Dec 26, 2007

Nothing Cheep and Easy is Good For You (so this must be great for you)

Asparagus Sformato with Fondata Soup

Orzo Salad

Prosciutto-Wrapped Breadsticks
Northern Italian Caponata with Potatoes


Our Italian Christmas Feast

A Plate of Yummy Sticky Goodness
Honey Drenched Christmas Fritters: Struffoli

Dec 17, 2007

I'm Rubber and You're Glue

“I’m rubber and you're glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you.”

As much as this statement might have seemed like truth at age seven at age twenty-seven I know it to be anything but. Words have the power to shape us; the good and the bad, what we say matters. The thing is, that we cannot always see the effect of our words until much later, thus it is hard to keep in mind the power that they hold.

All of our childhood quick retorts were just that, they were away of devaluing the words that were being said so that we could survive another recess. Everyone knows that words can hurt far more than sticks and stones. These famous comebacks have become ingrained in our culture because we like the idea that we cannot be affected by the cruel words spoken to us.

I cannot as an adult continue on in this fantasy, I know that words have power, that they have changed the world, and thus can and have impacted me. Some much more blatantly than others, but every word spoken or not has the potential to change something, and thus perhaps we ought to be more aware of our own ability to alter the world.

For me I know that the negative words of others have stuck to me like glue, never once have they just bounced off and stuck to the person who spoke them, thought sadly I knot that my sarcastic comebacks have in fact leapt back to stick to the one who attacked me. I use the word attacked because really that is what those words were, whether intentional or not, they were an assault on my person. My response was thus an evasive maneuver to protect my ego.

Our egos are sensitive, and they like to be protected, it does not take much to bruise them. In order to survive we seem to have adopted the belief that it is okay to put others down in order to shy away from our own inadequacies real or imagined. I am guilty of this, and even though I know it, stopping this learned behavior seems next to impossible, anything to protect my own ego right? At what cost though? It seems that we are caught in a cycle of degrading one another in order to protect our own self.

I want to step out of this cycle, yet the risk of being torn to pieces by the words of others, to allow ego to be beat up and bruised, is not appealing. It is a call to humility right? To say that, I am not going to join in the self preserving war of words. That I am going to put my own pride aside in the hope of helping build yours up?

Choosing to play the game differently, means that I need to choose my words wisely. I must build up others instead of tearing them down. This is not to say that I should allow others to walk over me, but it means that I must put others best interest at the forefront of my thoughts. This doesn’t mean lying to make people feel better about themselves or the world, but it means speaking truth into the situation. There is no guarantee that my words will have the impact that I desire, as I can only be responsible for what I say and not what others hear, but if my words are kind and true then perhaps I can help put an end to the cycle of dehumanization that we seem to be stuck in. If that is all the impact my words have from this point out, to stop the continual degrading that we seem to perpetuate than that would be enough.

Words are powerful and thus should be handled with care. I want to get out of the habit of protecting my ego instead of yours. Some of the sing song phrases of our youth were true, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Perhaps some of the best and yet most disregarded advice we were ever given.

In his book, The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture, Shane Hipps says, “In Christ, God’s medium and message are perfectly united. As the opening of John’s Gospel tells us, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (1:14) More than just words the words He said, the life of Jesus was the revealed Word of God. After Jesus died and ascended into heaven, God found a way to ensure the divine presence would remain active on earth, creating the mysterious medium of the church-the body of Christ.” Thus as a part of the body of Christ I have the awesome responsibility to God, as part of His chosen medium of His message to put even more value on my words. As someone who has chosen to identify with Christ, my words are no longer mine, and neither is my ego.

I should be able to rest assured that my God who has filled me with His presence who has called my body His temple, the place in which He desires to dwell will protect me. He who was willing to humble Himself and become the Word for me deserves nothing less than my humility so that He can continually be the Word through me.

