Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday

"I really can't afford this TV -- I'll be making monthly payments on my credit card until this time next year," the 19-year-old Laguna Niguel resident said. "But it's the holidays. You do what you have to do."

- From an LA TIMES article today.

Also, check out my friend Tommy's Blog for some interesting comments sent to him by his professor regarding Black Friday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I don't know what to blog about anymore. Mainly that is because I find it hard to collect my thoughts into a cohesive blog. In fact, a lot of times I'll sit down and start blogging... and then give up and erase it all because it makes absolutely no sense.

So I've decided, this time, to just write. The next few paragraphs are me just writing about whatever comes to mind... so please don't feel like you should read it, or that I expect anyone to read it - it's more for my own good.

Being a parent is hard. There are so many things you have to think about, and I am not a very good planner/organizer/time manager. And without adequate sleep, I begin to forget things... there's always something that needs to get done, and I forget to do half of it. I've also found that I suck at prioritizing. Sometimes I'll spend an hour on something worthless, and then realize I could have been doing one of the things I need to get done. That's hard for me - I really feel bad about it afterward, but don't really know how to change. I feel like I need a billion post-it notes taped to my body so I won't forget things. But then, organization takes time, and I feel like time is limited these days. Perhaps I need to figure out ways to get things done faster, or to do the things that matter the most first, and wait on the superfluous things. I need to manage my time better, otherwise things start to suffer: my marriage, the house (the yard), the youth group, friendships, and eventually - me. But I seem to only be able to concentrate on the thing that is suffering at the moment, thus forgetting about the other things until they suffer. It's this vicious cycle. For instance, I eat crappy food until I get sick, then I eat really good, feel better, then it's back to eating crappy because when I'm feeling good I don't have time to think about eating healthy. It's stupid, I know, but it seems to be how things are going at this point in my life.

It's hard managing your time between yourself, your wife, your kids, your job, your friends, God, and then everything else you have to do: bills, cleaning, taking a shower, watching tv, checking email, playing the wii ^_^ Has anyone figured it out yet?

And then I think of people who have done really amazing things, or have built their own business or something, and I wonder - how the hell did they find time for that? I can barely run my own life. And this made me ponder today, I haven't really been thinking about others - meaning, the poor, the sick, the needy; because I can barely think about myself and taking care of all the needs of my own family. Perhaps this is why Jesus was single; he could give much more of his time to the needy. So is it wrong to focus on your family so much and forget about - at least a little bit - the poor and needy? Will there come a time when I am more established and feel like I can focus on more things than I can right now? I sure hope so...

Am I happy right now? Well I know I am really overwhelmed - not just in the bad sense of feeling out of touch and a little frazzled - but also in the good sense of having so many good feelings about life, family, and our beautiful baby girl. But I feel like all my emotions get thrown into a big mush pot and I don't really feel any of them... it's just this constant stream of BLAH and trying to get through each day. There is no clarity, no definition.

And how is my faith? Well... I feel like I have been on cruise control just going through the motions - not that this is completely bad, a person has to survive, but I am looking forward to the day soon when I can learn again, be challenged and feel like God is moving me in a direction. I do feel like God is watching over Robin and I, and he still has plans for us to be his disciples... but right now all we can think about is Amalea... and I'm ok with that. She is making my faith stronger...

Here are some random thoughts for the moment:

.. Formula smells bad, and makes Amalea's poop smell retched.
.. Sleep is beautiful, and I suck at it.
.. Breast pumps are weird looking.
.. God is freakin' incredible... how did he do it? Create breathing? Create life?
.. You can chant Amalea's name like the sports chant "Let's go Dodgers... da, da, da da da da" - "A - MA - LEE - AH... da, da, da da da"
.. You can also sing Amalea's name a billion different ways, most of which I have tried.
.. I can eat a whole meal in three bites, and then get to Amalea before she cries.
.. Burping babies make me jump out of bed in the middle of the night.
.. The commute to work is the most peaceful part of my day.
.. watching someone you love be in pain, any kind of pain, is the worst thing in the world.

more to come.

Monday, October 29, 2007


I'm not against children's music - I love Rafi. But children's praise songs are about the worst collection of songs ever written... and this tops that list. Listener beware; this is the worst song, EVER.

* This is from a Kid's DISCovery cd that Marty got. It highlights new worship music for kids... haha. The name of this "Band" is Covenant Canyon's Cowboy Hat Choir... need I say more?

Monday, October 22, 2007

My new life

Can I even relate what it feels like to have a child?

