Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 to 2014::

2013 was a big year!
I got ordained!
I ran 2013 miles! (and put a stress fracture in my hip- ouch!)
I learned lots of bible verses-

I had some wonderful times with my family too-
deanna and I celebrated SEVENTEEN YEARS married- whoa!

we discovered feeding koi fish at japanese gardens,

cable cars:

golden gate park,

we visited disneyland-

we discovered bocce ball,

we celebrated my kid turning NINE. (and grew OUT of the children's discovery museum.)
jane had a great time being a homeschooler!
she did really great at all of her school work, and got to go on lots of cool field trips-
like this one to see some original star wars props- (ok this was really more for me:)

and she got REALLY good at cursive writing. I have never seen my child so interested in hand writing! kudos to her awesome teacher!

and we made lots of homemade toys!

at church, I celebrated 12 years of middle school ministry at the same church- whoa!
and we did some fun things like renting out a roller rink for a 50's party:

we rented an ice cream truck:

we rented an ice-rink:

we threw some crazy parties:

we played a lot of games:

I wrote about a million-billion letters:

and we did lots and lots of talks!
some were at schools:

some were on video:

some were on the road at camps:

but most of them were at home in our big green room.
I also said goodbye to some good co-worker friends, and hello to some new co-worker friends!

I kept all of my new year's resolutions, but here are a few more:
I plan to run 2014 miles in 2014!
I plan on memorizing another 12 chapters of the bible with my friend Mike,
no candy or un-diet soda.
and only ONE serving of fries per week. this year I'll have 52 friday-FRYdays!

I'm starting out next year with SIX WEEKS OFF for extended leave. I'll probably post 1000 blogs and tear every leg muscle I've got. and go broke by giving all of my money to malibu grill. but hopefully I'll get some good rest too.

it was a great year! next year will be great too-
happy new year friends!

God is love.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

wintercamp 2013

I"m still glowing from our wintercamp last weekend. it was just about perfect. the leaders were incredible. the facility we stayed at, camp chinquapin was delightful as always, and the snow and mountains were spectacular. the students themselves were so gracious and engaged with what was happening. we rented a snow hill, an ice rink, and we went on a hike through pinecrest lake. there were snow angels, snow men, and snowball wars. the roads were clear, and so were the skies.

I taught a set of talked that I have been thinking about for months called awestruck wonder.

I looked at the problem of losing our wonder for jesus- or being just bored with faith. how do you rediscover your wonder? this led to reading many books, and many good conversations, including one with one of my favorite authors, steve korch. the result was a set of talks that seemed to hit the students right where they were, at just the right time, and in the perfect setting. I received a number of rare kudos from the students about these talks!

you can see all of our silly times here:

God is love.

2013 miles in 2013

at the beginning of the year, I made a goal to run 1500 miles. I ran 1000 last year in 6 months, I figured, 1500 would be easy. at some point, early in the year, I thought it would be fun to see if I could do 2013 miles in 2013. I did the math, I mapped out the pace and got moving. this goal was a lot harder than I thought it would be!

to say the least, I spent a LOT of time at the gym this year. at least an hour a night on average. on he way, I met some new friends, and enjoyed running next to them and talking with them and their lives. running next to someone makes the time go much faster. I also burned off a lot of stress- there were nights when I came into the gym stressed and frustrated, and at the end of my run, I was completely distracted from my worries.there were also many, many nights when I could not wait to get the run over with, and at the same time, there were so many times when I stepped onto the treadmill, and I could almost feel my whole body smiling back at me as it stepped back into the routine of breathing, striding and sweating. speaking of sweating, when I run, I get soaked. its embarrassing. I bring towels and headband and even a clip on fan, but its unavoidable.

this year I had to replace my iPod at least once, maybe twice. I had to replace my shoes at least once, maybe twice. I lost several toe nails. that was also really gross. but the worst thing that happened while running this year was that I actually broke my hip while running. I thought it was a sore muscle or maybe a strain. I knew it was an injury somewhere in my hip or backside, I couldn't really tell. I thought it would just go away. I actually kept on running through it. there were several days where I limped all day, and then ran at night! I had discovered that I could run half marathons on the treadmill in 90 minutes- I thought that was so cool- so I just did it every night for weeks. and then there was a night when I almost collapsed. I couldn't run a step- I could barely walk a step. I eventually went to the doctor to have it looked at. my doctor was actually a former olympian which was pretty cool. we did an x-ray and an MRI (which was fairly freaky) and he found a small stress fracture in my ischial bone.

