Sunday, December 14, 2008

the beauty of normal

Daily drive to work:
Wife:Boy:Wife, part 2:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

aidyn's blog

There has been some good news in regards to Aidyn's surgery (see previous blog). Updates can be found at this blog: Pray For Aidyn.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

please pray for aidyn

Aidyn Wooley is our pastor's oldest daughter and has been a part of the edge (a pre-teen youth group Kari and I are involved in) from the very beginning of the ministry (about a year and a half now). She is a fun and godly 10 year-old bundle of life, and we have grown to love and adore her during this time.

For a short time now Aidyn has been feeling weakness on her right side (arm, hand, leg, etc.), and her parents took her to the doctor this past Friday (11/1). The doctor ordered some scans and tests, which indicated a tumor near the base of the brain / top of the spine that will need to be removed. The team of doctors believe the tumor is cancerous but will not know with certainty until a few days after the surgery. Aidyn will have surgery to remove the tissue on Wednesday, November 26 at 8:00 AM.

Our hearts are hurting for Aidyn and the Wooleys as they go through this painful experience. Please pray for them with us.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

it's gotta be close

I've heard a lot of comments lately about the end-times being close. Most of them have been in reference to the recent election. I wasn't very convinced until I saw the UA basketball game last night.

The end has gotta be close.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"a loss for words"

In case you haven't read it, I wanted to draw some attention to Kari's latest blog. It is a beautiful expression of her heart in the midst of the painful experiences of three miscarriages. While, as the guy, it has been easier for me to process things and begin to move on (hence my blog not even a week later than the last miscarriage), it obviously has been a different experience for Kari. But I think that as a result there has been a deeper quality to what she's been able to process, which is evident in what she's been able to express.

Monday, November 10, 2008

one-issue politics

It's pretty interesting how Obama's election has sparked so many heated conversations among Christians about abortion. I'm pretty quiet when it comes to politics, but I couldn't help but share this great article by John Piper: "One-Issue Politics...", also posted on my friend Justin's blog. Piper has a gift of making confusing issues seem so clear.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

off with his head

We had our church Halloween festival, Neewollah Pallooza, last night. Kari and I were farmers.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

hmmmmmmmm beer

I spontaneously decided to have some father-son time with Mason today. Justin told me he would be at the Red Bull Soapbox Derby today in Red Rocks, and that it was free admission. So I threw Mason in the car and made the 1/2 hour drive up to Morrison, CO. It turned out that everyone and their mother and their mother's 3rd cousin had the same idea. An hour later, stuck in traffic, I was looking for plan B. I had remembered that the Miller-Coors brewing factory was just another 15 min north, so we didn't waste any more time. I had a good time bonding with my 3 year old son in the land of booze.

goodbye lute

I don't have the energy to actually write a whole blog about Lute Olson's retirement, however I also couldn't not comment on such a monumental event for a lifetime diehard U of A fan. Let's just say that 2008 sucks. There's no reason why I would expect it to be any different at this point.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

tiny dancer

Mason has been tugging at every last little bit of our patience lately, as he seems to be dealing with the terrible 3's instead of the terrible 2's. However he continues to have plenty of cute and funny moments. This past weekend as the ringbearer at Kari's cousin's wedding was one of them.
Sorry the quality is so bad. The first one is at least worth taking a look at. For some reason you can see the others a bit better on my facebook page.
video video video video video

Saturday, October 18, 2008

round 3, fight

"They can't find a heartbeat. They sent me in for an ultrasound. There's no baby."

"What?!?" In the middle of a number of things at work, I had almost forgotten that Kari had gone in for her routine 12-week checkup.

I couldn't think. And yet it seemed like my mind was racing at the same time. It must have been a mistake. Sometimes they just can't find the heartbeat with those little machines they use. But wait, there was the ultrasound.

"What do you mean?"

"There's no heartbeat. I don't know what to do. I can't even cry. I'm just numb."

Pause.

"So they tried to find a heartbeat, and when they couldn't they sent you to get an ultrasound?"

