Monday, December 15, 2014

lily's essay

my friend lily is a freshman at a catholic high school here in town- she asked me if she could interview me for a paper for her religion class. she shared the paper with me this morning- it was super-encouraging- and such a huge honor- so I thought I 'd share it!

Semester Project - Religion 9A
My Model of Faith is Rob W, the youth pastor in the middle school ministry of Venture Christian Church. I chose him to be my Model of Faith because he inspires me to pursue my faith as a Christian even further than I ever thought possible. I also chose him because he is so committed to believing, celebrating, and living the Christian faith in his works as a pastor and outside of church.

Rob shows me that he truly believes his faith and wants to embrace it to the fullest. He believes that we as humans need to trust God and not do things our way, because when we do what we want, things don’t turn out too well. When you live for yourself, you are not allowing God to speak to your heart and conscience. Rob explained to me that he can now relate more to God as a father, since he has a daughter of his own. He is passionate about caring for her and loves her so much, just as God does for us. He never turns his back on her, just like when we are in dark and troubling times, God doesn’t turn his back on us. When Rob is preaching and a kid is being rude to him or another individual, he isn’t rude back, because he knows that God will take care of it. Rob also told me that sometimes when he finds loose change on the ground, he picks it up and reads the script on it that says,"In God We Trust." When reading those words, he knows that he needs to trust God right now. When preparing for a speech and occasionally when he is presenting a strong message, sometimes an idea gets implanted in his head, and that is when he feels in the presence of the Holy Spirit. He also feels close to the Spirit when he goes on walks in the great outdoors, especially in autumn when the leaves are changing color.

There was a time when Rob was in high school when he was invited to go to a church service. That was when he realized that he wanted to serve God for the rest of his life. He connects religion and faith by believing that religion will lead you to a deeper understanding of your faith. He sees religion as habits and practices, which in turn connect him to the Christian faith, particularly when he is living in the moment or reviewing his favorite Bible verses, because that is when he feels like God is listening to him and he is listening to God the most. Rob also told me that religion is just a door. By itself religion isn’t anything that will help us - it’s what’s on the other side of that door that helps us keep on going. When he told me this, it really motivated me to become a stronger Christian and pursue my faith.

Rob celebrates his faith according to the teaching of  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” He is always considering the welfare of people around him and is regularly trying to live more like Jesus and is aspires to represent Him well. Rob is a strong supporter of simple acts of kindness, because even just a smile or a compliment can make someone’s day infinitely better. It may surprise you when I tell you that Rob was not baptized by his parents, but he chose to totally commit to Christianity when he was a junior in high school. He told me that he knew that he wanted to become more serious in practicing his faith. When Rob was in high school, he was a little insecure about his faith, but after being baptized, he knew that he wanted to follow God for the rest of his life. By taking on this responsibility, he decided in college that he wanted to become a youth pastor. Whenever I see Rob in public, his attitude is like he never left church! Some might say that Rob has an advantage, working at church, since it is a holy place where people can praise the Lord, along with other people of the same faith by their side. Since he works as a minister, he gets to continually preach the good news of Jesus Christ, and he gets to spend time helping students and leaders. He loves to help them discover faith, plus he gets to assist students by talking to them about any struggles that they might have within them.

Rob lives out his faith by spending much of his time in prayers of adoration and blessing of God. He truly values the Bible, and he believes that every Christian should be familiar with it, because it is the Word of the Lord! He also values people and thinks that every person is important, has dignity, and should be treated with respect,whether they are rich or poor, strong or weak, it doesn’t matter! We are all equal in the eyes of God. One other thing that Rob strongly believes in is excellence, and that if you are going to do something, you should do it right. You, too, should be the best that you can be because we are acting for Jesus. In addition to having many values, Rob believes in living for God through prayer and worship. He told me that prayer would make him have more faith, be less stressed, and allow him to have more powerful sermons. He said that the whole of humanity would benefit from praying more, because it not only brings people closer to God, but in turn it brings people closer to others and themselves. I believe that Rob has a particular way of celebrating his faith, because he devotes so much time to the well-being of others before himself. He works to be a light to his neighbors, and not just at church, but to the people he sees in the streets and the people who take his order at restaurants. His goal is to be an encourager and to represent Jesus well.

