Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Live your story...a Good Story

As the New Year, and new decade approaches, I'm not making any New Year's resolutions. These super-hyped, trendy-faux goals can end up becoming self serving to-do lists that end up causing guilt in hindsight come February. Besides, I have enough things to do on a day-to-day basis. Instead, I'm seeking out a better story--to intentionally live life with moxy. Inspired by Donald Miller's new book, A Thousand Miles in a Million Years, I've connected some serious dots with my love of art/film/books to real life. I truly recommend you get disturbed by this piece of work, what I think is one of the best books of the year. It woke me up and reminded me that I'm not just living for the perfect American dream: nice house/car, big paycheck, and 2.5 kids..nor am I living for the American Christian dream: comfort and security. I'm living for that "silver screen experience." It's what we all spend $10.50 for:, (minus the popcorn and sticky floor) action, complexity, ambition, sacrifice, and satisfaction when the credits roll. Except in real life it takes a lot longer than a mere two hours. A good life story takes years and years of wrestling with pain, addressing fears with courage, pursuing meaningful relationships and serving others in a way that costs and costs big time. It's trusting that in the messy process of learning to forgive, denying self, fighting for justice, loving family, enduring pain, and complaining about delayed flights-our character is transformed. And that's the point of a good story..and the point of a life: character transformation. Thanks to Donald Miller for that reminder. So, when I spoke this past Sunday I tried to weave all these things I was learning into a conversation to share with our church and created an artistic space for us to express our stories. It was a memorable time. I was completely inspired and felt like a photographer in a dark room putting together an exhibition. I invited the church to think about our life in scenes, by reflecting through piles of pictures and images. We identified "inciting incidents' in which we were forever changed by some pain, challenge, or obstacle in which we were undoubtedly propelled into action, into living a good story. We then journaled, drew, or wrote on these images to tell a collective story together and hung them up on a "story line." My hope is that we as God's people choose to submit our stories to each other, too, sharing and spurring one another on in our journeys. Listen to my message here.

Memorable concepts from the book:

The most important elements in a movie is the story.

There is purpose in every scene, every line.

A movie is moving-going somewhere.

With out story experiences are just random.

The same elements that are important to a story are important to life.

To know your story, ask yourself what you want in life. If we don’t want anything, we are living boring lives. If all we want is “stuff,” we are living vain lives.

When we live a story we are telling others around us what we think is important.

Nobody remembers easy stories, Characters must face fears with courage.

Happy & sad things in life are used to color the story.


Plan your story with God, and live it intentionally

Good stories don’t happen by accident

Story: a character who wants something & overcomes conflict to get it

Map out a story for your life. Map out a story for your family. Live story.

We are designed to live through something, not just attain something.

The point of the story is the character arc, the change

The point of the story is never the ending, it's the hard work and character molding in the middle that helps us appreciate the ending.

Really good stories are not full of security and comfort, but change & action.

There is an “inciting incident” which forces the character to move, to face fear and conflict

God wants us to live beautiful stories, but there are forces at work against us.

From Facebook see Video on my blog here:

Friday, December 25, 2009

All I want for Christmas is my 2 front teeth

....and the other 26. Every one of these little chompers are coming out and new ones are going in.

This year, I'm happy to say, it was quite bare under our Christmas tree. My wife and I decided that our children would only get three Christmas gifts each year, (Grandparents and extended family are extremely generous anyway so it's not like our kids are deprived). Three gifts connect to the Kings/Wise Men who brought frankincense, incense, and myrrh to Jesus. This sounds all spiritual, but we really like the symbolism, and the way it keeps us disconnected from materialism. Wendy and I also chose not to get gifts for each other this year, since honestly we just want to go out on dates together, but also because we have to save for my dental work. I feel so bad about all the teeth bills I am accruing and can't justify asking for any other gifts. All I want is my teeth! This full mouth reconstruction, complete with every tooth crowned in some way, has been going on for almost seven years now. In 2006 I blogged my discouragement, and I'm happy to say, that although things are progressing slowly, they are progressing. Even though I still battle discouragement, I'm content and seeing God at work, just like when I found hope in 2007 here, or when I blogged in March of this year that he provided! Eventually all $1100 for came in for my mouth necessity! At this time we are still fully debt free! It's making for a truly great story because I have no idea how God is going to come through in the future, but he I know he will. The most recent challenge unfolds in the New Year as we wait for God to provide tens of thousands of dollars. Yep, we are not buying a new home or starting our adoption process yet, (although we wish we could), we have to lay down this cash simply to put teeth in my mouth. CRAZY! So, I'm not asking Santa, I'm asking God to provide and trusting he'll provide for each of my 28 teeth at $1300 each. It will be a Merry Christmas, even if it's in June.

