Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 3)

Each Journey a Chorus

There’s power in the music,
Listen close.
There’s power in the silence,
Missed by most.
Life is filled to the brim,
With the wrong kind of noise.
Filled with meaningless words,
Empty messages,
Posing as poise.
Most follow a catchy tune,
Search for what’s new,
An endless cycle,
Leading to their ruin.
Beauty can be found,
Not sold,
Not boughten,
Remember they fought,
An endless cycle,
It doesn’t work to recycle,
What was already rotten.
Yet they still tune the dial,
Dialed into their own demise.
Blissfully unaware,
They’ve been here already,
When you’re blind by choice,
You’ll never see light,
Until you are ready.
Once they do,
Beauty does the rest.
I used to be blind,
I must confess.
Now the power surrounds,
The power in the music,
The power in the silence,
It’s all around.
This life is a song,
Each journey a chorus,
I stand here to implore us.
To not waste a note,
Or build a regretful reprise,
Each journey a chorus,
For each of us to seize.
So go forth with powerful motion,
In music,
In silence,
With utmost devotion.
Write the notes of your life,
Share the music from the page,
The music,
The silence,
Each beat is what you gave.

Don’t Deny Them Their Blessings

by Lynn Kuhns

Photo by dreamsailors on Flickr

The person offered to pay for my lunch. We both fought for our wallet and were eager to take care of the bill. We both wanted to share a blessing to the other person. Neither one of us would back down. It probably made things awkward for a moment with the cashier, as she had an uncomfortable look on her face. She eventually took one card, as I skulked at the fact that it wasn’t mine. I was sure to say that the next time I would get the bill. Relieved that I didn’t have to pay, sad, and at the same time feeling overwhelmingly blessed, and – for a split second – angry. It was a wave of emotions in the span of approximately 30 seconds.

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Who You Are

I’ve never viewed myself,

As very much at all,

Never thought people,

Would want my time,

To be by my side,

To stand with me at tide,

Not very much at all,

I’ve never viewed myself,

As very worthy of love,

Never thought people,

Would care that deeply,

Would in times of need seek me,

I just never thought I was,

Very worthy of love at all,

I’ve never viewed myself,

As deserving of Grace,

Never thought God,

Would want this child,

Even cared about my smile,

Didn’t see my many lost miles,

Lost and wondering,

If I’m deserving of Grace.

Now I know who I am,

I am very much indeed,

Because you desire my time,

Yearn to be by my side,

Have stood with me at the tide,

I see how you care deeply,

By how in your times of need,

You have chosen to seek me,

Through your presence in my life,

I can see God’s view of me clearly,

How much He wants this child,

Loves to see each time I smile,

Was there on every single mile,

Times on this road have been rough,

But I don’t wish to change the path,

I love God and myself more and more,

Each day because of who you are,

Who you are,

Is so much more than I could ever ask,

I know you have your fears too,

But I promise each day,

You know God is there every mile,

Loves to see all of your smiles,

Desperately wants you as His child,

And know in times,

I have no idea what to do,

I will always choose to seek you too,

And when the waves crash,

As you stare at the rising tide,

Know I will be by your side,

Holding you in safety,

Is a perfect way to spend my time,

There you will see,

God’s perfect love,

Through this imperfect soul,

I promise to fill all that I can,

Then hand you over,

To the One who will make you whole.

Remembering B.E. Taylor

This past Sunday, the musical world lost a legend that, I believe, many didn’t know existed. B.E. Taylor, of “Vitamin L” and, more importantly for me, Christmas music and tour fame, passed away on August 7, 2016 due to complications from a brain tumor.

William Edward (or “Billy Eddy”) Taylor was a singer-songwriter who was born in Aliquippa, PA, just a stone’s throw from where I grew up, and was one of my favorite artists of all time. He was an inspiration as a musician and as a person. He loved his fellow man and loved to entertain. More importantly, he was a devoted follower of Christ and was never afraid to make it known.