(by the way, this is not a photo of me!)
he kept asking, "did you fall?" nope. I just ran too much. I took a few weeks off and then started really slow, and before long, I was back in action.

I had a lot of time to make up and so for the last few months, I have been on the treadmill 90 minutes a night, but at a slower pace. last wednesday night, I did it!

I ran 2013 miles in 2013! I was relieved that I could have teared up right there in the gym. I found a few people online who also had the goal and shared it with them and thanked them for their encouragement. the next day, Jane woke me up with my own trophy- I love it!

now I'm taking a few weeks off, and then on January 1, I'm going for 2014 miles in 2014! hopefully this time there will be no MRIs to go with it!

God is love.

Monday, December 9, 2013

homemade toys:: lalaloopsy land

my kid is in love with lalaloopsy toys- she also loves to create playsets and worlds for her dolls to play in. she has created lots of amazing little playsets for her loopsies- but this time, the whole family teamed up to create the ultimate laloopsy land.

the lalaloopsies live in this world of fabric and buttons stitched together- here is how they show the world on their merchandise:

we wanted to create something similar- jane has a large folding table that she uses for her play tables- so we measured it out and went to the fabric store. jane designed how she wanted the lay out to go.

 she put in hills, a path and a stream. then deanna got to work on her sewing machine and put it all together. afterward, jane decorated it with accessories.

she has been happily playing with it for days! and the nice thing about it is that when she is done playing with it, she just needs to roll it up and store it for another day.
being a dad is fun.

Monday, September 16, 2013

homemade toys:: the malibu grill

I have posted several times on this blog about my love for the Malibu grill-
Jane and I decided to make a playset of it! you can click on the photos to enlarge them-

this is a wide shot that shows how Jane decorated the walls with stickers to look like Malibu's walls filled with sports memorabilia:

this shows how Jane made arcade games out of legos, how we made a supply door just like Malibu's, and the big-screen tvs that we made out of foam-

this shows how we replicated Malibu's menu wall and ordering counter-

this is our favorite spot to sit and watch sports- on the long red seats in the main room-
we even tried to match the flooring-

this shows how we made short tables, and tall tables- since Malibu has both-

we love Malibu and all of their workers! and we love calico critters!
God is love.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

homemade toys:: the romantic fancy restaurant

Jane and I have been wanting to make a fancy restaurant for awhile now, here is what we came up with!

the floor is a foam board covered in shelf liner. we made the corner booths out of blocks of wood covered in sticky fabric. the walls are a display board (for science projects) that has been cut down to size. we found some stickers and paper at Michael's for the walls that we attached on with spray glue. the lights are $2 Christmas lights that are poking out from the back. we got the tables from the dollar store...for a dollar each. the rug is a mouse pad that we had. all of the rest is stuff from other playsets that we had.

there is a kitchen off to the side that isn't pictured.
my kid loves to create these little scenes- and I love to help too. this one wasn't expensive at all.

being a dad is fun.

funny conversation, 9/13

last summer at camp, I was standing in line for lunch next to a student friend of mine, and I wanted to start a conversation with her- so I gave her one of my conversation starters: I said, "so- tell me what would your dream job would be?"

she said, "I've always wanted to be a sports bra tester."

I paused. I thought. I asked,

"did you just say that when you grow up you want to be a sports bra tester?!"

she looked embarrassed and a little annoyed and said, "no. I want to be a sports BROADCASTER."

"oh. yeah. that makes sense. what sport?"

things between us have been awkward ever since.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

MCRD story

When I was in high school, my youth group would go on choir tour every summer. We all had matching outfits, and we sang and had choreography. It was a big production with lights, a stage and trucks.

We performed in churches, inner city parks, juvenile halls, we even got to perform at Disneyland and Catalina island. One of the coolest crowds we sang for was the marines in San Diego. Before 9/11, we got to go to the marine bases and sing for the new marines in their chapels and even out in the fields. My favorite was this giant auditorium at the marine corps recruitment depot. It was full of thousands of marines, all shouting and hoo-rah-ing.

At the end of every concert, my youth pastor gave a short talk to the crowd. He had a special one for the marines that always got them fired up. We always did two performances for the marines, my youth pastor would do one of the talks and the intern would do the other one.