Dec 15, 2007

Pregnant at Christmas

I sit pondering this idea…what if the angel were to come to me with those words he spoke to Mary. “Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you.” Could I respond? Of course Mary was confused. Who wouldn’t be? Gabriel saw her fear, he quickly reassured her of her positive standing in God’s eyes. How often I have found myself feeling so unworthy of God’s attention, yet how quick He is to reassure me of my place as His child. Mary had to be overwhelmed with this news of her new role as mother of God’s son, Jesus. The savior that her people were waiting for was being created within her. Her response is not unlike mine has been when I feel God calling me to something new, “How can this be?” I am often quick to point out my inability to God, as if He is unaware of my shortcomings. Gabriel assures her that she is not going to have to do this alone, that God is sending His Holy Spirit to accomplish what she could never achieve on her own. He even goes so far as to offer up some reassurance in that Elizabeth her relative is also pregnant, thus she will get some advice and support along the way. It is Mary’s response that always amazes me, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me according to your word.” Sometimes I get to that point, but it is not often my first response. Especially in cases where God is asking me to alter my life completely and to let go of whatever control I thought I had.

I am not pregnant. I do however believe that God (in some form) resides within me. So the question then becomes what do I do with that? What does it mean to be pregnant with Jesus, for me, today?

Do I bring Him into the world? Do I cower? Do I try to hide it? Am I overjoyed or am I ashamed? Do I ever consider abortion so to speak? Or do I expect others to rejoice with me? To shower me with gifts and help me care for this gift of life?

I am actually much more at peace with Jesus within me than the idea of actually being pregnant, at least for the time being.

Dec 6, 2007

Prayer for Peace

Dear Jesus,

As I think about you and all that you came to be it is hard for me to think of you as a tiny baby. To imagine you lying in a trough full of hay in the cold under the starlight. I ache knowing now what was going to come. You came to this broken world as the Prince of Peace.

No one was expecting you to come as you did except a few chosen youngsters who were most certainly expecting. Caught up in the miracle of your birth and dropped into the roles not only parents, husband and wife and adulthood. They knew nothing about you, their role in history, what it would mean to be a parent, or a full fledged adult. They possibly knew nothing of the world beyond their own town.

Their lives were never to be the same. Never again would they be innocent young children, instead they would have the most innocent child ever.

How overwhelmed they must have been. Apart from family, friends, home, about to have their first child. A child unlike any other before or since. The Son of God the Prince of Peace they had only ever been told of was about to become their full time responsibility.

A responsibility that did not come with a baby shower filled with words of wisdom or gifts to get them off on the right foot. Or even birthing classes. They were all on their own.

Mary not only had her world change, her body changed too. She went from girl to woman over night. She had to experience pain and suffering in order to bring you the Prince of Peace into this world.

What are you calling us to experience in order to join Mary in bringing you into the world we live in? Not just the news of you, but to bring your peace to a world that is still filled with sin and suffering a world that is lacking shalom. Am I willing to suffer great pain and alter my life drastically in order to bring your peace into my world? Put aside my comfort for your glory, your purpose?

Did Mary have any idea that your whole purpose in coming was to die in order to bring peace or was she expecting a warrior king, who would save her people and reign forever? This teenage girls pain lead to the birth of peace in our world and yet that was only the beginning. She had to let you leave home, wander the streets, be hated and eventually watched you sacrificed before her very eyes. All so that we might someday experience your perfect peace.

Did she want to give up? Did she have moments of doubt in God, in you, in her ability to suffer so much pain? How was she able to reconcile the death and suffering of her little prince? Even after your resurrection she had to let you go again to be with your Father in Heaven. How her heart must have ached for you, for peace.

How hard was it to leave your mom and dad, to travel and be hated, to make friends knowing you were going to have to leave them? How hard was it to love knowing you were going to have to leave behind so many saddened friends and family members? How hard was it to leave this world knowing that hundreds of years later there still would be be people hating you and your message? That there would still be no peace? Does your heart still break?

Lord Jesus Prince of Peace, restore your perfect peace this I pray. May we know the peace that can only come from you. Thank you for going through so much suffering to bring us peace that we do not deserve. Bring your wholeness, help me to administer your perfect peace to those around me. Fill me and this world with your peace this Christmas season.


