Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

This year Wendy and I wanted to do Christmas differently. We really trimmed down our gift giving. For so many reasons (spiritual satisfaction, living on one income, avoiding materialism) we wanted a simple Christmas that focused on Jesus. I'm very convicted of my own materialistic tendencies. I confess I love to get and buy stuff, and I know that this Christmas I had to make some intentional choices to downsize the gift giving, so I can implement this more in my whole lifestyle. I told a lot of my family not to worry about gifts, and I really think it helped prevent the stress of the season from overtaking us.

For my daughter, our morning started out singing songs and making our way to our living room where she received three wrapped gifts (books) from us. With out so much time gathered around gifts (that she'll quickly forget about and not want anyway) we were able to spend more of our time simply being together as a family, playing, eating, etc. We gave her this one specially,created Dora book from Shutterfly, and it was so hilarious her reaction.

Wendy and I decided not to exchange gifts and to find other ways to express our love and appreciation. We really felt like we truly did get that this season. After our Dora book reading session, we made our way to our friend Jenni Ingram's house for what we fondly called, "WAFFLE BALLS!" They were out of this breakfast world. So good. It's actually called Aebleskiver, a Danish delicacy. They are like waffle donut holes. My daughter ate 2. I ate 11.
Too bad the gym was closed today.
After our waffle balls we took a nice, long, family nap. Then made our way to my in-laws for some more celebrating.
Overall, We enjoyed great times with family and friends in California and Chicago this Christmas 2008. We had times of intentional conversation and prayer. We were able to serve together and have time to reflect, read, and pray. I have to share this, though! Here's one gift I did get that had a positive effect on me!
Compassion International is a well-known organization that I love, and have sponsored a child with them for about ten years. It's a great way to give and help children in poverty. This was one gift that fit just right and felt good that it wasn't about ME! And since this is my 1st Christmas in California (since we are usually in Chicago) I was able to join our Street Church family to celebrate tonight, another great gift.Ending the day with my friends on the street was one of Christmas' true blessings! To be outside in the cold, simply celebrating with others by eating together and singing was a real gift. It was such a special way to for me to feel that the true celebration of Christmas wasn't lost in my busyness or the typical holiday commercialism. Thank you God for coming into our lives. Thank you Jesus for coming into our cold and broken world, being a homeless king, and choosing humility. We worship you and thank you.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa Stance

So, I'm a bit nervous with this post. I know there are a lot of hard core Santa lovers and I'm afraid I'll have a candy cane drive by tomorrow morning. So hear me out, and beware to all Santa believing children (and parents) that this post may be hazardous to your Christmas spirit. (Run for the hills--this post contains a SPOILER!).

My wife told me my Santa stance can sound self-righteous, and I really want to avoid that. But I have a problem with the Santa thing, and for that reason, we wont give presents from Santa, or set out cookies, etc. I admit, as a 7 year old kid I couldn't sleep Christmas Eve hoping to catch a glimpse of Rudolph and I'm not too messed up, but I just can't do it to my kids.

My buddy Matt posted his 2 cents on his blog and I'm feel the same way. It just feels like lying to me. I know it's about the magic of Christmas, but I wonder if all our Santa effort really does take away from the real meaning: God's love for the world through Jesus' birth. I was saddened while watching a documentary that talked about how commercialized Christmas has become that it practically squeezes out focus on Jesus.

I remember reading about a woman who's own personal faith in Jesus Christ was shattered when she discovered the truth about Santa. She remembers stumbling upon evidence that her parents were actually wrapping presents and writing out tags. (How many times has that happened right? Come on parents, get a clue.) This made her wonder about God and her belief in the "story" of Jesus. Had her parents just finagled some lie about the Messiah, too, just so she would be "good?" It caused her to walk away from Santa and her belief in Jesus. She wondered if Sunday School teachings were the equivalent of cookies and milk left out every Christmas eve. She had huge trust issues with her parents. Eventually later in her life she reconciled that Santa was a fairy tale and Jesus was the truth, but it didn't' come without heartache and difficult confrontations with her self and her parents. How could something so innocent as Santa damage a person like that. I believe it was about truth/trust which is a foundation to all relationships. Her story caused me to form a very strong conviction. Like Matt said, I want to tell the truth to my kids so that they trust me. I want to handle Santa the same as I would the story of Cinderella or any other fairy tale. This doesn't mean I''ll ostracize any parent who doesn't:) So, ok, to lighten this up a bit-have you seen Macy's ads? Trump, Jessica Simpson, Tommy Hilfigger..are you serious?

Too self-righteous? I hope not. Now, the bridge we'll have to cross some time in the future (your suggestions are welcome)is how to protect our kids from spoiling others hopes and dreams for ole' Saint Nick to drop by their pad every 12/24. Till, then, Merry Christmas. May we savor and enjoy time with family and the thoughts of how much God loves us that he sent his only son.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dance Party

Chalk this up to another reason I love my daughter and being her father.

