Locationally Mis-identified

An exploration of identify. Determining what makes me fragile in these given moments. From where do my motivations come? Location seems to be an easy starting place.

I remember walking through my undergraduate student union with an emotional awareness of myself. I thought the more briskly I walked by the small shops, the more purpose I would attract. I recall a sort of anticipation every time I walked up the front steps and opened those stainless steel-rimmed glass doors to be greeted by a rush of air-conditioned academic freshness. I was a full-grown growing-up student, albeit merely picked up out of the public education system and dropped into a state-subsidized extension of my only functional reality.

Today, seven years later, I pass through similar corridors of my graduate school student union, feeling deeply moved by an upcoming relocation to begin my career as a band director. God first tied me that undergraduate institution, then sent me away married, loving my brand new wife (hot off the press) through this new adventure together. Now the wind in the sails has completely reversed directions, taking us back to where we came from and seemingly ripping us away from many we hold dear.

We’ve secured the cutest of cute houses, with a wonderful park across the street, complete with disarrayed tennis courts. Ignoring my wife’s anxiety about leaving all we love in Lubbock, TX to return to our hometown, I easily stepped into a number of properties, brimming with the excitement of our potential. It’s not hard for me to imagine myself being awesome just about anywhere I go. We settled after viewing six properties, but we both admit our new place is just “almost” perfect. Only God is perfect, as my mom says.

Today, feeling the stress of an impending move affecting my wife and I’s interactions and seeing potentially damaging patterns developing, I’m grasping for meaning in the realization of how emotional I feel when thinking about location. At this juncture, I realize I feel so much fondness for where she and I once brushed into each other in Washburn’s student union. Yet, I feel so far beyond it, as if I cannot ever return with the sort of vitality once alive in the younger me. Regardless, I stand outside my past identity and see just how much stock we invest in our location.

Am I defined by my location or do I give definition to my location? Do I receive the day’s weather directly into my limbic system for cloudiness and storms to overflow in my behavior? Or do I hop out of bed with a smile, ready to splash through the prevailing puddles and personal muddles?

There is something that transcends all of this, which I’m admittedly out of touch with recently, and that is the Spirit of Christ. I know that many struggles of my past five years of life were bearable, and even fruitful, due to God’s work in me. When I am setting aside myself and remembering the amazing news of Christ’s forgiveness for me, not a single negative circumstance can overtake my emotions or my behaviors. Instead, in that wonderful state, I am defined by the gratefulness and humility I feel towards God and those emotions translate into a natural and encouraging service to those around me.

Today, in Lubbock, TX, walking just another errand through this soon-to-be distant student union, I notice a weight of sadness. Maybe I’m just tired. Maybe it’s finally time for me to mourn. All I find myself seeking is a way to embrace this change, to follow Christ through the futile battles in my brain, and to lead my wife to a land of promise. The road is painful and our need for comfort is great. That’s what we desire. Not these distractions and impatient conflicts.

Come, Holy Spirit, will you? No matter my location crisis. No matter my identity crisis.

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Pet Peeve, I Peeve, You Peeve?

I forget to completely close doors…closets, bedrooms, cabinets, and drawers. It’s something I conditioned myself to intentionally avoid doing having grown up in a very old, creaky house with a mother who slept ever so lightly. I hate loud noises, as my beloved professor of percussion, Tom Morgan, oft proclaimed (#irony). I don’t like disturbing a quiet household…it pains me to imagine robbing rest or comfort from someone by closing a door or slamming a drawer shut.

A number of months ago, for a small group meeting, we used pet peeves as an icebreaker for the evening. We shared what annoys us most, shedding light on all sorts of things that tend to irk us, send our blood pressure up, make us squirm. I noticed some patterns. We really enjoyed tossing bad drivers under the bus (pun intended), commiserating about waiting in long lines, and generally (vehemently) agreeing on the kinds of things that “those people” do to annoy us. It actually showed our tendency to blame others for our temper or insecurity lies just below the surface, but we tried to cover that ugliness with some laughter.

I couldn’t think of anything in particular that annoys me, so I tried to playfully call out my wife on some small issue. I realize now, she could have quickly cited my lack of shutting things as her pet peeve but she kindly attacked third graders at her job instead. However, I hear almost daily a request to close the closet door or shut the cabinets after gathering dinner ingredients. I always think I’m doing awesome when I remember to close the fridge!

I’ve realized that instead of focusing on our pet peeves, continually adding to a seemingly never-ending list of complaints about others or about uncontrollable circumstances, maybe I should try and discover what others see as my most annoying habits. Maybe I could benefit by taking the log out of my own eye (quoting Jesus here) before attempting to convince myself that others are the cause of my problems or that I’m a victim of the day’s challenges.

Of course, this could be a silly exercise. I’ve learned that plodding down the paths of self-help or self-improvement can lead to an existential dead end. I’ve tried to pursue perfection for the sake of security or pride only to find myself more empty than when I started. Perfection is both elusive and ultimately depressing.

