one last self-centered blog for awhile-
a lot of you guys know that earlier this year, my family and I went through a pretty big change: after working at the same place and doing the same job for 16 years, I started working at a new place and doing different jobs. during that transition I started thinking about my non-negotiables- in my mind I could only work in certain environments, doing certain jobs and with certain resources. and then I discovered that I wasn't going to write my own plans- and then I discovered a new list of non-negotiables. I learned what I really need as opposed to what I thought I needed. and I learned that when these things go away that I need to find them again or things will be a little (or a lot) "off" in my life. here are some things that I have discovered that I need these days:
1. my family
if I don't get to see them and talk with them and feel connected to them, I'm all out of whack. I don't ever want to do a job that keeps me from them for extended amounts of time. there are people who are away from their families for long stretches of time- and I ache for them. I have some friends who have lost their family or their family members- and I can't imagine what that does to them. through this transition, I think I'm actually able to be around my family even more- and I'm grateful for that.
everyone knows that I'm super-introverted- but its not that I'm shy- its that I'm at my best when I'm quiet and able to connect with my thoughts and in prayer. my new role allows me to drive a bit, and has flexibility where I can gather my thoughts and talk things through with God. when I get too busy, my time with God, my journal, and my bible-memory are the first things to get squeezed out. I'm pretty busy, but I'm still finding time for being quiet.
I'v been working with kids since the early 90's. I didn't realize what a big part of my life that they were until they were gone. I left a student role and began working with children- there are some transferrable concepts, but it wasn't the same. a friend asked me to fill in for him at his student ministry and it lifted my spirit like crazy. I could barely sleep the night before I spoke for his group. I woke up extra early because I was filled with energy. thankfully, I'm working with students again and its slow going, but I am so grateful for the opportunity.
I've always been creative- in the past, I used creativity in my messages to students, but when I changed roles, my creative outlet went away. I started creating dioramas for my plant and I was energized when I had a new outlet for creativity. I discovered that if I don't have a work-outlet for creativity, that I need to create one for myself. there is something about it that feeds my heart, that energizes me and pushes me forward.
when my environment gets cluttered and messy, I stop thinking straight. Over the last year, I have found myself working in my dining room, in coffee shops and bookstores. it frustrated me to not have a spot for files, supplies and notes. I learned that if my work-environment isn't organized, then its up to me to work extra-hard to get organized. thankfully- I'm in a spot that is quiet, organized and clean.
I had the opportunity to work in a city that had no nature in it. no hills, no trees, no trails. I would have taken the job if I had to, but I'm glad that I didn't have to. my walks on my trails, under the canopy of trees, and along streams nourish my soul.
I hate being rushed. I hate being too busy to listen or to help. I hate being too busy to get in a good night's sleep or to exercise. so many people in my community are commuting hours and hours every day. they have to-do lists that will never get done- I'm grateful that right now, I'm not in that boat. I have a long to-do list, but its important to me to get it done as efficiently as possible so that I can have margin to do the things that are important to me.
8. a difference
recently a mom sent me a photo of her kid's room- it had letter that I had written him pasted to the walls. she said, "you're the only one who says encouraging words to him. he gets discouraged every day at school." I clearly remember thinking to myself, "I'm making a difference in someone's life! how long has it been since I was able to make a difference?!" that note energized me so much and gave me a longing to help more and more people.
the hardest thing about my transition is that there are so many friends that I don't see much anymore. but there are several that have been intentional about staying connected- and when I see them it is so life-giving. it doesn't make sense that I'm introverted on one-hand and crave friendships on another, but it makes sense to me. though this transition, I have gained many, many new friends that are wonderful additions to my life. God has blessed me with incredible friends- and seeing them gives me so much joy. I have learned that moving across the country would be so traumatic for me; and I'm grateful that God made a way that I didn't have to.
who knows? maybe I'll go through another big transition and discover that these things weren't as important to me as I thought. until then, I'm grateful that these things are in my life and I plan on enjoying them as long as I'm able.
God is love.
