Friday, April 27, 2007
Your first gripe about feeling like a waste of God's time is classic and applicable to all of us who have tried to follow Him. I can only speak about my personal experiences. A part of my relationship with God will always be me being aware of stumbling in my faith. We know when we haven't done the best thing, and for me, that doesn't even come with a conscious relationship with God, that is part of the knowledge of good and evil that God has instilled in human nature. I always know when I have done bad, even if no one notices or tells me. The reason it hurts so much is that I would like to hide that bad doing of mine from everyone, even God, but that is impossible. So, we must surrender our knowledge of our mistake to Him. If we do so, but to a God we only fear, we still won't feel that good. I don't want to be confessing to God just because I fear his wrath. I want Him to know my weaknesses. I want to swing that door open and let Him come in and wreck shop like no one else can. I think it is great to know when you haven’t been doing so well. You know where there are improvements to be made. You know what to bring up to God. However, this can lead to being overwhelmed by the knowledge of your laziness and sins. I have experienced this a lot. I spend my time counting my bad deeds and then I just don't see anything else. It has helped me to focus on one problem at a time, or to get to the root of a sin, and heal it from there out. You can pray about the others while you are doing this, but you can't work on them all simultaneously. That is God's job, and he is pretty good at that. Another thing to remember...you will always sin. That doesn't mean your behavior is justified, but you have to come to grips with your lack of divinity. You’re human, okay? But that doesn't mean you can ignore the itch for the rest of your life.
I also struggle with being confident in my abilities and being humble at the same time. I think there is a helpful middle ground that can be reached. It is where you know you are good, or at least decent at something, but you are able to keep this great respect for those that are older and clearly better than you, and you need to recognize greatness in those younger than you too. So, it is a pursuit of greatness while always paying attention to the greats. For me, this is really something that I have learned a lot about since graduating college. I have a lot more respect for people out there trying to make it, trying to live there dream, and that in itself is enough humility training for a lifetime because I realize how much more work I have to do. By paying attention to the best, you will have invaluable role models that may or may not know you are drawing from their lives to develop your strengths and quell your weaknesses.
I hope this helps.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
When I walked out with my dad he told me that Kurt was sharing with him how cool it is to be a grandpa. Kurt had said to my dad, “There is one thing though that isn’t so cool.”
“Oh yeah, what’s that?” My dad asked.
“When you realize you’re married to a grandma.”
Monday, April 23, 2007
It’s true that in renewing the expired ban on assault weapons we can’t guarantee that someone won’t shoot people with a semi-automatic pistol, and that by controlling semi-automatic pistols we can’t reduce the chances of someone killing people with a rifle. But the point of lawmaking is not to act as precisely as possible, in order to punish the latest crime; it is to act as comprehensively as possible, in order to prevent the next one. Semi-automatic Glocks and Walthers, Cho’s weapons, are for killing people. They are not made for hunting...
Read the rest here.
Just a few minutes before the news broke; mom and I had been chiding dad for speaking so loudly into the phone. He called Megan to wish her a happy birthday. We had called earlier, but we didn’t get through to her so we had to sing happy birthday into the voicemail.
I could hear Megan talking on the phone to dad. The volume was really loud on the phone. She told dad to have us gather around the phone because she has to say something. In one second I did a lot of thinking. What is going on here? Why would she have us gather around? What could she say? Easy. She is pregnant.
I anticipated my parents’ reaction more than Megan’s words because they didn’t come as a surprise. My mom brought her hands up to her mouth and screamed and then jumped up and down and screamed some more. Dad yelled a little too and said over and over, “Congratulations.”
Mom was doing a little jig in the kitchen and hooting and hollering. She was, and is, very happy. Dad handed the phone to mom so she could get in a word. He then paced off into the living room with a contemplative face on, all the while rubbing the goatee he doesn’t have. I thought of going to him, but realized he wanted to be alone, if just for one minute. This was a moment he needed, to realize his baby girl is pregnant. It was a moment I knew I could have only subtracted from with my presence. It felt right to leave him alone.