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Contemplating Compassion

All we see all over the news anymore are hurting people who are in need of compassion. There is so much hurting and aching going on. Whether it’s on a grand or small scale, there is no shortage of people who need to experience love and compassion.  From the international terrorist attacks to the domestic concerns over justice and racial inequality, we are dealing with things we naively thought would have ended by now. However far we have come, we still have much further to go.

I recently did a devotion at work on compassion.  We’ve been exploring it the past couple weeks and we talked about having compassion on others and the ultimate compassion Christ has for us. As it says in Matthew 22:39, Christians are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. We regularly talk about loving others and having compassion on others, but I got to thinking: How does that translate if I don’t accept Christ’s compassion for me, or if I don’t really love and have compassion on myself?

We can act like we really have compassion and go through the motions while not really having compassion on others. Are we truly treating them as we yearn to be treated? Are we just paying them lip service, or do we sincerely see them for who they are in Christ? Do we see them as Christ sees them? In order for us to truly show compassion and love to one another, we have to truly accept that same compassion from Him. We are only giving a portion of the love and compassion that we can if we have not fully accepted it ourselves.

It’s not a selfish thing to examine how you think about and see yourself. It’s a necessary thing. You have to come to terms with God and you must believe that He has created you in His image. You are worthy, loved, and bear His image. This is true of everyone, no matter how different they may be from you. They are just as worthy of love and compassion as you are. Sometimes it’s easier for us to show compassion to others over ourselves, as it feels selfish to be so introspective. In order for us to truly show compassion and see others as Christ sees them, we have to come to terms with that in ourselves.

I am a perfectionist and beat myself up over everything. I get frustrated if things don’t go how I want them to go. I get down and discouraged with myself when bad things happen to me. I have given up on things more often than I would like to admit. I have failed to ask for help or accepted help when I needed it; partly out of pride, but also because I hadn’t fully accepted the love and compassion of Jesus has offered me. It’s a tough thing for me to accept and something that I am learning to grow through.

There are some very practical and obvious ways to show compassion to others, and I am not negating those by any means.  They are important. Jesus was compassionate to everyone he met. We should be compassionate too. But we need to accept Christ’s compassion and reflect that onto ourselves. We need to see who we are in Christ. We need to love ourselves in order to truly love our neighbors and see them as Christ sees them. This way we can see everyone for the image bearers that they truly are. If we can’t love ourselves and forgive ourselves, how are we really able to do the same for others?

Little Miss Muffet

There’s one thing you have to understand about me: I’ve always been pretty tough. I don’t like to admit when I’m scared nor do I readily admit defeat. Okay, so that’s technically more than one thing, but go with it.

I moved into my current apartment during the last week of September 2015. I was excited to start a new chapter in my life (man, that sounds just as cliche as I thought it might). Unbeknownst to me, I was in for one doozy of a time.

I moved in on a Sunday. I didn’t really have much. A loveseat. A bed. A TV. Wifi. A shower curtain. Pretty much all the necessities. But, the worst part of moving in on a Sunday was that I had to go to work on Monday. There was no chance to do a whole lot or get stuff situated. Everything felt disjointed.

I awoke the next morning as excited as anyone who wakes up in an unfamiliar place. It took me a second to gain the acceptance of where I was. I stumbled out of my bedroom and into the living room, then I made the right into the minuscule water closet just off the living room.

This would be my first use of the shower at this apartment, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Some showers are awesome, others not so much. A shower is my favorite part of the day. No lie, if the hot water tank would hold out, I’d be in there for hours. Water is also included as part of my rent, meaning I don’t have to see the water bill. So, there’s that.

Anyhow. I flipped on the overhead light and pulled back the new brown shower curtain and liner from front to back. I looked down at the new anti-microbial, anti-slip mat that, only a half day ago, I had suction-cupped to the recently cleaned tub floor and “Gah!” (That’s the exact sound I made, just fyi).

At the back of the tub, where my sleepy, and late for work, feet should have already been, was a ginormous spider. I’m sure it wasn’t as big as my brain remembers it being, but it was large. I’ve heard people refer to such arachnids as a wolf spider. Disclaimer: I don’t know if that’s really what they are or not. Regardless, if that doesn’t spark an image in your mind, imagine a spider that has a really big butt and an itty bitty body. Teenage Brandon would have described it in the words of his favorite rapper Nelly: “She got mo’ back than she got body, Eh!”