As years went by, it was finally my turn to be the intern. As the choir tour got closer, I looked forward to the thought of speaking to those marines. I bought my first book for a sermon. It was a short history of the marines. I learned all about them. Their history is fascinating. On the night of the concert, my youth pastor came to me and asked, "are you ready?" I was ready. I had my notes my bible and I was prayed up.

After the songs I addressed this crowd of thousands of guys. It felt strangely comfortable to be with them. I talked about the marine motto: semper fidelis. Latin for always faithful. These guys were amped and shouting. I talked about the many legendary marines that I learned about in my book, and they knew them all. Then I talked about what semper fi means. It means that you are willing to travel to distant shores and to leave your blood there; that you live for others, and that you never quit until the job is done. It means that you never leave your friends dead or wounded on the battlefield. I have never, ever seen a crowd that big, that riled up. They were standing, shouting, jumping and hooting. And then I hit them with my point: Jesus is always faithful. He never leaves us. He died for us, He never quits.

After my talk I said, "we sang songs for you, and now we want to hear YOUR song!" Those thousands of marines stood at attention and shouted, "FROM THE HALLS OF MONTEZUMA TO THE SHORES OF TRIPOLI..." They shouted out the marine anthem. The force of their voices almost knocked me over and the sound was deafening.

That was the first time I ever walked off of a platform and thought, "wow. that went over!" It will always be one of my craziest memories.

After my talk, my youth pastor invited me to give the second talk too. The marine chaplain asked me if he could get a copy of my sermon! And I really started to believe that someday I could give more talks. Lots more talks, lots more people.

Jesus is semper fi. And He has been always faithful to me for all these years. Hoo-rah!

God is love.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

zebra questions

lately I’ve been thinking a lot about zebras. one of the things I’ve been wondering is why they are striped. when it comes to evolution, I believe that animals (and humans) evolve slightly over time, but I affirm that they were all created by a creative designer.

evolution tells us that animals evolve and take on traits to help them survive in their environments- so why are zebras striped? why is any animal black and white for that matter? are there any black and white environments that they can blend into? is it because their predators are color blind? you would think that if zebras wanted to have an evolutionary advantage, that they would be tan or green to hide in their environment- or become faster than lions- or bigger than lions, but for some odd reason, their DNA made them black and white striped.

Wikipedia says that no one really knows why zebras are striped, but most think it has something to do with camouflage. this is what the article says about the evolutionary advantage of stripes:

“A wide variety of hypotheses have been proposed to account for the evolution of the striking stripes of zebras. The more traditional of these (1 & 2, below) relate to camouflage.

1. The vertical striping may help the zebra hide in grass by disrupting its outline. In addition, even at moderate distances, the striking striping merges to an apparent grey.

2. The stripes may help to confuse predators by motion dazzle—a group of zebras standing or moving close together may appear as one large mass of flickering stripes, making it more difficult for the lion to pick out a target.

3. The stripes may serve as visual cues and identification. Although the striping pattern is unique to each individual, it is not known whether zebras can recognize one another by their stripes.

4. Experiments by different researchers indicate that the stripes are effective in attracting fewer flies, including blood-sucking tsetse flies and tabanid horseflies. A 2012 experiment in Hungary showed that zebra-striped models were nearly minimally attractive to tabanid horseflies. These flies are attracted to linearly polarized light, and the study showed that black and white stripes disrupt the attractive pattern. Further, attractiveness increases with stripe width, so the relatively narrow stripes of the three living species of zebras should be unattractive to horseflies.”

evolution tells us that an animal’s dna will change to help it survive- well, how does a zebra’s DNA know what it looks like from the outside? how does it know what it looks like from far away? how does it know what it looks like from above? how does it know what its environment looks like so that it can blend in with it? how can it adapt to make its skin and fur into an optical illusion, if their DNA doesn’t have eyes? is it all just trial and error?
come on.

I wonder this about all black and white animals- like pandas- why are they black and white? why aren’t they green? and why would penguins be black at all? wouldn’t it make more sense just to be all white?

again, I think these animals look the way they do because they were created by a Creator, and He thought they look cool. and they do.

there is this passage in the book of job where God goes off on how cool some of His animals are. He talks about wild oxes, horses, ostriches and hawks. its like He is impressed with Himself at how creative He is and how amazing these creatures turned out. he says this about wild horses in Job 39:

“Do you give the horse its strength
    or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?
20 Do you make it leap like a locust,
    striking terror with its proud snorting?
21 It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength,
    and charges into the fray.
22 It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing;
    it does not shy away from the sword.
23 The quiver rattles against its side,
    along with the flashing spear and lance.
24 In frenzied excitement it eats up the ground;
    it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.
25 At the blast of the trumpet it snorts, ‘Aha!’
    It catches the scent of battle from afar,
    the shout of commanders and the battle cry.”