Love came down at Christmas

See Video from Jars of Clay here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Apparently Santa rearranges his schedule

Overheard a mom explaining to her daughter that Santa was coming to their house early. The daughter was confused. "Why does Santa have to come early, Mom?"
"Well, Santa's very busy on Christmas Eve and loves to get some of his visits out of the way early. So it works out perfectly so we can leave for vacation!"

Monday, December 21, 2009

VLOG 15 December 2009 TRT 4:59

Watch: December VLOG

Ahhh..Christmas! Jesus and...our...garbage.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What do you think of Wednesday's Picture?

Do you like White Elephant Parties? Why/Why not? What's a lasting memory of a gift you got or gave?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Social Networking.

Have you seen this video on Social Networking? Or this one?

Life is different than 10 years ago when I graduated college and didn't have a cell phone. Life is different than just 6 years ago when I didn't have a blog. Life is different than just on year ago when I wasn't on twitter. Some days I just need a break from it all. It's nice to turn it all off and rest. Maybe humans should take after bears and hibernate.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

What do you think of Wednesday's Picture?

What do you think of "updated/modern" nutcrackers?
(Yes, these are nutcrackers).

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

What do you think of Wednesday's Picture?

What do you think of lit up Nativity sets in front yards?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

How I spend Thursday Nights

"Tough Guys!"

Here's some pics of the class of kids I get to hang out with on Thursday nights. It's one of the highlights of my week. These guys (and there are more girls in the class than pictured but most of all left before we started taking the pics) mostly teens in RWC/Menlo schools are creme of the crop and have all been selected for a unique arts program (described below). The guy on the right in blue is Gabe, one of the Boys& Girls' club's leader. He's a great dude, and I hope he joins us on our Winter Retreat! *He's also featured in the video link below.

By a gracious grant from Adobe and the Black Eyed Peas these kids have a phenomenal space to work their creativity. Full dance studio, computer lab for editing videos, and an amazing sound studio to record their music. It's a very amazing thing that they chose Redwood City to be a site! Watch the Video.

Each weeknight they have electives like acting, movie editing, sound mixing, dance, etc. in which they can take. It's a great program in association with Broadway by the Bay that I am so blessed to be a part of it. I get to teach acting on Thursday nights. I come home full and energized with these kids' stories, their craziness, and their imagination (which is a post for another time). All of them learning skills and developing their talents to make a difference and live a better story than the streets are offering them. We are working on improv skills, acting for the camera, and most of all, learning to tell (and live) a story that is worth watching (and living).

These kids are talented, amazing, and the future!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

iMix: November Music

Check out some faves of mine for November. All available to purchase through iTunes.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Celebrating 5 years with my wife.

I love marriage. Today I honor my wife and in thanks to God celebrate our five years of marriage and 10+ years of friendship.
Art that hangs in our room by friend/artist: David Nyquist (painted during our wedding celebration). Inspired by John 15. Our wedding word was: ABIDE.


Chicago Dec 2004

London March 2005

Italy May 2006

Hawaii November 2006

Isella is Born. March 2007

Portland April 2007

Las Vegas April 2008

Luisa is Born February 2009

San Francisco October 2009

Five years. Five amazing years with my wife!
I'm so grateful to have this friendship with Wendy Rose, the most significant relationship of my life!

