Saturday, May 29, 2010


today, jane and i visited Oak Meadow Park in Los Gatos-
its one of our favorite places to spend time together. we had a snack, swinged on the swings, and of course, we rode on the train:
As we were riding, I asked Jane: "how many times do you think we have been on this train?"
she thought about it for a bit and said, "maybe a million-billion."
"I think you're right," I said.
we had enough tickets for two rides, but jane decided that she only wanted to ride once. We took our spare tickets back to the cashier for a refund, and the cashier said, "what's wrong?"
"she's over it." I answered. "she has been riding this train her entire life!"

from the pictures below, you can see that its true: jane has been riding the train in Los Gatos for her entire 5 and a half years of life.

jane was born in late 2004, and so these pictures are probably from her first ride ever in 2005, and less than a year old:

here is Jane in 2006 at a year old:

in 2007 with those trademark sunglasses:

before she could talk, jane did most of her communication through her facial expressions. I think this was means "this is exciting!":

on the train with grandma and grandpa at 2 years old:

in 2008 at 3 years old:

and in december of 2008 on our famous night ride:

here we are on the train in 2009 when jane was 4:

and today, at 5 and half years old:

she's so big! I can't believe it. time is passing too fast. pretty soon she won't ride the train at all! actually, I think it me that loves it the most.
being a dad is fun.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

fifty trees:: part one

I’m pretty excited about our middle school ministry’s upcoming summer camp called “elevation” at camp chinquapin. I wanted this to be a whole new kind of camp experience- with experiences instead of sermons. I was prepping for the camp and praying and thinking about what we would do. I closed my eyes and said to myself, “picture you’re at camp chinquapin…what do you see?” and I answered myself, “I SEE TREES!” and I knew that I wanted to make use of the trees at the camp and the many times that the bible uses trees as an analogy. I started to investigate if I could make a way for each student to plant a tree while they were at the camp.

I called the camp- they specifically requested that we plant sugar pine trees. they gave me the name of a forester to talk to about trees. He told me that it was pretty late in the year to be planting trees, and that they might not survive if we planted them at this time. I told him that we just wanted the experience of planting them, and that I didn’t really care if they survived. that blew his mind. “that’s the point of planting trees! you’re missing the point!” he told me. he told me that the minimum order was 50 trees and that when they arrived I had to get them in the refrigerator right away. when they arrived, I called him and asked them how long they would last in there. He told me that they were hibernating in there and that they might make it one week. I told him that I needed them to last a month. that blew his mind too. he told me, “those things are ready to grow now! you’ve got to get them into some dirt!”

so I started thinking about how to get these trees in the ground. after thinking through a bunch of options, I finally settled on planting them in pots on my patio. I figured that I’d drive them up to the camp in June. so this morning, I planted 50 trees.

when I opened the box, the smell of Christmas wafted out of it. the trees were wet, and some of them had mold on them. they were just little twigs with roots on one end, and green leaves on the other. he actually sent me about 100 of them. I don’t think that I have ever gone to this much effort or cost for an illustration; and in the end, they may all die and I’ll have to get a new illustration!

when I dreamt up this experience, I planned to tell the students about the roots, and how we are to be rooted in Christ; and I planned on telling them about the branches, and how we are to abide in Christ- and I planned on telling them about the fruit, and how we produce for Christ when we are connected to Him. but while I was planting those trees, God used those trees as an illustration of His love and compassion for me and for the students.
I saw those little saplings like the faiths of students that I minister to.

:: These trees were young, fragile and yet full of potential. As I planted each little sapling in the pots I reflected that each little tree had the potential to grow into a mighty 30 foot tall tree, or they might not last the week.

:: I thought of the care and concern that God had over me when my young faith sprouted up. I reflected on how He planted me at First Baptist Church, and supported my little limbs with such Godly men; and how He fed my tiny roots with Scriptures and messages from the people of that church.

:: As I planted these trees, I began to feel the urgency that my forester friend had for these trees. It was a mad dash to get these trees out of the box, into the pots, and watered with fertilizer. And I began to think of how little time we have to make an impact in a student’s life. We have to support their young faith, and help them grow as quickly as we can or we might lose them. We need to create environments where they have the best opportunity to grow; and if we can just get them from the box to the pot, and from the pot to the soil, they just might make it into adulthood as a strong tree that is able to give strength to others.

:: In short, as I planted those trees, I began to care about those trees, just like my friend the forester, and I can’t wait to see them planted in the forest? Will they all make it to camp chinquapin? Probably not, but I’m going to give it my best. And who knows? Someday me and my middle school friends may go up to Chinquapin and say to a young friend,
“see that big sugar pine tree? I planted that tree myself, and now its growing big and strong- just like you and your faith.”

psalm 1
“Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.”

I’ll keep you posted on the status of the trees.
in the meantime, keep on growing. 
God is love.

