Saturday, July 26, 2008

pandas at the walters

there have been a lot of panda bears at my house lately.

it all began with a book that jane and her speech therapist, anne used to read:
brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?

then we moved onto the other books in the series, baby bear, polar bear, and of course,
panda bear, panda bear, what do you see?

jane enjoyed those books a lot,

but then we got an audio book of gwyneth paltrow reading all four stories. she listened to them non-stop for days.

then, i celebrated a birthday, and we got a gift certificate from judie for the build-a-bear-workshop. so we went to the store, and i asked jane what kind of bear that she wanted. of course, she wanted a panda bear. we chose its heart, watched it get stuffed, and then we made a birth certificate for it. i asked her, “what is his name?” to which she answered,
duh dad!

we had some extra gift certificate, so we decided to get the bear some clothes. and what does a big-kid-panda need? underwear of course! because this panda doesn’t wear diapers like a baby! so jane chose red underwear for the panda.

today we were surfing youtube, and we discovered this clip.

jane laughed out loud and watched it over and over. and no- we haven’t seen kung-fu panda, i think we have had enough pandas in this house for awhile. (except for panda express, they are welcome anytime).

Thursday, July 24, 2008


since i drive the bus, i’m eligible for a random drug test. and i got called up this morning. so i brought a good book with me just in case i had to wait. but i forgot one thing: don’t pee.

so i get there, and they give me a breathalyzer test, and of course i passed. then they gave me a cup. the cups are kind of cool, they have temperature sensors on them, just to make sure that everything inside of the cup is body temperature. (yeah- i guess its more gross than cool.) i had to empty my pockets (just in case i had pee in them,) and fill the cup halfway.
only problem: i got stage fright.
i got really close to the line, but not up to it.

i came out and gave the lady my cup. she noticed that it was under the line. she told me that i had to fill it to the line. i told her to give me awhile and i could do it. she said, “you have 3 hours, that’s it.” and she threw my cup away! i had a shocked look. i was so close! she said, “you can’t add to it. start over. there is the drinking fountain.”

so i drank and drank and drank. and i read and read and read. and i sat and sat and sat. finally, NINETY MINUTES LATER, i said, “i think i’m ready!” (i felt like jane doing her potty training.) the lady said, “if you don’t fill it, we start all over. are you sure?” “i think i can do it!” i said. (again, I felt like jane going for a potty-prize.) i went in the bathroom and after a minute or so i came out with my cup held high and i shouted, “I DID IT!”
the nurse was not impressed.
when jane does a potty, its way more exciting. but for me, there was no cheering; i didn’t even get a prize. no m&m’s. no trip to golfland, no toys, nothing. nothing but the privilege of driving the bus. oh well. at least i had a good book.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

butterfly wings

the art of bus towing

I was doing my tuesday night routine last night- at 5pm I left for dinner at outback.
I like to go and sit in the bar, open my bible, open my journal,
eat some soup, watch some baseball-
it’s a very relaxing way to get ready for tuesday night bible study.
at 6:20, I went over to the Shawnee campus to pick up students to take them to church.
we had a full bus for the first time ever. we actually turned away several students.
they still had a ride though.
when I went to start the bus, it sputtered, but still started.

we drove away and after a few lights, it died at a stop light.
I started it again, and then it died at the next light.
the students cheered every time it stalled.
I tried to stay perky-
and still let them know that their cheers were not helping the situation.
we turned onto coleman, and it died for good.

the students freaked out.
I got on the phone and called volunteers to pick them up.
I called a tow truck.
I set out the emergency triangles.
students were like, “let us out!”
“its HOT in here! we’re going to die!”
again, tried to stay perky.
it was funny to see how many church people drive by,
make eye-contact with me, and then keep on driving.

the volunteers showed up right away to pick up the students.
so there I stood, waiting for the tow truck.
I called home,
I called the mechanic,
I called my friend bruce.
I just felt like I needed to talk to someone.
I went through my phone list.
one of the first names on the list was aaron paxman.
he was one of the college students from uni.
I thought that he would be great to talk to-
he knows all about cars and stuff.
but I haven’t talked to him in months-
and who knows where he would be.
then I heard his voice!
and his girlfriend Julie!
they stopped to talk to me!
they totally cheered me up.
aaron got right to work inspecting the vehicle.
I don’t let a lot of people dig around under the hood of my bus,
but aaron looking at it was fine by me.
I told him, “I think it’s a fuel filter problem!”
(I’ve driven enough junkers to recognize the symptoms)

Julie told me a story about losing her cat-
she said, “aaron! how sad was I when I lost teddy?!”
he just look up with a straight face and said,
“like a month!”
and then got back to work.
that made me laugh.

the truck finally came.

