Daniel and Amanda’s Weblog

August 25, 2008

Community #2

Amanda and I have talked a lot in the past few months about the possibility of living in community. Our dear friends, Bryan and Dawn and Mindy and Ariah, showed us that it is indeed possible to be happily and healthily married while living in community with others. In fact, one of the identifiers in the so called “new monastic” communities (as noted in Schools for Conversion: 12 Marks of the New Monasticism, which we and several of our friends are currently going through as a group) is “support for celibate singles alongside monogamous married couples and their children.” Sure, our society thinks that’s weird. And crazy. But Christians have often been thought of as weird and crazy, a fact that I was reminded of lately, so we’d be in good company.

We believe that we have to look at everything from the perspective of God and our faith in Jesus. After all, most Christians, if asked, will tell you that following God should more important than anything else in their life (though we certainly don’t always act like it…surely critics might say that football and finances often trump God in our lives). So even though moving in with a bunch of people doesn’t necessarily seem normal and natural to us, especially after being married for only one year, we simultaneously understand that part of the reason is because of what our culture tells us is normal. I’ve used the phrase “counter cultural” quite a bit on my blog here. Where it’s sometimes true that Christians need to be counter cultural, I’m learning more and more that what we need more is for Christ’s followers to envision a new culture altogether, not just oppose the mainline one that we feel is messed up. We need an alternative culture, Jesus’ Way, where we can live out his radical economics, peace making, and enemy love, in any land we find ourselves…whether that’s the empire of Rome or America. (Credit goes to a great book I’m currently reading, Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, for some of these phrases and for helping me to further understand what it means to follow Jesus today)

For us, moving into community with other Christians and seeking to radically live out Jesus’ Way in America may be the next step in our lives that (we pray) are characterized more than any other thing by a complete devotion to the God who created this world, called the Israelite nation out of slavery, put on flesh as Jesus the Messiah, and who will come again to fulfill our hopes for peace and justice. Instead of looking normal and fitting in, we would rather be known as misfits in our society but be true to Jesus. (The early followers of Jesus lived so differently than their culture that they were called by a new name!) Instead of the security and pleasure that wealth brings, we would rather rely on God for daily bread and experience the greater joy of taking care of the poor. Instead of living for the moment, partying and getting drunk, we would rather live like the kingdom of heaven is already here, showing love to our neighbors and throwing parties for the homeless.

We feel that Christians who are truly following Jesus should and will stand out as peculiar people in this luxury-seeking, power-hungry, at-war nation. At the same time, we don’t find biblical precedence that commands every Christian to move into the abandoned areas of their city and live in community with other Christians….we do hope, though, that just as other new monastic communities have been in a sense prophetic to us, that God could use our community to speak to some that another way of living is possible. There is no biblical mandate that Christians must not own their own homes or live in wealthy areas of town….we would hope, though, that people who are frustrated by the system in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer would get a little glimpse of God’s kingdom where everyone is equal. We would seek to live humbly and not judge Jesus’ followers wherever and in whatever state they find themselves….yet we would hope that our fellow disciples would be encouraged (and challenged) when they dine with our “family” and see the beauty of reconciliation that can occur when invisible city walls are broken down.

These are some of the ways that we can imagine us living like the kingdom of God in Nashville. Simply imagining that new world is where we’re at right now. Amanda and I have tried in the last few years to align our walk more closely with the Way of Christ, but we’re certainly not the best example of how modern day Christians in America might live out their faith daily. Whoa, no, we’ll send you to someone else for that, thank you. But we do want God to be our priority. And we have discussed many times how easy it is to go back to the ways of the world when we’re not surrounded by those who challenge and encourage us to be more like Christ…so here we are, finding ourselves considering community. Dreaming. Tossing it around in our little heads. And then sometimes remembering how much we like everything the world offers…from eating out often to cool technology to privacy to nice homes and and even new cars. So this new kingdom is a long way from what our daily life looks like now, mind you, but something that gives us much excitement, hope, and yes, fear. Fear of being viewed as crazy or too radical, of not fitting in, of pre-existing racial and social divisions, of safety and of financial insecurity. So how do we get there from here? Or to go back a bit, how do we know if God wants us to do this? (a question that we struggle with often) Then, if we do feel like it is aligned with God’s desire for us and his kingdom, what do we need for this journey? I know Jesus’ disciples went out with no money and no shoes…but we’re not there yet people. :)