I had to leave for lunch soon so mom handed me the phone so I could say congratulations to Megan myself. I did. It was a bit surreal. Megan went from a married woman to mother-to-be in a matter of minutes. Even then, two weeks pregnant, I heard the slightest change in her voice, perhaps the new scope of responsibilities realized, because her wish had been granted.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
I was pleased to see that TIME chose to honor the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings with the cover, but upon reading the inside of the magazine it quickly became evident to me that TIME didn't continue that theme. Cho Seung-Hui gets more ink than any one of the victims. While Cho gets a photo spread and endless commentary that reports the obvious, the victims get a sidebar. Cho's multimedia package that NBC received was his grasp for glory. TIME, just like NBC, followed suit and gave it to him.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Let’s see, the wedding is 64 days away. I booked the honeymoon this week. Yes! I am obviously excited because it is a honeymoon, but also to have another part of the planning process out of the way.
Kate has one more week of her rotation in Scottsbluff. She graduates two weeks from tomorrow and then I can call her Dr. Bradley, but not for too long. After all, she is the future Dr. Perica of Pharmacy. I can’t believe that it has been a full four years of pharmacy school for her already. I am proud of her and I don’t know what the heck I can give her for graduation.
It will be a busy and fun weekend, one that probably won’t be filled with blogging, but neither have the last two weeks. I just felt like there needed to be an update here.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
The Bucks sells a lot of coffee. The company tries to say thank you to their customers by offering same visit, in-house refill prices on regular coffee. The refill price: 54 cents. Many customers try to save their cup all day long, or even for days, and bring it back to the store for the refill price. Most of them end up getting the refill price, thus saving about one dollar.
It is pretty obvious when a customer is doing this, but I don’t call them out. If I was in management I would, but getting into an argument isn’t worth one dollar, especially if it gets so bad that I put myself in danger of losing my job. I give these customers the refill price. However, during one of my shifts last week a senior employee told a regular that you only get refill price on the same visit to the café. The employee nicely explained that customers can’t get the refill price on a coffee they bought ten hours ago unless, for some freakish reason, they happened to be in the store all day. The customer to whom she was speaking to said that he was unaware of this rule, but that he would obey it next time.
I watched the exchange between the employee and the customer. We made eye contact. He recognized me.
I was there the next time that customer came in. I was standing slightly out of view when he approached with his cup and I stepped out from behind the bar because I was taking the trash out. He started to say his order. There was a little hesitation in his voice because he saw me. I was there when the refill rule was explained to him and he knew that. I kept walking toward the door and he kept delaying his order.
I was waiting for him to say, “It’s a refill.” And he did, but not until he was convinced I was out of earshot. Sometimes my hearing impresses me. I have a theory about this that I must share. When you are as tall as I am you hear it everyday. No exaggeration, everyday I hear at least one exclamation from a total stranger about my height. Many of the comments find their way to my ears long after the people gawking think I can hear them. I have always known this and I have always listened for them. I walk by countless people who I catch staring. There is a certain look they have that tells me they are waiting to say something to a friend who is walking beside them or someone on the phone. I have radar for these faces and I have an even better detection of what is said. It may sound ridiculous to you, but my ear is trained to hear whispers from far away, and although this customer’s whisper wasn’t about my height, a lifetime of height comments have ensured that those remarks don't escape my ears.
I continued out the door and made a quick calculation. Forget nine dollars; this guy sold his integrity for a dollar and fourteen cents.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
What are we individually and collectively to do in regards to the poor and injustice? Here are my top ten answers to that question:
· Our first act must be to repent of our distain and disgust toward the poor. We must acknowledge our self-righteousness that views all poor as welfare cheats and lazy indigents. We must confess that our prejudice toward different classes of the poor, such as illegal immigrants, is a selfish disguise for not wanting to have our standard of living disturbed.
· Second, we are called to identify with and stand for the poor because Jesus did so himself.
· Third, our response to the poor should cause us to examine how we can lead a compassionate lifestyle and constrain our greed and materialism.
· Fourth, we must share the gospel with the poor. Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor” (Lk. 4:18). Along with this, we are to prayer for the poor and oppressed of the world in our daily prayers.