I hope she grows a heart to worship God like David did, with dancing and all her might. May this be true of every one of God's worshippers. May we all have a heart to worship like we do the things we love, for it is in living passionately like this that we bring God worship, too.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My recent movie viewing

Here are some of the movies I've seen over the past month.

In Theaters:
Bolt-Cartoon, sappy, silly, the hamster is the highlight. Rent it, or skip it all together. 

Twilight-Curiosity got me. Yes, I confess I saw it. Now, I know why we have a problem in this generation with unhealthy dating relationships. Why do girls go after the bad boys? Especially boys who could kill you by sucking your blood to death. It's not quite the next Harry Potter, but if your curiosity gets you, rent it. I saw it with two other dudes, and we were overwhelmingly outnumbered by female tweens. Not enough action, but great soundtrack. 

7 pounds-Will Smith. Who is really good? Twists and turns make this movie intriguing, just wait until the end. But afterward you wonder--what is the real message and is it a good one? It's a good conversation piece. It's no Memento, or Babel, but tries to be. See it with a friend and converse. What's with the title first of all?

What Would Jesus Buy? A wacky, zealous, weird documentary that convicted me. Sometimes I wondered if I was watching heresy, but it's actually a performance, and I like Morgan Spurlock's work. A traveling, musical, protest. It makes you think and challenges the American way. This Christmas we might not just be consumers but we might be CONSUMED.  The Reverend Billy reminds of a crazed out Bill Hybels. Rent it, converse, and stop shopping. 

The Visitor: Stellar performances. Diversity. Relationships. Questions issues of immigration. Heart-warming. Rent it and consider banging on a drum.

And again, I still recommend FINGER OF GOD

Saturday, December 20, 2008

the fruit of the Spirit can grow in airports...

Seriously, this is how bad Christmas movies are made.

Airport cancels flights because of snow. People have to wait in long lines for hours, for their re-booked flights, to do simple things like print boarding passes cause machines were out of order.

Meanwhile five airline employees huddle together and talk to each other behind the counters while irate travelers cuss and throw luggage. These five women supposedly are only trained at putting labels on luggage. There were only 2 trained ticket agents for all hundred people in line. I manged to keep my cool, miraculously, and step in and talk to each person in line so that we could go to the front within ten minutes to make it to our flight. (Did I tell you they left our stroller in the snow and the pilot had to get it? He returned it to us with 3 inches of snow piled in it). Ug, thankfully God's Spirit reminded us to be patient and kind. He knows at times, I too, wanted to throw some luggage around and drop a few choice words, but I saw that behavior doesn't help one bit
And somehow, thanks to God, we managed to make it home with only a "pair of wings" pin to show for it. Our flight took 4 hours 49 minutes. Again, we were thankful to God that although energetic Isella didn't sleep one wink, (but fell asleep in the car 2 minutes before we arrived home) she was happy and not fussy on the plane. I have many ideas for a straight to DVD Holiday flick.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Snowed In" Chicago

I've been spending the past short week with my family celebrating an early Christmas and my Dad's 60th birthday. It's been great. And today, it snowed all day on our intended departure day. A 30 minute car ride turned into 2-3 hours for many, including us to and from the airport.
Our flight said ON TIME up until the minute we got to the gate when it was delayed one hour. We then got on the plane bout 2 hours after our intended time, and they said they'd have to de-ice the plane for two hours while we sat on the plane. You can imagine how frustrating, and tiring it is in general being alone, let alone with a child. God was obviously with us as our little toddler was completely flexible and go-with-the-flow. We were amazed even more when they said our flight was cancelled (along with hundreds of others) and re-booked for tomorrow. I called my parents and they had just gotten home from dropping us off and turned around to come get us again.
Here Isella plays with other kids stranded and waiting in the airport. There was such sweet joy in this experience when all around people were cussing, angry, and short with one another. God used Isella to remind me to relax and be patient--not easy when you just want to get home!
We watched people snuggle up on airport benches prepared to wait out the night with no hotel or luggage in sight. Although our luggage is somewhere, hopefully destined to be in Sf at some point, I'm grateful we could come back to my parent's house for the night. As I put Isella to bed I did our usual routine. We prayed, sang songs and recited scripture. Tonight she said, "Again," in an unusual place. It was right after I sang her Jeremiah 29:11-13. Usually she wants me to repeat, "The Wheels on the Bus," or "Jingle Bells," lately. But tonight it was the reminder that God's got a plan. That was cool So, we'll try again tomorrow and see what God has in store.

