Thursday, December 7, 2017

10 things that I'm into right now:

here are 10 things that I currently love- although if you know me, these will be no surprise to you-

1. the Polaroid zink printer-
it takes pictures from your phone and makes little stickers out of them! I use these when I'm recording a memory in my journal, or when I'm sending mail to my volunteers or students, or when I just want to put a memory on my refrigerator door. The printer is about the size of a cell phone and connects through bluetooth- so its portable, wireless, and way cheaper than a regular photo printer.  also- its better than a regular Polaroid camera, because you know exactly how the picture will turn out.

2. vibram five-fingers

I love these shoes. I would wear them all the time if I could get away with it. they change the way you run so that you land with the front of your foot instead of your heel- which makes running painless. they look goofy- but I swear by them. they are a little pricey, and they take some getting used to, but I think they are well worth it. in the last 6 years I have put almost 13,000 miles in shoes like these.

3. russian blue cats.

these cats are super-cool. they don't shed! they are clean and quiet- and the way they are bred their faces appear to be smiling. who wouldn't want a clean, mellow, smiling cat?

4. noodles and company
this place is making a fortune off of us. Its delicious and I could seriously eat there every night. its pasta, but without the waiters and menus. jane gets the mac and cheese- I get the alfredo- deanna gets the soup. I don't know if you have one of these in your town, but if you do, treat yo-self.

5. checkers

when we are at noodles, (or anywhere else) we play checkers. over and over. we have checkers at the house, checkers in the car, big checkers, small checkers- and we know all of the places that have built-in checkers-tables. its a simple game that everyone knows- its a great way to exercise your brain and to teach your kids how to think ahead and to make wise choices. 

6. curse of oak island

this show is fascinating. there is an island in canada that is rumored to have a giant treasure hidden underground. is it pirate treasure? solomon's treasure? no one knows! people have been searching for it for hundreds of years.
on this show, two brothers have brought in giant drills- and they have been pulling up all kinds of mysterious objects from 170 feet below the surface- like bits of pottery, gold, coins, buttons from military uniforms, chains, and human bones. their drills sometimes run into "voids" or underground rooms- sometimes they run into solid objects- which could be concrete walls hiding chambers- sometimes they run into booby-traps that flood their drill holes with sea water. there are clues all around the island- like faces carved into rocks at different parts of the island and all looking in the same direction. what's at the bottom of the holes? will we ever find out? I'm hooked.

7. toy story faces for apple watch

every time I check the time, a different animated toy story character appears on my watch face and does something hilarious. As I work with kids, they love to look at my watch and tap on it to change out the characters. I like to do that too. 

8. miniatures!
I have been making miniatures models of local sights, bible stories, and families memories on my office plant every day. you can find them on instagram at @robsplant. I have discovered that everyone is secretly fascinated by miniatures and small models of things. when I was at disneyland recently, I was blown away by their models of disneyland and the rides. I love to look in craft stores for miniatures and to dream up how I could display a memory or a place in miniature. 

9. my hydro flask and my mios

I have been off of soda for almost 2 years- I have been drinking water flavored with my mio water enhancers. the hydro flask keeps my water cold for multiple days! and they come with cool accessories like shoulder slings, cup holder attachments and different lids. the mios can come with vitamins or caffeine- and you can get all kinds of flavors. I was drinking close to a six pack of soda a day- and now I won't go back to soda. I'm hooked!

10. ear plugs
I love the sound of silence. I'm able to think better, work better, pray better, memorize verses, quote verses and read better in silence. I started using ear plugs in college- and now I rely on them more than ever. I use them when I'm reading in a public place, or when I'm walking on the trail, or even when I'm working in my office. I keep them everywhere. I have experimented with a bunch of different ones and have found the make and model that are best for me. recently I was walking and praying and thinking, and there were some loud people on the trail that just seemed to be going at the exact same pace as me. I didn't have any ear plugs on me, and I realized just how much I appreciate them when they weren't there. 

I love all of these things- they aren't for everyone- and they reveal how quirky I can be. they also reveal how little things in life can bring us joy. 

God is love.

Monday, June 12, 2017

adventures in candidating

candidating is a church word that means applying for a new pastor-job. I spent the last few months candidating- and I noticed a few things:

1. there are a lot of little churches out there. 
most churches are pretty small- like 400 people or less. and that means they don't have much to spend on employees. they require most of their employees to have multiple jobs. I was often asked, " you know anything about web design?" one church wanted to hire me to be the children's pastor, the youth pastor, the missions pastor, and to fill in in other areas as needed. what?!