If even those descriptions don’t help, Google it. The internet is a wonderful thing. Actually, don’t do that. I just did, and now I won’t be able to sleep for a few hours. Sorry if you actually listened to my instructions. Now, back to the story.

We stared at each other for a second or two, him, to adjust to the sudden light shining down on him and me, to try to get my heart and lungs functioning in all normalcy again. Once those couple seconds passed, I reacted almost immediately. I spun around and rolled off a long series of toilet tissue squares. Charmin Ultra. Strong, yet soft. I judge people based on the toilet paper they buy.

I hovered the quilted pile over my spidey nemesis, anticipating it to scurry at any moment, but it just sat there as if he knew the inevitable was coming. The TP trap descended slowly and I was able to partially smash him and scoop him into the toilet bowl and send him on his last ride accompanied by his personal ferryman named Charmin. (Charon/Charmin. Get it? The underworld ferryman? Greek mythology… Nevermind.)

“That was it,” I told myself. No biggie. The apartment had been empty for a couple weeks prior to me moving in, so I figured that things like this could potentially happen. When there’s no human activity in a place for a while, non-human creatures can try to take over. I mentally prepared myself that this could happen again in the future.

And it has. And I’ve managed to not freak out and “Yah Mo Burn” this little yellow duplex to the ground. I just always check the shower AFTER pulling back the curtain and BEFORE stepping over the threshold into the warm, soothing stream.

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Working in the seasonal business that is the swimming pool industry, it is understandable that there should be a slow season. Like, really slow. Because of this, Burnett Pools closes on Sunday and Tuesday during the time period of October through April. This past Tuesday was our last one that found us closed for the season. It also turned out to be Election Day in PA.

As I was getting ready to travel the mile down the road to do my civic duty, I jumped in the shower after eating some Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Pop-Tarts. I was just about finished getting all squeaky clean when I turned around to wash the excess shampoo off of my back and looked down and, through my bleary water filled eyes, I saw a little black mass with a big butt and a small body scurry towards me from the back of the tub.

Now mind you, I had been in the shower for about ten or so minutes. That meant that this little dude had been in here with me for that period. I didn’t hesitate this time. I was out of that shower faster than you can say, “Ahhh Gahh.. Nnngghh!” I know that because I finished that sentence as I stubbed my toe on the terra cotta brown bar table in my living room.

I’m not sure how I got through the shower curtain as quickly as I did, because when I turned around the curtain was barely moved to one side. It was easy to get into the living room because the bathroom door was already open, because what person who lives by themselves actually closes the door when they’re in the bathroom? Show of hands? Seriously, if your hand isn’t up right now, you’re the weird one. Ask around.

I turned around and decided that I was going to be that brave guy that I said I was at the beginning of this story. I went back into that bathroom, grabbed a large chunk of Charmin and prepared to face my fear. I whipped back the curtain and looked at the place where big booty had been scampering toward and there was no sign of him. I turned toward the front of the tub and there he was.

I lifted the murder weapon and started to pounce…

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During my days of living on campus at Geneva, I roomed every year with my best friend and IC Editor in Chief, Seth. As he has discussed in prior posts, and if he doesn’t want me saying this he’ll just do his editor duty and take it out, Seth has Type I Diabetes. And if there is one thing you learn when you live with someone with Diabetes it’s that you will find blood glucose test strips everywhere. They will be in your clothes, in your bed, they stick to your feet… They are literally everywhere. 

The funny thing is this: Living with a Type I Diabetes patient is very similar to living with, or being, a guitarist. When you’re a guitarist you find guitar picks everywhere. In your clothes. In your bed.

And sometimes guitar picks stick to your feet. And sometimes when they stick to your feet you may not feel them. And then, when they stick to your feet and you don’t feel them, they can sometimes end up in your shower with you…

I guess the moral of the story is this: Don’t freak out over every spidery situation in life. Sometimes the big booty spider in your shower of life is just a dark brown celluloid medium thickness Fender guitar pick.

