Monday, November 9, 2009

Money and stuff

Begin with quote from a book Jennifer and I are reading:

...But the lion told me I should undress first...I was just going to say that I couldn't undress because I hadn't any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins...So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling of beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana...But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before...Then the lion said-'You will have to let me undress you.' I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it...The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off...Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off--just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt--and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been.

I want a new cell phone. Android 2.0 has just been released, Qualcomm's snapdragon core for mobile devices, breaking the 1GHz mark IN A CELL PHONE (though, current iterations have underclocked it for power savings), is starting to enter the market. Android is gaining more and more steam as it gains support in smart phones.

The geek in me goes googly-eyed with the thought of it, and drooly with how I would tweak the open source OS.

And the Christian in me sighs and fears; for I am torn free of what i was, but that does not always imply the form cannot grow back. When my desire for new gizmo's exceeds my desire to help those around me that need help (close and far from me), scales start to grow back. When I read (in that story) about how they left the gold behind and something in me said "now wait a minute!", and I would love to think that voice was crying out for all the worthwhile things that could be done with it, but I know that's not true...scales start to grow back.

I don't want to live for myself; I don't want to live open handed, but always keep a good slice for myself; because then the open handed living is not a selfless desire, but a way to assuage a social protocol to commit to "the greater good".

And above all this, I fear a day will come when I no longer realize this about myself, or realize it and I do not feel convicted that I am made for greater things then cell phones, gold, and self pat-on-the-back's.

I don't live in worry, or guilt, or whatever; I'm not saying that. But I hope to live aware of the true value of things, not only of my selfish desires of things. And I think that's something worth fearing and hoping for.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I can honestly say that up until this point in my life, I think that the "challenges" I've faced (social, physical, emotional) are things that I did not enjoy. I appreciate them, certainly, because they have helped to mold me into who I am and who I am becoming. I fully acknowledge that how we react to adversity is critical in who we become. But I can't really look back at any "real" (video games don't count) challenge that was fun...

So I am...interested to say that for perhaps the first time in my life, I have a serious challenge that I am enjoying. Jennifer and I have found a group of friends here in Columbus that we meet with once a week to read and discuss Scripture. Suffice it to say, this isn't a "everyone thinks pretty much the same thing and comes from roughly the same place" sort of group; EVERYONE is coming from a drastically different place from everyone else in the group. We don't all see God the same way; salvation the same way; Jesus the same way, living life the same way, money management the same way, etc. And I am falling in love with these people. And they often frustrate the snot out of me.

It's odd; it's not like I like the two here, and that one there; the rest I'm sort of indifferent towards. I really like each and every one. I'm growing to become more and more concerned, compassionate, and interested in who and what each of them are. And there are times I think "how in the world can you really think that??". And so I am worked over by God, to help me to see that people don't have to grow in faith just as I have grown; that God is willing to take the smallest part of your life that you are willing to offer up to Him, and use it, hoping that you will offer Him more. That it's okay, sometimes even good, to really care for and about someone, and to disagree.

And in the midst of this loving/frustrating relationship I have with these people, I realize that...I enjoy it. I am excited to see God change my heart, because it's not something that I think I alone have the capacity to do beyond a perfunctory level. It's REALLY exciting to God work on and with these people; active evidence that though they may do it differently, does not mean that they do it *wrong*. We are a fallen people, in need of grace far beyond our own ability to generate; and God (through His Son) is willing to meet us wherever, however, and in any fashion to start that conversation, and that transformation. It's good to be reminded that I don't have the responsibility (or power) to pick the right or wrong way to accepting and living in that grace; simply the responsibility to walk the right way as God leads me, and to be open, honest, and loving along the way.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hello! Contentment and Money

So it's been a while.

So I am very happy with the stuff I have. I have a 17" monitor for the desktop, and a older (but flat glass) CRT TV (like 23" or so). And until a couple of weeks ago I was very content with that; we run a pretty tight budget, and so while newer stuff would be good to have, I didn't really think about (and therefore want) much more.