He asks the question- “did you make horses awesome?” and the unstated answer is,
“no. you didn't. but I did.”

He made horses awesome.
and zebras awesome.
and you awesome.
so be awesome today.

God is love.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

homemade toys:: the dress shop

the other day Jane and I were in the mood for a homemade toy project- so we got to work on a dress shop for the critters. we had a lot of clothes, shoes, and a few hangers, but we needed more hangers, more clothes racks, and a background. I got some dowels and a foam board from Michael's and we got to work. here is what we came up with:
you can see that there is a worker at the cash register, and some mannequins showing clothes- I think you can click on the photo for better detail-

I made some mannequins, some hangers, and a couple of clothes racks. I cut the board to size too. we had the floor, and jane did all the rest! here is the top view:

you can see on the top right that there is a dressing room too!
this was a fairly inexpensive way for us to have some fun together, and to allow my little girl's imagination to run wild for awhile.
being a dad is fun.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

switching channels-

tonight, I was flipping channels and jane was drawing-
I wanted to watch this show about a famous motorcycle builder, but I wasn't sure if he was going to start swearing, so I had my hand on the remote, just in case.

he started talking about wanting to be a better dad to his kids, and he started saying something like, "I want to be better dad, not some BLEEP, BLEEP who BLEEP BLEEEP..." (the channel censored out his words). I changed the channel as quick as I could. I felt dumb that jane heard any of it, but she looked up from her coloring and said, "whatever he's talking about, I know that it has nothing to do with my dad-"

that was cool to hear.

being a dad is awesome.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

funny conversations-

the other day I was at Erik's deli getting a sandwich. the lady taking my order was a little older and was playfully picking on a younger employee. the conversation went like this:

ME: "how are you?"
THE CASHIER: "I'm great! I've been here all morning and its almost time for me to leave- but Carolyn over here is already drunk!"
ME: "already?!"
CAROLYN: (looking embarrassed): "I'm not even 21!"
THE CASHIER: "we know that never stopped anyone, don't we?! DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE CAROLYN!"

poor Carolyn.

the other day I was at church, and a female student came up to me and said:
STUDENT: "are you limping?!"
ME: "yeah- I hurt myself running."
STUDENT: "so you were just running, and you hurt yourself?"
ME: "yes. things like that can happen when you're old like me."
STUDENT: "so what part of yourself did you hurt?"
ME: "well, to be honest, I injured my hip, my thigh, and... my rear."
long pause.
STUDENT: "well that's ok. my butt hurts most of the time too!"
ME: "?!"

the other day jane wanted to read a book that I thought was a little too mature for her- she said,

JANE: "dad! I can handle this!"
ME: "I think you're not quite old enough for this. this book is a little scary..."
JANE: "come on dad! I'm a PG-kid! I can handle PG!"
ME: "you're definitely a G."

the other day I was having another sandwich at Erik's, reading my bible, and an elderly couple walked by- the wife walked up behind me, leaned down to see what I was reading and said, "getting ready for your sunday school lesson this week?" I said, "no- I'm just catching up on some reading." she said, "well, I gut ready for mine earlier today!" then her husband walked up to me and cheerfully asked, "understandest thou what thou readest?" which is probably the king james version of a passage in the book of acts- I answered, "I'm trying!" I was happy to meet them-

Saturday, August 10, 2013

perpetua's passion

while I was on my break last week, I read a fascinating book called Perpetua's passion Joyce Salisbury. it tells the story of a Christian martyr named Perpetua from the year 203.

Perpetua was a wealthy young mother, who lived in the city of carthage in 203. carthage is in the northern part of Africa, and was sort of a mini version of Rome, with its amphitheater, temples and roman culture. Perpetua was a recent convert to Christianity, and her faith was tested when she refused to worship the roman emperor, septimius severus. every citizen of the roman empire was required to worship the emperor through prayers, incense or offerings on a regular basis and the Christians refused. most found a way around the rule by paying someone to do it for them, or not thinking it was a big deal, but Perpetua refused and was thrown onto the death row of her time.

she was imprisoned with a few other Christians from her church. one of the unique things about Perpetua's martyrdom is that she kept a diary of everything that happened to her, and before she died, she gave that diary to an unknown narrator who filled in the events after her death. in her diary, Perpetua talked of how her father begged her to renounce her Christian faith. he told her to think of him in his old age, and of her baby that she had been separated from. but Perpetua replied with a statement that she is remembered for: "I am a Christian and cannot be called anything other than what I am." even when she was on trial, the prosecutor only asked her one question, "are you a Christian?" and she only answered, "yes. I am a Christian." that was all that was needed to condemn her to death.

