Christian Ross

20th Anniversary Trip

This year marks a decent milestone for my wife and I, we have now been married for two entire decades. Thankfully, it’s as enjoyable as ever though I know that she puts up with me far more than she should have to. To reward ourselves (as if being married 20-years to me isn’t rewarding enough) for our successful run so far, we decided that we wanted to take a trip across the great Atlantic and see some areas that we’ve only ever seen in pictures or through the eyes of Rick Steves.

Early this year, I started the process of mapping out an itinerary of some things we wanted to see and the lovely Mrs started looking at flights and accommodations. (If you haven’t figured it out yet, we’re an unstoppable team. Like Sherlock & Holmes. Like garlic & bread. Like Roger Federer and his tennis racket.) We were making some sweet headway and getting kind of excited and then 2020 failed. Epic failure. Windows blue-screen-of-death failure.

No surprises here, we didn’t want Covid so we didn’t go anywhere. Except to dinner, we did go to a nice, socially-distanced dinner.

Of course I wanted to go to Italy. It would have been nicer than dinner. But I think my lady-friend was even more bummed about it canceling than I was so I went ahead and took her on a trip. We saw the Amalfi Coast, Rome, Florence, Venice, and even a stop in Paris for good measure. Every 30 minutes on the day of her anniversary celebration, she was rewarded with a fond memory of our trip. I had a few minutes tonight so I thought I’d share our trip with you as well.

Happy travels!


1. 6:00AM – Airplane’s are fun

Ciao Bella! Happy Coronavirus-versary!

20 years strong and we’re just getting warmed up.

The (Co)Vid gave its best punches this year but I decided it wasn’t going to cancel our European vacation… thankfully I took some photos of our trip for us to remember it all by.

Here we are on the plane, I’m quite surprised that the pilots actually let us in the cockpit; I thought they did away with all of that after 9/11 but apparently all’s legal in Italy!

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It was a bumpy flight but we made it safely. I do feel bad for that lady in 32D who had a couple too many drinky-drinks, I feel like she might regret that whole marriage proposal to the old man in 14E once she sobers up.

Buon Viaggio!

(more…)

I don’t have the answers. Mostly just questions.

Luke 15:3-7
3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

I have zero claim to the answers. Mostly just questions. People are hurting and I hurt for others. I am very aware that I have privilege based on something completely outside of my control.

There were (and probably are) times when I have failed to recognize my fortunes. And times when I’ve been proud to announce that everybody’s got a shot. And while it’s true that in the country I live in — everybody does have a shot — those shots are not equal by any stretch of the imagination. In basketball terms, I’m shooting from the low block while others may be dealing with three-quarter court heaves. I got layups.

I’m not sure where you sit on the fence. Depending on what media you choose to follow or what social platforms or influencers cross your feed, you are reading/seeing this with a lens on. And frankly, it’s almost a sure bet that somebody else is viewing this exact same thing with an opposite lens. I think we should try and come to an understanding that in almost all cases, neither of you is wrong.

Yes, there are the extreme viewpoints of those that think violence, destruction, or hurting others is the answer, it’s not. If that is your viewpoint, you are wrong.

Seven days ago, a man murdered another man. It was unwarranted and uncalled for. The human life that gets to continue on in this situation now has to live with this fact for as long as he exists on this earth. He will never forget this moment. I have no way of knowing but I am open to the idea that he is completely remorseful and that he may never have the ability to even forgive himself.

On the other side, tragedy was struck in the hearts of many. Another life was needlessly taken. A son, a father, a brother, a community member, a human being. His family too will never forget. They only have the memories now. The good times and bad. The smiles and the tears. The laughs and the mistakes. They didn’t get the opportunity to say goodbye, and frankly, I’m sure they feel like they’ll never have closure in this experience.

I don’t have the answers. Mostly just questions.

What I want is to have conversations.



I see color.

