-warm; it will match (most) every outfit; they will stay up on little Mikayla; and best of all, if (when) she spits up on them, you don’t have to replace them, you only have to wash them off. Now that is a pair of leg warmers I could get behind.

Until we find a pair like that, I guess Beth and I will just have to continue butting heads. I think we will make it through it. ūüôā

Discontentment leads to a Better Way

October 23rd, 2009 No comments

I am a discontent person.  Just ask my wife or co-workers.

Its not that I walk around all day and mope about how life sucks and I got the short end of the stick; far from it.  I feel incredibly lucky.  I have a great family, a wonderful life and the freedom to do the things I enjoy.

For me, discontentment is not about what we have or our personal lives, but rather it is about the way things could be. ¬†I become discontent when I believe there is a better way. ¬†I am the kind of guy who can spend an hour trying to figure out the best way to do a 15 minute task. [Side Story: When I kid I was¬†responsible¬†for bringing up the firewood to the house. ¬†I tried every conceivable way to make the process easier but usually ended up carrying it up by hand. ¬†After a year or two I finally realized the shortest way was not the best way and was able to perfect “The Wheel Barrel Technique” and thus finally suceeded at finding “The Better Way.”]

I tend to look at the world in the same way. ¬†Sure there is a lot of good going on —¬†especially¬†in this country, but I refuse to be content because I know things can be better. ¬†I am convinced this is because of my understanding of the Christian Narrative. ¬†The story of God’s interaction with Creation and Humanity is not about a magic wand where all things are set right (I would even argue the cross is not the final solution). ¬†Instead, it a constantly evolving story of redemption where each generation is called to take the torch and continue to partner with YHWH in making the world a better place. ¬†The message of Creator-God is constant: I will bless my people so that they can be a blessing to ALL THE NATIONS.

Yes I am discontent. ¬†But, that is because I refuse to be content in a world where there is still genocide and human trafficking and corporate exploitation and racism and rape as a weapon of war and….

It would easy to curl up into a ball and enjoy my happy life. ¬†To be thankful that my family has healthcare and a warm home. ¬†To use my disposable income for personal¬†pleasures¬†and to ignore the plight of so many who do with so little. ¬†But I can’t. ¬†I can’t because I don’t believe we have yet arrived. ¬†I don’t believe where we are as a community, country, society, world is good enough. ¬†I am discontent because I believe there is a better way. ¬†I believe we have a long way to go and I want to be a part of getting there.

Below I have included a video (I am pretty sure you are going to have to go to youtube to watch it) and the lyrics from one of my favorite songs: Better Way by Ben Harper. ¬†He has one stanza that I often repeat to myself whenever I find myself moving from a healthy discontentment into cynicism: What good is a man who won’t take a stand //¬†What good is a cynic with no better plan.

In looking to live out “a better way” I am constantly aware that it is not enough to simply be discontent with the way things are, but we must be active in bringing it about. ¬†It is like Gandhi said: “You must be the change you wish to see.”

Better Way – Ben Harper

I’m a living sunset
Lightning in my bones
Push me to the edge
But my will is stone

Fools will be fools
And wise will be wise
But i will look this world
Straight in the eyes

What good is a man
Who won’t take a stand
What good is a cynic
With no better plan

Reality is sharp
It cuts at me like a knife
Everyone i know
Is in the fight of their life

Take your face out of your hands
And clear your eyes
You have a right to your dreams
And don’t be denied

I believe in a better way

What time is it?

October 21st, 2009 2 comments

My vivid dreaming and pleasant slumber is interrupted by the sound of frantic crying heard through the tinny speakers of the baby monitor.  I am jolted to consciousness as I suddenly realize my setting and that my daughter is obviously in need of parental comforting.

“What time is it?” I ask my still-groggy wife with a nervous urgency¬†revealing¬†the high stakes that rest on the answer. Early in Mikayla’s life I asked that question because I was sleep deprived and had no sense of time and needed to get my bearings. ¬†Later, I asked so that I could gauge how long she was sleeping and how close she was to the magic destination of “sleeping through the night.” ¬†Now I ask knowing there is a lot more riding on the answer.

