8/17/17 : A Home

I remember the first time I prepared to live "on my own". It was a few weeks before college, and my mom took me to Target to try to help me get the right things to make my dorm room feel cozy. She tried convincing me that pillows and comforters that matched my dishtowels would be a good idea. So I went red and black with everything to match the Union College Warriors, the basketball team I hoped to soon be playing for. 

I'm thinking back to then because it was pretty much exactly 7 years ago that I was moving into the dorms, exploring my freedom, and going out on my home. It was also pretty much the last time I truly lived in my own "home". Ever since then I have lived in a shared, strangely decorated dorm room (because I wouldn't let me mom help for real), I spent a year in Australia, then I moved back, new dorm room with less stuff in it, then an empty dorm room while student teaching before going back and finishing up at Union in an apartment with my buddy Curt. 

The next couple years I spent living with a combination of Curt, his brother Dan, their cousin Jake, my cousin Zach, and Jake's brother Brett. It was a blast! I love all of those guys, and they were amazing roommates. However, as you can imagine, rooming with 2-3 college guys lends itself more towards a living space than it does a home. 

Now here I am, a couple months into marriage, and my wife knows how to make a home. I remember going furniture shopping with her the first time and it was TOUGH. I didn't understand why little knick-knacks were important for decorating. I couldn't tell the difference between all the different gray upholstered chairs. Now, when I look around the different rooms in our house, everything makes sense. She is extremely particular about each item and where it goes, how its positioned, and while I used to think I cared, I've learned that the only thing I really care about is that she feels supported to do her thing. 

Because its amazing. Whether she wants the white, fluffy pillows or blush dresser drawers with crystal knobs, I don't care because when I come home, I instantly relax. She has made our house into a home.

Maybe the difference is ambiguous to you, or your definition of the terms house and home are different from mine. If so, let me explain. When I used to live in an apartment with my dudes, I didn't necessarily look forward to spending time there. I mainly just looked forward to my bed after long travels and many different hotels, and a routine filled with familiarity. NOW, I literally can't wait to go home after work. I enjoy waking up and in every single room there are several places that I am comfortable sitting, working, reading, watching tv, drinking coffee, and playing keyboard! I constantly want to have people over to host and entertain them, because I want them to experience the same carefree relaxation in a cozy environment that I get to experience daily. I used to only want to have people over if my roommates weren't using the tv. 

Since I work at a university I have been watching freshmen moving in all week, carrying mini-fridges up stairs after shopping at Target for various necessities. I think back to when I left my childhood home and I praise God for all the experiences I've had ever since... but I am especially grateful for Him giving me a super sexy roommate and our very own home. 

8/15/17 : 50 Days of Blogging

I missed a couple days here and there, but golly jang wabbit, 50 days in a row is, like, the best I've ever done! I'm very happy about this!

However, I'm a little sad because it feels like 50 is a big number, and then I realize that a full year is 315 more days. I have no idea what I'm going to be blogging about all those days, buuuuuuuut I have a feeling there will be quite a few more NBA gifs that tell my story of marriage, a few rants here and there, a bunch of my favorite rockin' jams, some super professional-grade pictures taken on my iPhone, and if we're all lucky there will be some posts about what I'm doing with the lottery I win. 

50 first days were a Slam Dunk.        #amirite

50 first days were a Slam Dunk.        #amirite

Day 46: Outta Gas.

God knew what He was doing when He created a day for us to just "stop". Stop working, stop trying so hard, stop striving for our own salvation, sustenance, and self-preservation. He created us with a gas tank that runs dry every 7 days, and He loves to be all we need to make it another 7.

I'm outta gas, and I'm pumped to stop at my favorite station. It feels good. :) 

Day 42: Stuck in the Middle (not the tv show)

I've been a little frustrated today. I started off the day seeing different posts on Twitter and Instagram basically along the same lines of "YOLO", even though that trend has passed, almost as quickly as I wish it had. Then I scroll down, and I see some disgusting, openly chauvinistic post, or another person who uses their passion in politics as their reason to treat someone hatefully. 

