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  • No more pooping inside.

    Oscar pooped in the house again. When Shannon and I lived in Oklahoma, we were around the house pretty much all the time. I worked from home and Shannon worked at the church across the street, so our fur-baby Oscar got used to having us around. When we moved back to Kansas City, though, Shannon and I took positions with office hours, and both of our offices are over half an hour from where we’re living. As a result, Oscar is home alone for eight or more hours every day, and he is not happy about it. I take him for a walk every morning and Shannon takes him out every afternoon, so he has plenty of opportunities to do his business outside. And he’s not ignorant of the rules - he knows that he’s supposed to poop outside. When Shannon gets home from work, if he’s pooped in the house, he greets her with his tail between his legs and rolls over onto his back in a sign of apology and submission. He knows the rule, but he breaks it anyways. I think the big reason is that he doesn’t really understand the rule. He knows that he gets punished for pooping in the house, but he doesn’t get why it’s unsanitary. It seems arbitrary to him, so it doesn’t feel important - it carries no weight in his mind. This is how I see his day going: He begins the day napping, but eventually the hours of isolation take their toll and he gets bored. His little mind fixates on what he can do to express his frustration until, in a fleeting moment of rebellion, that arbitrary rule becomes optional and he pops a squat in the middle of the basement floor, where he knows we’ll see it. Immediately after committing this sin, he realizes its consequences. His mind races for ways to cover it up, but he is unable to make his droppings of indiscretion disappear. He hears a car door close outside and then a key in the front door. With no time left to hide, he has no choice but to apologize and pray that Shannon can forgive him again. Shannon, seeing the evidence of his rebellion, spanks him, punishes him and, a few minutes later, hugs him and tells him she still loves him even though he messed up. Though we forgive him every time he poops in the house, we do not condone it. It is still completely unacceptable, and we continually trying new things to break him of this bad habit. I think this is an apt metaphor for how I often treat sin in my life. The rules that God has set in place feel arbitrary and inconsequential - I know the rules, but I don’t understand why he established them. I try to obey, but in times of frustration or complacency I make the rules optional and choose to rebel against them. No matter how many times I break the…
  • Love is Beautiful.

    I met my wife when I was 12 years old, and I started dating her when I was 17 years old. Yes, we were high school sweethearts. Shannon is the only girl that I've ever dated (unless you count that one awkward time when I went to a dance with a fan of my comedy... but that's another story for another time). Actually, Shannon is the only girl that I've ever even kissed. When I told her for the first time that I loved her - we'd been dating for a little over four months - I led with a grandiose speech about what the word "love" meant to me. I won't burden you with having to read the whole thing, but here's a quick synopsis: There are many degrees of love in the world. I love chocolate, but that's a very simple love. I love my friends, and that's a deeper love. I love my family, and that's a deeper love still. I love you, Shannon, and it puts all of those other loves to shame. "Aaawwww...," right? I thought I had love all figured out. I'd watched the movies and seen what real love was all about; I'd talked about the meaning of love with my friends and mentors; I'd even read the books about dating (or not dating). I knew what love was. This feeling that I had for Shannon went beyond a merely physical attraction - it was a real, emotional connection. And I knew that it wasn't just a temporary emotion, either (after all, I'd been feeling it for four months at this point!). As a senior in high school, I was seriously thinking that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this girl. I knew that I knew that I loved her. But I really didn't understand it yet. Even though I was (correctly, as history shows) confident that my feelings went beyond the physical desires awakening within my teenage body, my concept of love was still wrong because it was based on the feeling of love. As I've grown up, I've learned a lot more about what it means to love. Redefining Love I have yet to meet a single person in this world that I find inherently lovable. No one can be cute, nice, and affectionate all the time. Everyone, including myself (gasp!), has times when they are completely unlovable - even I get grouchy, obnoxious, and arrogant sometimes. I get obsessive, rude, even hateful. Love is choosing to care for someone in spite of their flaws. Love is a conscious, ongoing decision - it is not a feeling. Our culture latches onto stories of irrational, incurable attraction - two people that should never be together but fall hopelessly in love anyways. I tend to think, though, that those narratives are boring and un-romantic. If fate were responsible for pulling two people together, why would anyone consider that love? Where is the self-sacrifice, the nobility, the character? The Beauty of Love The stories that I find beautiful are the ones where two people choose to love each other and commit to doing…