You see Beth and I play a game called Late-night Baby Russian¬†Roulette. ¬†In order to share the burden caused by nighttime feedings, dirty diapers and Mikayla’s recent bout with evening gassiness, we have developed a system. ¬†Any crying before 1:30am I have to deal to with (since she is probably not hungry) and anything after 1:30 Beth deals with. ¬†(Somehow I also ended up with post-feeding post-1:30 crying as well). ¬†So now when I ask what time it is, I know the answer can either catapult me out of the warm cocoon of my bed or give me permission to, in good¬†conscious, put the pillow over my head to drown out the sobs as I drift back to sleep. ¬†You never know which is in the chamber when the baby monitor goes off.

“What time is it?”

BANG – 1:10am

Dang…. I’m hit…. and you get a blog post.

Categories: Family Tags: , , , ,

What is an evangelist?

October 15th, 2009 No comments

Don’t you hate it when a good word gets so loaded with baggage as to render it unhelpful. ¬†My friend Terry is like this with the word soviets, which refer to small local governing bodies which care for themselves (like sustainable communities); you can’t really refer to soviets without spending a few minutes explaining the idea first.

I feel the same way with words like evangelical/evangelist/evangelism/etc. ¬†These words are based on the greek word euaggelion which literally means “good news.” ¬†In the contemporary American context we have narrowly defined this concept so that it describes “sharing your faith” or something similar. An¬†Evangelist¬†is someone who preaches about sin and salvation and evangelism means you invite someone to accept Jesus as their savior.

The problem with these narrow definitions is that they ignore the breadth of what the Good News (of the Kingdom of God) really encompasses.  The good news is not just about being forgiven of your sins so that you can go to heaven.  Instead, the good news is that complete redemption and restoration that has been initiated and one day will full come.  Through Christ:

  • Our relationship with creation, humanity, ourselves, and our God will be restored.
  • A corrupt earth will be redeemed and set right.
  • Pain and sorrow and death will be wiped away.
  • The poor will eat, the blind will see, the lame will walk, and the prisoners will be set free.
  • Those on the outside will invited in.

And that is just the start of it.  The Good News is holistic and encompasses all things being set right.  Our sin being forgiven so we can go heaven is just one small part of it.  How many tracts have you seen that take all this into consideration?

What bothers me more than the truncation of the concept is the understanding that the Good News is all about a message.  Even if you preach a holistic understanding of the gospel (which by the way is how euaggelion is most often translated) but consider it only a message, then you are missing the point entirely.

The Good News is about embodiment.  It is about being caught up in the story.  It is about being transformed, but also about being an agent of transformation.

Just consider these passages from the ministry of Jesus:

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.  News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. ~Matthew 4:23-24

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. ~Matthew 9:35-36

You see, the proclamation of the Good News is followed by, and confirmed with, the demonstration of Good News.

This brings me back to my original point about words that have lost their full meaning because of baggage.  We should not understand evangelists as simply those who proclaim the good news, but rather, an evangelist should be one who practices the good news as well.

I would be a lot more willing to openly declare myself an evangelical if people understood the entirety of what that word means. ¬†Likewise, I wish when people think of evangelists they didn’t stop with the great proclaimers like Billy Graham, but would also include the great practitioners like Martin Luther King Jr.

The Gospel only make sense when the message is lived out and demonstrated by those who have been transformed by it.

5 years (and a day)

October 3rd, 2009 2 comments

Kickert_0026

Last night Beth and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary.¬† We treated ourselves to a progressive meal downtown with dinner at the Bistro, coffee at Spencer’s and a galaxy pie at Mariah’s.¬† We walked around the square and ran into old friends.¬† But mostly, we just enjoyed being with each other.¬† It was great to get out of the house together (My brother and his wife watched Mikayla while we were out) but we both agreed, we have just as much fun sitting at house together watching old Law and Order SVU episodes while playing games.

I think that is what makes our relationship different… and special… and so meaningful.¬† We find our enjoyment together in just being.¬† We don’t have to be doing things, or going places, we take pleasure where ever we are and whatever we are doing.¬† Some people’s relationships are defined by their activities, or by their mutual friends, or by their “accomplishments.”¬† I feel our relationship defines those things for us rather than those things defining our relationship.¬† I feel like we could lose all our possessions and connections and we would still be who we are and our relationship would never skip a beat.

I cannot conceive what my life would be like without Beth.¬† We have been together through every major decision of life: everything from choosing colleges to raising children.¬† We have both said how unbelievable it is that we have been married for 5 years (and dating for over 10).¬† But at the same time, I can’t remember what it was like before, nor imagine life the next 5, 10, 50 years without her.

I love you Babe.

I love you Babe.