We don’t have the answers to all of those questions. Regarding what we need for this journey, though, should we decide to take it, I’ll throw a few things out there for consideration. Certainly courage to live like Jesus no matter what is key. We also need wisdom to begin living this kind of community (“be as wise as serpents, and as innocent as doves”) in the midst of a fallen world and its broken and segregated neighborhoods. Humility is vital, so that we don’t begin to think that our community succeeds or fails because of what we bring to the table, but instead pattern our lives after Jesus (be Christians, or little Christs, like the earliest disciples were called) and give God his hands and feet to work in this world. And this sounds redundant, but we need community…co-conspirators, fellow Christ followers willing to give up personal plans for greatness and success to come and seek the heart of God in community together. Because we cannot do it alone. Along those lines, we will need supporting churches. We aren’t starting a new Church (did I mention that yet?). No, on the contrary, each person of the community needs to stay closely tied together to their own congregations of believers, thereby receiving continued life through the church, and also giving support and encouragement to others in the assembly through our relationships. Most importantly, we will need God. His grace to forgive us when we are proud and self-seeking, his holy scriptures to guide us daily, and his constant and faithful love, of which there’s plenty for us to share with our neighbors.

Next, I think we’ll discuss more specific ideas and options for community…what kind of area or dwelling have we considered, how would finances work, etc. But I’d love to have some discussion first! And if anyone out there is interested in possibly living in community, please let us know! Remember, we would need co-conspirators! :)

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February 12, 2008

6 Months of Marital Bliss….

Filed under: Married Life — theburts @ 1:31 am

My husband always begs me to blog, and not that I’m opposed to blogging, but it’s just not “my thing.” I enjoy posting pictures and short updates on our lives, but that’s about the extent. I enjoy discussing Daniel’s blogs with him before he writes them, so almost everything he writes is both our viewpoints. So anyways… it’s our 6-month anniversary, so I figured it is fitting to fulfill his wishes and write a blog. :)

First, I cannot believe we’ve been married 6 months. It has flown by. Second… Daniel deserves some adoration here. He is incredibly sweet and caring. Generous. Un-selfish. Calm. Funny. Adorable. I love spending time with him whether we are sitting quietly, running around our tiny apartment like crazed lunatics, or going on one of our many adventures. He brightens my days with a hug, or a funny song or dance. So, to you Daniel, thank you for being so wonderful.

I just have to share what he did for me. As most of you readers know, when he proposed it was an elaborate scavenger hunt at my parents’ house, complete with a buried treasure. Well, we were going over all the engagement things a few weeks ago, and he had me look at the treasure map he had drawn more closely. (After he pointed it out), I noticed there was an “X” near our dock, along with the “X” where I had dug up the original treasure. So, last weekend we visited my parents’ house, and I went searching for this “X”. I finally found it scratched into a board on the dock..looked underneath.. and spotted a message in a bottle. Now, it’s freezing and windy outside, and the only way to get to the bottle is to get in the lake or to remove the board from the dock. Eventually, we got the cordless drill, pried up the board, and retrieved the bottle. Inside was one of our wedding invitations, and a letter from Daniel. The letter contained the original words he tried to memorize for the proposal, along with an incredibly sweet message. I am so lucky. Turns out he had planted the bottle there at the end of the summer, so it’s been there for months. Now, that’s forethought for ya. :) I love you, Daniel.

October 15, 2007

Finally, my birthday thing picture

Filed under: Consumption and consumerism,Just for fun,Married Life — theburts @ 1:16 pm

Thanks again, Amanda. I love your creativity, frugality, and just plain silliness. <insert big smooch here>

img_4791.JPG

Halfway through

Filed under: Married Life,wealth — theburts @ 3:10 am
Tags: , , ,

It’s October 14th, almost halfway through the first month of our new budget. Since Ariah’s talking about numbers, here is part of our budgeted items. It’s the first time we’ve set a budget together, so we realize some things are too high and others too low. We welcome any comments or insight! Here are the basics:

Groceries $200
Rent $625
Entertainment $90
Personal Items (shampoo, clothes, etc) $100
Fun Money $80 total between the 2 of us
Gifts/Miscellaneous $200
The rest are things like car expenses and gas (which are about to be cut down since I’m starting to ride my bike more often), school loan and mortgage, vacation ($100 a month to save up for our next vacation), giving (we don’t know how we’re going to give yet, so we’re starting an online ING account called our “Acts 2 and 4 account” until we figure it out), cell phones, and car insurance.