Thursday, February 8, 2018
one last self-centered blog for awhile-
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 4:54 PM
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
the word that is often used to describe me is quiet. I don't say much.
but just like anyone, certain topics can really get me chatting- like so much that I notice and I get a little self-conscious about how chatty I'm being-
here are 10 of the topics that I have recently noticed have got me going on and on- (I have to limit it, because this might be another topic that makes me chatty).
last december, right before I was about to fall asleep, my wife said, "I want to get a desk calendar for my dad for Christmas."
"what kind?" I asked.
"I don't know" she said.
"moleskine? daily or weekly? monthly? 5x7? 3x5? do you want a section for notes? you can't just start a conversation about calendars and expect me to fall asleep!"
I'm a little too passionate about calendars- and to-do lists- and notepads- and time management- and decluttering.
2. local history-
I can barely ride in the car with my friends without turning into a tour guide. sometimes my friends talk about going hiking a almaden quicksilver park- and I have to restrain myself from talking about mercury, and the gold rush, and the natives, and the miners, and the towns that were originally in that area. and then there is los gatos: if you walk around los gatos with me, you are bound to hear some fun-facts. fun for me at least!
If you know me, you know that I can talk at length about otters- their fur, their impact on the environment, their habits, etc. I can clearly remember several conversation over the last year or two where I was very aware of how long I was talking about otters, and how even though I was aware of it, I couldn't stop.
Do yourself a favor: don't ask me a good place to take your kid on a saturday in the bay area. you won't hear the end of it. I love hanging out with my kid and discovering fun places to visit that are made especially for kids- and the bay area is loaded with awesome places to go.
5. star wars
its embarrassing how excited I get to talk about star wars with anyone who will listen!
most people know a few U2 songs- not me. I know them all. I have all of their albums- I've seen them dozens of times in all kinds of venues. I love to chat with a U2 fan- when I go to the show, its like being a foreigner and finally coming home to my native country- and everyone there talks like me and has the same experiences as me.
7. youth ministry
I love to hear youth ministry stories- I love to share them. I love to talk with youth workers. I love youth ministry ideas. I love writing youth ministry messages- I love all of it and time flies fast when I'm talking about it.
I love news about disneyland- and the history of it- I love spending time there. I love the music and the rides and the food. I love the posters and the nostalgia. who doesn't love talking about disneyland?!
the other day I was at church and my friend said, "rob- my son has a california missions project- where can I get some miniatures and supplies?" and I could feel that she had just opened pandora's box. I tried my best to keep my inner geek in and give her some basic advice. I now have my new blog robsplant.blogspot.com that has some pictures of my miniatures. I love seeing other enthusiasts create things. I just love makers and creatives and their work.
10. everything else
raiders of the lost ark.
alias (the TV show with jennifer garner).
winnie the pooh.
curse of oak island.
forged in fire (the tv show about making knives).
the SF giants.
the golden state warriors.
so many things to geek out on! what about you?
God is love.
Thursday, January 18, 2018
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 2:11 PM
on my day off, or on days I go in late, I like to walk in Los Gatos, along the Los Gatos Creek trail to Vasona Park. as I look back on the miniatures I have made for my plant, I have pretty much mapped out my entire walk with miniatures.
first, I park behind the great bear-
Thursday, December 7, 2017
here are 10 things that I currently love- although if you know me, these will be no surprise to you-
1. the Polaroid zink printer-
it takes pictures from your phone and makes little stickers out of them! I use these when I'm recording a memory in my journal, or when I'm sending mail to my volunteers or students, or when I just want to put a memory on my refrigerator door. The printer is about the size of a cell phone and connects through bluetooth- so its portable, wireless, and way cheaper than a regular photo printer. also- its better than a regular Polaroid camera, because you know exactly how the picture will turn out.
2. vibram five-fingers
3. russian blue cats.
these cats are super-cool. they don't shed! they are clean and quiet- and the way they are bred their faces appear to be smiling. who wouldn't want a clean, mellow, smiling cat?