Nov 27, 2007

Ephesians 5:1-4 says this…
Watch what God does
And then you do it.
Like children who learn proper behavior from their parents.
Mostly what God does is
Love you.
Keep company with Him, and learn a life of love.
Observe how Christ loved us.
His love was not cautious
But extravagant.
He didn’t love in order to get something from us
But to give everything of Himself to us.
Love like that.
Don’t allow love to turn into lust,
Setting off a downhill slide into
sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed.
Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip,
Christians have better uses for language than that.
Don’t talk dirty or silly.
That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style.
Thanksgiving is our dialect.

(The Message Remix, emphasis added by me)

This passage of scripture was our focus at the Spring Lakes prayer meeting November 21st and it has stuck with me for the past week just like all of the calories I consumed that week. When I read it I get two main things from it. The first is that it is a passage filled with actions for us to participate in; watch, do it, learn, love, keep company, observe. The second is that there is a list of things we are to avoid; don’t withhold love, don’t love in order to get, lust, sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, bullying greed, gossip and dirty silly talk should all be left out of our life style.

These four little verses hold quite a punch. As I searched this passage I think it is the last line that is key in helping us to accomplish the rest. When we allow ourselves to live lives of thanksgiving, we can by Gods grace accomplish the rest of what He is calling us to in these verses.

If we are truly thankful for the life that we have, the things we possess, the place that we are, then we will be able to love extravagantly, as Christ loved us. If we are thankful for who we are, then there is no need for comparison and thus a lack of jealousy. If we are confident and thankful for the life that God has blessed us with then there is no need to complain, and put others down in order to build ourselves up. When we allow ourselves to be satisfied with that which we have, then we will not need to lust after that which we do not possess.

So I invite you to join me in continuing in the spirit of Thanksgiving throughout this Christmas season. As we live lives of thankfulness may our words, thoughts and actions reflect the love of God who sent His one and only son to us as the ultimate expression of love to us, expecting nothing in return. May we surprise Him with our act of worship as we live lives out of a thankful heart for all He has blessed us with.

Nov 26, 2007

Name Fines

I have always had a thing about names. Sometimes I really question parents' sanity and cruelty when naming their children. We have all heard winners like Ima and Ura Pig or Bar Bee Que and now celebrities naming their children things like; Apple, Camera, Puma, Denim, Suri...It's as if they just looked up and named the first thing they saw.

Then this weekend I was hit with a whole family of names that should have never happened and that is why I was so pleased to find out that the people of New Zealand are taking a stand and finally doing something to punish the parents for naming there children such sad names.

Maybe this will catch on here in the states. In fact maybe my friends at Child Care should take it upon themselves to start fining parents who drop off kids with horrible names. You could put the money towards next summers Child Care Shirts or Retreat.


I am speaking tonight at Young Life and the topic I was given was "Jesus"

Seems simple until you sit down and think about just who Jesus is. I found this video along with many others listing just some of the many titles used in the Bible to describe who Jesus is...

I hope that it was as inspiring to you as it was to me, to see who this Man Jesus, was and is and will continue to be.

We are already in the midst of this holiday season and I want to keep Jesus at the center of it all, may this reminder of just who He is help you to do the same.


I watched part of this video at the National Youth Workers Convention a month or so ago, and it has really stuck with me. Now that I have seen the whole thing it is clear that the message was meant to be, get fit, don't be lazy. But at the point it was cut for NYWC combined with the venue the message was; are you at a stand still in your faith, in your ministry? Are you waiting for someone to come and get you going again or are you going to take action. A similar point when you think about it.

How often do we in our everyday lives and especially in our spiritual lives just expect to get somewhere by getting on the right path. We step on to the "escalator" and expect that we will reach the top even though we have stopped moving of our own volition. Then when we fail to get there because the path we chose stops doing all the work for us we just give up, yell for help and plop down unwilling to do any of the work required to move forward, upward.

I see the same thing in my life and in the lives of those around me. An example, we attend a class or a program, and expect that just by attending we are going to grow up in our faith, in our maturity even. But then we discover that the class is not meeting all of our hopes and desires, it is not getting us where we thought we were going at the speed in which we had hoped, so we start complaining and we give up. We don't take some ownership and action and dig deeper for truth, or answers. We don't even ask the hard questions we just give up and wait for someone else to come along to fix our path to move us along, so that we don't have to work at all.