Here are the vows I repeated to her this morning, the same ones I said 5 years ago!
I, Anthony James, take you Wendy Rose to be my wife!
I realize God has entrusted you to me as a gift. I commit before God, our family, and friends to love you by first devoting my heart to God, following Jesus Christ, and living in the Holy Spirit.
I love you, and know that I can only do this through God. Because of this, I vow to be your faithful husband to strengthen and forgive you through grace and to give you courage when you need it. I will be your biggest fan. I commit to praying for you and encouraging you to become the woman God created you to be so we can glorify him together (Psalm 34:3).

Saturday, November 07, 2009

More quotes from my daughter

Reading her children's Bible and stopping on Jesus' Baptism.
Isella: "Where are their feet?"
Me: "Under the water."
Isella: "Can I see them?"
Me: "We can use our imagination and pretend."
Isella (She then held her breath and acted like she was going under water to look).

Isella: “Daddy, can you bring Giggle Baby {doll} upstairs?
Me: "Sure (as I got to pick her up)."
Isella: "On your shoulders.”

Isella: “Daddy, can you make a big poop so I can see it?”

Isella; “I’m a girl. When I get bigger I will be a woman. And I will marry a man. I will marry YOU, Papa.”
Me: (emotionally touched) "Aww, come here, I want to give you a kiss."
Isella: “Nah.”

We got Isella and Lulu some "Butterfly Baby" dolls. 
Wendy: "What do you want to name the Butterflys?"
Isella (Matter of Factly): "Cyrill and Cereal."


Isella: "Look at this birdie- he’s on a leaf (pointing to picture)."
ME: "Yep, birds fly in the air and land in trees and they sit on leaves."
Isella: "And sometimes they poop in the air and it falls on people’s heads."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy HOLYween

Be innocent of Evil.
Romans 16:19-20.

If you are in the Redwood City area celebrate 10/31 Saturday Night 8pm PCC Worship center.

Be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

Albeit cheesy--My daughter loves singing this song.
She loves yelling, "Underneath your feet!"
And the great part--IT'S TRUTH.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ernest Love

Based on PCC's iLove series, here's today's piece from the devotional book.
Armed with sanitizer bottles, I went to Africa to help orphans and share God’s love. Briefed on cultural expectations and safety issues, we were warned to never drink the water or eat village food. We were supplied with “safe food” that we would eat out of the children’s sight. I was happy to oblige if it meant keeping my stomach free from “issues.”
Matapila, a Malawian village with a feeding center, hosted kids who walked miles for their only meal of the day. One little boy attached himself to me, with no shared language (other than laughter). Ernest held my hand in line, swung my wallet chain around, and played tic-tac-toe in the dirt with me as he ate.

Many times he offered to share his food with me. I always politely shrugged it off because I wasn’t about to steal food from an orphan nor did I want a slow, agonizing death by food poisoning.
One day, after I turned down his offer of a little potato, he got up to speak to a translator. She translated for me: “Ernest is concerned about you. He says you must be hungry because he hasn’t seen you eat all week. He wants to share his potatoes.”
What? He’s concerned for me? Crazy thoughts raced through my head. When was the last time Ernest washed his hands? Would this be my last meal? Could I somehow fake chew but not swallow? Lord, help me!
Earnest waited, looking at me with compassion in his eyes, holding out his dirty little hand with one small potato. Time stood still. Then it hit me. This little orphan was showing me the full extent of his love, the un-sanitized version. He sacrificed his only meal of the day. I held back tears. I took that no-frills potato and ate it. He was beaming. We sat there silent, both chewing (and swallowing). It was an amazing moment. Sitting right next to Ernest felt like I was sitting right next to Jesus.

Questions to Consider What fears (or sanitary issues) hold me back from loving others? Who is God calling me to love?