I see people of different color. At 42, I haven’t figured out how not to. I believe in both my head and my heart that even though we are different in color, we are equal in the eyes of our Creator. We have to be. Otherwise, I’m professing to serve a creator that is only a construct of what makes sense to me at any given moment in my life.

I see color. I haven’t figured out how not to. I work very hard though to make it not about color. I fail, as I tend to believe all do. My boys have heard me say throughout their lives that color doesn’t matter. Hopefully they have heard me push back when others may inch towards a line says that it does. It doesn’t. I pray that they are even better than me in their lives; with their words right now they tell me color doesn’t matter and in their actions I’ve thankfully seen it as well.

I see color. I haven’t figured out how not to. I’m torn. On one side, I want to be the voice that says, “your color doesn’t matter, it doesn’t define you.” On the other side, I’m wondering if the voice that says, “you are colorful, you are loved, you are accepted, let it define you,” is the one that needs amplification?

I don’t have the answers. Mostly just questions.



I see the heaviness.

I see the lawlessness of situations. The anarchy. I also see the peace and have respect for those that gather together for a cause in a respectful manner. I believe that one of the opportunities that I have living in a free society, is one to a peaceful demonstration. Whether or not I agree with what you stand for, I will fight to afford you the opportunity to stand for it.

I see police officers who are good. And I’m keenly aware that there are police officers that are bad. In this moment, I want to do my best to start referring to them as peace officers. Officers who promote peace, who long for peace, who choose peace in times of conflict. Peace officers who are bad, no longer deserve to be peace officers. I don’t believe that they deserve extra protection for when they break the law.

Even in the strife, I know that there is good going on. It doesn’t always get amplified.

More and more, I am starting to understand that if you’re watching the news, you’re being told a narrative. And while you may sit there and agree with me — it doesn’t matter what side you’re on, what channel you’re watching, what website you frequent, or what social media stream keeps your attention — you’re being told a story. It is one that you agree with or otherwise you’d likely turn it off.

I don’t have the answers. Mostly just questions.

If I had the answers, I’d tell you to watch channel X or visit website Y. The problem is, they all have an agenda. Some agendas skew towards what you might see as positive outcomes and some skew the other way.

Agendas. I have an agenda. You have an agenda. A police-brutality protestor has an agenda. The president has an agenda. The “machine” has an agenda. Your church has an agenda. The parks and recreation department in your town has an agenda. Media has an agenda.

They aren’t the same. They aren’t all written down. Many of them aren’t verbalized or even in someone’s conscious state of mind. We all have a way of seeing things and a desire to watch them end up in a form that aligns with that.

My agenda today is trying to find common ground. To gain understanding. To ask questions and listen for the answers. Not to listen with intent to formulate a response.

If there was a peaceful protest in my town today, I would go, sit, and listen. I would ask questions. I would offer hugs. I want to believe that I’m not the shouting type or the type that uses force to get my way and that would shine through even in the tense moments.

I want to learn, listen, and find common ground. I want to be at the center. Extremism is a cancer. I have not found in my life that extremism has solved much of anything. I could be wrong. I don’t have the answers.



#BlackoutTuesday

If you decide today to put up a solid black image to show your support for the Black Lives Matter movement, I support you. If you choose not to, I support you. I don’t look down on you either way.

What I long for is open conversation with people who have strong emotional feelings about their situation. What I would ask for is that we can hopefully root our conversations in facts. Everyone has a right to have their feelings and words heard. It is my belief that everyone should also desire to have the most factual information as they continue to formulate their views, their plans, their agenda.

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have all the facts. I recognize that I don’t and I will work to gain facts and historical context before speaking out of turn. When I am wrong in my facts, I expect to be corrected. When my opinion doesn’t align with the facts that I am aware of, I will hopefully have the humbleness and attitude of one who is willing to adjust.