2. janitors are a luxury.
most churches can't afford a janitor. they lean on volunteers to clean up. and that means that a lot of churches are messy and cluttery. I found one small church that was immaculate. I don't know how they did it, but I was shocked by how clean everything looked and smelled. one church I went to had walls that were literally dirty. It took a ton of effort to not go and find a clorox wipe and clean it up. when finances are tight, there is a reluctance to throw stuff away- so they end up keeping things that are broken, work out, and out of date. 

3. theology is really important
many of the churches that I talked to were really into their specific brand of theology; or their specific denomination. they were very up front and told me that if I didn't fit their brand, that the conversation should end now. one church told me, "if you're not into john calvin the way that we are, you're not going to fit here." I met with one pastor and the very first thing he said to me in the interview was, "tell me about creation." I asked him what he meant. he said, "you know- Genesis 1-3. is the earth older than 6500 years? was the entire cosmos created in 6 literal days?" I paused. the interview didn't last long. 

4. churches move slow. 
so many of these churches make decisions by committees, and those committees can only meet when everyone is present, and can only make a decision when everyone agrees. I am still getting responses from applications that I sent in months ago. 

5. youth workers are underpaid
many of the churches that I talked to had a budget for their youth worker that was less than minimum wage; yet they required this worker to oversee multiple areas of the church and had extremely high expectations for these workers. many more expected their workers to work 70+ hours a week at half time pay. 

6. every church has a kitchen-
and without fail, it is usually bigger, nicer and cost more than the space used by students. 

7. many churches are run by volunteers with strong personalities.
I interviewed at multiple churches where I caught volunteers and church members bossing their pastor around. they intimidated them and belittled them in front of me. they often tried to intimidate me and warned me of what would happen if I changed their favorite program. 

8. I met a sad pastor...
I met with one pastor who led a small church. he used to work at a big church, but he got fired abruptly. that was almost 20 years ago; but to talk to him, the pain was still so fresh in his mind. he told me, "I don't want to be a big church. been there, done that. I don't want to be a hip church, or relevant. been there, done that. I don't want to have cool music or a cool atmosphere, been there, done that." he was content to keep on serving his small church until he retired. 

so I've been thinking, and I've come to some conclusions:

1. if you have a job- whether its a church job or not- you should be grateful for it; because being out of a job is really scary. if you do have a job, give it your very best- it is a gift from God. Be fun to work with. Be a team player and have a good attitude- it is a good thing to have a job, so enjoy it and do it well.

2. we need to always look at our environments with new eyes- what do other people see and hear when they come into our spaces? do they see clutter and dirt? have we stopped seeing it?

3. I don't ever want to be like that sad pastor. I don't want to be defined by my past. I don't ever want to stop dreaming. I don't ever want to become content. 

4. if you go to church, give to your church! help them to have the money they need to make the decisions and the hires they need to make. while you're at it, help out a little church on the corner if you can- (in ANY WAY you can) they need it!

5. listen to your encouragers
in my search, there was a consistent message given to me: 
its going to work out. 
God has a plan for you.
God loves you, and God is good. 
God has your back.
God isn't done with you. 
you need to trust.

a lot of days, those words went in one ear and out the other. I was so worried, that I was convinced that this was my problem to solve, not God's. I have met so many pastors who used to be a pastor, and now they are doing something else- and I was so worried that I would never get to serve God in church again. but then I found a job. and I was reminded that God has my back; and that I need to trust.

6. pray for your church- and for all of the churches. they don't have the resources they need. pray for your pastor- there are people in their lives that intimidate them. pray that God would provide all of the resources that your church needs to reach their city. churches depend on the generosity of their members to make it- let's all pray for the success of the churches across our land. 

7. get in the game- if you're not serving at your church already- let's get on with it! they need your help and skills. they could do so much more through you and your help! 

again- I want to thank you if you prayed for me, or encouraged me while I was searching for a new job- I can't express enough how much I appreciate that!

God is love.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

team rob

I don't know who reads this, but if you do, then you probably know that I recently started a new job at a new church! I might be guilty of wasting time, but I wanted to get this down before I forgot.