This is not how it should be. We are not to be mindless followers of Christ. In Ephesians 4 it talks about this. That there are times when the old ways have to go. We (who have been Christians for some time), we have learned Christ. We know who He is and what He is all about, we cannot be dependent on someone else to continually feed us and move us along. But we must be constantly looking to where Christ is and following Him there. Doing what we know He is all about.

I know that this has become one of those rabbit trail type posts, but what did you expect the name of my blog should have clued you into the fact that there was bound to be some random rants and ramblings. And there has not been for sometime and I am not one to disappoint. Hope you got something out of all these words flowing from my brain. If nothing else know that all this to say if you are that guy or gal stuck on the escalator you chose to take, and you are frustrated with the fact that it is not getting you to your next point in life spiritually or not, then pick your feet up and walk to the top, reevaluate as you go, but please don't just sit there complaining, yelling for help but unwilling to do any work.

Nov 12, 2007

Question of the Day #2...

Share the joy of your favorite...What's your favorite Web site?

Nov 8, 2007

Question of the Day...

Who's your favorite Muppet? And why?

Nov 7, 2007

Ahhh my life backwards

This video is was made by The Skit Guys who perform at Youth Specialties as an entry for a South West Airlines Commercial competition. It will be airing in April, but they showed it at the convention I just went to and it rang so true, that I wanted to share it with you. Enjoy.

Nov 3, 2007

All Saints Day

Without meaning I ended up celebrating All Saints Day. On November 1st I made an Italian meal for my family. My Dad named our main dish Trinity's All Saints Lasagna Pie. I think that is a bit long so we'll just drop the Trinity's and stick with the rest. I also made some Tomato Bread Salad and a Blackberry and Pear Crostata.
Not a bad way to celebrate all those saints.

Oct 31, 2007

Real Authentic Worship

If you are a 20-30 something individual I invite you to join us each Sunday night for RAW. A hour set aside for Real Authentic Worship of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are meeting in the Mount Hermon Chapel located on Conference Drive in Mount Hermon.

We will begin our time of worship at 7pm and I really hope that you can join us as we spend time in Song, Prayer, Thought, Silence and Community.

Oct 17, 2007


As I stood awkwardly looking at a small cluster of eucalyptus trees that had deposited their bark onto the damp ground I understood that this was more than just a grove trees this was a lesson for life.
That just as these trees had gone through the seasons and experienced growth I too had seasons in my own life. We both started out as something small with little purpose but through our time here on Earth have grown into much more through the seasons.

As I stood there contemplating these giant trees and the bark that they had deposited it be came clear that just like these trees had to shed some of their outer shell in order to continue on growing upward, I too have had to leave parts of myself in the dust. At first this seemed sad, but as I continued to process this imagery before me I realized that the fallen bark was not a loss for the tree. The left behind bark created a natural ground cover that protected the root system from heavy rains as well as nourished the soil allowing for a healthier tree. Such is true in life as well, that if we allow some of those things in our past to be striped away and laid aside we can grow into healthier human beings. It is not to say we have to forget that those things were ever a part of us, but instead allow ourselves the freedom to be nourished and protected by them while not letting the weight of them to hold us down.

There are over 700 varieties of eucalyptus trees, and I bet that there are no two of them exactly the same. Just like humans. And it's like adults always tell kids, "it's what’s on the inside that counts." When you peel back the dead bark of the tree you reveal the new fresh inner beauty of the tree.

I want the same to be true for my life, that if you get just beyond the surface, you see the true beauty and new growth that is taking place. In Hawaii the inner bark is a rainbow of colors, I recall seeing these amazing trees on a vacation their and thinking to myself, I want to see more of that (not even aware that it was a common eucalyptus tree)

If you have ever been near one of these trees than you know that not only is their size and inner ever changing beauty impressive so is the aroma that they produce. The oil that these mighty trees are known for is used in many teas, medicines and beauty treatments to bring about relaxation, healing, peace and beauty. I desire to have these same effects on others. Not only is their oil used but so are the leaves, and the trees themselves are the harvested for their strong lumber as well as to be made into paper. They could perhaps end up holding and protecting life either as a house or piece of furniture, or be used in the telling of someone’s life story. No matter which one of these trees I gazed upon the fact is that they have grown from seedlings to mature trees with countless uses and potential. And I myself can only hope that the same could be said for my life.