Rob motivates me to always trust in God, help others, and that when you have doubts, pray. I am so inspired by how much Rob respects God and trusts Him. He encourages people at our church to donate. Having met him, my family donates money and time to charities across the globe. With Rob continually inspiring me to pray, I now do so every night, thanking God for the day I had, as well as the days to come. Even though I pray at night, I think that more prayer would make a big difference in my life, too, like being more connected to God. I also learned from him to never give up on God, and to trust God with everything. Whenever I have a problem, I take it to God, because He helps me to figure out a solution. Rob is also respectful to others, and his kind influence has made me into a more compassionate person. Many people look forward to Sunday church, because they know Rob is the one who is going to be preaching. He also leads fun activities outside of Venture, like immersion trips and parties, but the events somehow always make everyone feel closer to God. One other thing that Rob told me was that his wish is for himself to be a great model of faith to everyone. He wants people to look at his life and be able to say, “If I want to grow in Jesus, I should just do what Rob does.” I know that I certainly consider Rob as my model of faith, and I absolutely look at his life as a great example of how to grow in the Lord to the fullest extent. As you can see, I chose Rob Walter for my project because of how he lives life for God, believes that, and celebrates his faith. He truly motivates everyone he meets to improve their relationships with God and to trust Him.

God is love.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

ten parties

happy tenth birthday jane!
today is her 10th birthday party- here are all of the parties that came before:

this party was at o'connor hospital on December 2, 2004

this party was sort of a "pink-party" at our house for birthday #1:

birthday #2 was at the san Francisco zoo- we were going through a serious bear phase at the time.

birthday number 3 was a blues clues party! aunt susan made paw print clues all over our house so that jane could solve the puzzle. we were big into blues clues at the time.

birthday #4 was a jolly holiday- our mary poppins party!

birthday number 5 was a hello kitty party at grandma's house-

birthday #6 was jane's first "friend-birthday party." she and her buddies painted pottery at the art beat in Campbell-

birthday #7 was at Disneyland!

birthday #8 was a rainbow party at the bowling alley with her parents and her pals.
(where else would you have a rainbow party?!)

birthday #9 was with her relatives at chuck e. cheese in modesto.
sketchiest chuck e. cheese ever.

and today, for birthday #10, she and her homeschool buddies are off to the movies to catch a matinee of big hero 6- because when you're a homeschooler, you can go to the movies in the middle of the day on a Tuesday.

this kid knows how to have fun. words can't express how much I love this girl.
God is love.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


well, my favorite kid is going to be 10 years old in just a few days. I can't believe it. when she was born, I was 30 years old and in full-youth-pastor-mode. I wasn't really sure what kind of dad I'd be, or how my life would be different. but when she came, everything changed- for the best. its been 10 years of giggles, and dancing, and mary poppins, and pooh bear, and trains, and projects, and hugs, adventures, slow-days, and daddy-daughter-days. I don't appear in lots of photos, but here are 10 photos from the last 10 years:

from December 2004-
jane was born on 12/2 at oconnor hospital here in san jose-

from 2005- this is one of maybe a thousand rides on the billy jones wildcat railroad at oak meadow park in los gatos. back then it was a thrill for her, now, its me that wants to ride the tain and jane saying, "ok, just ONE ride!"

from 2006- giants fans for life.

from 2007- jane was a slow-talker. she began communicating through sign language. I love this photo, because we are riding the train at roaring camp, and she is signing the word "train." talking is longer a problem for jane. at all.

from 2008- a hot day at "the train park." apparently this is the best time to snap a photo of jane and dad.

from 2009- swimming at the AVAC swim school- she loved that place. now she is way too advanced of a swimmer to go there!

from 2010- we never miss a chance to watch mary poppins outdoors.

from 2011- in line to ride toy story mania at California adventure. we went through a serious toy story phase during this year.

from 2012- at the warriors game in Oakland. we've got a thing for matchy-t-shirts- as you can see in the next 2 pictures. I could make a whole blog of photos of jane and I wearing matching shirts and hats. she likes to match Deanna too-

from 2013- wearing custom "daddy-daughter-day" shirts (designed by jane herself) on one of our last visits to one of our favorite spots, Gilroy gardens. on a side note, the daddy daughter day shirts are cute, but let me tell you, it takes a lot of guts for a grown man to wear a shirt like this! and when people ask about it, they assume that its some sort of weekend-custody-thing, and kind of look at me with sad eyes. I'm happily married people!

and from 2014- two proud giants fans taking a rare selfie in the family bathroom at the mall.

if I knew that being a dad would be this awesome, I would have done it a long time ago. i know a lot of kids; but this one will always be my number one favorite. thanks for 10 amazing years Janie! I love you!
being a dad is fun.
God is love.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

otter obsession

recently, we got an annual pass to the Monterey bay aquarium- which is a super cool spot in cannery row. in all of our previous visits to the aquarium, we enjoyed the jelly fish the most, but over the last few months, we have become obsessed with sea otters. the aquarium has an excellent otter exhibit with some very sill and playful otters.

you can also go outside and watch the otters outside of the aquarium in the monterey bay

and when we get obsessed on something, we go all in. otter toys,


otter books, homemade-otter-playsets, and otter movies. the aquarium has an awesome movie about otters. and along the way, we've learned a lot about otters. here are some fun otter facts:

// otters have the world's thickest fur.
its over a million hairs per square inch. this is why the otter population is so low- their pets made for excellent winter coats. since their fur is so thick, its very buoyant- which allows otters to easily float on their backs:

otters seem to prefer to be in the water, on their backs. they even sleep in the water, on their backs. sometimes they hold hands so they don't float away from each other.

other times they wrap themselves up in kelp to stay in place during a nap:

since their fur is so thick, they spend most of their time cleaning the sea-gunk out of it. but when you watch them it looks like they are constantly washing their face.

