Happily Getting Older

It’s finally happening.  I think I’m starting to cross the threshold into the “older” realm.

Now, I don’t look in the mirror and see anyone who looks “old” per say…oh, except for the new crop of gray hairs that have recently appeared.

I don’t feel like I’m “older” because I am still in the prime of my birthing and mothering years.

And, of course, the teens and young adults I know still, for some reason, think I’m “hip to the groove” of what’s happening in the world.  That’s got to count for some amount of youthfulness, right?

I recently said to teens, "Back when I was in high school, before cell phones..." YIKES.

But, it’s what happens when the teens and young adults aren’t around.  It’s what my life is when it’s just me and my husband and son…and, maybe some family members who are cool with us doing “old people things”.  That’s where the reality of my age starts to show…that’s what makes me think I might be getting “old”. Read More

Well so was J.C. Wow. You’re in good company.

I spent most of Thursday afternoon woodworking in my basement. Seriously.

Besides constructing some made-from-scratch coat hook racks for the laundry room, I spent the afternoon refinishing some chairs for our office space at the house.  I spent almost 3 hours sanding and priming. I honestly can’t believe I sat in one place for 3 hours doing anything, much less something so mundane.

Turns out, I loved it.

Not because I am trying to be more like J.C. (cue the Meet the Parents quote), but Owen Wilson just wants to refinish chairsbecause my focus was totally and completely centered on one thing. While I was working, all worries, concerns, and future work melted away.  I was left with the chair in front of me and piece of sand covered paper.  I instantly and clearly saw whether I was accomplishing my goal or not.  At the end of the three hours, I had two sanded and primed chairs.

I also had 180 minutes of Fr. Mike Schmitz homilies listened to.

Fr. Mike runs the Newman center at University of Minnesota Duluth.  He speaks at various youth ministry events all over the country.  And his homily caused me to weep while I distributed communion during the closing Mass of our Parish Mission last Lent.  He is a gifted speaker and all around awesome dude.  Because his homily is recorded and podcasted each week, one click and I am challenged, inspired, and moved.

Next time you have some mundane moments (driving, waiting, watching a middle school volleyball tournament) give Fr. Mike Schmitz’s homily podcast a try. It will be worth your time.

Friends don’t let friends be cologne guy.

Cologne Guy in Hawaiian ShirtYou know the guy I am talking about. Maybe he was a high school chemistry teacher or a buddy from college or maybe a crazy old uncle – he was the guy who wore too much cologne.  I don’t know what motivates too much cologne guy to regularly over spray.  Maybe he is worried that he smells badly otherwise. Maybe he thinks this is the way to get the ladies. Maybe it is just habit and he doesn’t know any better.  What I do know is that whatever his motivation, he isn’t aware his odor is overwhelming.

This morning as I was getting ready, I accidently sprayed one spray more cologne than normal and I suddenly became super worried, that for at least today, I was going to be that guy. I was going to be the stinky cologne guy.  In fact, not only was I worried I was going to be outrageously odiferous, but I began to fret about an even worse fate – no one would tell me.  The only thing worse that not being self aware about some personal fault, would be not having anyone in my life willing to tell me, warn me, correct me.  What if I went through life and no one tried to help me by calling me out.  As I write this I am beginning to worry that maybe I AM cologne guy every day and no one is telling me. Quick, smell your computer screen and tell me if my blog smells too strong. (Man, I hope you didn’t actually do that.)  I digress.

Maybe there are people in my life who I should be challenging, warning, correcting.  I don’t mean about the cologne thing (though maybe that too); I mean about important things.  I think there is something truly holy and good about helping out our friends and neighbors by inviting them to change.  If that is true, then we need to figure out a way to challenge our friends without offending and alienating them.

Being called out is hard. No one likes to be told they are falling short or outright screwing up.  This is why people react so crazy to being invited to admit fault and confess sins – they don’t like to be wrong.  People don’t get too crazy about being told about spinach in their teeth or static electricity mucking up an outfit, but when we start to get into the realm of personal behavior people tend to freak out when corrected.

I don’t have a good answer. I don’t know how to do this personally, and I am not sure how to do this communally/institutionally.  What I do know is that at the end of the day the only valid and appropriate motivation is love.  The only reason we can ever call someone out is because we love them, and we want them to be happy, healthy, and holy.  Anything other than that is self-righteous judgment which stinks worse than cologne guy.

The Miraculous Desk Plant of Chris Kostelc

This is my desk plant.  My wife bought me this plant while on a visit to Ikea almost 3 years My Office Plantago, and it has sat in that place on my desk since.  For the most part, it is green and lush and happy, which makes me happy.  Also, this is a miracle plant. It is a miracle it is still alive because I am a notorious plant killer.  This is plant number 3 for me, and so, everyday it remains more than a brown husk is a win.  Honestly, I rarely remember to water, and then when I do, I go on a bender and water with a fire hose till I have drowned the thing (okay slight exaggeration).

Needless to say, I proud of my little plant that could.  I have brought it back from the edge of death so many times, I have thought about naming it Lazarus. (Then I remember it is a plant and come to my senses; talking to plants is foolish.)  The little leafy beast has come back from death so many times that honestly it has become a mini reminder of life in the face of death.  I live in Minnesota where I don’t see a green leaf or blade of grass for about 5 months out of the year. The little green thing in my office reminds me that soon the world will be resurrected in springtime and life will return to this barren tundra.  As silly as it sounds, my office plant reminds me of the paschal mystery, resurrection, my salvation, and the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Really? Yes really. Read More