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Okay, so I have to apologize for that last post. I took it too far. Hindsight is 20/20. Fake pregnancy announcement? Tact fail. I genuinely feel bad about this! I feel like I abused the power of the Post Title, luring people in under false pretenses, like how Subway lured me in with the “any” $5 foot-long deal. (Web of lies!)

So, for what it’s worth, my bad. Please forgive me?

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…to not have any babies in the immediate future. (Gotcha! Haha, suckers.)

Sorry, that was just mean. You guys have no idea how much I had to talk Drea into letting me do that.

We do have an announcement, though. We’ve decided to take an extended break from our joint blog here. It’s been a great way to archive our first year and a half of marriage, but we’ve realized that have very different blogging styles and for consistency’s sake, it would make more sense to each have our own. So from here on out, Drea will continue keeping up her photo blog, and I’ll be crankin’ away at my new blog.

Don’t be sad! The Ackermann Blog won’t be gone forever! We’re going to keep it online for future chronicling of family adventures, maybe once we start having kids. (Again, currently not pregnant.)

Thanks to everyone who’s read our blog over the past year and a half; we’ve had a lot of fun.

Update your RSS feeds! We can now be found here:

Drea: andreajaephotography.com/blog

Drew: drewackermann.wordpress.com

I had no problems finding the Daily Grind coffeehouse in Fulton. It’s right across the street from a church where Drea and I have some friends and where we visit occasionally. I showed up around 8:10 to grab a coffee and a good seat before 8:30 when things were to begin. I was half-expecting a sizable crowd, so I was pleasantly surprised when only a handful of people showed up. A few of us figured out that we were there for the same thing, so we introduced ourselves and exchanged the usual friendly small talk before McLaren arrived.

It doesn’t take much more than Google-ing Brian McLaren’s name to realize that he’s one of the most controversial Christians in the public eye today. His books about faith, postmodernism, and the emerging church have stirred the pot, to say the least. His demeanor, however, wouldn’t suggest this. An average-looking, middle-aged, bald guy with glasses, McLaren has a warm disposition; soft-spoken, sensitive, contemplative, the kind of guy you can tell is really listening to you.

A few more have arrived at this point, and McLaren begins by having us introduce ourselves. I realize I’m surrounded by a very diverse group of Christians, including two Lutherans, one Presbyterian, one Jewish-Episcopalian, one Eastern Orthodox, and two Southern Baptists (of which I’m one…technically).

After introductions, I’m thinking McLaren’s just going to open up the floor to anyone who wants to discuss something. Instead, he looks right at me and says something like, “Drew, is it? You look like you’ve got something on your mind.”

Say whaaa…?

Once I get over the fact that this guy who’s been the subject of Time Magazine articles just addressed me directly, I share my questions and reflections, as we all do. While I imagined this would be more of a Q & A, “meet the author” type thing, it was much more informal. The eight of us just kind of sat there talking for like two hours, drinking our coffee as the snow fell outside. It was awesome. 

It’s true (and not surprising) that McLaren’s been called a heretic. We tend to dislike it when a person calls our way of thinking into question, and it’s easy to write that person off if they’re questioning a belief that’s been in place for a long time. I imagine that the religious establishment is irritated by McLaren the same way they were irritated by Luther’s 95 theses, Galileo’s rejection of the earth-centered universe model, or Civil War era Christians who didn’t believe that the Bible condoned slavery. My theory is that Western Christians like myself call McLaren a heretic because he believes that certain beliefs and practices of Western Christianity are antithetical to the teachings of Jesus. That’s a pretty bold statement, and while I’ve never heard (or read) McLaren be unkind or self-righteous about it, he certainly doesn’t mince words. That’s the kind of thing that will get you labeled a heretic.

With that said, I myself don’t agree with everything McLaren believes, but I do think he’s onto something good. One thing I completely agree with him on is that we need some “new wineskins” for the Gospel in our postmodern culture, and we may even need to rethink what the Gospel truly is in the first place. After all, can anyone deny that the Church has severely misinterpreted the message of Jesus in the past, and even the present?

I appreciate McLaren’s willingness to admit that he doesn’t have all the answers. He’s been criticized by fundamentalist types for his “ambiguity” and “vagueness”. I suppose there’s some truth to that, but honestly, I don’t think any of us have all the answers, and I think many us pretend to have answers to things we don’t have them for. And, come to think of it, maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if we relied a little less on pastors and Christian authors to spoon-feed us the truth. I’m just speculating here, but I wonder if McLaren is being intentionally vague not to confuse us, but to pique our curiosity and invite deeper exploration through prayer and Scripture reading?