Everything changes.

And I don't just mean that you have less time for yourself (I'm so annoyed by those people who make it sound like they regret having kids). I'm talking, EVERYTHING changes. Suddenly the glasses you have been wearing up until now get shattered, replaced with new lens, and everything is different. Not only do you see things differently, you hear things differently, you feel things differently. Whatever chemical it is that our bodies release when we become parents (OXYTOSINE?) - it alters reality.

It enhances reality.

But more specifically, being a parent increases empathy.

For the first time I am beginning to understand, or at least empathize, with certain people.

For instance, I understand over protective parents. I still don't think it is healthy to be super over protective - but I understand how people become that.

I understand marital and family issues, how stressful parenting can be and how some who aren't prepared (mentally/spiritually) can break and lose it.

Suddenly the world is beginning to make more sense... and it doesn't freak me out, or make me angry. Instead, it gives me hope. I know that sounds weird... but in a way it helps me see the why behind certain things in the world which helps me be a better pastor. I don't know how to describe that - except that my job is to see the unseen. To witness the why's and help people see, understand, empathize, and hopefully... forgive. We could all use a little forgiveness. A little grace. Being a parent has taught me grace... we are all fragile, we are all weak. We are all trying the best we can with the hand we've been dealt. Even that effort of trying the best we can is effected by our pasts... it is all connected.

Things are beginning to make sense. But there are still so many mysteries. How do families become so dysfunctional and brothers and sisters, parents and kids become so angry towards each other? Where does it start? Can you see destruction happening - or does it just hit you in the face one day... Will it happen to us? So many questions still... a journey, a new life I am learning to live. A new dance to learn... and now Robin, Amalea and I are taking our first steps...stumbling to the rhythm, learning the dance.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Being a father...

I have had two weeks of being a father and how do I feel? Overwhelmed.

Amalea was born two weeks ago on Oct. 1 - and since then, things have been so weird. Suddenly there is this person, this little innocent person that you just can't stop thinking about. There is always something to do; change a diaper, burp her, rock her to sleep, try to wake her up, give her a bath - and when I'm not trying to help with Amalea, there's always our lives that still keep going on; laundry, dishes, work, Zelda (ok that's not a necessity), etc. Life is so busy and demanding now, not to mention scary.

Tonight Amalea would not stop crying. And I don't mean a whimper or a little wah wah every other second. This was a non-stop breath taking, chill-giving scream-a-thon with no end in sight. Poor little thing looked like she was on the verge of death. And I held her and rocked her and put her over my shoulder to try and burp her while she screamed in my ear... but no luck, just scream scream scream. And who do you call? Is it bad enough to call 911? Is it bad enough to drive 30 minutes to the ER? Kaiser has no hotline, no nurse to talk to... so you're left weighing what you should do... and you're never really sure you made the right decision even when you buckle down and make a decision. I guess that describes fatherhood to a T. You do what you can - you do what you think you have to in any given moment, and pray that it's the right thing. Of course there is preperation and reading advice from professionals, but half the time they all contradict themselves, and all you can trust is intuition.

Robin is a great mother. She is so patient with Amalea, and so diligent at making sure she gets fed and I can tell it pains her to see her baby cry.

Together we are figuring this thing out, this crazy task that God has given to us to create and then raise children. Insane.

i've never felt overwhelmed in my whole life... wow.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


I know it's been a long time, and even now - I have no thoughts of my own to share, but instead a poem that I found, and love:

I died for Beauty - but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb
When One who died for Truth, was lain
In an adjoining Room-

He questioned softly "Why I failed"?
"For Beauty", I replied-
"And I - for Truth - Themself are One-
We brethren, are", he said

And so, as Kinsmen, met a Night-
We talked between the Rooms-
Until the Moss had reached our lips-
And covered up-our names-

Friday, September 14, 2007


Two weeks of "my new job" which isn't new at all, just a little more responsibility, and I am already so tired. I feel like I have worked every day for the past two weeks, and I am starting to feel it. I just keep thinking about how tired I will be when Amalea comes... and it does not make me mad or regret in any way having a child - it just makes me a little nervous: How will I respond to little to no sleep?

I have been thinking a lot about sleep lately. Recently I listened to a Radio Lab podcast about sleep, and they say that Scientists don't really know why we sleep - only that when we don't, BAD things happen. People get irritable and down right nasty. Sometimes I wonder, will I ever yell at my daughter? I can't decide. Everyone says, "Oh you will." And I don't want to be snobby and think that I really won't... but I really don't think I could - at least, not in the "losing it yell for no reason yell because I'm pissed the Dodgers lost" sort of way. you know?