Solo Travel

My last post was about facing fears. I keep trying to face my fears and trying to overcome some of the anxiety that I feel.  One fear that I keep having to face is going places and doing things on my own. This was something that I could not have ever fathomed doing just a few months ago. I always thought I needed to have someone with me, even if it was just a friend. Traveling home by myself or visiting a city or event by myself never really freaked me out, but spending a weekend or day somewhere alone was tough.

Sometimes finding a friend to travel with me was easy. However, I’ve realized not everyone wants to go to the same places that I do nor do they have the time to do so.

Recently, I have started to travel and spend the weekends by myself. Don’t get me wrong, I would rather spend time going places and having adventures with other people. I am always up for experiencing things with my friends and family. But I am not going to miss out on an adventure anymore for fear of being by myself. There is too much to see and do in this world. There is so much more outside this town I live in.

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Imperfect Cinema: Our favorite movies (we saw) in 2015

We’re officially past awards season, so I think it’s finally safe to talk about our favorite movies without inciting a riot over which films are superior to others. I reached out to everyone on our staff to hear which film they saw last year became their favorite. We aren’t saying these are the best movies of 2015 (a couple of them even released in 2014), or the ones that deserved the most Oscars, but these are the films that resonated with us and moved us the most. Hopefully, you haven’t seen all of the movies we have chosen and can get a good recommendation from this article. If not, well, feel free to let us know why you did or didn’t like the ones that you saw.

-Seth


Adam Shaffer – The One I Love – Drama/Comedy, rated R (for language, some sexuality and drug use)

This film holds special meaning to me because of the circumstances in which I watched it. My wife directs a travelling singing group, and is away for about 5 weeks each summer. As such, I basically “go stag” every summer. I experience a lot of ups and downs as I enjoy the freedom to eat pizza and play video games every night while also missing her companionship frequently. I was bored one night and started browsing Netflix when I stumbled onto this flick in the queue. I thought, “Hey, that’s the chick from Mad Men!” and I guess that’s all I needed to hit play. The movie starts off as an innocent little rom-com but quickly turns into a bizarre look at two people that were well past the “honeymoon phase” of their relationship. In Hollywood, we’re often given the chance to consider the stage of life where people fall in love, get married, and ride off into the sunset. But this movie mixes up the formula and makes us consider the complex psychology of a long-term relationship and all of the dirty laundry that comes along with it. Having now been married for about 4 years, it resonated with me on a very personal level and I found myself cherishing my wife and our complex relationship from 1,000 miles away. This is one of those movies that you should go into with as few spoilers as possible, so I won’t give anything away. But if you’re somebody who is in a long-term relationship and is into the more human side of filmmaking, you should give this one a whirl.


Kyle Dunham – Room – Drama, rated R (for language)

There are so many things out here. And sometimes it’s scary. But that’s ok. Because it’s still just you and me…

Room connects with me because it is honest, it is raw, and it is real. It makes you feel like you are on the emotional journey with the two main stars. I won’t say much about the plot line. I will say that I think it is a movie that most people should see. It is certainly not for the faint of heart. It certainly will make you feel high levels of emotion. There are times as a Christian that it will offend you, and it should. You should be offended. Not because they use words you may not agree with. Not because they present things in a way that you thing is wrong. It should offend you because things like this really happen in our world. It has the shades of reality that another movie staring Brie Larson does, Short Term 12. Another movie I believe everyone, especially every Christian, should see. These movies challenges us to  see the world as it is not as we wish it was.  I believe they can start conversations in the church that need to happen. Do you agree? Do you think these are the kind of movies that should challenge us to make change in the world? Watch and tell me what you think, I’ll be more than excited to have that conversation!