I pledge to read. I pledge to ask questions. I pledge to try and amplify marginalized voices who have real things to say. Hopefully when I do so, I can amplify the voices of those who have agendas that push our society forward to one of love and coming together. Not one that is divisive and extreme.

Depending on your lens, the Black Lives Matter movement will strike a chord with you in some way or another. You might be on the side of, “all in.” You also might be on the side of, “I believe all lives matter, not just black ones.”

I believe that black lives matter. I believe that all lives matter. I am working to understand how one statement so often causes strife for the other.

The best analogy I have so far is one where I choose to find my roots in. It comes from the book of Luke in the New Testament.

It’s a parable — a story with a higher meaning — about a shepherd who tends a flock of one hundred sheep. He cares for them. He loves them. He regards their safety.

One day, one of his flock goes missing. He longs for it. He’s likely scared. He’s willing to take a chance that he loses more over this one single sheep. There is unrest in his soul.

He goes after it.

The shepherd wasn’t content that most of his sheep were there. If you had $100 in single dollar bills, would you set 99 of them on the sidewalk to chase the 1 that just blew away? I doubt it.

You and I aren’t the shepherd in the story. But I’m supposed to be. I’m called to be the image bearer of the God that created me. You are too.

I’m called to long for that one. That marginalized. That missing one. That one in danger. That hidden one. That one who got chased when he didn’t deserve it. The one who needlessley lost his physical life. That one who instinctively drives me to cross to the other side of the road or makes the hair on my neck stand. That one who kneels on a football field. That one who waives a rainbow in my face. The one who posts incredibly insensitive memes on Facebook, not understanding the ramifications they may have. The one who holds up a fist. The one who shouts them down. The one who puts his knee on the neck, yep, even that one.

— — —

When the shepherd returns with the missing (and safe) sheep, he rejoices. He calls others into rejoicing. He throws a party.

I am not given instruction or example to be one that ignores the sheep. I am also not called drive out evil by physical force or the threat of it. I am called to long for, to search for, to love enough to chase down missing sheep.

 
One last analogy… If I invited you to my house because you were hungry and allowed you to sit at my table but did not feed you while I ate, are you not still hungry? You will tell me, “I am hungry!” but if I say back to you, “we are all hungry!” and offer you nothing to eat; I have not done anything to understand or help your situation. We are all hungry. And I believe we all have an opportunity to chase those others who are hungry and offer them food to eat.

I don’t have the answers. Mostly just questions.

Good move, Target

Posting here for posterity; reminders for us all that there are good things in this world to celebrate. Target (and their Cat & Jack brand) did a bang-up job on this ad campaign.

Ollie's World - Target wheelchair ad

The picture tells most of the story but you can read mom’s words here if you want: https://d.pr/s3T0nh

Playroom Time-Lapse

This past Saturday, the boys and I did a little re-arranging of their playroom. Adding a second bookshelf and a larger TV. While it took a little longer than if I had tackled on my own, I encouraged and appreciated their help with the project. Hopefully it gives them a little more ownership of it. Ended up taking about 3.5 hours, here it is (in its’ non-level glory) in :25 seconds.

 

Toilet Golf

Hey Internet, let’s play a game. No, not toilet golf, that would be ridiculous.

I received this gag as a gift for Christmas. I tried to give it to my avid-golfing-business-partner but he wants nothing to do with it and though we’ve tried, neither one of us has come up with a compelling reason as to why this game (or its’ related friend: Toilet Fishing) would have ever been green-lighted as products.

Long story short, I want to give you this game. I’ll even pay the shipping (US and maybe Canada addresses depending on how much I’ve gotta be out of pocket).

The catch: to be the lucky recipient of this fine Chinese craftsmanship, you gotta enlighten me on how this thing actually ever went from conference room spitball-session to production. Have fun with it. Help me solve the mystery of, “who in their right capitalist mind thought the world needed this?”

Bring it. Deadline for your entries are Wednesday, January 15th.

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