"Right. They couldn't find it. Then they thought they heard a flutter so they sent me in for an ultrasound. But they said it looks like the baby stopped growing at 8 or 9 weeks."

I was just silent. Absolutely stunned. Totally blindsided. I can't really find better words to use than those. I described the first experience in a similar way (this is our 3rd miscarriage in a row), and this experience was of course similar.

And yet it was so different. The absolutely stunned from the 1st experience just seems to pale in comparison with the absolutely stunned from the 3rd. (The 2nd experience was just different altogether....it happened much earlier in the pregnancy and we had many more warning signs) There were absolutely no warning signs with this one. It was a routine checkup. And Kari was the farthest along with this one. 12 weeks. We were so close to being "in the clear."

So close.

Of course, I guess you're never really in the clear when it comes to a life. To this day I still go into Mason's room after he's asleep, pick up his little wrist, and count the pulses from his little beating heart. It's not so much because I'm overly worried about his well-being, but it keeps me amazed at the fragility of that little life. There is absolutely no reason why those lungs should keep sucking in air...and that heart should keep on beating...except for God Himself sustaining that life. Why He hasn't done that for Mason's 3 unborn siblings, I'm not sure.

I left work and rushed to the hospital. I found Kari in a room discussing the situation with our doctor while Mason played on the floor. A good guy, our doctor. God bless those doctors who work so hard at also being good counselors. No doctor can escape the situation of also having to do some counseling. However not every doctor understands the importance of being well-rounded in this way, especially on top of everything else to be concerned about.

I shook his hand and could see on his face that he hurt for us. As I got to know him I became convinced that those emotions were sincere. The conversation was somewhat of a blur, but he presented our options for testing and tried to instill some hope in us in the process.

We went home.

The experience of being emotionally drained is relative. I thought I had experienced emotional drainage plenty of times before, however I don't think I have ever been as emotionally emptied as I was after this experience. My perspective on life was suddenly through a lens of sadness. Sadness can be a pretty complex emotion. But it can be very simple too. This seemed to be more of a simple sadness. Not necessarily depression. Not necessarily anger. Not necessarily regret, or even resentment. Just sadness. Maybe some hopelessness. Certainly some helplessness. Lost. Confused. In the dark. Where do we go now? What do we do? What if Mason ends up being an only child? What about adoption? I don't want to adopt. Or at least I'm just not ready to adopt. What if we can't have any more kids and we never find out why?

So many questions. No answers.

The next day Kari had a D & C, a surgical operation to remove the baby and tissue from her uterus. Everything went fine. There's nothing abnormal about her uterus. The doctor presented this as good news. And it is. But our first reactions were actually ones of frustration. We still have no answers to what's going on.

So we wait. In the midst of all the pain involved in these experiences over the last six months, waiting is still perhaps the hardest part.

And during this period I'm finding that I'm having to choose to fight. Against the temptation to lose hope. Against the temptation to question God. Against the temptation to fall into some sort of depression because life is turning out to be so different than what we had dreamed it to be. Fighting these temptations becomes harder with every miscarriage. However it also becomes all the more necessary in order to stay afloat.

I don't say all of this so that you will feel bad for us. I think I say all of this simply because I desire to be known. I assume that if you got this far it's because you care for us and are praying for us. I guess I just want to communicate a little more deeply what the experience has been like. I pray that some good can come from it. However even if no one reads this, it's just plain therapeutic for me to express these things in writing. It helps me process the confusion.

Let me also take the chance to recognize those of you who have been loving on us. Thank you so much for the calls, texts, flowers, and meals. In particular, the Elgards have been absolutely amazing. Both Robin and Josh have watched Mason for us the first three days after it happened. Robin has coordinated meals with other amazing friends from church, and she was there throughout Kari's surgery. Robs, I hope you're reading this because you need to know how much we love and appreciate you. I really don't know what we would have done if you weren't there for us in those amazing ways. I thank God for friends like you two.