So- I transitioned away from my job of 16 years at the end of last month. (I will always be grateful to that church for the many years that I got to serve there, and the many memories that I made, and the many friendships that were developed there. I have nothing negative to say about them.) I began looking for a new role maybe 2 months ago. I put out resumes, filmed videos, made a zillion phone calls, skype calls and facetime calls- and I traveled all over speaking and having face to face meetings. At one point, I was sitting on my sofa talking with my wife and she said, "It seems like team-rob is out there working hard for you." 

team-rob? when she said that, I realized that there was this dedicated team of friends that did not let me go a single day without being prayed for and encouraged and advised. I just want to take a minute to recognize and thank some of the members of team-rob.

first there is niki- she met with me, and prayed for me, and told me how to do an interview, and how to make a linkedin profile. she checked in on me and told me that I was going to make it. she sent me job opportunities and gave me advice.

then there is mike. mike prayed with me, and hugged me, and told me that I was a good pastor. he listened to my options and gave me wise counsel. he was one of the first people that I called when I got my new role, and he cheered for me.

paco listened to me. he was one of my references, and he must have taken 20 calls from different churches. he represented me for hour and hours when you add it all up. I couldnt ask for a better guy to represent me. 

carlo fought for me- he was also one of my references, and he took many, many calls for me. he even tried to get me hired on at his church.

Trent called me several times, just to encourage me and to make me laugh. there was one day that was especially hard- I had recieved so many ejections, and I was feeling hopeless. I was sitting in a togo's and trent called and just said, "I just want to remind you that you are a good pastor." I was so fragile that I cried uncontrollably in the middle of togo's for an uncomfortable amount of time. when he heard that I got a new job he called me and just said, "yeah you did!"

Chris has been one of my best friends for as long as I can remember. His mother recently passed away, and he and I shared many, many tears together over the last few months. He called almost every day just to see how I was doing. 

I called my friend jim just to tell him what was going on, and just the sound of his voice made me cry and cry. I did a lot of crying over the last few months; jim prayed for me, and gave me perspective and encouraged me. he called almost every day to remind me that God is good, and that He has good plans for me.

I have a friend named chuck who is a pastor in the midwest. I called him to get his advice- when he spoke to me he referred to me as "pastor rob." I had not been called that in so long, and I doubted if I would ever be called that again. hearing him call me that gave me the ugly tears and it blessed my soul. he called me every day and prayed for me. he loudly  cheered for me when I got my new role. 

josh met with me- he went to bat for me. he tried to get me hired on at his church, and got me a meeting with his pastor, even though his pastor didn't really want to meet me. he and his wife faithfully prayed for me. 

andrew listened to me for hours. 

scott gave me contacts.

makepa hugged me and cried with me.

tahereh prayed for me faithfully every morning.

my mother texted me every morning, and reminded me that she had prayed for me; and that God is faithful. 

marvin fought for me, and gave my name to every pastor that he knew.

matt texted me, prayed for me, and encouraged me.

and deanna listened to me,
and prayed for me,
and hugged me,
and supported me,
and believed in me.
even when I didn't believe in myself. 

and there are so many others- parents of students, volunteers that I worked with, co-workers at my former workplace- its overwhelming how much support I have recieved over the last few months.
thank you friends.

even if your name isn't rob, I hope that you have a team-rob. I hope that your dark days are brightened by close friends. whatever you go through, I hope that you don't go through it alone. this was a scary chapter for me, but above all else, I was reminded that I am surrounded by a dear group of friends. I want to be a friend that is there on another friend's dark day- and I hope you do too.

God is love.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

elm street mission 2/24

last week was our annual service trip with the students. every time we go on this trip, one of the highlights is going to elm street mission in santa cruz and serving the homeless. this place is an old-time gospel mission, and they preach a firey message every night, and every night, those homeless Christians sing their hearts out from the hymnals.

every time we go, I always enjoy listening to the preacher, Mike Crane. he is a true hero to me, and the patron saint of santa cruz. this year he asked me to speak and it was one of the biggest honors of my life.

right before I went on to speak, we sang the hymns from the hymnal- and it made me remember all of those sundays sitting in my grandpa roger's church as he led singing through the hymnal; and I got pretty emotional. the song leader led out in the first few words of "how great Thou art" and I almost lost it. I found myself holding the hymnal one-handed just like my grandpa roger- and I knew that he was smiling on my from Glory as I was about to deliver the gospel in an old-time gospel mission. I did deliver that message- and God was in the room.

no particular point to share here- just a happy memory.
God is love.