Yes, all this from a bunch of trees, and that was just the beginning of my walk yesterday.

Oct 8, 2007

Can't Shake It

I cannot shake the overwhelming desire to spend at least a year traveling the globe. I guess I got bit by the infamous travel bug. I know that a trip of this magnitude is in the distant future, as much as I desire for it to start tomorrow. But I want to start planning and dreaming. So if you or someone you know have ideas of where to go what to see or whom to stay with start posting away. Dream with me.

Sep 26, 2007

Posture of Prayer

Today my dad and I worked together to create a new "sacred space" with in the sanctuary at our church. It is a place devoted to prayer. I will tell you about it more in a minute, but as we were looking for the right seating for this space we came across an old chair. I plopped myself down on the chair I placed my elbows on my knees and folded my hands to test it out. My dad laughed saying I looked like I was going to take a dump. So apparently my prayer life looks a lot like his private life.
But then I thought about it as we set up the space and realized a few things. We created the space up front on the stage with a purpose, not to make people uncomfortable, but to move us from only praying in private, and to remind us the importance of prayer in our everyday life. Sure at first getting up after the service to pray on stage will feel awkward for some, perhaps just as uncomfortable as would be for you to go to the bathroom on stage. But I expect that soon it will become much more comfortable, way more comfortable than it would ever be to use a restroom on the stage. Yet they are both things that we need to be doing daily.

I don't think that we necessarily need sacred spaces in which we worship God, but I do find that for me they make prayer and worship that much more real. Our hope in creating this space at church is that not only will people be reminded to pray, but that as they take advantage of this space others will see them and join them in their prayers. Being the comforting body of Christ in the flesh. A shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, and a mouth to join in praise.
Apparently Christy likes to pray like my dad :)

Sep 23, 2007

1 fish 2 fish now I have 4 fish

My apartment was feeling kinda lonely this weekend, so I went out and bought myself two fish. Two because leaving one along most of the day seemed lonely as well. They are quite spunky and active for fish. The problem is I am having a hard time settling on names for them. The Orange and White one looks like it is wearing lipstick and I was tempted to call it Pucker, but that has not really stuck. I thought about naming the black and gold one Mr. Jones, but I am not sold on that either. So I am asking you my readers and friends to suggest some good fish names.

Those of you who were paying attention to the title of this blog may be wondering how two fish became four fish. I am still not entirely sure either, but Brianna one of my High School Students informed me that I needed to have some company in my office as well. So yesterday we went back to the pet store and I selected two more fish this time little versions of the ones I had bought the day before. For whatever reason they were easier to name. The Black and Gold one is Dolce and the Orange and White one is Gabbana.They are my designer fish.

They are my first pets since childhood, and it is kinda fun.

Let those name ideas flow...

Sep 21, 2007

Feasting on Friday

A day of simply soaking up life is always my preferred way to spend my day off. So when my Friday went from sitting around my apartment to spending a few hours with a friend enjoying some delicious dishes, funky fresh atmosphere and of course conversation I was delighted.

My friend Melinda came over and we headed downtown and ended up at 515 Kitchen and Cocktails. It is the third time I have been there for lunch and it did not disappoint. While I am a huge fan of trying new restaurants, in fact prefer it, I often get stuck in a rut when it comes to ordering at a place I have been. That is not the case with 515, each time I have been tempted to try another dish, and each one has been more fabulous than the one before. Melinda also enjoyed a fabulous meal. Dining at 515 is only made better by the atmosphere funky chairs, couches, and lighting mixed together tucked into nooks make the restaurant one of my new favorite places to dine. From 515 we decided to go and search out another new addition to Santa Cruz.