Friday, May 21, 2010

homemade toys:: ballet recital

I usually make homemade toys for jane when I can’t find them anywhere in a store or online. that was definitely the case in the toy I made today. jane has been into ballet; and she often has her toys put on shows for the other toys. so- we needed a stage for them to perform on! with curtains that open and close!

I made it out of a box from michael’s, some wire, some key rings, and some small pieces of fabric for the curtains. the curtains are held open with some plastic hooks.
let the show begin!

being a dad is fun.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

schmoozing with angels

last week I was thinking that I could use a mentor. I just wanted an older guy in my life who could kick my butt, or tell me what I’m doing right, or just a guy who I could ask questions to about getting to the next level. I don't know if I was tired or just in a mood, but I specifically remember praying, “God I just wish I knew if I was making a difference.”

Fast forward to last Sunday night: we were at an all-volunteer meeting at church, and I was greeting everyone and making small-talk. I said a lot of, “hey! how are you?!” and “good to see you!”

I saw a guy who I had never seen, but I said, “hey how are you?! good to see you!”
and the guy said to me, “you don’t know me, but my niece is in your youth ministry…"
I was stuck in schmooze-mode so I said, “of that’s awesome! tell her I said hi!”

he looked me right in the eyes and said, “she has been through so many difficult times, but she is growing so much through the middle school ministry here… and I just want you to know that you’re doing a good job; and you are making a difference.”

when he said that last line I did a double-take and said, “what did you just say?” it was like he had been listening in on my prayers- or the One Who listens to my prayers had spoken specifically to him.

he repeated himself, and saw the surprise in my face and said, “can i pray for you right now?”
and he did pray for me- long and loud and right there in front of everyone; but it was a blessing, and I knew it was from God.

I could still use an older youth guy in my life, but I walked away from that moment surprised, encouraged and humbled.

God listens when we pray.

God is love.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

profiles in attitude: joseph

since the beginning of the year I have been thinking a lot about my attitude and about how to have a great attitude. as I have been reading through the Bible, its amazing just how much it talks about attitude without actually talking about it. one of the best examples of a great attitude from the pages of scripture is joseph from the book of genesis.

we all know the story, but its fascinating to look at his story from the perspective of his attitude. as a young man, joseph is given dreams that one day his family will bow down to him. he tells them to his family and they hate him for it- especially his brothers. they end up beating him and eventually selling him onto slavery and faking his death.

he is hated by his family, beaten by his brothers, and sold off into slavery-
at this point, joseph has earned a bad attitude, but instead, he has a great attitude.

he makes up his mind to be the best slave that he can be- and eventually his owner, potiphar leaves him in charge of all of his business affairs.
but potiphar's wife falsely-accuses joseph of attacking her, and he is sent to a dungeon.
again, at this point, joseph has earned the right to have a bad attitude-
all he did was a great job, and it landed him in a dungeon.

but instead, he has a great attitude.
he makes up his mind to be the best prisoner he can be and he is put in charge of the prison.
he even chooses to be friendly to the other prisoners.

one of his friends was released and promised to put in a good word for joseph, but he forgot. and joseph stayed in there for several more years.
again, he earned his right to be negative-
but instead, is gracious to the pharaoh when he is finally released.

the pharaoh put him in charge of all of Egypt- and he made the pharaoh richer and more powerful than ever.
and when joseph had the power to get revenge on his brothers, he showed grace-
that is a great attitude.

a lot of times we are convinced that we have earned the right to be rude, or to complain, or to be bitter, but none of us have dealt with what joseph dealt with; and if he found a way to do his best and be a likeable person in the situations that he faced, then surely we can choose to have a great attitude in the trials that we endure.

a couple of things that I notice about joseph are:
:: his bosses liked him. they like having his close to them. what did he do to inspire that kind of confidence and trust? how can we learn from that?

:: joseph gave it his very best at whatever he did. whether it was running a dungeon, or running the Egyptian empire, he gave it his very best.

:: as far as I can see, we have no record of joseph ever complaining or blaming anyone for his circumstances. in the situations that we find him being rude to his brothers, its all a part of the act that he puts on to be reunited with his father and with his brother Benjamin. instead, he just does his job with excellence, kindness and grace.

:: we have all heard that phrase, “you can be bitter or you can be better.” joseph didn’t just say that, he lived it. he forgave the people that hurt him and then chose to bless them and share his wealth with them. when he father two sons, he named them Manasseh, and Ephraim; whose names mean, “I forgot” and “fruitful.” in other words, “I’m letting go and choosing to grow.” and all of this was before he was reconciled with his brothers. amazing.

this is the kind of person that I want to be: forgiving, gracious, likeable, trustworthy and with a great attitude. hopefully I don’t need to go what joseph went through to get there.

God is love.