I told him that I was glad that he brought the tow truck and not the flatbed that they brought last time. the tow truck guy said, “they put this on a flatbed?! that’s f***ing crazy!...oh…sorry about my language…”

I like tow truck guys.
I think that the whole towing process is fascinating.
and these guys are a lot like pastors.
they are around when people are in an hour of need.
and they love to help someone out.
he was telling me that he often has to go up to highway 9,
hike down a cliff sometimes 200 feet, and pull a car back up onto the road.
that sounds kind of fun to me.
he also told me about the many injuries and deaths that he sees-
and that doesn’t sound fun at all.
from the way he spoke about it, that sounds awful.
we towed the bus to the mechanic.
and hopefully it will be all better soon.
kudos to the staff the helped,
and to josh, Tidwell and john danis for covering junior high.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


they say that when you're preaching on a topic, God seems to give you opportunities to learn about that topic more; prior to the sermon.
i speaking on forgiving others on sunday.
and i can verify that the old saying is true.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

best week ever

best staff team ever.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

many happy returns

yesterday i turned, (gulp…) 34.
so many of my friends and family wished me a happy birthday, so i didn’t feel that i could do my birthday ritual, which is to hide out under my pillow until the day goes away.
it was nice that so many remembered (thank you, facebook) and had nice things to say,
and i received some very generous gifts, which i’m also grateful for.

we had ideas of spending the day at happy hollow or the boardwalk, but we had been there recently; and its been so hot over here, that the thought of being outside was not very desirable.
so we went to the children’s discovery museum.
it was crowded, but nice and cool inside.
this time jane discovered the stagecoach.

my brother and i used to climb on one just like back in modesto.
that night, we ate at outback, my new favorite restaurant.
(last week, I saw dana stubblefield from the 49ers there- but i left him alone).
when we got home, we had cake and jane helped me blow out candles.

my birthday now has vocational meaning for me as well.
my first day of work at the church was on my birthday.
that was seven years ago now.
most youth pastors last about a year and a half,
and so every birthday i can smile and think,
“another year. i wasn’t cut, and i didn’t quit.”
it’s a little victory, i guess.

anyhow, thank you to all who wished me well and to all who gave me a gift.
that’s so kind.
now i’m glad that the day is over and the attention can shift back off of me!

jane quotes 07/10

jane has a couple of new phrases that make me smile:

the first one is simply a word: “delicious.”
whenever we’re eating, she often pauses and slowly says, “mmm…DEEE-licious!”
the other day it was quiet, and jane had a big gulp of water and then broke the silence saying, “ahhh! DEE-licious!”

another phrase is how she talks like a pirate.
she was watching backyardigans (my current favorite kids show) recently and the characters on the show were all pretending to be pirates. every other word was, “ARRR!” later in the day jane randomly came up to me saying,
“ARRR, captain dad!”
“ARRR, captain jane!” was my reply. we repeated that conversation about 10 times that day.

we got a black light to obsessively look for stains. jane got a hold of it and had a blast. she walked around the house “glowing-things.” (shining the black light on them to make them glow). now whenever she has the black light she says, “I want to GLOW YOU, dad!”
the same is with flashlights. she walks around with her flashlight saying, “I’m going to FLASH you!”
careful where you say that jane.

and then there are the golf conversations that make my wife giggle.
we’ll walk around the miniature golf course and jane will innocently say things like, “we need to grab our balls, dad!” and of course, I have the maturity to know that it’s not a dirty statement, she’s only 3, after all. but every time, i look over at my wife and she has her hand over her mouth cracking up.
“did you hear what she just said?!” she’ll say.
“she said that we need to grab our balls!”
I just roll my eyes- the same way i do when middle school boys do their dirty-laugh under their breath. maybe deanna should be working with middle schoolers instead of me!

and my favorite phrase is something that jane must have picked up from Deanna or i. sometimes she will randomly come up and give me a hug and then she says,
“you know what?
i love you.
and you know what?
i’m proud of you, dad.”
and then she usually congratulates herself by saying,
“that’s a very nice thing to say…”

cute kid.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

happy hollow

on saturday, jane and i went looking for more places to ride rides and we landed at happy hollow! while we were there, we:
rode some cars:

we rode a seahorse:

we rode a dragon-train:

we rode a horse:

and we did a lot of other things too.
like have a picnic, look at animals (including a turtle that got stuck on a log)
and ride in a wagon. it was a really fun time together. the weather was just right and it wasn't very crowded. its too bad that happy hollow is closing for remodeling, because we had a lot of fun and want to go back soon!