Here’s a rundown on how we’re doing in the middle of the month.
*Entertainment: We played two rounds of mini golf today (had a 2 for 1 coupon), so that totaled $10 including a Snapple halfway through. Leaves us with $50 in our entertainment envelope.
*Groceries: Still doing really well on the groceries one, partially due to our “free” after hours grocery shopping (did we mention we took Daniel’s MOM dumpstering the other night up in bowling green, KY? heheh), and partially due to us already having some food in the freezer and fridge when we started the budget. AND other free meals like at the parents’, using gift cards, and a free meal tonight paid for by Costco!! So we have $174 left in that envelope.
*Fun money: Daniel’s fun money is still gone, and Amanda’s is doing OK.
*Personal: We haven’t used anything from the personal envelope yet.
*Gifts/Miscellaneous: Daniel chose to get a phone that cost money when he got his “New every 2” upgrade, and he failed to consult with Amanda. Oops. We decided that this category and the personal category are going to be things that we must agree on, so we keep some accountability there. So with that and $13 for Daniel’s birthday presents, we’ve used about $100 of the $200 allotted in that category.
*Rent: Although rent is usually constant, this month’s free because of the flooding and eventually having to move out for a week so they can repair. So yay for flooded apartments. :)

So when we talked about what might need changing in future budgets, Amanda feels that we could lower both groceries and gifts/miscellaneous, and Daniel feels like we could lower personal and also gifts/miscellaneous. We’d love to hear your input…where we’re spending too much, or areas we could cut back that we may have not considered. As Ariah mentioned, it’s tough to know how much to divulge…hopefully this isn’t too much. We’ve intentionally left out amounts like income and giving. We’d love to have dialogue about those with a friend, so that we can be challenged in that area, but we don’t feel like the public internet is a place for that.

Ok, stay tuned for more updates! Love and peace,

Amanda and Daniel (this was our first co-written blog)

October 13, 2007

My birthday present

Filed under: Just for fun,Married Life — theburts @ 4:08 pm

Amanda made me the coolest birthday present. It was…um…a “thing.” Reminded me of a Dr. Seuss doll house, if they were to make that kind of thing. Made with shoebox, toilet tissue and paper towel rolls, and some assorted boxes, all covered with different bright colors of construction paper. Stuffed in several of the holes were birthday presents and tissue paper out the ends. Isn’t that awesome?

I’ll post a picture later. Some of the presents were riddles to the real presents…those being an Aerobie frisbee (i lost the last one in cub lake the day before the wedding…oops) and a dumpstering headlight. Suhweet.

So it was a wonderful birthday. Thanks for all the birthday wishes, and Amanda, for my “thing.” :)

October 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Daniel!

Filed under: Just for fun,Married Life — theburts @ 6:42 pm
Today, Daniel is 31! Oops, don’t know if I was supposed to say that or not! Oh well.
Happy Birthday to you. In honor of your birthday, there is some leftover corn in our refrigerator that you can eat. Seriously, thanks for being so wonderful & sweet to me. I’ll be more mushy when I give you your birthday card tonight, just don’t want to make everyone to throw up.
And today is also our 2-month wedding anniversary. Yay!

October 2, 2007

October 1st – National Equipment Malfunction Day

Filed under: Married Life,Uncategorized,Work — theburts @ 2:43 am

Dang, girl! I convinced Amanda to take the day off today, and I’m so glad I did. Cause I got to work, started this quick upgrade on my refraction system (an automatic version of the ‘which is better, 1 or 2?’ machine), and it crashed. Couldn’t do anything on it, and had one patient waiting and 4 more in a row. Sheesh.

So I did it old school for 2 or 3 hours, survived the morning, and went home. Found out later that they shipped a whole new system and are having a technician install it in the morning. Whew. It’s hard and slow doing exams old school, and today was my early off day anyway, so Amanda and I spent the rest of the day just hanging out. It was great, we got some stuff done, and even cleaned my (soon to be her) car. More on that later.

So thanks once agan to my wife for saving the day. Thanks Amanda, I absolutely love being married to you. ;)

September 29, 2007

Wet floors

Filed under: Married Life — theburts @ 8:01 pm

First it was dirty showers, now it’s wet floors. Except this blog’s not nearly as fun as the last one…and instead of being joined by 2 nice homeless guys our guest was about a ton of water from the upstairs water heater. That’s right, our apartment was completely flooded. :) I went home early from SEE yesterday cause I wasn’t busy, and walked in to a shower. Seriously, there was water pouring from the ceiling right in the entry way. I immediately stepped out and called the landlord, but not until I went back did I realize that the ENTIRE apartment was covered in water.