· Fifth, I would suggest including the poor and oppressed in your household budget. Dedicate some of your personal giving to economic aid organizations like OXFAM, Compassion Intl., Bread For The World, or World Vision that provide food and care for children, refugees and the poor.
· Sixth, pay close attention to economic and political conditions in other nations. We can’t help if we don’t know what’s really going on.
· Seventh, get to know organizations that are working for justice locally. Ex. OUR Center, Boulder County Justice, Boulder County Safehouse, Boulder County AIDS Project
· Eighth, make working for justice part of your weekly or monthly routine. Devote some time to a specific activity that personally connects you to people who are poor or disenfranchised.
· Ninth, vote your conscience. Remember that nations will be judged by the way they treat people who are disadvantaged.
· Lastly, advocate and work for a person, people or cause that you believe, one that has meaning for you personally.
Friday, April 13, 2007
How nice are our lives if all we can do is talk about some radio host's three nasty words for days on end while ignoring everything else?
David Kuo wrote a great response to the Imus debacle.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
That Stevie Nicks song from School of Rock is playing.
I am finishing To Own A Dragon.
I am sitting in the café after stopping to read a discussion between Rick Warren and Sam Harris on the existence of God and the truth of the Gospel in Newsweek.
There is a lady speaking loudly to a man named Dan. The woman has some sort of mental disability. I can’t catch her name. Let’s call her Mary.
I would find it hard to focus if I were sitting any closer. There is a couple sitting fifteen feet closer to me than Mary and Dan, and yet Mary’s voice dominates the café.
“She wouldn’t shut up and leave me alone.” I hear.
I hear more. The lady seems to be doing a lot of complaining.
“She was mean to me. Mean all the time.”
“I am not going to deal with some people’s behavior when they are like that.”
“It makes me look stupid, but I am not. I am smart.”
“I never stole anything. She is wrong about that.”
She talks about two other women like they are her friends.
“Stealing is wrong, absolutely wrong. Bad news is what it is.”
One of Mary’s friends wanted her to stay over.
“I wouldn’t do that. That is bad news.”
There are two people sitting much closer to Mary and Dan than I am. They aren’t talking, reading, or writing. I think they are just listening. I think they should at least disguise it. I don’t know if what I am doing is okay or right.
“My dad was in WWII before he got killed.”
I wish I had a laptop. I could capture so much more of the dialogue.
“I only got one brother because dad got killed.”
“Now I got one brother. He is a carpenter.”
“I like deviled eggs and I like boiled eggs with toast.”
This man with her, Dan, is not her brother. I can’t figure out his relation to her. He is probably just a friend. He seems to be making an effort to get her to think about less serious things, hence the conversation about eggs and now about old vacations.
She hasn’t touched her black iced tea.
An elderly woman sits across from me. She has grabbed four books off the shelf: The National Geographic Guide to Birds, Complete Guide to Cat Care, Think Like a Cat, and The Cat Book.
Mary walks past me calling louder to a woman named Janice.
Now it becomes evident to me that Dan has some sort of mental impairment. He speaks very quietly and helps Mary with her things, but his movements are rigid and elementary. He wears Velcro shoes. He has rolled his jeans. He wears a light khaki jacket zipped all the way up. His hair has thinned out with his age. He might be in his 40s.
The two say they want to go to Michael’s.
“I want to have my surgery. It is the 28th. Then my sister is going to stay with me.”
I glance at the nearest bookshelf. Menopause for Dummies stares back at me.
With Russian-US relations at a low point, it only seems best to put a missile defense system just outside their lands and say it is not for them, but for Iran and North Korea.
Anyway, this is something to watch. Read the story here.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
I wanted to write something today, but my precious time was used, positively, I might add, to research honeymoon locations.
I scoured the internet for a decent article or video for you. I know Colbert was on The Factor a long time ago, but I never saw the whole interview, and maybe you didn't either. So, here it is. Colbert v. O'Reilly.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Amazing. The premise: put one of the world's best musicians out on the streets during rush hour in plain clothing. Give him a violin, not just a violin, but a "Gibson ex Huberman" that "was handcrafted in 1713 by Antonio Stradivari during the Italian master's "golden period," toward the end of his career, when he had access to the finest spruce, maple and willow, and when his technique had been refined to perfection." Have him play. Next, observe what happens. Will anyone stop? Will the finest violinist be noticed on one of the world's best violins? Are we too busy to even stop for that?