4. noodles and company
this place is making a fortune off of us. Its delicious and I could seriously eat there every night. its pasta, but without the waiters and menus. jane gets the mac and cheese- I get the alfredo- deanna gets the soup. I don't know if you have one of these in your town, but if you do, treat yo-self.
when we are at noodles, (or anywhere else) we play checkers. over and over. we have checkers at the house, checkers in the car, big checkers, small checkers- and we know all of the places that have built-in checkers-tables. its a simple game that everyone knows- its a great way to exercise your brain and to teach your kids how to think ahead and to make wise choices.
6. curse of oak island
this show is fascinating. there is an island in canada that is rumored to have a giant treasure hidden underground. is it pirate treasure? solomon's treasure? no one knows! people have been searching for it for hundreds of years.
on this show, two brothers have brought in giant drills- and they have been pulling up all kinds of mysterious objects from 170 feet below the surface- like bits of pottery, gold, coins, buttons from military uniforms, chains, and human bones. their drills sometimes run into "voids" or underground rooms- sometimes they run into solid objects- which could be concrete walls hiding chambers- sometimes they run into booby-traps that flood their drill holes with sea water. there are clues all around the island- like faces carved into rocks at different parts of the island and all looking in the same direction. what's at the bottom of the holes? will we ever find out? I'm hooked.
7. toy story faces for apple watch
every time I check the time, a different animated toy story character appears on my watch face and does something hilarious. As I work with kids, they love to look at my watch and tap on it to change out the characters. I like to do that too.
I have been making miniatures models of local sights, bible stories, and families memories on my office plant every day. you can find them on instagram at @robsplant. I have discovered that everyone is secretly fascinated by miniatures and small models of things. when I was at disneyland recently, I was blown away by their models of disneyland and the rides. I love to look in craft stores for miniatures and to dream up how I could display a memory or a place in miniature.
9. my hydro flask and my mios
I have been off of soda for almost 2 years- I have been drinking water flavored with my mio water enhancers. the hydro flask keeps my water cold for multiple days! and they come with cool accessories like shoulder slings, cup holder attachments and different lids. the mios can come with vitamins or caffeine- and you can get all kinds of flavors. I was drinking close to a six pack of soda a day- and now I won't go back to soda. I'm hooked!
10. ear plugs
I love the sound of silence. I'm able to think better, work better, pray better, memorize verses, quote verses and read better in silence. I started using ear plugs in college- and now I rely on them more than ever. I use them when I'm reading in a public place, or when I'm walking on the trail, or even when I'm working in my office. I keep them everywhere. I have experimented with a bunch of different ones and have found the make and model that are best for me. recently I was walking and praying and thinking, and there were some loud people on the trail that just seemed to be going at the exact same pace as me. I didn't have any ear plugs on me, and I realized just how much I appreciate them when they weren't there.
in all of these things- they aren't for everyone- and they reveal how quirky I can be. they also reveal how little things in life can bring us joy.
God is love.
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 1:23 PM
Monday, June 12, 2017
candidating is a church word that means applying for a new pastor-job. I spent the last few months candidating- and I noticed a few things:
1. there are a lot of little churches out there.
most churches are pretty small- like 400 people or less. and that means they don't have much to spend on employees. they require most of their employees to have multiple jobs. I was often asked, "so...do you know anything about web design?" one church wanted to hire me to be the children's pastor, the youth pastor, the missions pastor, and to fill in in other areas as needed. what?!
2. janitors are a luxury.
most churches can't afford a janitor. they lean on volunteers to clean up. and that means that a lot of churches are messy and cluttery. I found one small church that was immaculate. I don't know how they did it, but I was shocked by how clean everything looked and smelled. one church I went to had walls that were literally dirty. It took a ton of effort to not go and find a clorox wipe and clean it up. when finances are tight, there is a reluctance to throw stuff away- so they end up keeping things that are broken, work out, and out of date.
3. theology is really important
many of the churches that I talked to were really into their specific brand of theology; or their specific denomination. they were very up front and told me that if I didn't fit their brand, that the conversation should end now. one church told me, "if you're not into john calvin the way that we are, you're not going to fit here." I met with one pastor and the very first thing he said to me in the interview was, "tell me about creation." I asked him what he meant. he said, "you know- Genesis 1-3. is the earth older than 6500 years? was the entire cosmos created in 6 literal days?" I paused. the interview didn't last long.