Anyway... perhaps we'll just have to wait and see!

All I know is that Amalea is going to be given life and to the fullest. I will do my best to create a space where she can dream, where she can find her voice, and learn to love. I will hold her when she cries and is hurting, and listen when she discovers new things. I will let her imagine, I will let her create. She will laugh and we will sing together. Dance, and perhaps cry together. She is a blank canvas and she will hold the paint brush of her life, and I can't wait to see what she paints. She will be beautiful... and she will be loved.

And if she's a he - he will be cherished and given the chance to explore and figure things out, and I will love him so much.

God, thank you for life.

Sunday, September 9, 2007


It is by far the best day of the week. Sundays start earlier then any day of the week for me. It's up and adam (whatever that means) at 7 or 7:30 (depending on if I want to get to church on time... not that I really have to) then off to church at around 9.

Robin and I get through the first service, usually passing notes to each other or whispering things in each others ears (yes i know we're going to hell for this) and then it's off to lead the youth through some exciting worship songs (they look like the zombies on 28 days later) and then try and teach them something new (we actually do have some pretty interesting conversations most of the time). It's great seeing all of our friends (by friends I mean the high school and Jr. highers) and most Sundays we go out to lunch after church with a bunch of the teens.

It's just such a relaxing day.

When we get home, the house feels so peaceful, and Robin and I usually just sit around and enjoy being tired on the couch (I know this all changes very soon). We play video games or watch movies (today we watched another one of my Anime films), check our email or take a nap - we're just lazy - and it's great.

From the time we get home from church, to the time we eat dinner, those few hours are the most precious to me. I feel like in those few hours, Robin and I can do whatever we want...

Sunday dinners we try and make, so we spend some quality time at the table talking about the week to come, the week past, and church that day. Our meals are simple - usually just an entre (most of the time it's those frozen meals from Trader Joes) and a salad or other vegetable concoction. We help each other with the dishes, and then sometimes take a walk in the setting sun and the afternoon breeze. It's very serene.

In the evening, it's more of nothing - or a little planning for the week, reading, writing in our blogs, or more video games. Sometimes we play Scrabble... I love that.

Right now, Robin is resting on the couch, her belly exposed and just waiting to pop. Even in this constant state of discomfort, she looks peaceful. Sundays do that to us. We dont think about Monday or the fact we have to go back to work... all we can do is rest. It's beautiful. Amalea will not "ruin" these moments, she will only bring more vibrant color and life to this almost perfect day. She will fill the room with laughter and emotion, and fill our hearts with joy. We are so excited for her to come.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Nausicaa of the valley of the Wind

Even if you aren't a big Anime fan, this was a great story about peace, non-violence, the effects of war, and the pollution of the earth. I love the way that Anime deals with very human concepts in imaginative and creative ways. This movie paints a beautiful stunning world that steals you away and yet brings you face to face with the ugliness of human hatred, violence, rage, and war (competition to survive).

I recommend it. Give it a chance, you'll probably have to find it on Blockbuster online, or NetFlicks or something.

I'm pretty sure it was made in 1984, but the English dubbing must be pretty recent as Shia LeBouf or whatever his name is is in it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


It is 2:15am right now. I woke up to the sound of silence. It was eerie. The weather has been so strange lately, and tonight I woke up and it was so still. No wind. No dogs barking. No cars driving. No train. Just silence. The house even feels quiet. It's odd.

Maybe God is just getting my body ready to get up in the middle of the night.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Absent Fathers

Why are men, traditionally, such selfish, inconsiderate, arrogant ass-holes?

Robin and I had lunch with my brother Bryan and his wife and three kids today in Santa Barbara, and on the way home we listened to a THIS AMERICAN LIFE episode called ACCIDENTAL DOCUMENTARIES. The show focuses on a bit of old tape dating from the 50's and 60's that was found at a thrift store which contained home recordings. The idea behind the episode was that these home recordings could be called "accidental documentaries" because they weren't purposefully recorded as documentaries, and therefor contain the very element of real life that documentaries try and capture, but so often can not because of the awareness that people are being filmed or recorded.