Friday, July 4, 2008

dr. suess goes to camp

one kid,
two kid,

sad kid,
flirty kid,
late kid,
dirty kid.

this one came in a pricey car
this one’s playing air-guitar
what a lot of kids there are!

some are on monster. some are on dew.
some are old. and some are new.
some are sad.
and some are glad.
and some plan on being very bad.

what will i do when are they
very sad and very bad?
I have a plan:
i’ll call their dad.

some are small
and some are large
this one thinks he should be
in charge.

from here to there,
from there to here,
summer camp will be wild
this year.

Here is one
who has a tummy ache-
and we haven’t loaded
the bus for the lake.

oh my! oh me!
oh my! oh me!
what a crazy week
this’ll be.

Some have two friends
and some have four.
Some have six friends
and some have more.

how will they all fit in a cabin? i can't say.
but i know we have to drive
a long, long way.

We see parents come.
We see parents go.

we see kids ask for money.
we see parents say no.
some parents leave fast.
some can’t let go.

i tell them:
“be good- don’t harass each other
if you do, i’ll call your mother.”

i think the bus tire has a lump
now i think that i have a lump
right on my sore hump.

the driver’s name is mr. gump.
Mr. Gump’s bus goes bump
in my throat i feel a lump,
pretty soon i’m gonna jump!

in my cabin i see my bed
i’m sleeping in a small bunk bed
I do not like
my small bunk bed.

my bunk no good.
my bunk is not right.
my feet stick out
of my bunk all night.

and when i pull them in,
oh, dear!
my head sticks out of my bunk
up here!

at night i lay awake and think
that the boys in my cabin really stink!
hume sold them drinks!
energy drinks!
how can they sleep after those energy drinks?

from here to there,
from there to here,
summer camp will be wild
this year.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

"summer lovin'- had me a blast..."

dw told me a story of how much jane liked the rides at the zoo.
and i already knew that she likes golf. so when i went to the boardwalk after my mission trip with the students, and i saw that it had rides AND golf, i knew that jane would love it.
so this morning, we got in our car, and drove over the mountains, and through the woods, until we got to the beach.
we had a snack,

and then we played golf.

when i went to the boardwalk last saturday, i did not notice that the golf was a little SCARY. it has loud cannon noises and scary pirates in it. so i got a lot of hugs from my-big-kid (jane’s new favorite nickname) during golf.

after golf, we tried 3 rides:
the boat:

the car,

and the truck.

after all of that, we got back in our car, and drove over the mountains and through the woods all the way back to our house. this time, my-big-kid took a nice sleepy time on the way home.
i took a nice sleepy time when i got home. but it was interrupted at 3pm (the moment when jane’s quiet-rest-time is officially over) when jane burst into my room saying, “DAD! i want to go to the boardwalk! and i want to ride the the boat! and the car! and the truck!” sounds like she had fun.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


I started a thought on sunday morning during my offering meditation that I think that I’ll finish here.

how do you keep yourself from becoming spoiled?

everyone knows what a spoiled kid looks like:
having everything, yet never satisfied;
without compassion for others.

I love to buy jane gifts, but I need to control myself for the sake of her heart. I don’t want her to think that she deserves everything that she sees. I want her to understand that when she gets a gift, that it’s a gift; not her salary for being my kid.

when we were children, our parents monitored whether we were spoiled or not. some parents do a great job with this, some don’t. when we’re grown, we don’t have anyone who monitors whether we are spoiled or not. we have to keep ourselves from becoming spoiled rotten. but how?

as I typed that list of what a spoiled kid looks like, I can’t help but think that it describes so many people in the world that I live in. in a lot of ways, that list describes me.

it seems that once our parents stop monitoring whether we our spoiled or not, no one does. we don’t seem to monitor ourselves very well. we buy anything, and everything that we want, without giving consideration to those that have nothing, or what these self-gifts are doing to our hearts.

how do you keep yourself from being spoiled?
maybe we need to say to ourselves the same things that our parents used to say to us:
“you don’t need that.”
“we can’t afford that.”
“you’ll stop caring about that in a week.”
“think of the kids who have nothing.”
“you have so many toys already, you don’t have space for anymore.”
“wait until christmas.”