It sounds something like:
"Don't take life too seriously!" "Life is short, live it up!" "Do what makes you happy!" ...or some misguided rant that comes off angry, ignorant, hateful, and probably won't ever change anyone's mind. The former is the most universally accepted, happy-go-lucky approach that most people seem to gravitate towards, while the latter only stirs the pot, thickening the line in the sand that is separating humanity seemingly beyond repair.

My brain is just bouncing between these two polar opposite standpoints, while my own approach to life feels lost somewhere in between. Should I just laugh my way through life, enjoy the time I have, and do whatever it takes to find relaxation, peace, and pleasure? Or should I hop onto a cause and ride it angrily into the sunset, screaming why everyone not riding it with me is hateful and the degradation of our planet? Should I go all '70s on the world, peacing and loving my way to whatever floats my boat? Or do I let everything wrong in the world fuel my bitterness, and channel that bitterness to passionately fight for justice (or whatever it is people are so angry about all the time) until everyone that opposes me is left a heaping pile of ashes behind me? 

If I'm being fair, I doubt anyone sees themselves as being a part of one of these two groups. Rarely do people see themselves as "extremely" anything. All I am seeing is my perception of the world, and that perception is largely framed by what the people I follow on social media posts to their own platforms. I recognize this is a relatively small window I'm looking through. 

All I know is I'm pretty happy with where my focus is. I don't want to do whatever I want to do. I do take my life very seriously. I know that it is my duty to make the world feel more like Heaven, through love, justice, and mercy. I feel as though I have limited time, and each day wasted negatively affects the number of people I can influence with those virtues. I also recognize I can only do so much, and my emotional health needs to be in tip-top shape in order to maximize my opportunities to make a difference. I know there are certain injustices that need to be fought for passionately, but I never want my anger about the mistreatment of one group of people to cause me to mistreat another group of people. 

I recognize this is very "me" focused, but I hope there is a recognizable irony in that as my priorities are hopefully others-centered. These are just the things I believe to be true for myself. This is my framework of values that I build my life around. Days like today I'm grateful for my wife who shares this framework, as if it weren't for her, I'd feel pretty lonely. 

Speaking of which, she's awesome, and marriage is great. Love rocks. 

Day 28: "The Wire"

Who made up these rules
Who’s the star and who’s the tool
And who’s the genius and who’s the fool
Oh who made up these rules yeah

Who wrote all of these laws
When to spit and when to applaud
What’s of the devil and what’s of God

Cause I’m so tired of walking this wire
I’m either ice or I’m fire
I’m so tired of walking this wire
I’m either ice or I’m fire
— Allen Stone

This is one of my favorite songs by my favorite artist. Growing up an American citizien and Seventh-day Adventist Christian while attending a church service every week, I remember listening to this song the first time and thinking... yeaaaahh! I AM so tired of walking this wire!

Remember in middle school, when you had that classroom that you weren't allowed to chew gum in? Why?! I loved to chew gum! And its all because of those idiots that didn't know how to locate a trash can when their Juicy Fruit lost its flavor, resigning instead to sticking it under their desks, or stomping it into the carpet. The teachers' solutions: to outlaw ALL GUM CHEWING. 

There is nothing bad about gum chewing. If there is, there's no way it outweighs the good. Yet, the rules decided to skip back a few steps to prevent even the OPTION of sticking gum under the desk. If the logical rule of "no sticking your used gum in the carpet or under the desk" is too hard to enforce, then we MUST come up with more strict rules to have enforce our own desired outcomes. It is entirely out of a desire to be in control. 

Well, that's how anything goes that grows large enough to become a man-made institution. Without getting too far into politics (church or governmental), I will just say that I think most laws and rules are put in place as a means to control a specific outcome that may or may not even be mentioned in that law/rule. Rather than leaders educating people on the benefits of behaving a certain way, they create penalties and consequences to control their behavior. 

