Saturday, December 31, 2011

more photos from quicksilver park-

there is a map at the entrance of each gate of the almaden quicksilver park-

it has several historical sites listed on it. I made it a goal earlier this month to see all of them. today I accomplished that goal! these hikes have been a great way to exercise, pray, review my memory verses and get quiet and be refreshed. here are some photos that I took with my phone along the way-

my favorite books of 2011-

Last blog of 2011-
according to amazon, I purchased a bunch of books this year, and by my calculation, I finished about 20 or so of them. Some were ok, but some were incredible- here are my 10 favorite books of 2011:

The Pastor by Eugene Peterson

I got to hear Eugene Peterson talk about this book live at a conference- and the book was so much better. This book is Eugene's story of working at a church. It is incredibly honest, insightful, and delightful. His love for the Bible, the ministey, and the people he served comes through in every page; and his take on ministry is so refreshing.

Replenish by Lance Witt

Lance speaks at my church every now and then. I always enjoy his messages and I have met him a few times. This book is for pastors and is about the tending of a pastor's soul. I have read a few books on this topic and this one is the best by far. It has short readable chapters and is full of practical insight. I read this book slowly and savored every page. I didn''t want it to end!

Scouting the Divine by Margaret Feinberg

I got to hear Margaret speak about this book at a conference and was so blown away by the idea of this book. it's an idea that I wish I came up with myself: she went and spent time with a real shepherd, a farmer, bee-keeper, and a vintner (wine-maker) and asked them to give insight on what the bible says about sheep, farming, wine, honey, etc. and the things that she discovered are fascinating. she is a wonderful writer- this is another book that I was delighted to read.

Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

This is basically the "How to Win Friends and Influence People" of today- but for the Silicon Valley. This book gives practical advice to leaders and businesses on how to enchant their customers. Its almost too much wisdom for just one book. I also heard and met Guy Kawasaki at a conference a few years ago- he is wonderful to listen to and his other books are great too.

Great by Choice by Jim Collins

I have been waiting for this book to come out for years. Jim Collins is one of my favorite writers and writes the best books for businesses and leaders. All of his books are pivotal, and this one is just as good as his previous ones. This book gave language to some of the frustrations and wins that I have seen as a leader in recent years. I hope that its not his last book.

Sticky Faith by Kara Powell

I heard Kara Powell speak on this book at a conference in town, and my mind was blown. She uses the latest research to explain whay students are leaving the church as they enter college. so many leaders have had ideas on why this has happened, but Kara Powell gives research to back up her ideas as well as strategies to turn this tide back. This book has completely changed the way I speak and lead as a youth pastor. This may be the single most important youth ministry book ever written.

The Genius of Generosity by Chip Ingram

again, I heard this author speak on this topic. I was so delighted by his story that I texted him (totally name-dropping here) and told him that this story would make an excellent book. He texted me back and said that it already was a book and sent me a copy. This story that he shares here is such a clear picture of what generosity looks like and how wonderful and fulfilling that it can be. Chip is so credible. When he makes points from the bible or makes a list of things the bible says about a topic- you know that this has come from years of study, not just copied and pasted from someone else's material. I loved the book and the messages that went with it. I've got a lot of love and respect for the author too-

Cinnabar Hills; the Quicksilver Days of New Almaden by Milton Lanyon and Laurence Bulmore

I'm actually reading this book right now. in the last few weeks I have become very interested in the New Almaden Mine near my house. This book is out of print, and is written by some men who were children in New Almaden in its heyday and were first hand witnesses to the colorful history of that community. It is full of very old pictures that were taken on site 150 years ago. I am absolutely loving this book. If you're interested you can get a copy of this and other books on the subjest at the Quicksilver museum in New Almaden.

Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

I also got to hear Len Sweet at a conference this year, although he didn't speak on this topic (I went to some good conferences in 2011!) This is my favorite book of the year, and maybe one of my favorite books of all time. I have proably given away 10 copies of this book to my friends and co-workers.This book brings everything back to Jesus. He is the beginning and the End- He is our past, present and future. He is our message, He hold it all together, it all comes through him and to Him and is for Him. its all Him. this book was so encouraging, I can't even put it into words. get this book. I have purchased and read several other Len Sweet books this year after reading this one. they are all wonderful, but this one is the best.

last but not least-

Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss

(I wish I could say that I heard Dr. Seuss at a conference this year!) I have been a long time fan of Dr. Seuss but have never read this book. I saw it once in the bookstore and decided that if it is as good as his others, it will be worth the while. This book is so profound on so many levels. this book has many insightful thoughts on faith in the unseen and the value of a life. this book inspired a sermon-series that I developed on faith and on serving that I will deliver at our ministry's spring break missions trip this year.

I also read all of the books on hell that came out this year- lots of controversy and talk about those, for the sake of avoiding all of it, I'll just say that each of us should know what we believe on THAT topic with the SCRIPTURE (not tradition or good thoughts) to back it up. I also read some great books by Craig Groeschel.

leaders are readers-
God is love.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2012 resolutions

every year I make new year's resolutions- last year my resolutions included:
// continue to aggressively eliminate debt and not go in ANY further.
// continue to have a great attitude
// celebrate TEN YEARS at the church in july
// get to the point where I ENJOY running and look forward to it.
// I want to drop weight and pants sizes
// I want to see how long I can go no soda, no candy. yikes! (in other words, no 7/11 in 2011)
// I want to be able to quote the entire book of romans by the end of 2011.

I did pretty well.
we eliminated some debt and made some more-
I think I had a good attitude, although I definitely had some moments that I'd like to do-over if I could,
I had a wonderful 10 year celebration this year- thanks to many friends and family members,
I dropped 50lbs and 6 inches in the waistband-
I did go no "regular soda." I had quite a bit of the diet soda, but none of the hard stuff.
I also went no candy or friench fries.
and I finished memorizing romans earlier this year.
I never got into running, and I doubt that I will- I have enjoyed hiking in the local foothills very much.

now for 2012!
nothing crazy- just more good stuff:
// this year I want to memorize galatians, ephesians and colossians, which should go over pretty well with my awesome group of verse-memorizing-accountability-friends-
// I want to maintain my weight and pants-size.
// I want to continue to upgrade and improve my home.
// for my food-fasts: no fries, no candy, no soda until christmas 2013.

there's lots that I want to do that can't be quantified-
I want to have a good attitude at all times- (1 Thessalonains 5:16-18 is becoming a theme verse for my life)
I want to be fully-present in every conversation- especially with my family; but also with students, co-workers and the team of volunteers at the church.
I want to do an excellent job at my work-
I want to grow in my ability to create and deliver a message from the bible-
I want to learn and grow in my fascination in new fields-
I want to respond in a godly way in every interaction and issue that I face.
I want to grow in my generosity- not necessarily to strangers, but to people that I know and love who could use the help.
I want to be a great dad to my kid-
I want to be a great husband to my wife-

a lot of these things can't be checked off of a list- they are areas to grow in, and this year I want to grow into a better me.

and I hope that this year is a year where you accomplish your goals both tangible and unquantifiable-
the world is counting on you to be the best you that you can be at any given moment,
because you never know when its your moment to stand and deliver a skill and character that only you can provide-

have an amazing year!

God is love.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


while I was on my hike yesterday, I worked through my memory verses and then started reflecting on where I was at this time last year, and what kind of year its been.

sadly, I went immediately to the negative and thought about the conflicts, the heartbreaks and the things that went less than perfect this year, and there was quite a few of those-

but then I moved on, and remembered so many wonderful things that happened this year- and I’m going to celebrate those here:

:: as far as family is concerned, we walter’s had a pretty good year. we got to get out to Disneyland, we discovered camping at theKOA, kite-flying, soccer and the beach. jane especially enjoyed going to VBS this summer at the church- and of course, deanna and I love that too.

:: the middle school ministry has been amazing this year. we had some amazing events, some amazing weekend services, we had an amazing midweek program, including our pirates vs. ninjas journey competition; and the staff team has been incredible. we went on this summer camp, elevation, and in my mind, it just doesn’t get much better than that camp. this year we started putting all of our messages on dvd which allowed me to have 3 middle school services, and yet not have to be at all of them- that was pretty cool! we also added 2 new interns, brett and sarah, who have been a huge help.