how do we keep ourselves from being spoiled?
by saying no to ourselves.
by becoming content with what we have.
by sharing what we have with the poor and with the church.
by supporting great organizations that are helping others.
by having an open hand with our money to God.
by remembering that there are so many that have so little.

jane and I had a funny conversation the other night. we were looking online at some mickey mouse golf clubs, when we saw a mickey mouse shopping cart with all kinds of mickey mouse groceries in it.
she said to me, “I need that dad.”
I told her, “you already HAVE a shopping cart! you don’t need 2!”
“but this one is a MICKEY shopping cart.” she said.
“you make a pretty good point.” I said.

church//gym: entry13

this morning I started a spin class at the gym. it was fun- the instructor is a very cool lady with tons of energy. I was spinning along and enjoying myself, and the other people next to me were moaning and groaning. they were saying, “I’m not used to this!” “I never use these muscles!” “I’m getting sore!” and the instructor just said, “if you want to go to the next level, its not going to be easy. it usually involves something new- and it usually hurts.”

what a great line. especially when it comes to going to the next level spiritually. praying doesn’t hurt, neither does reading your bible. but “if you want to go to the next level, its not going to be easy. it usually involves something new- and it usually hurts.”
what hurts spiritually?
as I was driving home, I was thinking about that.
confessing your sins to a friend hurts.
choosing humility hurts.
serving in a foreign land or with a foreign group of people may not actually hurt, but its hard, and can be scary.
trying something new, like leadership hurts.
apologizing and seeking someone’s forgiveness hurts.
giving sacrificially hurts.
fasting hurts.

all of these things hurt.
but they are a great way to take it to the next level.
we all have the same choice that my friends next to me in spinning class have:
I know it hurts. and I know that this will be great for me, but will I actually do it?
or will I just try it once?
will I just watch others?
like the old saying goes:
no pain, no gain.

lectio divina::07/02

lectio divina:: sacred readings

last night before youth group I went to outback and had some wings, watched some sports, and opened the scriptures. I read 1 kings 19-22, and I was interested in God’s relationship with a man named ahab.

ahab was king of israel. he did not love God, he loved a pagan god named Baal. his wife was jezebel. she also worshipped baal- and she hated God’s prophets- especially one named Elijah. she swore to have him killed.
in 1 kings 20, ahab gets into a war of words with another king, ben-haddad of aram. you would think that god would just sit up there in heaven and watch these two kings that hated Him fight it out to their deaths, but He doesn’t. the crazy thing is that even though ahab worships Baal and threatens Elijah, God loves ahab and longs to be near him. so God sends a prophet to ahab saying, “this is what the Lord says: do you see all these enemy forces? today I will hand them all over to you. then you will know that I am the Lord.”

God was willing to help ahab, so that ahab would come near Him, and see that He is the true God.
and the battle was won, but ahab did not thank God or give Him credit.
then there was another battle- and ahab was outnumbered, yet israel still won, and ahab continued to ignore God. and instead of destroying ben-haddad, like God commanded, ahab and ben-haddad become friends.

so this is the last straw. God sends another prophet to ahab saying, “this is what the Lord says: because you have spared the man I said must be destroyed, now you must die in his place, and your people will die instead of his people.”

later ahab bullies a man named naboth out of his property, and jezebel has naboth killed. more strikes against ahab. this time elijah comes by saying, “I have come because you have sold yourself to what is evil in the Lord’s sight. so now the Lord says, ‘I will bring disaster on you and consume you…I am going to destroy your family … for you have made me very angry and have led Israel into sin.”

this time ahab is finished right?
1 kings 21: 27 “when ahab heard this message, he tore his clothing, dressed in burlap, and fasted… then another message from the Lord came to elijah: “do you see how ahab has humbled himself before me? because he has done this, I will not do what I promised during his lifetime. it will happen to his sons; I will destroy his dynasty.”

God loved ahab even though ahab hated him. yet God longed to be gracious to Him and to spare him. while ahab was practicing evil against God’s law and His servants, God was exercising grace and mercy to ahab.

reminds me of a verse on the other side of the book, “but God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (romans 5:8)

we get into this mode of thinking where we think that God operates on the karma system. do bad and get bad. do good and get good. but God operates on His own system, that doesn’t add up to us sometimes: do good and be loved. do bad and be loved; grace.

I don’t deserve it, but I’m not passing it up.