I don't want to give examples of the rules and laws that I believe create a "wire" for me to walk. I want you to think of them for yourself. What is causing you to tip toe, and why? Can you even explain it for yourself? Better yet, what are the guidelines in your life that you try to project onto everyone else around you, whether that be in church, at school, or in your workplace? You may be creating a wire for someone else to walk. 

As a Christian, I have to remind you (and myself) that it is never our job to change other people. Our job is only to love them. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to change them. 

As a Christian, I have to remind myself (and you) that inner reformation is impossible by my own efforts. My job is only to let go of control. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to change me. 

Don't walk a wire. Don't create wires. 

A new commandment I give you: Love one another.
— John 13:33

Day 27: Sundays

Sundays have become increasingly full of productive expectations that I set for myself. I go into it thinking, I'm going to start out this week getting SO MUCH STUFF done! Rarely do I check every box on my to-do list.

Today, I even got up early to play a game of basketball in the Cornhusker State Games (I played horrible-we got worked, in case you're wondering). Then I went home, did dishes, had a delicious breakfast, (THANKS MORGAN), did dishes again, and got started on my list. The sun was out. For the first time in a week it wasn't 95 degrees out. 

But I was inside, writing addresses on Thank You cards from our wedding gifts.

By the time I finished this first task on my list, I realized everything else on my list was to be done indoors. My whole afternoon would be spent indoors. Also, I was getting tired. I wasn't motivated. But I had stuff to do! But it was so nice out. But I was tired. I needed a break. But there wasn't any time for a break. I only get one Sunday a week! I NEED TO MAXIMIZE. But I'm feeling lethargic and lazy.

Do any of you relate to this inner struggle on Sundays? Any tips to squeezing every last drop out of the productive window that is a Sunday? Please, hook a brother up. 

Day 26: Hot

This past week was super hot here in Lincoln, Nebraska. Like this kind of hot. 

I have a very pale complexion. It is difficult for me to be in the sun without burning. A good tan on me is more of an orange-ish brown. I used to get very jealous of Morgan because her skin is incredibly wonderful and dark after 2 hours in the sun. Then I realized, her skin is just darker than mine. I wouldn't get mad about someone from the Dominican Republic being darker than me; their skin is just darker. So now I don't get mad about it. She's just darker. 

However, I do get mad about what the sun does to me. 

The pools are nice though. 



PS: I had internet issues last night when I tried posting this! Sorry for the delay!

Day 24: The Little Mermaid

Tonight, the Pinewood Bowl Amphitheater hosted "The Little Mermaid" as Broadway does it, but all the actors and musicians were local volunteers from L-Town. Morgan was PUMPED. I was pretty excited myself. 

I used to think that stuff was lame, and then an (ex)girlfriend took me for my birthday to see the Lion King Broadway musical in Omaha, NE. It was LITERALLY the most magical viewing experience of my life. 

So, we were gonna skip it because it was 100 degrees out, but we forget to tell everyone we invited, so when we realized it and our friends were already there, we quick scurried over to Pioneer's Park. It was like swimming in a hot tub of air. My shirt was disgusting. Then the music finally started. 

Does anyone know if heat and humidity affect a french horn worse than the other instruments in an orchestra? 

I was just wondering.... no reason.

All in all, it was really fun, and I'm proud of my fellow Lincolnites for putting on a program like that! I really, truly, honestly love living here. I also love living here with Morgan. Its way cooler.

Anyways, now its 11:59 and I gotta get this thing posted. 

Just a reminder, I'm blogging every day for a year. If you want to be on The List, tell me in the comments. If you don't know what The List is, read Day 1.  