4. churches move slow.
so many of these churches make decisions by committees, and those committees can only meet when everyone is present, and can only make a decision when everyone agrees. I am still getting responses from applications that I sent in months ago.
5. youth workers are underpaid
many of the churches that I talked to had a budget for their youth worker that was less than minimum wage; yet they required this worker to oversee multiple areas of the church and had extremely high expectations for these workers. many more expected their workers to work 70+ hours a week at half time pay.
6. every church has a kitchen-
and without fail, it is usually bigger, nicer and cost more than the space used by students.
7. many churches are run by volunteers with strong personalities.
I interviewed at multiple churches where I caught volunteers and church members bossing their pastor around. they intimidated them and belittled them in front of me. they often tried to intimidate me and warned me of what would happen if I changed their favorite program.
8. I met a sad pastor...
I met with one pastor who led a small church. he used to work at a big church, but he got fired abruptly. that was almost 20 years ago; but to talk to him, the pain was still so fresh in his mind. he told me, "I don't want to be a big church. been there, done that. I don't want to be a hip church, or relevant. been there, done that. I don't want to have cool music or a cool atmosphere, been there, done that." he was content to keep on serving his small church until he retired.
so I've been thinking, and I've come to some conclusions:
1. if you have a job- whether its a church job or not- you should be grateful for it; because being out of a job is really scary. if you do have a job, give it your very best- it is a gift from God. Be fun to work with. Be a team player and have a good attitude- it is a good thing to have a job, so enjoy it and do it well.
2. we need to always look at our environments with new eyes- what do other people see and hear when they come into our spaces? do they see clutter and dirt? have we stopped seeing it?
3. I don't ever want to be like that sad pastor. I don't want to be defined by my past. I don't ever want to stop dreaming. I don't ever want to become content.
4. if you go to church, give to your church! help them to have the money they need to make the decisions and the hires they need to make. while you're at it, help out a little church on the corner if you can- (in ANY WAY you can) they need it!
5. listen to your encouragers
in my search, there was a consistent message given to me:
its going to work out.
God has a plan for you.
God loves you, and God is good.
God has your back.
God isn't done with you.
you need to trust.
a lot of days, those words went in one ear and out the other. I was so worried, that I was convinced that this was my problem to solve, not God's. I have met so many pastors who used to be a pastor, and now they are doing something else- and I was so worried that I would never get to serve God in church again. but then I found a job. and I was reminded that God has my back; and that I need to trust.
6. pray for your church- and for all of the churches. they don't have the resources they need. pray for your pastor- there are people in their lives that intimidate them. pray that God would provide all of the resources that your church needs to reach their city. churches depend on the generosity of their members to make it- let's all pray for the success of the churches across our land.
7. get in the game- if you're not serving at your church already- let's get on with it! they need your help and skills. they could do so much more through you and your help!
again- I want to thank you if you prayed for me, or encouraged me while I was searching for a new job- I can't express enough how much I appreciate that!
God is love.
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 3:58 PM
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
I don't know who reads this, but if you do, then you probably know that I recently started a new job at a new church! I might be guilty of wasting time, but I wanted to get this down before I forgot.
So- I transitioned away from my job of 16 years at the end of last month. (I will always be grateful to that church for the many years that I got to serve there, and the many memories that I made, and the many friendships that were developed there. I have nothing negative to say about them.) I began looking for a new role maybe 2 months ago. I put out resumes, filmed videos, made a zillion phone calls, skype calls and facetime calls- and I traveled all over speaking and having face to face meetings. At one point, I was sitting on my sofa talking with my wife and she said, "It seems like team-rob is out there working hard for you."
team-rob? when she said that, I realized that there was this dedicated team of friends that did not let me go a single day without being prayed for and encouraged and advised. I just want to take a minute to recognize and thank some of the members of team-rob.