Thank you all for your continued prayers. Prayer is such a mystery to me, but I know it's powerful. We don't take it lightly when we're told we are being prayed for. We know it's the only way to get through these things and come out on the other side. We've also been encouraged by this verse, which has been quoted to us by numerous friends: "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

I'll end this long post with a poem that has been near and dear to our hearts through all this, posted also on Kari's blog. I'm not usually one to pay attention to poetry, but this one hit the spot at the right time for us.

Wait
by Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate...
and the Master so gently said,"Wait."

"Wait? you say wait?" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word.

My future and all to which I relate
hangs in the balance and you tell me to Wait?
I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign.
Or even a 'no,' to which I'll resign.

You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
Lord, I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply."

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
as my Master replied again, "Wait."
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
and grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting...for what?"

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine...
and He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of My love for each saint.
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.

You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
you'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
when darkness and silence are all you can see.

You'd never experience the fullness of love
when the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

The glow of My comfort late into the night,
the faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

You'd never know should your pain quickly flee,
what it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
but oh, the loss if I lost what I'm doing in you.

So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
that the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still "Wait".

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

truckin through life

My sister Shawna cracks me up. She just started her own blog and her latest post "Of Mice and Men" is an absolute classic. If you know her at all you'll enjoy it immensely. And it doesn't hurt that she apparently has some mad writing skillz.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

poisoned, part deux

So it turns out that it wasn't the buffet that poisoned me, it was my appendix. After my last blog the pain slowly focused itself on the lower right portion of my abdomen. In the morning Kari and I decided to see my doctor, who then sent me to the ER for a cat scan. The doctor there told me it would either be appendicitis or constipation, which if was the latter it would have been both embarrassing and sweet at the same time.

But alas, it turned out that my appendix wanted out. Two hours later it became apparent that it absolutely hated me. I was scheduled for surgery at 8 pm, the soonest a surgeon was available at the time. Around 4 pm the pain started escalating and by 5 pm it made Sunday (see last blog) seem like a walk in the park. I have never experienced anything like that. After going into surgery 2 hours earlier than expected, thank the Lord, the surgeon said that the appendix was so infected that it was black and perforated meaning it was extremely infected and starting to rupture.

Thankfully I'm home already and recovering nicely....thanks in part to Percasete. Man, that is some good stuff. I am now officially a druggie.

I've been thanking you all a lot this year for your prayers. Thanks again.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

poisoned

***Gross out alert***

The last 5 hours have been memorable. But not in a good way. I can't remember the last time I've been in so much physical pain. Perhaps when I was hit by a truck back in '89. Although I only remember bits and pieces about that.

I'm talking about food poisoning. Not from Kari's cooking, from a buffet. I had it once when I was 7 or 8 (before the truck incident) from Halloween candy (I think. I still can't eat tootsie rolls). For three hours straight I've been writhing (yes, writhing) in constant sharp crampy pain. Until I finally made myself vomit. That helped a bit, but not enough. Still writhing. After another hour I did it again, which sent me into the most violent upheaving and barfing that I've ever experienced.

I'm still weak and very crampy, but I think the worst is over. I think I'll start looking at expiration dates. Or just stop eating buffet.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

review - the shack, by william p young

My dad just sent me a bunch of audio books in the mail and this one was included.....primarily because of the popularity of the book and the controversy that surrounds it. I've been listening to it on my way to and from work. I'll try and make this short, although that might be difficult.

It is definitely an intriguing, heart-wrenching, and well-written drama, which is a small part of it's increasing fame. However, it feels like I'm reading two different books. The first couple of hours (it's difficult to keep track of which chapter you're on with the audio version) contain the intriguing drama that I previously mentioned. Good stuff. The majority of the book contains a very extensive interaction between God and the main character that is drenched with the author's theological stance and view of the Trinity. Obviously, here's where the controversy lies.

Let me begin by saying that postmodern perspectives have slowly snuck their way into a lot of modern theological works, largely it seems because of the growing popularity of the Emergent Church. While I do see some benefits to postmodern thought (the emphasis on relationships and community, and the out-of-the-box approaches to religion and God), there are also certainly some dangers. Such is the case with this work of theological fiction.