Ironwood and Black China Bakery and Cafe. I discovered this place by watching Travels with Romney one morning this week as I was getting ready for work. I am pleased to say that we found the place to be even better in person than it appeared on TV. We both ordered a coffee drink and sat outside despite the iffy weather, the vibrant bamboo and garden sculptures were just to inviting to turn down.

My day ended with dinner with another one of my favorite friends Faith. We also decided to break away from our normal Friday night spots and tried a place we had both wanted to try for sometime now, Hula's Island Grill.
A great finish to a day of dining with friends. The food was great and we loved the island party atmosphere.

So if you are in the area and have nothing better to do check out one of these three new additions to the amazing collection of restaurants in Santa Cruz. If you won't be here anytime soon then I suggest that you grab a close friend and go find your own new spot to relish on your next day off.

Sep 20, 2007

It's All About ...

Today’s American culture is all about ownership and personal rights. The Bible seems to contradict the media driven message of Me, Me, Me. Stating over and over again a theme of putting God above all else and others before ourselves. So how do we as followers of Christ reconcile these two opposing messages?

Just today I got an email from a friend asking me to pray for them as they are struggling to overcome their selfish nature in various areas of their own life. They explained how they feel trapped in the cycle of doing what will make them happy or
bring them pleasure at the moment instead of relying on God to provide all that they need. As I emailed back and assured them that I would be happy to pray for them I realized that I myself struggle with the exact same thing everyday. I am constantly putting my needs and desires before what God needs and desires for me. And while many of my needs and desires are not sinful on their own, the mere fact that they draw me away from what God wants for me and my attention to God makes them sinful. Sin is anything that gets in the way of your relationship with God and his perfect will for your life.

There is nothing wrong with me wanting to go out and buy a new hot pair of shoes or the latest cell phone but if that purchase is putting me in debt, or keeping me from tithing or causing me to think more highly of myself than I ought to then maybe I need to reconsider my spending habits.

In 1st Corinthians Paul tells us we have a choice to make. While there are many things we may be able to “get away with” in life Paul warns about living life in that way. Legalism had led the Corinthian believers to take an extreme position towards freedom, getting them to abandon all sense of responsibility for their actions. They allowed their new found freedom in Christ to be license to do whatever it was that made them happy. Paul’s strong reminder to them is that freedom in Christ is not freedom to do as we please. It is freedom to do as pleases God.

But Jesus addressed another aspect of this issue in the Sermon on the Mount. In dealing with issue of revenge. Jesus takes this message much further than the constraints of Mosaic Law. Revenge is really an issue of pride. Revenge is all about restoring my sense of worth, dignity, and power by degrading whomever has hurt me. If I do not protect my rights, who will? Revenge says, “It is my right to force you to treat me with dignity and respect.”

I have to tell you there are times in my life where I have felt the need to avenge myself. Even last week after youth group, I felt my pride grabbing hold of me. I found myself frustrated that the lesson had gone so poorly. That I had to spend most of it asking the youth to chill out and listen. I wanted to yell “I have rights! You guys need to respect me” But, Jesus’ words bring that house of cards crashing down. Jesus asserts, rather, that I have no rights to protect. I only have responsibilities to fulfill.

What kind of message is that? He must have been crazy right? Does Jesus really desire for me to get walked over every day or get bullied around? I hate when the message of the week so directly steps on my toes, and forces me to look at my own selfish desires and emotions. As I look at Matthew Chapter 5 and the Sermon on the Mount, I really wish that Jesus could have been a little vaguer for once.

His directions are all too clear, direct and to the point. Maybe that is why we rush by them so quickly, so we may escape their painfully clear message. They definitely are not to be taken at face value, right? I mean that would imply that I am not as all important as I like to believe I am. It would mean that I am to let go of my pride, and I don’t really like the sound of that. That it is not all about me. So what do we do with these words of Jesus?