:: I celebrated 10 years at the church in july, and my friends and family all surprised me with a huge party- that was seriously one of the highlights of my year.

 :: I got to see U2 again, and was directly under the band for a moment:

:: our student ministry built a new student center in our Ranch House- it turned out very well.

:: me and some friends experimented with an off-site, missional youth ministry called AM Fuel which reached quite a few kids before they went to school-

:: I got a couple of new bosses this year who were very influential and helpful to me- the first was named Forrest- that guy knows a lot about everything and was instrumental in helping us get the ranch house and the new interns. I learned much from him. I also got a new boos this year named Tim- who has also been very helpful and encouraging. I’m looking forward to working with him more this year.

 :: and on top of all of that- I lost 50 lbs this year!

this is me last christmas:

and this is me last week:
this year has been full of good and less-than-good- and through it all, there have been some things that have grounded me and helped me to be focused-

:: deanna and jane have been so wonderful this year. after many hard days, I pulled up to my house to see jane’s face peeking out of the window, waiting for me to come home- nothing can steal that joy-

:: my homegroup has been another constant source of support and encouragement-

:: this year, my friendships with my friend Mike O, Bruce and Dave have been a huge encouragement to me.

:: I have been working on memorizing the book of romans all year- and all year long, those ancient words of the apostle paul have been right there with me through it all. I often review my verses while walking along the los gatos creek trail. when I start my day with a walk through nature and with the words of the apostle, I feel like I can handle anything. at one point this year, the following words from romans 8 encouraged me so deeply, that tears ran down my face as I quoted them on a walk:

“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
 “For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 when you stop to think about all that was beautiful in the year, all that was ugly gets chased away. 2012 will be even better-
thanks for reading my blogs!

God is love.

the history hike at new almaden

I went on another long hike yesterday- I went on the history hike which was mapped out by a local eagle scout- here are some of the photos I took with my phone:

there is some talk online that this is al capone's car. the legend goes that he escaped from alcatraz and fled the police and they caught him at th quicksilver mines. I don't think this is true- but the car is definitely there and the story is cool!

you can't really tell from this picture, but you can see all the way to fremont from up here:

this is the powder house where they kept all of the explosives. it is the best-preserved building in the park. the thought that those guys went tens of thousands of feet under ground and then set off explosives makes me shudder.

this is a pretty well preserved area where ore was worked and put into rail cars- looks like the quicksilver ride at gilroy gardens:

this gives you an idea of how peaceful and quiet a walk in the quicksilver park is-

there are a few blocks like this around the park. the miners took hand-drills and drilled into solid granite- all while being thousands of feet under ground.

this was definitely the highlight of my hike- this is the only mine that you can still enter. it goes in about 100 feet and is super-creepy. you have to have the map to find it.

here is a view from inside the mine, past the barrier that blocks further entry into the mine. when I walked in, even a few feet, the temperature immediately dropped, and the air felt damp and cold. I feel so sorry for the men who had to work in these mines every day for so little- and I feel so bad for all of the current miners today!

view from inside the mine-out

this area was put into the mines in the 1940's and is fairly modern compared to the other equipment that came in the 1840's. this is where the mine took things to the next level and used motorized trucks and tractors to work the ore that they dug up.

this marker shows where the original cinnabar cave was. for centuries, native americans viewed this site as a holy place and used the red rock in their paintings and medicine. they ended up showing it to some military officials at mission santa clara, and the rest is history. I tried to find the original cave and the mine that followed, but in the 1940's the government sent in workers to dismantly and cover up almost everything.

Friday, December 9, 2011

a high and holy place

I've often been interested in the spiritual history of places, especially places I live. for many years I have been fascinated with the california missions, because they represent the spiritual history of my state. a few years ago, I found this book at a local bookstore:

this book tells a story of a church made for miners and their families in the new almaden area, which is near my house and near the church I work at. the church was built in 1875, and to my knowledge is the first protestant church facility in south san jose.