Perpetua also had visions from God when she was in prison, and she recorded them in her diary. some of them were pretty bizarre, but they mostly showed her going into the area to battle, and winning in the end. she saw herself entering heaven as a victor. the other prisoners with her had similar dreams.

on the day that Perpetua was to be executed, she was excited. she considered it an honor to die for Christ. the other prisoners went first. they were tied up, beaten, and then one at a time sent into the area to face the wild beasts in front of a blood thirsty crowd. none of them died from the beatings or the beasts, and it was custom that after they faced the beasts they would go through a door away from the crowd to have their necks slit. Perpetua was beaten and then put into the arena to face a wild cow. the cow trampled her and she was taken with the others through the door to be killed by an executioner. on this particular day, the crowd was so blood thirsty that they demanded that the prisoners be executed in front of them.  the martyrs all bravely exposed their necks to the executioners.

through the story, there are many tales that point to Perpetua's character and others-centeredness, but this one seems to be the most telling, and the most famous. the narrator who took over Perpetua's dairy noted that Perpetua's executioner was a rookie and actually missed her throat when he went to strike her neck. he seemed to stab her in her collarbone. the narrator then noted that Perpetua screamed in pain, but then she "took the trembling hand of the young gladiator and guided it to her throat." from what I can tell, she felt for the young man, and actually helped him to martyr her. the narrator writes, "it was though so great a woman, feared as she was by the unclean spirit, could not be dispatched unless she herself were willing."

there is not much left of ancient carthage, but a chapel and a placard has been placed in the ruins of the arena to remember Perpetua and her bravery.

the book is pretty fascinating. if you're into ancient history, or church history, the book is very well researched and thought through. if I'm ever in north Africa, I would definitely enjoy visiting this sacred space.

there is much more to say about Perpetua, her boldness, and even the boldness of thousand of Christians across the globe who are facing even more terrible tortures- but that's for another time- please keep those brave brothers and sisters in your prayers, and learn how to help them.
until then,
God is love.

2 weeks off-

today is my first day back in the office after 2 weeks off- I had a great time with Deanna and jane- here are some of the highlights-

// I made an attempt to get all of the popcorn off of my ceiling. attempt. I only got one room done before I figured that it was going to take a lot more equipment and money. so I settled with the one room with hopes of getting the others done soon.

// I spent a lot of time at the gym, but I wasn't running. a few weeks ago, I pulled something in my hip/ thigh/ rear-end area. I haven't been able to even walk fast, let alone run. so I've been on the bike and jogging very slowly for very short amounts of time and spending a lot of time with the ice pack. I was running a few half marathons a week for a few weeks there, and I think my body was rebelling against all of the grief I was giving it. I'll be better soon.

// we went to the movies a bunch. we saw the smurfs, turbo, planes, despicable me, and monsters university. the theater is just down the street from us, and its a fun way to spend some time with jane.

// I introduced jane to the flea market! she loves it! we found a ton of cool treasures and hard to find toys that would be $20 or $30 in the store for only a dollar. we found this little gem at savers for $2:

we also had some fun consigning some stuff that we don't use anymore- we got to sell some old books and toys for a few extra bucks- we're recycling!
// I
read 2 books, one was a really cool church history book that I will post about later, and one was a FICTION book. I have read maybe 5 fiction books in the last ten years- so this was fun. it was about star wars and the period of time between episode 3 and 4.  I had to run over to santa cruz, and I had some spare time, so I took a lawn chair and read my book on the beach! so relaxing.

// we went to Monterey, to the aquarium, and to san Francisco to fisherman's warf- we had dessert at ghirradeli both times! we got to ride the BART and the cable car with jane for the first time-

// I love catching up with old friends, and I got to have a few long conversations with some dear old pals- a few on the phone, a few in person- always refreshing.
// I ate a lot of ice cream, and a lot of sandwiches from Erik's deli. abbott's habit is a good sandwich.
today I'm back in the office- I love my job. I love the people I work with, I love the work I do, I love my quiet little office. have a great saturday- and:
God is love.