Prayer Abba Father, thank you for showing me love through Jesus and his sacrifice. Help me love others. Help me to see loving others as a way for me to love you and help me to be loved by you through others, even ones that would surprise me or that I might normally avoid.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Am I secure in your love?
In life and in death,
I express my pain
and the bain
Of what I think my existence may be
With another missed opportunity
To brag on myself,
Displaying my trophies on a shelf
striving to dot all the i's on my agenda ..
Whether in love, friendship, or work
The hostility
of unmet expectations and dreams
Tears me at the seams,
Oh, Father forgive me..these schemes
They reveal my lack of understanding your love
And my position, in YOU, with YOU
Regardless of push gone to shove
You are the one who always will Be
Still and forever a mystery
YET you make yourself known to me
Open these blind eyes to see
I'm your creation, subject of your love…
forgiven and free
Father, shepherd, healer, artist, lover, husband, and creator
Empty me of all that’s not you
Secure me, surround me, fulfill your plans in me
That I might be a lover like you, a worshiper of
Fully Secure...
Now, IN you,
I'm able
to give and live
real life not just a fable
Face to the street,
humbled at your feet,
with my heart to the city,
this contrite heart you will not despise..
….i love.
Because. You. first .loved. me.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Metal detector encourager

Anyone who's been through airports knows how taxing, stressful, and sometimes just plain lame getting to your plane can be. There's check in, those luggage tag things, security, delays, screaming kids (sometimes their mine), and you fill in the blank. There's more than enough to make airport users lose their sanity. Take my experience this week where I was chastised by some rubber glove wearing TSA lady who verbally slapped me on the knuckles. Like the nun Meryl Streep played in Doubt, she held up my zip lock bag for my toiletries and tisk-tisked me because it wasn't the right size. Really? Come on.

But here's a tale of one TSA guy who chooses to tell a different story for the hurried business travelers and burned out tourists.

A TSA security guard, stopped me through the metal detector as I handed him my ID and boarding pass. He held up my documents, looked at my name and then looked me in the eyes.

TSA Guy: Anthony, do you know that your name means highly favored by the Lord?
Me: Uh, ya. I think I knew it was something like that. Thank you.

I'll admit I was in my own little "get to my gate," world. I didn't expect that. I had to do a double take. I knew my name meant something like priceless or praiseworthy, but the way he said it jolted me awake. It was like God was reminding me of his love for me, that God was in that mundane moment that I might have written off. I needed that. And then I eavesdropped on the guy behind me whose name was named Joshua.

TSA Guy: Joshua. Do you know what your name means?
Joshua; Uh..No. Um..What?

TSA Guy: It means God saves. Like Yeshua...Jesus. It's the same meaning as Jesus.
Joshua: Oh, ok, wow..thank you.

Then I watched this TSA guy stop every person and do the same thing. He looked at their documents and told them the meaning of their name, with a genuine, warm smile. It was like he was on a mission. Here's a pic I tried to sneak with my cell phone. He's in the blue, blurry shirt.

It really was incredible. Affirming people's value through their name, the one thing he could make personal. Names are meant to be significant and to see this guy making it his goal in his job to encourage people, (in a not so encouraging place), is very commendable. So incredible that I had meet him. His name was Jeff and I was sorry I couldn't return the same favor he extended to me, but I at least wanted to really thank and affirm him. I told him what he was doing was awesome and I had never experienced anything like that before. Then I wrote down my blog address and told him I would write about him in the next couple days. I will remember this guy and continue to tell his story. So Colorado Springs Jeff, TSA guy, if you are reading this:: Thanks for making a difference in my day. God is using you. You deserve a promotion. I'll pray for that! I hope more people take their jobs as seriously as you do and find ways to make a difference in peoples lives. You are intentionally brightening people's days. Intentionality doesn't have to be big, it just has to be intentional.

And, Jeff, TSA guy? Could you.. maybe.. train others to be as friendly as you? It would revolutionize airports around the world. World travel would never be the same. And maybe could you take your skills to the DMV? *and sorry if I broke any laws by taking your picture. It was all in the name of telling a good story.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Back from Colorado Springs.

Just got back from a great few days gathering with leaders from around the country who are a part of our denomination the ECC. Loved our time talking, wrestling, and praying through the future. We got to stay in this great retreat center by the Navigators called Glen Eyrie. The grounds have a castle here's the view.