And then I got an OPA (a "good job" at work, with monetary bonus) and some birthday money from my parents. And suddenly I had enough money to get a flat panel, or a projector, or a new cell phone, or...

And I pursued these things; but in order to get a new discounted phone, I was required to get a data plan (for $30 a month) too; which I neither wanted or needed. I could get a flat panel, but Jennifer really preferred a projector. I could get a projector, but LED technology is starting/currently shaking things up, and prices look to be coming down over the next few months...

And then it sort of dawned on me; I was a lot more discontent with all my searching and wanting then I was with what I previously just had. And at the end of the day, if I am given a bunch of unexpected cash, is satisfying my own desires really the way I want to use it?

It may seem silly; I mean, it's not a new car whenever I want one, I know. It's not thousands upon thousands; what I am talking about is well under the 1k mark. But when I didn't have a real income (high school, college), I thought that if I ever win the lottery, I'd give this much away (family, charities, what have you), then use this (relatively smaller portion) on some really cool stuff for myself. But I am starting to think that if I don't follow that same pattern with smaller unexpected money, will I really follow that pattern with larger money that I will have later?

Just some interesting thoughts that I've been going through recently.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dissapointment, judgement...and I'm weird, evidentally.

Let me start by saying that the point of this post is not my eventual thoughts of this situation, but of my response to the situation; and as a christian, being challenged in the sort of response I have. This just happened to be a rather challenging event to my views and judgements.

So I hung out with a few guys recently, some from church, some not. was rather uncomfortable. Not because I didn't know the people; actually, the ones I sat with I knew pretty well. But because I wonder how different that room of guys looked from the rest of the world... Language, good dose of alcohol...and a few seemingly benign consequences along side of that, too. Now, this doesn't bother me when I hang with people who don't give a whoop about Christ and His calling; why should they *not* act this way? But we as Christians are called to be in the world, not of it... So yeah, having a event to have a bunch of guys over is great way to build community and relationships...but I feel that even there, I wonder the benefit if we can't be told any different from the guys we, as followers of Christ, are hanging out with.

And then on the flip side of this, I wrestle with judgement; that oh so narrow line between that which I am uncomfortable with and "feel" is sin and that which is actually sin. Do I really have a place to judge from my limited perspective and limited intelligence of the situation? Should I just get over it, forget it, and get okay with it? As with all things, I feel pulled between knowing what is right for me and knowing what is right...and trying to figure out which is which.

I don't know that I really have an answer to this, other then to take this case by case and figure it out as such, and try to ever sharpen my discernment and limit my judgement. I do know that ultimately, I still love these gentlemen, and still have a large respect for them. Perhaps not in some ways that I had before...but I think I'm okay with that.

And by the way, I think I'm the only guy I know who does NOT enjoy smack talk, smack downs, or general bloody decapitating...yeah. Weird, huh?

Thursday, April 3, 2008


So after washing the first "load" of our mountain of dishes by hand and drying them the same way, I decided to take a break. So I sat down in our small, well lit, heated apartment at our plain but sturdy table, opened our large control climate unit (keeping it's contents at a balmy ~0 degrees), pulled out a carton of elegant french vanilla ice cream (that I bought, didn't make), got a similarly chilled bottle of liquid chocolate, dabbled a bit on top of a single large-ish scoop of ice cream in a (now nicely washed =P ) desert cup, and sat down listening to my cell phone/mp3 player/organizer play a song that I downloaded from a server somewhere in California after I payed for it with a piece of plastic that automatically navigated dozens of secure protocols, passwords, and verifications in the blink of an eye, never asking me for more then a printed number. Now, I could go on and on about how nice it will be to not have to do the dishes by hand, to have an automatic dishwasher do them for me. Or I could go on about how I should feel guilty about having so much stuff when so much of the world suffers. I could also go on and on about how technology is running ahead of itself, offering too many compromises in security for the speed we take for granted. I could even talk about how I should enjoy it while I have it, because our planet is quickly going to pot while we try to maintain a blind and destructive illusion of maintainability.