Paul got it, He says, “We are not our own. We were bought at a price.” I don’t particularly like the image Paul is painting here, as though we were nothing more than slaves up for auction, sold to the highest bidder. What about my “inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?” We may hold these ideals but they do not seem to resonate too well with Jesus and Paul. They may stand to protect the rights of others, but not their own. Paul places little emphasis on personal rights. He stresses personal responsibility instead. “You are not your own. You were purchased at a price.” That said, we now are responsible to our Master and Lord. Slavery to Christ was not an “end all, be all” image for Paul, but it set the stage for grasping the import of Christian responsibility and stewardship. Just because God is a God of grace and love does not revoke our responsibility to serve as faithful stewards.

Sorry to burst the bubble of our American sense of personal rights and privilege but Jesus’ words on revenge cancels out any rights we may think we have to self preservation and self service. Jesus calls us not to simply state that our lives and possessions belong to God, but to live as though the needs and desires of others matter more than our own. As though we have no possessions or rights to protect. He pulls no punches when he suggests that we are to model God’s standard of loving and giving. God who gives to good and bad alike, who does not measure a person’s worth based upon what they have or how they act. He simply gives. Jesus raises the bar on what is an acceptable standard of giving. He is the standard.

We are not our own,that must affect our lifestyle. It must affect the way we react to the needs of those around us. Jesus said it must affect even the way we greet people. It must cause us to move towards those we might consider unlovely or unworthy of our time, energy, and resources. It means removing the distance and barriers between ourselves and the people around us who we don’t know.

This is not an easy mission but remember we are slaves, bought at a price. We are to be servants. This past Sunday I was suffering from some nasty food poisoning, so I was not in the service. But apparently there were some visitors. Some of our local homeless people chose to join us. But unfortunately they came pretty intoxicated. And at some point lost control of their bodily functions and ended up not only soiling themselves but leaving quite a mess in our church lobby as well. Not a fun thing for anyone to have to clean up. I have worked in Child Care for a long time and cleaned up many a kid who has had an accident but having to clean up an adults mess is even more degrading and disgusting. But Faith our ever faithful custodian went to work cleaning up, and our new base player Jon jumped in and helped as well, even though it is not his job. And then Dan Lockwood brought over a carpet cleaner that night and was here until 3am cleaning up other peoples crap. And you know what, I can’t help but think what a clear picture of what it means to be a slave to Christ, to serve Him and his people. To live out if only for a moment this picture that both Paul and Jesus were painting.

I am not my own. You are not your own. I am not the center of the universe and nether are you. The world does not revolve around you and it is most certainly not revolving around me. We are servants of Christ Jesus bought at a price. We are recipients of Gods many blessings, but they are not ours to own. They are for His use.

What happened to our inalienable rights? They never existed. What happened to God’s inalienable rights? Those ones we have tried to take over for ourselves?
Our society thinks much more of self than it ought and it thinks too little of God. We must place it all in the proper perspective. Jesus’ words are not those of a ravings of some mad man. They are the words of one who recognizes God’s ownership over all things, including material possessions and life itself. They are the words of one recognizing that love is not about protecting self, but about serving others. If we should become truly serious about serving God as faithful stewards of God’s gifts, we would not need to worry so much about our own petty issues.

Paul’s words were not empty they were words that he actually lived. He did not concern himself with his rights and freedom as with his opportunity to serve the Christ he called Lord. Grace for Paul became freedom to serve God as a thankful servant. Paul was not his own master. Jesus did not live as his own master. They both recognized the all-consuming need to serve God no matter what the cost.

Why is it so hard to give up my sense of rights and ownership over my life, and possessions, and rights? Why is it so difficult to accept the lordship of Christ Jesus? Do I not trust God to care for my needs? Do I not believe that God desires what is best for me? Why do the words “mine” and “ours” take such prominence in life? This life is not my own. Nothing is my own, except my sin.
When shall I learn to be a steward of God’s blessings? Not until I accept God’s complete ownership over my life. I have yet to understand and live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Do I have the courage to accept God’s inalienable rights over my life?

Sep 11, 2007

cut it off

My left leg is covered in little bumps. I don't know how many maybe twenty or thirty of these tiny little bumps. These bumps started out as nothing more than just that, but now they have mutated into a huge annoyance. They have started to itch, and when I say itch I mean I have considered hacking off the bottom half of my leg. Admittedly that thought did not last long, but it was quickly replaced by the desire to gnaw on my own leg like a dog with fleas. I now have sympathy for mans best friend. Although I will never understand lickings one's privates.