Discussion and idea sharing.
Reporting on ministries serving and teaching young adults around the country.
Closing out our time in prayer. God, please lead us.
reflecting, not hiking, and horse poop...

...and what every tourist does when they visit the Garden of the gods, beautiful place with crazy rock formations.

Friday, October 09, 2009

an ignorant, foolish, or silly person

I recently tried out Scrabble for a few rounds. Humbling for me since I played my wife Wendy and she beat me... blindfolded. Normally, I would avoid games that take intellectual left brain skill (ie: I hate Trivia Pursuit), cause I opt for games where I can act and just make a fool of my right brained self. That kind of competition I can do! But I wanted to play Scrabble out of shear desire to try and feel smart---- it didn't work. There's quite a distinction between "feeling" smart and "being" smart. (That was pretty profound, huh? Maybe I AM smart).

On the serious side, I've realized that when it comes to my mind--I'm definitely not a "scholar."(among other things). I''ll never be the tweed-coat clad theologian pastor puffing a pipe and sitting next to the fireplace deliberating on the profundities (now there's a good scrabble word) of Biblical interpretation. I'm not much for heady conversations. Don't get me wrong-I like details, information, and "knowing" all I can about the Good News but I lean more toward the touchy feely side of the Gospel. God's story is a fact--that we choose to believe but I also believe we must choose to feel the Good News, too. I might not be able to debate systematic theology and get an A (after all read this:) cause what, (or who), I really know is Jesus, the love of God, and his Spirit-empowered, world-changing story of hope. You'd think that would be enough, but honestly... I sometimes have to fight to believe this---the truth that this--God's love and his transforming power in my life--is enough. You see, a lot my brokenness (on-going and from the past) enslaves me to comparisons.

I have no plaques, degrees, or scholarly achievements from any prestigious places hanging on my office wall. I probably never will even if I do finally attain my Masters one day. In fact, not only do I lack lots of intellectual credentials, I'm void in a lot of areas: For instance:

I had to ask someone one time what the acronym MLB stood for, which goes to show that I'm not in the know at all when it comes to sports. Admittedly, I often feel small when conversations come up and I can't contribute stats, college football projections, or any pertinent info on baseball, basketball..not even ping-pong is on my radar. Your Grandma could beat me.
I pretty much know nothing about mortgages, escrow, stocks and/or bonds. Although I wish I had the ability to play the market and own a house, I'm just happy that God provides just enough for our little family..check to check.

If I pick up a hammer or screwdriver--beware!! Run for the hills and protect your children. I suck dirt at fixing things and couldn't build a block, let alone a house. My wife's had to accept that the bar for my handyman skills is low and she's just happy when I'm able to change a light bulb, or fold up our double stroller (-think sumo wrestling). When I attempt to fix stuff my thumbs end up paying for it. Besides have you seen my thumbs?

Sorry to all my gamer friends but as for video games you won't want to pick me for your team. I can't join in on that past time, I'd rather go to the dentist than play video games.

This list could go on. Things in this world that I just don't know, won't ever know, and realistically don't ever want to learn.

This is when I realized I'm a simpleton and I'm OK with it.

This post is not about self loathing. It's actually about self acceptance. God really spoke love to me this as I was coming to terms with my limitations...which are actually not limitations but specific freedoms which increase my ability to be who God created me to be. I'm growing more and more in my understanding of God's full love and complete acceptance of me and who I am. That I'm a man, made in his image, capable of leading and living passionately for him and also leading my wife and kids by his power and love. And when I stand before him one day he will not be judging me on how on my knowledge of sports history stats or the makes and models of cars.

What matters is knowing HIM, loving him and loving others! Whew!

So with what I know..I will fight. With what I am passionate about. I will live a life of worship and I will (try) not to compare myself to others. I will resolve to know Jesus! I will choose to love God and seek to serve others with His love and power. That's what makes us truly wise.

If you feel like me, Please read:
1 Corinthians 2

We need to be eloquently well spoken, intellectually knowledeble or put together to be used by God. We just need to know God, be ourselves, and let Him work through us. God can even use a simpleton.