There's where the first issue lies. This is theological fiction. A recipe for a lightning rod. The story involves absolute truth packaged inside of fictional content. What do you choose to believe? Where do you draw the line? And is it really worth critiquing when the lines are so blurry? Yet here I am.

A friend asked me today, "Why would I want to drink out of a muddy pool when I have purified water at my disposal to quench my thirst?" (paraphrased) Another friend ripped on the book, labeling it a humanistic version of God. Both of these friends have valid points. In fact, because of the muddied theology I would not recommend this book to "baby Christians" or Christians who don't have a firm theological background.

I would, however, recommend this book to unbelievers. Although there are many weaknesses and some misrepresentations (primarily in regard to God the Father, or "Papa" in the book), the major strength is the unique ability to show God in a different, relational light than the Religious being that most Americans see Him as. It is for this reason that I don't subscribe to the muddy pool concept. This book has so many benefits to be derived, assuming you can sift out the bad from the good. I subscribe to the filter concept. Christians should not be afraid to have to filter. In fact, it can be a very enjoyable and healthy activity.

Now because I listened to this book instead of reading it, I can't go through and critique every controversial concept suggested by the author (surprisingly, part of me wants to do just that). I just don't have the ability to quote word for word. And frankly, because it's theological fiction, I'm not sure that's the best way to critique this book anyway. Systematic Theology it certainly is not. I think Christians get stuck when they assume that the author is trying to express his exhaustive theological stance, simply because the content is so extensive and blatant. Right there is the main weakness of theological fiction. You'll want to read it like a commentary of some sort, but Systematic Theology it is not. Still, with all that said, here are a couple of my complaints...mixed with a couple of my compliments.

***Spoiler alert***
Everyone seems to be throwing up their hands in a hissy-fit over the fact that God the Father ("Papa") manifests Himself to the main character, Mack, as a somewhat-overweight, sassy African-American woman (thus communicating more of a mother-figure in most of the book, as opposed to the father-"figure" we know Him to be). Sure this throws you off a bit, and it certainly isn't ideal, however seeing God the Father as human, period, throws so many limitations into the mix that it just plain makes me uncomfortable. It's not here, though, where I choose to complain. It's in some of the statements that are made by Papa in regards to His relationship with Jesus. For instance, Mack almost immediately notices that Papa also has holes in His wrists like Jesus. The author does this to try and communicate the deep unity that He has with Jesus that we'll never truly understand. However it leads to this question by Mack, "But I thought you abandoned Jesus when He was on the cross." Papa replies with, "I didn't abandon Jesus. Jesus is human, and so has allowed Himself to be limited in His knowledge. Jesus just felt abandoned, leading him to cry out 'My God...why have you forsaken me?' I never actually left Jesus" (once again, please remember that I'm paraphrasing). This seems to me to be a pretty heavy theological statement. Having the weakness of not usually seeing Jesus in His full humanity (I tend to err on the side of seeing his full divinity, and not necessarily his full humanity, thanks in part to my staunch-conservative Brethren background) I can appreciate the emphasis that Christ emptied Himself of the use of His divine attributes (trying to be careful with my words here) and literally had limitations as a human. However did God the Father really not fully turn away from Jesus at that moment on the cross when He took upon Himself the sins of the world? A mystery of the Trinity, for sure. However when one is set on emphasizing the abounding grace of God, it certainly is easy to de-emphasize the overwhelming power of sin, and thus also of God's holiness.

And here is our greatest challenge in our perspective of God: Can we ever truly see Him in His perfect balance of holiness and love? Because Christ on the cross has taken the hit of God's holy wrath against sin, we tend to overemphasize His "side" of love, grace, mercy, forgiveness... But if He is a God who doesn't change, His holiness certainly hasn't changed. We tend to de-emphasize the fact that we are still to pursue holiness and seek to hate sin the way God still does....to daily wash those dirty dirty feet. The effective communication of this balance is certainly hard to achieve when you've manifested every person of the Trinity as human.