Friday, April 06, 2007
It is April 6, 2007. I am 78 days out from my wedding. My fiancée and I will be moving to Milwaukee after our honeymoon in July. She is one month away from being a pharmacist. I work at Starbucks. I don’t know what I am going to do in Milwaukee, and I don’t care too much because I am moving there with the person on this earth that I love the most. We have been criticized for having a faith that convinces us that God will provide and that we will remain a strong, cohesive, faithful, and loving married couple despite our inability to foresee any emergency, financial predicament, and catastrophic event in the future.
I don’t know about emergencies. I don’t know what I will do when they find me. And, in a way, I don’t care. It isn’t in my interest to live a safe, comfortable life. Lots of people want Kate and me to live that way—safe and comfortably, but we aren’t going to trade our dreams and future together for a safer timeline and a more comfortable marriage. The truth is, when it comes to marriage, there is no safe timeline and there isn’t a comfortable, worry-free marriage. I know some of those reading right now are followers of Jesus. You must know then, that following Jesus isn’t safe, comfortable, and worry-free, but you know it is the best, and that is why you live the way you do. Once we commit ourselves to Jesus, Jesus wants to commit us to others, work, and services; all with the hope that we will spread the good news.
Why do I think there is no safe timeline for marriage, and why do I think marriage isn’t going to be a walk in the park? I think this because I want it to mirror much of my relationship with Jesus. I don’t want to carryover my mistakes, from my personal walk with Jesus, to married life, but I want us to love one another like Jesus loves us. Trying to do this even throughout my engagement to Kate hasn’t been easy. Often, we have failed to trust and love each other in the way Jesus trusts and loves us. We haven’t broken under the pressure to give up though, and in the last two months we have taken big steps in understanding the marriage that God is calling us into.
It is comforting going into a marriage knowing how my relationship with Jesus has blessed my life, but I am learning that in order for Jesus to also bless my marriage with Kate, I am going to have to be unselfish, loving, and forgiving on all new, elevated levels. Naturally, I want to spend the rest of my life with Kate, but becoming aware of the new demands that will be put upon me can be incredibly intimidating at times.
By the logic of many, getting married is too much of a risk. Watch a movie or television and you might think it is impossible to be married without having an affair. Sexual promiscuity and adultery are not only easy to find in the media; they are at times, sold to us as the new school, as if to say commitment is the old school. I wish that weren’t true, but since it is, the Christian romantic relationship and the Christian marriage can potentially be stronger testaments to Jesus’ influence in our lives. However, this means the Christian romantic relationship and marriage is subject to closer examination and criticisms. There is more pressure on us to follow Jesus’ commands and to love the way Jesus did. While trying to do so, it is hard to not be on a moral pedestal; that is, to think in my head that my relationship with Kate and our coming marriage is morally superior to others simply because we love Jesus. Instead, I like to think of our romantic relationship as morally inferior to others. It is irrelevant if this is true, but I think this mentality helps to keep humility in my approach to any romantic relationship or marriage. A humble approach helps Christians to not discredit a relationship or marriage if it isn’t Christian. I, and I am sure many others, judge too quickly the secular relationship. Any evidence of our doing so, will further us from God’s people, and the ministering Jesus speaks of us doing will no longer be possible. We should not judge, and instead, approach all relationships with love, compassion, and humility.
On the flipside of this, we have the Christian approach to other Christian relationships. Hold on, I need to say this first: I hate using this word Christian because it carries so many stereotypes, unrealistic expectations, and it has a lofty tone to it. With that said, as Kate and I begin our journey as a married couple, I hope we don’t assume a Christian relationship is right just because it has been labeled as a Christian relationship. I also hope that Kate and I will not be given the benefit of the doubt because we are in a Christian marriage. The ministering that can be done inside the community of believers is huge and it is vital that we don’t forget about that “Christian” marriage right next to us that might be rotting from the inside out.