But honestly, I am going to talk about being blessed. As I sat with my ice cream, I was struck to take small nibbles, slowly. Not just eat it; but actually savor it as if it were a homemade cheesecake made from scratch served in a beautiful medieval castle in Vinton County ( I recognize that I take a lot for granted; so much small stuff. But not that I felt guilty (though I do, plenty often enough); simply blessed. Stuff like chocolate on my ice cream. Stuff like the ability and resources to contemplate and wrestle with the small parts of God that I "get". God has been good to me; not because I seem to have a (supposed; it's really a hoax) intellect that enjoys the problems of modern engineering; not because God has blessed me with a co-op and parents allowing me to graduate with little/no debt. Not because I have a loving, beautiful wife. But because I have ice cream with chocolate. Because I sit in a sturdy chair. Because I have good music to listen to ("Everything" by Lifehouse). Because God has been good, so good to me, in so many little things because I get too caught up in the "big" stuff He is or is not blessing me with. So next time you get a chance, stop and enjoy the smell of a camp-fire or house-fire on the breeze. Pet the puppy that comes running up to you and gets your pants all muddy. Recognize that God loved you so much that He would do and give you small things far beyond your ability to see them all; that a large portion of, even the majority, will go by unnoticed by you or me. Tomorrow, feel pressured, guilty, anxious, or worried, or excited about the big stuff; today, feel blessed.

Monday, March 17, 2008


A few days ago I wrote four very dear friends of mine (three of which are far away), telling them I wish to continue to keep each of them as an intimate friend; that I didn't want my relationship with them to slide away. I mention this because I think it relates to what I feel now; a sort of precursor. I love my wife, dearly and desperately; this has little or nothing to do with her. I think it does have to do with my feeling of loneliness that is here, tonight. I like Colin, a lot, and hope to stay friends; and we have a lot we can talk about. I like Jim, and our weekly talking; he's one of the best of men that I know of. Yet I don't feel like I have to word? ...intimate friend; someone, outside of Jennifer, that I feel like I am friends of friends with. And I think that this feeling is coming on top of the realization that in a few short months, Jennifer and I will be on our own; to reestablish brand new, which is cool, but without any of the people here...and I look at Matt B., Andy V., Doug O., all men I respect and care for, and I realize that 1) I don't really know any of them, don't ever hang out with any of them, don't do anything but “church” stuff with any of them and 2) what if one of them was someone I could REALLY be intimate with? And I've missed out on it now, it's too late now? I am starting to feel the loss of what could have been here in Athens; that in a short time, those I do know will be (practically speaking) gone, and I won't have a chance at those I don't; and all in all, I still long for some intimacy outside of my wife, a guy to be close with, that for whatever reason, it just “clicks” with... So I've been telling Jennifer for a LONG time now that if she wants an intimate friend, she needs to find how do I take my own advice ans start? Should I even at this point? Bah, that's beyond the scope of this entry. I'm just sad, because I think I am starting to glimpse what Christs' community could be...and I don't want to be transient anymore, I want to be permanent, to grow with someone permanent, to not be afraid to invest into people because I'm leaving soon...and I really really want that community to be the people here. And yet...I trust in God, He has someone and someones in Columbus for us...but I still mourn the loss of Central and her people.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Leadership musings

So I know that leadership scares me; I know that I would much rather work behind or under someone, because there I can fix my mistakes; if I mess up, then I put in the extra effort to fix it, and things are fine. But no so in leadership; couple that fear with a consistent lack of discipline and I'm afraid you have, well, me. But I still don't feel like that is why I loath leadership so severely, because I look over my life the last five years, over the leadership positions I have been in both professionally (at least in academia) and privately (specifically, in my church), and while I still fall very short of where I could be, I see progress. I think it is the knowing that I have so much work yet to do, so much growing, that gets me. I gauge my life by where I "could" be; always looking to be the best I could be with what God has blessed me with, and what He is teaching me. And I think while I have improved with leading, I still could be so much more...and it tires and scares me.