But here's where I'll also throw in a compliment to the book. The initial conversation between Mack and the Holy Spirit ("Sarayu") is, from what I remember, fairly concrete. It actually argues strongly against any postmodern ideas that touch many other concepts in the book. Although it is also somewhat hard to get past the human picture of the Holy Spirit (as a petite Asian woman), most of the conversations are theologically sound. As are most with Jesus. In fact, for the most part I just love how much Christ's humanity is communicated throughout Mack's interaction with Him. It opened my eyes a bit more to the perspective of His chosen limitations as a human, and the resulting utter dependence on God the Father.

I'll communicate a bit more of what I liked about the book, before I wrap up this unorganized hodge-podge review. I loved how the author did what he set out to do in communicating a satisfying (as much as is possible) sense in the relationship between God and pain. CS Lewis, John Piper, and Philip Yancey come to my mind as authors who have dealt with this well. Although I won't throw Young's name into that mix, he certainly deals well with this issue of pain in the light of eternity. Because of the deep mystery of this relationship, it is here where theological fiction owns its main strengths. Young does a good job of expressing the deep and perfect beauty of God's character and work in the midst of a world wracked by the intense effects of the fall. The reader feels the pain and the burden of the Great Sadness that Mack is forced to deal with. As a result, to a small degree we can understand just how disgusting and loathsome all sins are to God. On the other end the reader also feels the intense beauty and deep wonderfulness (is that a word?) of a God who works good out of the gross evil that exists. When an author can produce in you a deep (and I don't use that word lightly) appreciation and love for the beauty (another word I don't use lightly) of how God has responded to our disgusting and gross sins, I think it's worth a read. Take the author's extensive view of God with a grain of salt by comparing it to God's own Word. But let yourself be sucked in.....to the author's facilitation of hope and trust in God's amazing ability to heal your wounds.

There can be amazing benefits to be found if you'll let yourself be a filter.

I invite your comments. I know this wasn't as theologically exhaustive as some of you theologians might have wanted. This certainly did not communicate all of my thoughts about the book. That would take much more organization and much much more time.
If you're interested, I refer you to this more extensive and organized review:
http://www.challies.com/archives/book-reviews/the-shack-by-william-p-young.php

Monday, September 8, 2008

financial aid

Little did I know when I left my financial aid position at Emmaus to pursue counseling, that I would just wind up back in financial aid. It's funny the things you have to go through in order to appreciate what you've already had. Truth is, the two schools (Emmaus and DenSem) are stark contrasts to each other in relation to this job, but it's still a funny irony.

This job was an answer to many many prayers.....from personal finances to health insurance to school debt to the actual job duties. While the learning curve will continue to some degree or another over the next year, the job duties fit my personality well. As an introvert with decent people skills, I enjoy the balance of student interaction and data processing. Plus it's a plus working at a grad school as opposed to undergrad because there's not as much parental interaction required. Most grad students take care of their stuff on their own. It was shocking how little Emmaus students did for themselves.

Anyway, still a lot of learning to do, but it's been good so far.

Next up...a review on The Shack, by William P Young. It's been an interesting book...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

labor day weekend

We had a good time outdoors this past weekend...breakfast and hiking with the extended fam, then camping with the Elgards. As usual, most of the pics are of Mase.










Saturday, August 30, 2008

STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING

You must stop what you're doing right now and take the next couple minutes to go check out The Ineloquent's new song, Wake Me. It's the first song on their MySpace page. I cannot stop listening to it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

done and done

I got the financial aid job at Denver Seminary!!! I'll write more when I've got the umph. Thanks again for your prayers.

Monday, August 18, 2008

tick tock

I know I've been blogging non-stop on this waiting game that God is playing with me. It's therapeutic. It does not, however, make the waiting part any easier. It is comforting to know that waiting is supposed to suck, because going through suckiness builds your character, perseverance, blah blah blah. Why can't you just inherit those things? My parents are pretty good at that perseverance stuff. Actually I'm glad you don't inherit it, because Mason would be screwed...