Anyway, the whole episode also centered around fathers - and not intentionally really, it just happened that through these recordings, you found holes... holes in families caused by absent fathers. Fathers who are so preoccupied by their work, by their obsessions, or by themselves, that their families never really get to know them. Either by ego, or issues from their own past, or just an ideology that they must be the sole provider of the family and therefore become work-a-holics... these fathers never connect with their kids, oppress their wives, and more often then not, end up miserable and alone. Which leads me to wonder... why are men such self-centered, egotistical maniacs who are only concerned about themselves, their interests, and getting what THEY want in life? How does this happen?

For instance, in one of the documentaries... it is a mother and father recording messages to their son who is away at college. The mom constantly is talking about her feelings and emotions, about her religion and worship time - while the dad's extent of discussion usually focuses around talking about machinery and his job, and telling crude jokes. It's like the only thing this Dad thinks about, is his job, and his machinery (toys). Everything else comes second - whether he thinks so or not.

Will I be such a father? I'm torn when I think about my career as a Youth Pastor - spending time with kids - and my role as a father - spending time with my own kids... and can I balance the two or will I focus so much on my job that I forget about my family... ? I think about how there are things I like, such as computers, web design, video games, and reading... will I get so caught up in my hobbies and pleasures that I disregard my wife and children's feelings? God, I hope not.

But then I have this strange thought... it seems, that most of the time, you can't really blame some of these men who end up being really bad fathers... Nobody taught them otherwise, they have so many issues from their own past they can't get past them. And perhaps they really are torn inside, they want to be good fathers but they just can't seem to get past their desires (success, football, women, toys, beer, whatever it is...) and so the desires win...

...I probably won't be like this, but that is because I think about this stuff a lot. I am a thinker... a philosopher - but most men are not. Most men are into cars and football, and couldn't tell their wife was sad unless there were tears rolling down her cheek (and even then...). So for the rest of time, for the rest of humanity, is this how it will be? Men will be selfish, arrogant ass-holes who put themselves before anyone else?

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Radiolab is one of the most brilliant, provoking, entertaining radio shows in the last ten years, if not the best radio program on the air right now. Hands down (although This American Life is a close second - first if you factor in longevity).

You must check it out if you haven't. Download their podcasts... they are fascinating and will leave you reeling for days.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Tomorrow marks the official end of Summer. This summer was unusually quiet and uneventful... well minus the pregnancy of course. But there were no foreign countries visited, or out of state week-long mission trips, or anything relatively out of the ordinary. (ok we did go to Oregon, which was great, but I'm just saying relatively - compared to the last few summers... and by few I mean the last 7 years... this summer was quiet)

But this summer was good. Good is such a blah word that could mean a million different things... but I'm not sure how to describe it. It was a summer of opposites... relaxing/stressful, busy/uneventful, different/the same old thing... things like that.

And now, as I alluded to in the last post, I am getting ready for the BIGGEST change of my life thus far; fatherhood. Once again I feel like I am standing on the edge of a cliff - clear blue water below - my heart is beating faster and faster as I realize I must jump - for there is no going back. I see that the future is down there... down where I can barely make out if it's deep enough - if I'll survive this jump - if there is peace somewhere down the river... but I have to jump. It's more like I am being pushed - which is great because I'm sort of a wuss most of the time anyway...

... so here we go.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


So how do you get there? You know... to the place you're suppose to get to. I think I'm lost...

Or maybe I'm not lost but I've forgotten where I was going. Things are rushing by me, and I know I'm moving - but I can't seem to see over the horizon. The clouds have moved in close and the trees are getting thicker and my life feels like a car slowing down just before a blind curve - not knowing what lies ahead - and being cautious for fear of the unexpected. Is this the way? Will I make it safely? Have I lost control... did I ever really have control?

There are so many questions/thoughts swirling in my head; it feels like a blended latte with a triple shot of expresso. I don't even drink coffee and that sounds about right. A million words travelling at a million miles per second through the corridors of my mind... slowing just enough so I get a glimpse, then speeding on, frustrating the crap out of me. I can't catch them... but I need to. Is this how normal people are? Not even able to catch their own thoughts...

Will the baby arrive ok? Will she be healthy?
Will I be a good father?
Will Robin be ok?
Will we have enough money? Do we need more? Do we need less?
What the heck is going on with my job? Do I suck at it?
Am I even doing anything worth while? How can I handle more responsibility?
When will I start to feel like I know what I'm doing?

... did I mention there were a million other questions/thoughts?

It feels good to write them down. Blogs are funny. Sometimes I wonder if anyone reads this. Other times I don't care - I just want to write - and the blog is a good excuse to. It makes my thoughts feel more real - now I can see them... almost touch them. I've captured them.

Now... how do I make sense of them?



Because it's free.