In closing, I don’t know what to say for a conclusion. This could have gone many ways. I tried not to do a history lesson of my romantic relationships leading up to Kate. Instead, I tried to focus on where I am at right now, recent thoughts, and a little about the future with Kate and Jesus and what that means to me…everything.
I have been absent for a few days. Now you know what I was working on. I am back now. Aaron and I should post soon. I am excited.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Our arrival was a blur. I noticed that valet parking was only five bucks so I pulled right up to the curb. The valet hopped out of the car in front of us and opened Kate’s door. I turned the car off and then realized that I was probably just supposed to keep it running. By the time I was out of the car the valet was there to hand me my ticket. That was easy, the first time I had valet parked, and a little awkward because we went from car to restaurant to being seated in thirty seconds. I guess I go through this mental preparation thing when I am walking up to a restaurant. I want to prepare myself for the ritual of dining out, the atmosphere, and the menu. I didn’t have any time for that, making for one abrupt entrance.
Kate and I were seated at a table for two but she sat almost out of arm’s reach. After the drink and wine menus were placed on the table I couldn’t see her. She leaned to the side and waved, saying, “Hey down there.”
I took the obnoxiously big drink menus down and set them in my lap, but first I took a quick look through them. Okay, I don’t know if I have ever been to a restaurant this nice and expensive before, maybe once when I was pretty young, but I can’t remember. Anyway, it took me no more than a few seconds to eliminate the wine as an option. Glasses started at $8, that was fine with me, but I felt more like a cocktail or martini. I didn’t take the time to find the cheapest bottle of wine on the list, but I did find the most expensive: $900 for a 2001 from California. Those are six expensive years right there. I had our waiter take those menus away from us. They were huge, awkward, and despite being at a big table for two, there was still no room for them.
The time for drink orders had come and Kate went with her usual choice, a cosmopolitan.
“And what kind of vodka would you like with that?” The waiter asked.
Kate put a thinking face on, but I was quick to suggest Grey Goose. Kate didn’t respond.
“Do you guys have Smirnoff?” Kate said.
“Uh, no,” the waiter said. “We don’t serve that here.”
The waiter walked away and Kate admitted to showing her unrefined taste in vodka. I don’t know my vodka either, but I did know Grey Goose is very popular and so that is why I suggested it.
Not only do I not know vodka, I don’t know drinks. They didn’t even have a martini list with all the names. I don’t know the names of drinks. I could think of a cosmopolitan and a bloody mary. I ordered the bloody mary. My grandpa used to make those for me. Ocean’s bloody mary was good, but Grandpa Bryce’s bloody mary is superior in my memory. I concede though, the nostalgia factor might be tainting my judgment.
We had two appetizers. The first was coconut shrimp in a black bean mango salsa. We only got four shrimp, but they were loads better than the coconut shrimp I have had at other restaurants…only Applebee’s I think. For the first taste of Ocean, I thought these were a bit of a let down. They weren’t outstanding. I expected Ocean to take a boring meat, shrimp, and make it unforgettable. They didn’t, but Kate and I still gobbled them up in three minutes.
The second appetizer was mini lobster chipotle tacos. Mini means we could take each taco out in two bites. The tacos, which Kate found to be a little disappointing I think, were served on a layer of guacamole. Kate didn’t think the chipotle was strong enough, but I was glad it was a subtle taste because I didn’t want it to overtake the delicious lobster.
Now as far as fancy restaurant etiquette goes, we probably don’t have any. We did a lot of leaning, stretching, and tilting in our chairs to see what other people were ordering. We couldn’t necessarily tell from getting a glimpse of the dish, but the presentation of some dishes was enough to convince me that what was on that plate couldn’t taste bad. We tried to hold on to our silverware before we were notified that we would get a new set with each course. I cleaned the plates of all sauce and crumbs and wondered if a place like this had to-go boxes.