Seth Kuhns – The End of the Tour – Drama, rated R (for language including some sexual references)

With Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg listed as the leads for the movie, it’s difficult not to immediately assume The End of the Tour is primarily a comedy. It’s not. I’m still not sold on Jesse Eisenberg as anything other than your typical “Awkward White Guy” actor (though he has turned in a convincing performance as Lex Luthor in an otherwise mediocre Superman film), but Jason Segel showed some impressive chops in his portrayal of small-time-professor-turned-bestselling-author David Foster Wallace. Segel’s grown quite a bit from his Freaks and Geeks days, and he delivered a mature and nuanced performance as the insecure Wallace. Having never read any of Wallace’s work, the film’s exploration of his troubled genius piqued my interest. I didn’t dive into Infinite Jest, the subject of the tour the title is referencing, but I did read some of his early essays after I saw the movie. One writer interviewing another while traveling in the Upper Midwest isn’t the most enticing premise, but this film did an excellent job of showing a surprisingly deep story on how different writers handle varying levels of success.


Brandon Kauffman – Begin Again – Drama/Comedy/Musical & Performing Arts, rated R (for language)

That’s what I love about music… One of the most banal scenes is suddenly invested with so much meaning! All these banalities – they’re suddenly turned into these, these beautiful effervescent pearls. From music.

When we discussed starting this thread of posts that discuss our favorite films we saw in 2015, I asked if that meant we were limited to films released in ’15. I silently hoped not. If it was limited to that year, I’d have to either discuss the most recent Star Wars film or Spy starring Melissa McCarthy, because those were the only films I knew that I had seen from 2015. Yeah, my 2015 wasn’t that spectacular. I was happy when Seth confirmed that we could discuss any film we saw in 2015, because that meant I could look back on a film that I’ve actually viewed three or four times in ’15.

Begin Again, released in the US in July of 2014, has garnered average reviews from the “top” critics in the industry. While I’ve never seen Once, I imagine that the two are similar, but I believe Begin Again has less of the traditional romantic storyline. Paul (Mark Ruffalo) has a chance, and slightly intoxicated, meeting with Gretta (Keira Knightley) in a New York bar where Gretta reluctantly performs a heartfelt song that is mostly ignored by the crowd. This scene, when presented from Paul’s view, is the stand out scene in the film. At least for me. He, in his mind, crafts an entire musical arrangement of the song while she plays, complete with self-playing instruments, something that only the best music producers in the industry can do. From there, after a little prodding, the two venture out into the city of New York to create awesome songs in awesome settings. That may be a lackluster description of a wonderful story, but I don’t want to go too deep into it. There’s really nothing to spoil, but I’d rather you take the opportunity to watch the film, if you have the chance, without me giving away too much.

Take a Look At Your Selfie

PhoneShe was always on her phone.

She never went anywhere without it. She saw the world through that five and a half inch rectangular screen. Whether she was snappin’, tweeting, vining, gramming, or using any of the other various social network apps, she was always live and in the moment with her phone. She walked around the local Kmart with her father, nose pointed directly at the screen. She often walked right past people she knew because she was so distracted by that screen. People usually thought her to be rude.

She got the last laugh, though, because that little piece of metal and plastic got her famous. Vine famous, that is. She was funny. She was serious. People could relate to her. Young men admired her. Young girls wanted to be her. She left the town she grew up in for New York. Then, in a few short months, she left New York for Los Angeles. She lived there for months gaining more and more popularity.

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Holding On

I don’t have an answer
For why you were hurt so
I don’t know
Though
I do know
That I’m right here
The sun is down
But I’ll shine a light
I’ll make it clear
I know you fear
I see your fright
Tonight
I see your heart
Flight
Seems so much easier than fight
So I’ll fight for you
I won’t ignore you
The truth of my words
Is what I implore you
To know
By what I say alone
No
To know
By the actions I plant
What comes from the seeds for you
To sow
To know
Even on nights I can’t hold your hand
I’m still holding on
Until the dawn
Not a love song
Life
Filled with strife
Painful nights
Grounded kites
Yet they fly again
As you will rise again
Look me in my eyes
And smile
Again
I don’t have an answer
But I do have a hand
This broken man
Will hold you
On nights you can’t stand
And
I know this truth too
An unbroken Father holds on tight
Tonight
To you

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