Thank you so much to all of you who have been praying for my job situation at the seminary. Your questions/comments/prayers have been very encouraging. I find out Wednesday or Thursday. I've gone from not-knowing-what-the-hell-I'm-going-to-do if I don't get it, to being fairly calm and confident that something else will come along if necessary. The issue is that there doesn't seem to be any other options.

I'll go back to windows if I must. Some days I actually miss that job. But it's certainly not a career for me. On the flip-side, if I do get the seminary job it's going to be a very hard first year in terms of adjusting to what the position requires (in comparison to my very limited experience in financial aid). Either way I'm looking forward to some rest. I'm learning to embrace what I'm becoming while playing the waiting game, but I won't mind getting a time-out.

My lunch break is over.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Oh the joys of potty-training

Mason now gets to pee like Daddy.
And show off his new Thomas the Train big-boy underwear to his friends. Daddy is so proud.
Of course I'm sure Kinsley's daddy has something different to say about this.
Sorry Ben. Of course I did steal the picture from your wife.

Friday, August 8, 2008

hold it together now, just hold it together

**deep/serious blog alert** (sorry, I guess it's feast or famine with these things)

I like the word "epiphany." It sounds cool. E-pi-pha-ny. It always nudges my curious bug when someone tells me they just had one. Actually, they usually say they had a "sort-of" one. Probably because a real epiphany seems like it should be bigger than something that happens as often as once a week. Or in Justin's case, twice daily. Still, there's really not a better word to explain the mental experience, so I will continue to use it.

epiphany
- noun
1. an appearance or manifestation, esp. of a deity
2. a literary work presenting, usually symbolically, such a moment of revelation and insight
3. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

Let's go with definition #3.

This morning on my way to work I had an epiphany.

As I've shared before, I have the emotions typically found in a woman. (I'm not worried about offending my wife with that statement...she can sometimes have the sensitivity of a man. We balance each other out.)

It's not that I'm easily drawn to tears, or even that I have an overly dramatic personality, but those danged emotions have a lot of control over what I say, what I do, and how I generally perceive my world.

Growing up, the general concept I learned was to control those emotions. CONTROL THOSE SISSY EMOTIONS!!! A man's man just doesn't let them out except for absolutely warranted circumstances. Take Jesus, for example. At one point the ultimate man's man himself wept. But his buddy just died. So it was warranted.

Either this, or else a man's man just simply doesn't have many emotions.
I have always had them. Plenty of them. So I'm a sissy (hold your tongue, Padre). And my conclusion is that I must CONTROL them.

So my epiphany this morning involved a realization that I'm simply not succeeding at doing this. I rarely have. And frankly it's a lot of work that I'm just not sure is worth it.

So here it is: while trying so hard my whole life to control my emotions, it turns out that my emotions have been controlling me.

Did I disappoint you with that revelation? Somewhat anti-climactic? Well it was huge for me.

This led to the conclusion that I must not let my emotions control me. Here's the relieving part: not letting them control me does not equal pushing them down. About a year ago at a horribly-done marriage retreat/workshop, the one bright spot of the weekend was learning that emotions are circumstantial. They are simply reactions to what is going on around me. Reactions to things that are outside of my control. So why is it so burdensome to try and control emotions? They aren't meant to be pushed down. In the realm of personal responsibility, emotions are neutral.

The realm of responsibility in relation to God is somewhat similar to everyone. We should live moral lives. I must live a moral life. When emotions control my actions, it is harder to live a moral life. When emotions can be regarded and also left out of the equations that produce actions, it is easier to control those actions. For a person who experiences less emotions, it is easier to base decisions solely on moral judgments. For a person who experiences more emotions, it is easier to base decisions more on what will produce better feelings.....on what will produce pleasure instead of discomfort.

So there's my epiphany for this week. Emotions are great. Pleasures are great. Comfort is great. But when those things control my decisions, morals often take a back seat. Morals are too important to let that happen. When I separate emotions from my judgments, it's easier to exercise control over my actions. And in the end, the most pleasure is produced from moral judgments, not emotions (can I get some props from you Piper fans).