But, perhaps this could reveal some serious issues in my behavior. Maybe I could discover some of the hurdles or barriers that turn people off to the life I really could be sharing with them.

Have you ever thought in this way? Have you ever considered that maybe your unawareness, insensitivity, or plain obstinance really bothers others? Have you ever considered that your actions may be failing to show love to those around you?

Why don’t you go ahead and clue me in to things I have done, repeatedly do, or used to consistently do, that peeve you. For me, I’ll call them iPeeves – the things I do that peeve others. This is the internet and Apple is the standard. So, iPeeves. #iPeeves. A wave of owning up to our obstinance and repeated offenses will catch on.


Comment anything that comes to mind, anonymously if preferred. I want to consider these, both silly and serious, and may implement them as resolutions or habits to break/change/mold/improve. Again, this isn’t about the perfection of self, but the loving of others. Starting with my wife and those pesky and loud doors!

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1000 Things

Our church has come up with a task of listing 1000 things we are thankful for, in recognition of God’s great provision. The premise is that all we REALLY need on earth is food and shelter. We all need salvation, too, of course! We are also focusing on changing the language of our homes by actually using ‘need’ and ‘want’ when appropriate.

Last updated: Saturday, November 24th

not listed by importance or priority!

1. Salvation
2. Forgiveness
3. mom, her care and acts of service
4. dad, his support and wisdom
5. Jason
6. Billy
7. Hans
8. Peter
9. my girlfriend, Carly
10. socks
11. shirts, too many really
12. underwears
13. convenient washer/dryer
14. running water
15. hot water
16. cold, purified water
17. a convenient water bottle
18. this laptop
19. ability to express
20. ability to compose
21. drums
22. drumsticks
23. music
24. musicians
25. music school
26. professors
27. counselors
28. teachers
29. custodians
30. trash cans
31. couches
32. my cajon
33. my guitar
34. my phone
35. my music
36. past learning
37. math class
38. social studies wisdom
39. the BIBLE
40. the books in the Bible that give advice
41. the books in the Bible that give comfort
42. the books in the Bible that give hope
43. David, the Psalmist
44. Wordpress
45. Youtube
46. Community
47. Facebook
48. my car
49. my scholarships
50. food, and what I like at that!
51. Smoothies
52. Bananas
53. Almonds
54. mucus relief (compare to the active ingredients of Mucinex)
55. sleep
56. a comfortable and warm bed
57. pillows
58. handkerchiefs
59. running shoes
60. running shoes
61. boots for cold, wet, adverse
62. practice pads
63. The Mars Volta
64. encouraging phrases
65. inspirational books
66. good stories
67. Harry Potter
68. the ability to experience nostalgia
69. pop-sickles
70. poop-sickles (the humor, okay?)
71. humor
72. jokes
73. bill cosby
74. the emperor’s new groove
75. money in the bank
76. automated bill pay
77. sense of hearing
78. aesthetic enjoyment of music and sound
79. sense of taste
80. enjoyment of food
81. preferences and rights to use them
82. America’s freedoms
83. freedom of expression
84. freedom to urinate in my backyard (ya, I know its weird)
85. freedom to write,
86. to sing,
87. to read,
88. to play
89. sense of sight
90. glasses
91. contacts
92. contact solution
93. file cabinets
94. order and organization among chaos
95. the wind in the fall
96. the change of season
97. the varying and never-boring weather of KS
98. friendly Midwesterners
99. travel opportunities
100. wind ensemble
101. orchestra
102. jazz band
103. Washburn University Percussion Collective (the experience and good times)
104. Christian Challenge meetings
105. Doorholders ministry friends
106. The Challenge Band
107. drums at Challenge
108. earplugs
109. headphones
110. mobile music devices
111. good tires
112. closet of dressier attire
113. medicated foot powder
114. protein shakes
115. a scale (to be aware of my health)
116. the ability to walk,
117. to run,
118. to bike,
119. to trampoline,
120. to swim,
121. to bathe,
122. to jump,
123. to roll,
124. to stumble but stabilize myself
125. my bike
126. helmets
127. bike gloves
128. winter gloves
129. work gloves
130. bare feet
131. rain and mist on a windy night
132. the smell of rain
133. house plants
134. fans
135. remotes for fans (seriously America, why aren’t we grateful?!)
136. Halo
137. Pizza
138. homemade bread
139. gardening
140. practice time
141. quiet time with Jesus and His Word
142. the ability to type,
143. to speak,
144. to sing
145. the beauty of each sunrise,
146. sunset,
147. picture-cloud kind of day
148. opera gongs
149. percussion camp
150. band camp
151. drum major camp
152. scholarships
153. business connections
154. teaching opportunities
155. my kids at Shawnee Heights
156. supportive bosses
157. metronomes
158. God’s protection
159. Solitude
160. Silence
161. loud and noisy objects
162. warm baths
163. quick showers
164. sinus rinse
165. home-remedies
166. insurance
167. doctors
168. medicine
169. snacks
170. peanut butter
171. warm home
172. a few places I can call home
173. airplanes
174. buses
175. trains
176. rails-to-trails

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