Day 23: Role Models

In 8th grade I remember going to the gym by myself, and shooting over and over the zillion fake-turn around baseline fade away, trying to emulate Kevin Garnett's jumper to the best of my ability. In case you don't know what I mean, just watch this mug:

I hit a big growth spurt that year, so I went into high school about 6' 2" with a decent KG baseline fade away. Before all you haters that have seen my current fade away freak out and make fun of me, let me just say IT WAS DECENT. If I had realized I'd never have a coach that would condone such a shot, I wouldn't have practiced it so much. Nevertheless, I can't do it anymore. 

That's life though! You have people you admire, for whatever reasons they may be, and you typically try to be more like them. I was blessed with some good role models--not just KG. He's borderline maniacal. 

No, I was blessed with role models like my older brother, my dad, and my grandpa... my older sisters, mom, aunties, and grandmothers, who all taught me different aspects of how to love, how to work hard, how to persevere, and how to be patient. 

The way you love your family, your spouse, your friends... its the greatest influence you may ever have! Even though I never got the opportunity to unleash that lethal fade-away, I am given countless opportunities DAILY to love deeper and work harder. 

Day 20: First Days Apart

Well, Friday marked the first weekend that we spent apart since we were married. I had a concert in Rochester, MN with Azriel and so she got to spend the weekend at home in Orlando with her parents. 

I'm not a fan of being apart. I never have been, but now I ESPECIALLY don't like it. 

But I drove all morning to get home, and she traveled all day to get home, and now we're together so this is all I have to say.

Being married is still awesome and I love it. 

Day 14....and 15.

In 1960 a doctor observed that it took 21 days for his patients to get used to their missing limbs, or their new faces after he performed those respective surgeries on them. As a result, the prevailing theory that it takes 21 days to form a new habit was born. 

However, then a doctor in 2009 disproved that, and now people are saying it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit.  After months of studies, the shortest amount of time it took was 18 days, and the longest was 254. 

This is my research done in order to stay positive after failing only 2 days in. So these are my positive take aways: NO ONE formed/changed a habit in 15 days and also NO ONE took longer than a year! I'm right on track to succeed! 

So if you feel like taking on a new hobby, or forming a new habit, don't beat yourself up and quit after 2 weeks. Stick with it. 

"Even though the righteous fall seven times, THEY GET UP AGAIN. Prov. 24:16, bro"

"Even though the righteous fall seven times, THEY GET UP AGAIN. Prov. 24:16, bro"

You got this. 


Day 12: Special Saturdays

“The world, though fallen, is not all sorrow and misery. In nature itself are messages of hope and comfort. There are flowers upon the thistles, and the thorns are covered with roses.”
— Steps to Christ

I have grown to love finding lessons of redemption, grace, and examples of God's character placed intentionally into God's creations for us. Here's an episode of an interested mini-series called The Record Keeper. Since I'm not giving you background or context or anything, just skip ahead to 5:20 and watch 'til 6:20. 

This kind of rabbit is born deaf, blind, and without an immune system. This is incredible for an animal that eventually has the most incredible set of ears, and 360 degree vision. How do they get there? That's what blows my mind. Such a blatant lesson for fallen humanity that God didn't NEED to throw in, but He did. 

Fully depend on God, and He will develop your spiritual immune system, your eyes will begin to see things the way He does, and you'll be able to hear Him more clearly. 


Day 5: My #1 Goal in Life

If I'm going to do 365 of these, some of them are going to be pretty short and simple. Some days I will probably just post a song by itself and say what it means to me. This is one of those days. 

Sometime I listen to a song and think to myself, YAASSSS. THIS IS ME.

This is one of those songs. I want to look more like Love. Plain and simple. 

I've had dreams and wanted several big things in life: to go on American Idol, to become a professional basketball player, to start a family, to get married, star in a stupid funny movie, go viral on Vine... to name a few. Some are silly, some are legit. 

But this song really, truly sums up what I want more than anything else in life. I want so badly for people to look at me--whether they know me well or are complete strangers--and recognize Love. 

I've got a lot of work to do still... well, at least Jesus has a lot of work to do in me still. :)