first there is niki- she met with me, and prayed for me, and told me how to do an interview, and how to make a linkedin profile. she checked in on me and told me that I was going to make it. she sent me job opportunities and gave me advice.
then there is mike. mike prayed with me, and hugged me, and told me that I was a good pastor. he listened to my options and gave me wise counsel. he was one of the first people that I called when I got my new role, and he cheered for me.
paco listened to me. he was one of my references, and he must have taken 20 calls from different churches. he represented me for hour and hours when you add it all up. I couldnt ask for a better guy to represent me.
carlo fought for me- he was also one of my references, and he took many, many calls for me. he even tried to get me hired on at his church.
Trent called me several times, just to encourage me and to make me laugh. there was one day that was especially hard- I had recieved so many ejections, and I was feeling hopeless. I was sitting in a togo's and trent called and just said, "I just want to remind you that you are a good pastor." I was so fragile that I cried uncontrollably in the middle of togo's for an uncomfortable amount of time. when he heard that I got a new job he called me and just said, "yeah you did!"
Chris has been one of my best friends for as long as I can remember. His mother recently passed away, and he and I shared many, many tears together over the last few months. He called almost every day just to see how I was doing.
I called my friend jim just to tell him what was going on, and just the sound of his voice made me cry and cry. I did a lot of crying over the last few months; jim prayed for me, and gave me perspective and encouraged me. he called almost every day to remind me that God is good, and that He has good plans for me.
I have a friend named chuck who is a pastor in the midwest. I called him to get his advice- when he spoke to me he referred to me as "pastor rob." I had not been called that in so long, and I doubted if I would ever be called that again. hearing him call me that gave me the ugly tears and it blessed my soul. he called me every day and prayed for me. he loudly cheered for me when I got my new role.
josh met with me- he went to bat for me. he tried to get me hired on at his church, and got me a meeting with his pastor, even though his pastor didn't really want to meet me. he and his wife faithfully prayed for me.
andrew listened to me for hours.
scott gave me contacts.
makepa hugged me and cried with me.
tahereh prayed for me faithfully every morning.
my mother texted me every morning, and reminded me that she had prayed for me; and that God is faithful.
marvin fought for me, and gave my name to every pastor that he knew.
matt texted me, prayed for me, and encouraged me.
and deanna listened to me,
and prayed for me,
and hugged me,
and supported me,
and believed in me.
even when I didn't believe in myself.
and there are so many others- parents of students, volunteers that I worked with, co-workers at my former workplace- its overwhelming how much support I have recieved over the last few months.
thank you friends.
even if your name isn't rob, I hope that you have a team-rob. I hope that your dark days are brightened by close friends. whatever you go through, I hope that you don't go through it alone. this was a scary chapter for me, but above all else, I was reminded that I am surrounded by a dear group of friends. I want to be a friend that is there on another friend's dark day- and I hope you do too.
God is love.
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 3:28 PM
Sunday, February 26, 2017
last week was our annual service trip with the students. every time we go on this trip, one of the highlights is going to elm street mission in santa cruz and serving the homeless. this place is an old-time gospel mission, and they preach a firey message every night, and every night, those homeless Christians sing their hearts out from the hymnals.
right before I went on to speak, we sang the hymns from the hymnal- and it made me remember all of those sundays sitting in my grandpa roger's church as he led singing through the hymnal; and I got pretty emotional. the song leader led out in the first few words of "how great Thou art" and I almost lost it. I found myself holding the hymnal one-handed just like my grandpa roger- and I knew that he was smiling on my from Glory as I was about to deliver the gospel in an old-time gospel mission. I did deliver that message- and God was in the room.
no particular point to share here- just a happy memory.
God is love.
Posted by rob's thoughtful spot at 8:32 AM
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
I have a plant in my office that I decorate with a different scene every day. here are the ones that I have done that have bible scenes in them:
sermon on the mount:
david and goliath
Daniel in the lions den:
moses at the red sea:
zaccheaus in the tree:
jesus walks on water:
Jonah and the whale:
Elijah on the mountain:
Sunday, November 29, 2015