// otters use tools.
otters don't eat fish. which is surprising to me, because I thought that everything eats fish, but otters don't. but they love clams and sea urchins. so to get the clams open, otters will bang the clam against a hard surface like a boat or a rock to get to the meat. you should look this up on youtube. its hilarious.

a lot of otters will just rest a rock on their belly and wack a clam against it to get the clam open. they rest their food on their bellies to make a built in tv tray for their food.

otters even have a secret pocket under their arms where they can keep their favorite clam-cracking-rock or a sea urchin for later.

// otters protect the kelp forest.
sea urchins eat the kelp forest, and otters eat sea urchins. if the otters disappear, so will the kelp forest. that makes them a keystone species.

// otters take parenting very seriously.

otter moms teach their babies how to do everything: how to dive, how to crack shells, and how to survive on the shores of California. if an otter baby is separated from its mother, it needs to get help quick. the aquarium has some foster otter moms who will teach lost babies how to survive in the wild.

// otters are pretty much the cutest thing in the world.
they are super-playful, mischievous, super-social, super-curious, and they do a lot of hugging. they're funny and fun to watch.


when we go to the aquarium, we pretty much just find a good spot in front of the otters and we are entertained for quite a while. I would really like to have one for a pet, but they can get to be over 50lbs, and they play really rough with each other. and I don't have a giant water tank.

but if you get the chance to see them in Monterey, or out in the wild in morrow bay, take the opportunity. they're super-cool animals.

God is love.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

los gatos creek trail mile markers

my favorite way to start the day is to go to vasona park in los gatos and walk for an hour. I like to review my memory verses, have a prayer time, look at nature, and think about the day ahead. there are some cool little mile markers along the los gatos creek trail (which runs through the park); and I've often wondered where they lead. so recently, I made a goal to find all of them- and along the way, I learned a lot about the los gatos creek trail:

the trail is almost 10 miles long. it goes next to highway 17, under it (which was pretty spooky in earthquake country) and over 17!

the trail starts at the Lexington dam in los gatos.

here is the ZERO marker-
pretty much every part of the trail is full of walkers, runners and bikers- but this area is the least populated.
here is the half mile marker- its the only one that is damaged. ths stretch is the only part that isn't paved, and the only part of the trail that features a steep hill:

there is a big pipe that runs along this area, I have no idea what its for- probably water since its so close to the dam. its covered in moss and dirt and people write their names in it. there is some pretty spectacular scenery out in this area too- giant hillsides, a shaded creek, old trees-

here is the one mile marker:


the 1.5 marker is right along 17, just after downtown los gatos:

the 2 mile marker is behind old town los gatos just after a wooden bridge that goes over the creek-

the stretch between the 2 mile marker and the 3 mile marker is my favorite- and the park I walk on most days. the 3 mile marker is right before vasona park:

the 3.5 is at the end of vasona, just before the dam:
the area between mile 4 and 5.5 goes through a los gatos neighborhood from the park to lark avenue-

the area between mile 6 and 7 goes through los gatos creek park and all the way to Campbell park. a LOT of people jog in this area:

the 7.5 marker is at Campbell park and hides under this rock. Campbell park is a great park for the kids and is close to downtown campbell:
the trail goes behind the pruneyard and through downtown los gatos at mile 8. this is the most urban part of the trail- with the trail actually going through a parking lot at one point:
the trail goes past Blackford Elementary school in Willow Glen and then ends at Meridian Avenue in Willow Glen:

this photo is the only one that I googled. I searched for an hour trying to find this marker. it certainly isn't a half mile from the previous one. it may have been removed, or it might have been covered in ivy or something, but it made me super frustrated because I couldn't find it! if anyone knows where it is, please let me know!
here is where the trail ends at meridian in willow glen:

the los gatos creek is an awesome way to get a walk in and enjoy nature right here in los gatos/ Campbell/ willow glen/ san jose. there is good parking, and almost all of it is paved. there's also lots of dog doo-doo stations; and Campbell park and vasona park are 2 of the best parks in the area for kids.
check it out!