Good News for your Ipod: Christmas Version

Friday, December 12, 2008


During Christmas we as a church hope for people to join us as we celebrate, right? This spoof is hilarious, again reminding me that Christians are weird, and sometimes we have to be really sensitive about our insider language to not ostracize those taking a risk to seek God with us. This video speaks for itself.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


After hearing the bum news that one of my three fave shows Pushing Daisies is being cancelled, I stumbled on the new song, YOU FOUND ME, by the Fray. This great song is also being featured on Lost (one of my other faves). Cool thing is the Fray guys are all Christ Followers doing their music and art in the pop music scene. So if you listen, you can hear echos of their faith bounce through. I've also hung out with their drummer, Ben, as he married one of our young adult women (who also was one of the photographers at our wedding four years ago). So although I'm seriously bummed to lose this artistic and spiritual piece of TV, I'll now make room for Lost which starts 1/21!

PS. My third fave show is 30 Rock. I used to be in to Heroes the 1st season, but haven't made the time to watch any of the DVR recorded episodes since.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Make a Caption

One of my favorite magazines always has a comic caption contest. They post a picture and then have people send in their captions. I keep hoping to have one of mine published. It can be so funny how one picture elicits so many different responses. So, until I make it big, I thought I'd try it on my own. Post your captions to the picture below by leaving a comment. (This is not my daughter by the way).
Later in the next week I'll also post my "Santa Stance." What I think about Santa and how our family will deal with that little holiday "issue. "

Monday, December 08, 2008

72 hours of fun and craziness

What do rehearsing and performing a sketch, finishing a 10 page paper, hosting a young adult event, seeing my wife off to vacay in Portland have to do with each other? They all happened in the same 72 hours as I was solo dad with Isella.

Leave it to me to let that happen. Seriously, though, God really provided me with strength and power to thrive through it. I had AMAZING times with Isella. She was so fun and sweet. I finished my paper and felt good about it 1.5 hours before it was due to be emailed in Saturday Night 10:30pm. The sketch gave me some much needed creative outlet and it went off with out a hitch Sunday Morning at our Church's worship gathering. In-laws helped out, Wendy had fun and returned safe. I'm so thankful.

Every Church Christmas celebration needs a little nativity sketch. Here's one written and acted by Darin Adams (who is PCC's worship pastor for the month of December). It takes a different twist on the 3 Kings. I got to play a "wise-guy." The youtube video starts a little way into the story where the kings are bragging about what they've done to honor the new king. I play King Melchoir, "Mo," who is a little into his gold and gift giving. They visit Mary and Jesus...and then Bada Bing they're outta there.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Finger of God

It's after midnight and I have a Seminary paper now due in 11 hours, 51 minutes. But I'd rather be doing lots of other things. 1-Reading this film maker's blog, 2-Doing my own blogging 3-blogging about this documentary. 
Finger of God. I've watched it three times now. 

Watch the trailer below--or watch this interview (give some grace to the cheesiness) on this "supernatural" talk show.  (Supposedly all of the movie can be watched on YouTube). I really like this guy Darren Wilson, the director. He's real, humorous, honest, and he's witnessed a lot. Listen to his story

After viewing this film I've concluded:
We/I have a small faith. 
We/I am comfortable, lazy, fearful, and too busy to really experience God's power. 
We/I need to act on God's word, his promises... and I will...!

Just tonight, after viewing the film,  a group of men took to the street of Redwood City simply to pray for people and God is at work. I'm already getting text messages about the way God moved and opened up conversations for people to pray. 
I wish I could write more, there will be more on this, soon. 

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Let there be lights, and more lights, and more...

I wanted to avoid shopping like the a swarm of mosquitoes on Black Friday. But we had set up our Christmas tree and of course we were short one string of lights. So, we made a dash to the mad-crazy Target filled with after Turkey day bargain shoppers. I beat my way through the crowds to the light aisle. The amount of lights to choose from is ridiculously big. I just wanted one regular, old-school strand of white lights. There is now a crazy 22nd century selection, Jetson style. Blinking, moving, name it, they have it. Speaks to how this season has has the potential to be so glamorized that we sometimes miss really enjoying why we even have it to begin with.

On another note, I always notice when manger scenes have other random additions to Bethlehem. Santas hanging out with shepherds, snoopy leaning up on sheep, or Winnie the pooh on a Ferris wheel. Like this one. Did you know there were penguins hot air ballooning over the manger when Jesus was born?

Please share and make me laugh if you've seen anything like this on a front lawn near you.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Adoption and Foster Care

Kudos to the churches in Colorado! I hope this for our state, for our country.

Would you pray for the God's people to take up the cause of the orphan? Will you consider praying how you can support children in need so we can fulfill God's command.
I can't help tearing up watching this. I hope that I can be a part of bringing this vision to PCC and beyond.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Advent Conspiracy...again

I posted this once, but it's worth the reminder.

What are you doing to be different this Christmas? It's 24 days away.

How about serving in this way: Send a letter of prayer and scripture to one of our troops serving abroad.