Why is it that when you write out these epiphanies, you suddenly experience a "well duh, you already knew this before" moment? I guess seeing old truths through new lenses can make all the difference in the world. Sometimes that's all it takes in order to transfer truth into your own personal reality.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

oxymoron

I'm watching the documentary Jesus Camp that I rented from the library. Ugh.
But it's like watching Charlie Goes To Candy Mountain (YouTube) or John Malkovich in In The Line of Fire. I just can't look away. I know it highlights only one of the most extreme examples of the American Penecostal movement, but it makes "American Christianity" look like an oxymoron.

The lesbian pastor just finished denouncing Satan from messing with the microphones and Powerpoint, and a counselor just walked into the boys dorm and reprimanded them for telling ghost stories because they don't honor God. I thought ultra-conservatives were the most legalistic Christians, but it looks like they don't hold a candle to ultra-charismatics. So far I've heard that Harry Potter lovers are going to hell and that God only likes to go to churches where people are dancing and yelling Hallelujah.

Kari just walked in and after watching for 5 minutes said, "These guys are freaks."
I'm with you, babe.

Alright, so it's not like Charlie Goes To Candy Mountain. I'm actually going to turn this one off early. Maybe I'll finally give Harry Potter a chance.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Who can accept it?

Iron Will. Remember that movie? I think the best thing about that movie was the title.
Gotta love the double-meaning titles. Family Matters. The Santa Clause. Get Smart.

I can't think of any more.

I've never been much of a visionary. But lately I've started developing all sorts of dreams, desires and goals for our future. I typically like to think I'm pretty laid back. Open to whatever life throws my way.
But I'm slowly realizing that I really love to have control.
Why do we (as people in general) spend so much time trying to perfect our little personal kingdoms? So much energy and thought goes into making everything about my life exactly how I want it to be. I don't like that my lawn is spotty so I go buy a quality fertilizer. I don't like the way my clothes are fitting me so I spend just a little more so I can look good. I don't like the way my soap smells so I complain about it until Kari buys new stuff. And so on.

I am so not laid back.

Recent events have caused me to ponder how fragile and out of my control my life actually is. And it's freaking me out. I realized how devastated I would be if just a couple pending decisions swung the opposite way of how I'm expecting them to turn out. I've got a pretty good idea of what our life could look like in a year. Yet in a blink of an eye, a couple things could happen differently than expected, and all of a sudden life would be a drastically different situation. Would God actually let that happen? He wants me to be happy, right?

While I was meditating on this, a "random" Bible phrase popped into my head. "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" I didn't know where it came from, much less the biblical context, so when I got home I looked it up. John 6 has 71 verses. The Bread of Life passage begins in verse 25 and goes all the way to the end of the chapter.

After Jesus argues with the Pharisees about coming down from heaven as the bread of life, he says something crazy sounding. "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life ....... The one who feeds on me will live because of me."
Excuse me? It's easy to call the Pharisees dense because we so easily see the big picture of what he's saying. But what about his disciples? "On hearing this many of his disciples said, 'This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?'
....... from this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him."

I rarely choose to see this side of God. It's just not as tidy. It feels more out of control.

And then the truth I've known all my life hits me in my reality. I'm never in control. What business do I have trying to make life feel like I can determine the outcome? It's BS!!!

Joel, I am in control here. Eat my flesh and drink my blood. Otherwise you have no life. So what if your life is turned upside down...and things don't turn out like you feel they should? Can you accept it?

Will I accept it? Can I actually give up my iron will for a hard teaching, an unexpected plan, that I don't understand? Wow. I've been so close to turning back like those disciples. So close to fighting so hard to remain in my own plan that I know and understand. God's plan is hard to swallow. But if he's truly good...and if he's truly holy...and if true life exists only in Him.....

I must swallow the hard teaching. Eating flesh and drinking blood had such a deeper, more complex, more amazing meaning than any of those disciples could comprehend.

Why is understanding so important?

Give me your hard teaching, God. And break me of my iron will. I will never fully understand your plans. But in faith I will eat your flesh and drink your blood because you are life.

