Family

On Turning 22.

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What is a birthday? I know that they have become something very different than say when I turned 10 years of old. I loved birthdays at that time in my life, because if I am honest, it was all about me! Even though birthdays have become something different to me at 22, I suppose that the essence of a birthday can be seen as a measurement of sorts. It is a numerical measurement that reveals how much life one has lived. This number can tell us a lot about a person–it gives us a vague picture as to the type of experiences that person may have had, the number of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months they have known, and perhaps what they might have accomplished by that time in their life. Today, I have lived 8,030 days and my experiences have been many for what seems like such a short time. By saying that I am now 22, most people will have an idea in their mind (a preconceived idea) as to what I should be doing with my life, who I should be dating, how much money I should be making, and finally what my ten year plan should be. I highly doubt that I would meet the requirements of those presuppositions that many might expect of me, but I know that at the end of the day, that is ok.

At every major transition in my life, whether it be a birthday, graduation, or a new job, I am always tempted to measure myself to the strictest of requirements and expectations. I am tempted to measure myself and ask questions like, “What have I accomplished” or simply “What have I done with my life?”. These are burdening questions for someone like me to ask myself. I have far to high of standards for myself and for others and those standards are often bred and nurtured by a cultural understanding of humanity. These questions have the potential to crush a spirit. As I see myself posing these questions upon myself, I realize that those questions are another manifestation of my attempt to justify my existence and to further my self-absorbtion. If I were not focused on myself so much, then I would hardly think to ask those questions. It is in these moments that I remember that Jesus cares cares far more about who I am becoming than what I am doing, accomplishing, attaining, or conquering. I am reminded of Mary and Martha, and the need to sit and take in all that Jesus wants to teach me. I suppose that this 22nd birthday is a simple reminder that my life is not about me.

To my brother, Andrew, on his 29th birthday

Andrew, Happy 29th Birthday! I can’t believe you are 29 already, and I suppose I will say that same thing when you turn 30 (as you will too I presume). In any case, some big things are happening in your life as of late, and getting engaged seems to be the most profound among those life changes. These are exciting and profound moments in your life that deserve ubiquitous celebration!

There is no doubt that we have had our share of differences as brothers, but I think I must begin by simply stating that I am proud of you, care about you, and love you. I am enjoying getting to know you as we both grow older even though we are quite different. It is obvious to anyone who knows us, but I am not sure that as we have grown up that we have always understood these differences or how to deal with them appropriately. When we were younger I remember fighting, arguing, and fighting some more , but in the end we just told Mom and Dad that this was the way in which we shared affection with one another and it all seemed to work out :). If only brotherly relationships were that simple-unfortunately they are not and I think we both can attest to that. It has taken us a while, but over time we have finally begun to learn the arduous skill of verbal communication between siblings and men. I hope that we continue to learn this lifelong skill and to do so with honesty.

We are still quite different, and there is no way around that fact, but I have started to realize that there are things that we need to learn about one another and from one another. On the one hand I have learned that you are practical and pragmatic about things in life that I am not, and you are growing to be a great business man as you work the Pirates. You also care for people and for our family quite well. I have no doubt that you will provide and be a responsible man for your family as it grows in the future. You are passionate, too. You have a zeal that is not only noteworthy but influential. You are a man of your word and it seems to me that you do what you say you are going to do, which I have seen and value. These are some of the many qualities that I appreciate about you.

While there are numerous differences between us, I know that there are also numerous similarities that are sometimes too embarrassing to bring to light. The embarrassing attributes usually find their origin in our Father (sorry pops). I think we both can agree that some of our idiosyncrasies about irrelevant matters while alien to some people are commonplace and commonsensical to us (and our Father). Unfortunately we both have to live with such a mentality that is helpful at times. Two more similarities between us that seem evident to me is our zealotry and our humor; both of which seem to find their origin in our Mother. Our humor can range from Chris Farley’s Tommy Boy to an exaggerated story that we claim was once based on a real life experience (whether or not it actually is or not is the usually up for debate). I have found that our zealotry and emotional capacity is something that can be very helpful or very harmful, and I think we both have experienced both sides of the coin in this regard. While we are both very passionate people, I know that I have had a harder time figuring out how I work and how my emotions work as I am sure you’ve experienced as well.IMG_5658 - Version 2

I know this seems extremely sentimental,but sometimes life calls for sentimentality. I am glad we are brothers and I am happy with where we are in our relationship. I am glad that we can talk with one another, struggle with one another, and rejoice with one another. Truthfully, I look forward to continued progression together. I look forward to celebrating your engagement tomorrow!

Your brother, Anthony

Re-created Relationship

I wanted to write this blog to simply the story of my parents and I. I wanted to share of the wonder that has taken place within our relationship by the grace of God. I think it is often easy to write of a story of redemption and reconciliation without understanding the support of the gospel itself. I think that in the gospels Jesus gives us a beautiful picture of how recreated relationships come about, and what they look like. God had in mind something more glorious than we could have ever imagined when he created us in the image of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

My story begins when I was a senior in high school. I became a Christian at the beginning of this school year and was seventeen years old at the time. My parents and I had a good relationship before this, even though here and there we experienced some bumps and bruises(as most relationships do when in the teenage stage). Little did I know that in receiving Christ’s free gift, God would reveal what had been building in my heart for many years-that being pride leading to a superiority complex and judgmental attitude. Only now do I realize this; that God was working in my sin, to recreate it into something I could not take credit for. Proverbs says that he who slanders reveals secrets and this is exactly what God did through my scoffing heart.

I was on the eve of a continual war with my parents for that year. I thank God that he was working in me despite my sin and even in the midst of this seeming tragedy. I continued to judge them for things I did not understand, and our relationship eventually turned into a hostile one.

Only now am I able to comprehend all of this now that I am able to witness the continual mending God is doing within our relationship.

I understand (as many Christians do) that we were created for relationships, this is obvious. We were also created for a particular form of relationships-namely one’s that reflect the glory of our God. When we sinned our relationships along with all creation was fractured in the purpose that they were fashioned to fulfill. In Jesus, our relationship with God is redeemed, and thus our relationships with others have what they need to experience redemption.

This brings us to the question; how do these relationships come about? Relationships, as they were meant to be, come into existence through living under the rule and reign of Christ. This concept seems so simple. Only when one has claimed Christ as Lord and Savior can we see redemption and reconciliation-first in our relationship with God, and then physical relationships. When we yield to Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, we begin to experience Christ in us, thus new life and new relationships.

Relationships under the rule and reign of Christ are to be as Jesus prayed in John 17. He prayed that we may be one even as he is one. The trinity is where we begin to learn what redeemed relationship is to model. The trinity in its purity is the image we were created in and created to reflect in relationship. The trinity is the ultimate illustration of unity, and this is merely one facet of the relationships we were meant to have.

My parents an I have grown so much together, and I enjoy the newness of our relationship. Thankful to God for his apparent faithfulness in all this.