Kate ordered Diver Sea scallops with wasabi mashed potatoes. Wasabi is pretty sick. I can’t get with it at sushi places, but the flavor was faint enough to make the mashed potatoes an enticing side to the five big scallops that surrounded it. She surrendered quite a few bites of scallops to me. I was, and still am, thankful.
I ordered the Colorado red trout with garlic spinach and a shrimp scampi sauce. I don’t know what Colorado red trout is or if it is a real trout name, but it, unlike the coconut shrimp, was unforgettable. Lots of people cook fresh trout, but it takes some sort of magician to make it taste the way it did at Ocean.
Kate and I are gluttons. Plus, we had been eyeing, for a while, this macaroni and cheese being placed on tables near us. We had to order some with our main dishes. After we polished off the seafood we ate out of the same bowl of macaroni. I don’t know how you make macaroni and cheese so creamy and good, but they did it. Kate thinks there was some sort of wine in there. That sounds like a good idea. A little wine in anything makes it better.
When Kate was on her third scallop she said she was getting full. That was 30 minutes before we got the dessert menu. I was never going to pass up a dessert and Kate agreed to split one with me after no effort on my part to get her to cave in. We picked a caramelized banana cream pie. The bananas had been covered with sugar and finely torched to create a sweet crispiness. The dessert was a work of art. Kate suggested we take a picture of it with her cell phone. It didn’t work. The flash wasn’t bright enough, but it was a fine moment in our lack of restaurant etiquette, taking pictures of dessert before we dug in.
Over two hours after we sat down we paid the bill and went to the bathroom, not because we had to go, but just to check out the design in them. Once I got in there I had to pee anyway. Luckily, there was a flat screen at eye level (for most people) right above the urinal. There was some footage of a guy puking over the side of a boat while I was peeing. Throwing up didn’t seem like a good thing to show in the bathroom of a restaurant, or in any bathroom for that matter. On the way out I did wonder how many trees fell to make the amazingly thick paper towels I dried my hands with…probably way too many. The polar ice caps are going to melt because of these thick paper towels, I thought. Bummer.
When we got out to the valet booth, my car was parked across the street. Valet parking was five bucks. I gave the guy eight. It was probably his smallest tip of the night, and even though I can’t give anymore than that, I wished, for a moment that I could have handed him a twenty or something bigger. I hope he was happy. We were.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
One of my favorite segments from this comment piece is when Freedland compares Britain's reaction to the crisis to his predicted American and Israeli reaction if they had soldiers in the same predicament.
Monday, April 02, 2007
This blogmunity we have going on is pretty sweet. I can click from my own blog to Aaron's blog and then down the link list to get updates, stories, and news from a lot of my friends. I thank the inventors of Blogger for ushering in another form of communication, but I don't want it to be just that. I don't want it to be a clique of blogs that are collections of inside jokes and stories. First time visitors don't stay at a blog for one second after they realize they can't relate to the author's blogs, stories, and opinions. I know, because when I get to a blog and feel that, I leave right away.
When I noticed new blogs by Collin and Ryan my mind started running and I thought, wouldn't it be cool if somehow we all were super devoted to this community of blogs and we used this platform to present ideas to believers and non-believers about faith, social justice, politics, evangelism, organized religion, and whatever else we would like to write about? Yes, it would be cool. It would take a lot of devotion. I mean a lot of devotion. It wouldn't get off the ground without one post every couple of days from every one of us. And that would be the bare minimum. I was setting the bar high. The reality is that most of us don't have the time or that kind of commitment to blogs. I wish it were there, but it isn't.
If our community doesn't become that, then I want at the least, for it to be a place where we share our experiences and opinions in an accesible way so that strangers keep on reading when they get to one of our blogs. I wrote to a friend and said that the biggest reason I don't consider my blog on the same level as a mass email is because I want strangers to read it. I want most of my posts to be about issues that people can relate and react to. Any people, not just my friends. If we aren't open to more than our inner circle in our blogs than there is no blogmunity. Exclusion will thrive and we will have squandered a great opportunity to spread the love that we all treasure. Like Rob Bell writes in Velvet Elvis, if we aren't spreading the good news, there is no good news, and I see our blogs as another medium for us to do exactly that.