Thank you for your patience with me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

interview

The interview went well...thanks to all of you praying for me. I made it to the next round, so please keep praying. Through the interview I also became more excited about the job and now I want it even more. =) I'll try to give updates as I'm able.

Monday, July 21, 2008

windows

I have an interview tomorrow for the job that I'm currently doing .... the Financial Aid Director at Denver Seminary. I'm currently the interim until they hire someone permanent. I'd like to be there permanently. The transition into this job has been hard and stressful, but once I know my stuff it will be a great job. Plus I don't really want to go back to windows.

Thanks for talking to God for me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

ode to Keith

I forgot my brother-in-law's birthday, and so I decided to give him a shout out right here on my blog. Not that he reads it, but maybe one of you can point it out to him.

Keith is one heck of a guy. He loves my sister Shawna dearly and has been a great match for her. And he is a wonderful father. At least he makes it look like it in all the home videos Shawna sends us. Although we don't get to see him much, Keith has been a wonderful addition to our family.

So, Keith, although we forgot your birthday, we haven't forgotten you. Even Mason still remembers you, although that's mostly thanks to your yellow motorcycle. Every time he sees one we hear your name come out of his mouth.

Hope we get to see you soon. We love you tons.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

some favorite summer pics thus far

humid Florida

EEK - Elliot Elijah Kolomichuk

The Kolomichuks - cute but psycho

scheming cousins

God's country

3-legs with Kinsley Jane

Potato sack excitement

Francis Schaeffer Jr.

I didn't get permission to post this

humid Florida

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

king of queens

Elgard got me on this show a couple months ago...Kevin James and Jerry Stiller are freakin hilarious.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

change

I don't like change. I run from it often. I try to embrace it when it's inevitable, but I still don't like it. I fear that it's a reflection of my lack of trust in God. I worry. I never thought of myself as a control freak, but I have some tendencies. I worry.

I'm not sure why I worry so much. When I look back on my life I see God's hand in just about everything. He is not only trustworthy, but He has proves Himself to be so over and over and over again. God is trustworthy. And He is good. God is good. I've sang that phrase so much over the last 25 years in church that it's easy to let it pass through my brain without meaning much. God is good. When I choose to meditate on it I am often struck by what God's goodness means. He has a plan. For me. I am His child. He wants good for me.

So why do I worry?

I've got to get to the point where I don't just see worrying as pointless, but as sin. If God is truly good and trustworthy, worrying just doesn't make any sense. So I must make the decision to stop worrying.

So I will choose to trust.

These thoughts have been sparked by recent change in our lives. I know that change will never go away, but Kari and I are still at a point in our lives where change is pretty much normal. We long to establish roots.

So we bought a house. There's some stability. I'm finally looking for a full-time, long-term job. More stability. Last week I applied for a Financial Aid Director position at a random college in Denver. The next day...The Next Day...I got a call from the seminary telling me that their Financial Aid Director position had just opened. Excuse me? A week later they hired me to keep their office afloat during the busy season. At the end of the busy season they will hire someone permanently for the position. In case you're not familiar with my backround, I was the Financial Aid Director for Emmaus Bible College for 2 years. I didn't particularly like working for the school (too much politics), but I loved the position. So not 0nly did I accept the temp gig, keeping the office afloat during the busy season, but I applied for the position. We'll see what happens, but rarely does the Lord drop something in your lap that doesn't pan out. If it doesn't pan out, that's fine. He's got something better. But I'm praying that it does.

Change is hard. Even when the Lord drops it in your lap, it's hard. But what a blessing to know that God cares about the little things.

I am His child. He cares about the little things. The little details in my life are important to Him. Oh what a difference when I stop seeing Him as a god, and start seeing Him as my intimate, loving Father.

God is good.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

the writer in the family

I never would have guessed about my wife's amazing writing abilities until she started her own blog. She cracks me up every time. Of course her funniest blogs are about Mason, so maybe I'm a bit biased. =) Either way babe, I'm impressed.

Sunday, June 1, 2008