In any case, there are some things that McLaren is not ambiguous about. In fact, he addresses some issues that Evangelicals seem strangely apathetic to: poverty, racial prejudice, environmental stewardship, post-9/11 Muslim relations, peace, justice. In this vein, he’s making a clear statement: that Christianity isn’t just about going to heaven after you die, that it also matters what happens here and now. Salvation is for reconciliation with God, but also with each other.

For some reason (Christian subculture, perhaps?), these two dimensions of the Gospel seem at odds with each other. If you emphasize only the individual dimension, you’re labeled a fundamentalist. If you emphasize only the social dimension, you’re labeled a liberal. No doubt McLaren’s books address the latter more heavily, but I think it’s worth considering that his target audience might be those of us Christians that have always emphasized the former too heavily. If by laying it on thick from the social side he can bring those on the individual side into a more balanced view, perhaps he will have succeeded.

I’ve certainly benefited from his books. They’ve caused me to think about things I might not have otherwise; his writings about the kingdom of God have been particularly meaningful and enriching for me. If you’re interested, I would recommend reading them with a lot of prayerful consideration and definitely an open mind. (I loved A Generous Orthodoxy, if you’re looking for a place to start!)

Sorry if my thoughts are little scatter-brained here. Evidently I lack the discipline to better organize them! In any case, I hope none of this is misinterpreted as a full-fledged endorsement of McLaren. I guess my main point is that he’s worth checking out. If you already have, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

FINE! After being tagged by 5 people (and nagged by one, thanks Janaiha), I’ll do it. I can’t promise it will be interesting.
 

  1. When it comes to fear, I have a crazy imagination. I am overly scared of a noise in my house being an intruder, I used to fear that I was going to see a demon at any moment and as a child, I was afraid of being flushed down the toilet.
  2. I have always had a great bed. It’s important to me that my bed be clean, overly fluffy and soft, not to mention a plethora of pillows. It can’t be too frilly and down is preferred.
  3. Sometimes, I forget that I am not white. I have, on more than one occasion, referred to myself as a white girl. Don’t hate; you know you’ve done it to me, too.
  4. I am globophobic. That’s right. I am scared of balloons. It’s a true phobia: an irrational fear. I can stand to be around balloons if no one is touching them (especially small children), but the second I think one might pop, I get nervous and “fight or flight” kicks in, no joke. Don’t believe me? The kids at Hayden’s 2nd birthday party couldn’t play with the balloons because of ME.
  5. I’m pretty sure I’m addicted to checking my email. It’s usually the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do before I get into bed, with multiple times in between. Sometimes, I don’t reply to emails immediately because I don’t want people thinking all I do is check my email. But now you know the truth.
  6. I love fast food. I don’t care that it’s bad for me (as evidenced by my expanding waistline). I could eat it anytime.
  7. I have to smell things before I eat them. It’s just a precursor to taste – why not get the whole experience?
  8. I always have the urge to engage in deep conversation with Drew right before we go to sleep, even though Drew’s attention span is at it’s worst when he is half sleeping. I think it’s because I’m so relaxed (please refer to #2). Either way, it’s something I’m trying to work on. We’ve had several discussions about how this is not beneficial, as Drew just wants to go to sleep.
  9. I cannot eat reheated poultry. There’s a weird taste to it. Ew.
  10. I rarely shave my legs. It’s not because I’m gross, it’s because my leg hair barely grows. It’s a little freakish, but a great perk of Asian genes.
  11. I like a good chick flick…and am a little embarrassed to admit that. To be fair, I only like the actually good ones. That new Shopaholic thing looks stupid.
  12. All the guys I’ve ever been attracted to have had dark hair. And I married a brown haired man.
  13. My dream house is a cookie cutter model in a suburban neighborhood, give or take a picket fence.
  14. I get attached to inanimate objects and usually have to convince myself they don’t have feelings. My childhood bear? Definitely happy to see me. My car that just got totaled? Feeling abandoned and alone. It hurt my heart to walk away from it at the scrap heap.
  15. I live vicariously through other people too often. This is the reason I’ve always loved reading, probably why I became an English major and history minor and why I enjoy people watching. This is also why I can’t watch super sad or super scary movies. It’s too much for my heart to bear everyone’s grievances and fears.
  16. Simple things are the best things. Add a little plain in there and it’s even better. Cluttered billboards, super trendy accessories, complicated restaurant menus, busy art, and unorganized music all get on my nerves. I’d live in jeans and a t-shirt everyday if I could.
  17. I have picked out names for most of my children. I’d like at least four, and I’d prefer it if they were all girls. :) Drew just wouldn’t know what to do with himself, his heart might just explode.
  18. I am a prime example of the metaphor which describes women’s thoughts as spaghetti. I love to-do lists, but usually work on everything on the list at the same time. I’m famous for starting things and not finishing them, but I think I’m getting better at this.
  19. I am more prone to get up before 8am when I don’t have anything planned for the day than I am when I have to be somewhere at a certain time.
  20. Over the course of my life, I have wanted to be all of these things: a ballerina, an author, an Olympic gymnast, a teacher, a lawyer, a college professor, the first female President, a Princeton student, a California girl, a missionary, a photographer, a wife, a mom. Some of these are still valid. :)
  21. At some point in my life, I want to be thrown a bangin’ surprise party, complete with turning on the light switch and my friends and family appearing from hiding places. I want to know nothing about it and be completely surprised.  
  22. I like knowing what’s going to happen before it happens. I like watching a roller coaster before riding it and reading the movie review before watching it. This stems from my need to be in control, which makes my desire to follow God rather difficult.
  23. Over the past year, my idea of success has been turned upside down. Right now, I live in my parents’ basement, have zero extra cash, no kitchen and not the slightest idea of what my life will look like next year…and I have never been more content in my life. Funny the things that prove to be important and true.
  24. I am legitimately scared of the dark. A pink, sparkly night light shines under my nightstand.
  25. Marrying Drew was the best decision I have ever made in my short 23 years, hands down. Admittedly, there are some decisions that deserve honorable mentions, but Drew smashes them all. 