Positives:

  1. I got to meet my neighbor 2 floors above (Nolan) and he was really nice to help me move all our stuff out that was on the ground.
  2. None of said stuff was really damaged, so we had no monetary loss. Not even photographs and stuff. So yay!
  3. We weren’t electrocuted by the thin sheet of water over the floors being combined with our electricity still being on.
  4. We’re renting. If this had been our home, yesterday would’ve been a lot more stressful. And expensive.
  5. We were able to stay there last night, cause we got most of the water out and everything was still functional.
  6. Because of the hours we spent shopvac’ing and emptying water buckets, and because our kitchen wasn’t necessarily functional at that time, we decided it was ok to eat out. So we enjoyed a nice meal at Outback where we still had some delicious grub. :)
  7. Out of all the stuff that was on the floor in our apartment, one of the ONLY things that didn’t get touched at all was my dumpstered floor rocker. That’s just awesome. heheh

Negatives:

  1. Walking into your home and finding water pouring from the ceiling isn’t necessarily anyone’s idea of a great afternoon off.
  2. We will eventually have to move everything out of the apartment and find another place to live temporarily. Gary gave us the option of staying with his family OR said we could break the lease and find a new place to live. We told him we love it there and will wait, but this will be a trying month.
  3. Another negative that I can’t remember right now…I’m trying to leave a little space for the sake of error, cause it seems the positives are kicking the negatives’ butts.

Ok, so the positives win! Gary, our landlord, said to me when I told him how bad I felt for him, (read this with a British accent to be more accurate) “Don’t worry, Daniel, it’s all material…(and later)…If you can remember that in life, it’ll help you tremendously.”

A+ Gary, A+.

September 21, 2007

OK, OK, a report from the wife…

Filed under: dumpster diving,Just for fun,Married Life — theburts @ 7:07 pm
OK, first I’ll give my lame excuses for not blogging yet. One, I can’t (ok, shouldn’t) blog from work (as I am doing now – on my lunch break) unlike the husband. Two, when I am at home, I am usually 1) cooking, 2) cleaning / settling into the apartment, 3) spending time with Daniel or 4) not getting any internet connection So, get off my back. :)
Since Daniel has given many of the updates so far, I’ll just add and/or comment further. I’m extremely pround of our TV-hider & side table. I love that I got to help convert the armoir into the TV-thing & that we didn’t waste too much time searching thrift stores for one when we thought of the idea to use the armoir. Also, Daniel was ingenius when he saved the fronts of the drawers.. because that dumpstered end table was obviously made for them.
The main thing that we’re trying to get adjusted in our married life is our work schedules. It quickly became apparent that with our schedules that we wouldn’t have enough time to spend together since I was working 7-3:30, and he was working 9:30 – 5 or 6, and on Saturdays. So, after his decision to quit SEE and mine to change my schedule to 8-4:30, it’ll be a little better. At least I won’t feel like I need to go to sleep at 9:00!
Speaking of work, I was assigned my first real project. It’s excited, yet also scary since I don’t really know what I’m doing. I wasn’t trained for this, so it’s a little daunting! However, I get to go to California in November for some training, so that will be nice. It’s always at least nice to travel on someone else’s dime.
Onto food…. we decided that we both need to eat better. We’re not sure how to go about this or how to resist temptation for junk food (or fast food), so any suggestions would help. Daniel’s been dumpstering some veggies, so that’ll help, I’m sure. We discovered that boiled cabbage is pretty good – good thing, cause we have two more heads in the fridge, along with loads of broccoli.
Alright, I think this is getting long. Back to eating my food.
~Amanda

September 16, 2007

In Appreciation…

Filed under: Married Life — theburts @ 5:08 am

September 16th…my wife recently informed me that this day is “National Wife Appreciation Day.” What do you know, it actually checks out. :)

Just thought I’d take a few moments to let you know how very much you mean to me, Amanda. Right now you’re asleep beside me after a long and busy Saturday, cozily nestled in your pillow and softly breathing. As always, when you sleep, your muscles occasionally twitch and jerk…another quirk I can’t help loving about you. I can’t wait to cuddle you, knowing that you won’t mind being awakened…cause you too will love having me hold you as we fall asleep together.

Today you used your day off to come help me at work. You know I don’t like working on Saturdays, especially cause it means being away from you. I love every Saturday you’re there. Thank you so much for being so generous and unselfish with your free time, your time off, to help me. You’re a really good assistant, too. I love hearing you talk to the patients’ families or friends as they wait.

You’ve got some pain in your side today, like a bruised rib or something. I haven’t done much, but thank you for letting me take care of you when you need it. You’re a tough one, that’s for sure. And so cute. Tonight you kept cracking yourself up with funny things that you did or said and then almost cried cause it hurts to laugh…it made me want to go squeeze you to death. But that probably would not have helped your side problem. :)

I also appreciate you taking time to stop what we’re doing and listening to me. You know I’m going through some tough decisions relating to work, and you’ll always lend an ear and a hug when I’m stressed about it. Thanks for your support in whatever I choose, and for letting me know I don’t have to make tons of money…that you just want me to be happy in what I do and that you want more time to be with me. I’m workin’ on it. ;)

For your love, your devotion, your time, and for all the other things that you are and that you do to make me a truly lucky, happy, and loved man…thank you, my dear Amanda. I love you.

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