I was immediately excited about the idea of visiting this church and creating some kind of connection with the first ministers in my neighborhood. the church  I work at is kind of big and influential, but this church was the first one to reach this neighborhood- its like the ministers who served there are like my vocational ancestors- the trailblazers. in this book, it details who the ministers that served here were, who they ministered to, who they baptized, attendance reports, everything. this was a very active church that reached hundreds of miners and their families.
I got a copy of this book for myself and my then-boss and suggested that we go and find the church and stand in its pulpit and thank God for those pioneers. he thought it would be a fun idea, but we never did.
I heard from some friends that htey had visited the church. for a long time I thought that I should go up there to make my own pilgrimage to this high and holy place. a few weeks ago I went hiking up in the new almaden area to go and find it. I hiked for hours and over miles and miles and found nothing. I later discovered this video on youtube only to discover that the building is long gone:

there is a photo in the book mentioned above taken in 1919 of the church after it has been abandoned and run down. in the 30's a group of conservation corps workers went in and dismantled all of the buildings from the mining town, including the old church. I would never find it.

I went back a week later to continue my quest. and it really began to feel like a quest. something in me really wanted to make a connection to that old ministry and to those old ministers. each time I hiked up to this spot, it was miles up steep terrain. but I concluded that if I couldn't find the building, I would at least find the site. I tried to line up the horizon with this picture that I found of the old church:

I went to a site that seemed to fit what I was looking for: right horizon and angle with a flat spot big enough for a church. I even found an old foundation. but when I got home I found another photo that confirmed that I was in the wrong spot again.

this picture shows the church in relation to the map house. I know where the map house is, and if I just went to the map house, then up that hill and to the right, I would find the spot it was on, and I'm pretty sure that I found it today.

the hill that the church used to sit on is huge and is covered in old oak trees and weeds. but I found a flat spot that seemed to fit the spot I was looking for. I found some old foundation blocks and some pipe that makes me think that this was the site of that old church.

I think this is the site. and if it isn't, it was at least close to this spot. all I can conclude is that on this spot, 140 years ago, a ministry happened. scripture was read. prayers were offered. hymns were sung. decisions were made. the building is long gone- but the decisions that were made on this spot will endure for eternity in Glory. that is a foundation that will never decay.

on this spot, guys like me tused the bible to tell people about jesus. they listened to people and loved them and prayed for them. they taught them how to live for God. guys just like me moved to this spot, to this neighborhood in response to a call and they gave their lives for that call. it was an honor for me to pay homage to them at the site where they ministered.

who knows? maybe someday someone will come looking for the spot where I worked. maybe someday my place of work will be a historical site too!

God is love.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

the jane-doll

I have written a couple posts about jane and dad dolls here and here. the other day we were in walgreen and I saw THIS toy:

I said, "pink shoes? blonde hair? hello kitty shirt? jane- THIS IS YOU!" jane thought it was hilarious.

we did a side by side photo just to be sure:
 of course we we picked one up (and a friend for toy-jane. lucky for me these things are only $5 a piece).
when I got to the counter, I said, "excuse me, why are you making toys of my kid without our permission?!" jane thought that was pretty funny too, but the clerk did not.

so, toy-jane and her toy friends have been living in jane's room and having all kinds of fun.

but you know the weirdest thing? I saw ANOTHER jane-doll at disneyland- and this one looked EXACTLY like my kid! I need to call my lawyer!

being a dad is fun.

vacation + birthday #7

a few things kind of fell into place that made it the perfect time to make a quick run down to disneyland. we had never been there during christmas- and jane was turning 7 that week- it just all made sense.

jane had been looking for a surprise from us- and she found it here:

the big surprise! from rob walter on Vimeo.

we immediately made the long trip down to anaheim. there was quite a bit of holiday traffic, but we had lots to listen to, watch and talk about.

while we were there, we rode lots of new rides; as well as all of our favorites-

we saw the parade and the fireworks- we were planning on seeing the "world of color" water show, but it was broken.

we met up with my pal chris,

and we took a bunch of pictures.

and last friday, jane celebrated her big #7 birthday.

deanna made a cool surprise for her by stringing yarn all over the house. jane had to follow the yarn to get to some birthday cards and gifts.

sigh. I can't believe that she's already 7! its all flying by so fast.

being a dad is fun.