Are you happy now, Andrew Scott Ackermann?! :)

A quick “plus and minus” recap of our weekend:

  • Left Valentine’s Day gift for Drea at work. Husband fail. (-)
  • Finished Season 4 of Lost on DVD. So much more gratifying to watch episodes back to back. (+)
  • Contact lens debacle Saturday morning. In half-awake state, rinsed my lenses with disinfectant instead of saline solution. Talk about burn. (-)
  • Nice ride with Tom and Renata up to western MD; enjoyed novelty of driving on Beltway and I-270 without will-to-live-sucking traffic. (+)
  • Skied at Whitetail with Tom. Fulfilled need to ski at least once a year. (+)
  • Drea and Renata shopped at Hagerstown outlets while Tom and I skied. Everyone wins! (+)
  • Tom forgot gloves. $50 at ski shop. (-)
  • I forgot ski goggles/sunglasses. $30 at ski shop. (-)
  • Pretty much got taken for a ride by monopoly-exploiting jerks at ski shop. (-)
  • Multiple skiing fails on my part. Highlights: not going fast enough to make it over ski jump, sliding backwards down ski jump, almost getting taken out by snowboarder behind me, coming to painful grips with shocking degree of my imcompetence, AND skiing into a fence. Not the wooden kind, the orange plastic safety net kind. But still. (-)
  • Later redeemed myself by nailing a double black diamond. Boo-ya. (+)
  • Met up with Smizz in Hagerstown after skiing/shopping excursions. (+)
  • Tried to see Mall Cop. Sold out. (-)
  • Saw Coraline instead. Good, but freaking weird and definitely not for kids, despite PG rating. (+)
  • Smizz took us to a great little place called Cafe del Sol for dinner. Salsa, nachos, Yuengling, and meat-lover’s calzone. Delish. (+)
  • Starbucks for the ride back home. (+)
  • Sore muscles the next day. Self-loathe for not being in better shape and having to groan like an old man every time I stand or sit. (-)
  • Who cares? Our weekend was off the hook. (+)

I tried to ignore the blitzkrieg of Facebook tags for this “25 things” business, but alas! We’ve been blog-tagged, which seems to carry more authority than Facebook. (I don’t know why – it just does.) But as much as I would love to say that I’m doing this begrudgingly, I’ve actually enjoyed reading various people’s entries, so what the heck – why not join the bandwagon?

I’m going to try to make these fairly original and entertaining for you people, none of these obvious crap answers like “I don’t like it when people are mean to me.” So here goes:

  1. I love driving, but only when the route is a new one or one I haven’t done for awhile. I abhor my work commute, for example. And I used to hate the drive to and from Salisbury, but now that I only drive down there once a year or so, I actually enjoy it. (Gasp!)
  2. Our life group is becoming one of my favorite things about life right now.
  3. Hygiene is pretty important to me. It irritates me when someone who has the means to bathe themselves chooses not to and subjects the rest of us to their rancidness.
  4. Drea and I both have lists of people we would date if we weren’t married. If that sounds weird to you, then…well yeah it actually is pretty weird.
  5. I love my family. Ackermanns represent – for real. The older I get, the more I appreciate my parents and the way they raised me and my sisters. I don’t think Drea and I will do everything exactly the same, but I hope our family has the same closeness and healthiness as mine.
  6. I love books. (Yep, I stole this one from both Lammy and Leslie.) I became a reading junkie right after college, and I regret not picking it up sooner. Sometimes it actually makes me sad to know that there are great books I’ll never have a chance to read in my lifetime. My favorites of 2008 were The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, A Generous Orthodoxy, and In a Sunburned Country. I also love getting book suggestions from people, so keep those coming!
  7. Drea and I love our new (used) Prius. We drive it everywhere, and are looking forward to taking it on some road trips this summer!
  8. We used to want to get a family dog once we start having kids. But a few months ago we spent a week dog-sitting a puppy who was cute, but who also vomited and projectile-crapped all over the place. Repeatedly. So, yeah, we’re having some second thoughts about that.
  9. I love Google, and I use them for everything – email, calendar, documents, maps, web browser, news, RSS, even weather. Google is like the official sponsor of my life. Honestly, if they approached me to do a commercial, I’d probably do that crap for free.
  10. I hate to steal another one from Lammy, but here goes! I absolutely loved college. I met some of my best friends at Salisbury and had some of the greatest experiences of my life there. I wouldn’t trade my life now for anything, but sometimes I get hit with a wave of nostalgia for my college years. St. Martins 118/120 – good times.
  11. Casual dating is still something quite foreign to me. Drea and I already knew each other pretty well when we started dating, and I’ve never really dated anyone else, although there’s been an “almost” or two in there! :) I wonder sometimes how I’d be at the casual, get-to-know-you kind of dating. I’m guessing pretty sucky, as I’m generally not so great with the small talk, or, for that matter, the suave, debonair flirtation skills. Drea’s a lucky lady. :)
  12. I’m not much of a sports fan, but I did enjoy watching the Super Bowl last night. Probably like the third football game I’ve ever watched in its entirety. Who knows? Maybe I’ll nonchalantly follow the Redskins if they make the playoffs next year.
  13. My dad took our family on epic summer vacations when we were kids. Some of my fondest childhood memories are playing the license plate game or 20 questions in the car on the way to Colorado, Wyoming, San Diego, Seattle, or wherever. I can’t wait to do this with our kids.
  14. My verdict on the timeless toilet paper debate: over is right, under is wrong.
  15. My other verdict on the timeless toilet paper debate: scrunching is right, folding is wrong.
  16. I’m all about it when people take pride in their work, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Intentionally friendly cashiers, knowledgeable salespeople who actually help you find what you need, fast food workers who make an effort to move the line quickly – I’m all about it.
  17. I would never want to live somewhere that doesn’t get all four seasons.
  18. I tend to remember movie lines as being funnier than they actually are. Like, the part in The Wedding Singer where Adam Sandler’s sister and her husband are getting ready for a date, and the husband’s not ready to go, and the wife sticks her head in the door and yells “BILLY, MOVE YOUR ASS!” That line is hilarious in my memory, but when you actually watch it, it isn’t that funny. (And I don’t think the guy’s name is Billy.)
  19. This one is weird. Sometimes a certain moment of music and lyrics in a song will just blow me away, and I have to hear it again. For example, I love the line “dreaming of the Osaka sun” from the Coldplay song “Lovers in Japan”, and I rewind it multiple times whenever I listen to it. I do the same thing with the line “let us sing one true tune” from Switchfoot’s “The Beautiful Letdown”. Inexplicable, I know.
  20. One thing God has recently brought my attention to is my tendency to think unkindly about people I feel wronged by; a basic disregard of Jesus’ command to love my enemies. Sometimes my attitude just sucks. I’m really trying to work on this.
  21. My first car was my dad’s old ’88 Honda Accord which ran like a champ until it finally died at 264,000 miles. I’m now on my third Accord, and I love it. It gets good gas mileage, is reliable, handles nicely, and I wouldn’t change a thing about the dashboard layout. I’m sold on this car, and will probably keep buying Accords for the rest of my life.
  22. I wish we had a Denny’s in Upper Marlboro so I could get a French Toast Grand Slam anytime I wanted.
  23. I hate having to shave every morning.
  24. A good way to punish me would be to force me to sit and listen to country music for several hours.
  25. I eat breakfast cereal for all three meals, and I freaking love it. I’ll take a bowl of Life or Honey Bunches of Oats just about anytime.

So there you have it. My 25 things. I’m sure that with enough harassment, Drea will post hers as well. :)