But back to my shin. It itches crazy bad, or at least it did this morning, and that got me to thinking...funny how things that drive one insane start out as a small almost unnoticeable and soon they develop into something that you cannot escape.

The questions that arise are at what point and for what reasons do the little things switch from something small and indistinguishable to the thing that you wish to rid yourself of no matter what the cost?

The itching has subsided at the moment, but not on its own. I had to dowsed each of the little bumps with Benadryl. If only riding myself of all the other annoyances in my life was as simple as a dab of Benadryl.

Sep 7, 2007


I have always clung to the quote "some people say movies should be more like real life, I say real life should be more like the movies." For whatever reason is resonated with me. There have even been those who have gone out of their way to make my life more like a movie, and while that was always fun, I am beginning to feel disillusioned.

Maybe the quote is wrong. Maybe I often miss out on life as it is because I am disappointed when it doesn't play out like anyone of a million movie scenes. I often find myself comparing any given moment in my day to that of a movie, or television moment. And while sometimes my everyday life seems like something right off of the silver screen I would be lying to say that most of my life plays out that way.

So have I let the multiple imaginings of Hollywood and the film/television industry totally taint my view of my own life? Yes, I think so. And I am still thinking about this and its implications, working out how to reconcile my love for the movies, and my desire to live my life to its fullest without setting myself up for disappointment.

Aug 27, 2007

Warm Stones

Oh my gosh. Yesterday I went back to The Spa Los Gatos for my friends birthday. But this time instead of having a deep tissue massage. I had the Warm Stone Massage. And let me tell you...this is heaven. Okay a slightly awkward at first Heaven, but heavenly non the less.

Of course given my last Spa experience was less than a month ago I this time I knew what I was getting into. I knew what size robe, and sandals I wanted, and I knew my way around. I knew they were being ironic when they mentioned they had a library and I knew how much clothing I was expected to leave in my locker. So I came into the whole Spa experience much more relaxed, the way you are supposed to enjoy it.

There were some things I did have to get past though. Like the fact that my massage was given by a man this time, and that we went upstairs, I did not even know there was an upstairs. But once I got past that, and was able to relax, trusting that my sheets were not going to fall on the floor, then it was how I hope Heaven will be.

The fist 15 min. He just used his hands to feel where my tension was, and then, then he grabbed some warm stones from a tub of water and began using them as extensions of his own hands. And I began to melt.

Up until that point I thought he was just going to set warm rocks on my back and then when my mussels had relaxed from the heat he would work on my back again. But no, for 80 min. He rubbed the warm stones into my tired body, and every pain and anxiety I had (minus the one about my sheets slipping off) melted away.

If you have never had this experience I suggest you stop whatever you are doing and go get some warm stones and oil, and a strong guy. You will love it. I do have a disclaimer though, if you are my friend Carol or if you are married, or perhaps if you are a guy, you may not find this as enjoyable as I did. But for the rest of you this is a must do.

Followed by a Steam Shower filled with the sent of Jasmine and my skin was like butter.

Seriously, take my word for it and go find a stong guy and some warm stones and oil.

Aug 5, 2007


While my parents were out gallivanting around Burkina Faso with my sister Krista, I took Lizzie, Jordan, Mr. Crabs (Brandon) and Cindy Loo Who (Cassondra) to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I have got to say, perhaps the best part of my day was discovering that if you take a Season Pass Holder with you to the Aquarium, it comes with nice perks such as skipping the forever long line. As well as discounts at the gift stores. Who knew, being friends with Crabs finally paid off ;) Just kidding. But seriously not having to wait in a line that went on forever was a huge relief.

I had not been to the Aquarium in years, in fact I don't even recall when it was that I was last there. But I enjoyed it much more this time than the first. Maybe it was having the kids with us, watching them take it all in, or maybe it was just that much better. I am not sure, but it was a great way to spend the day, with family and friends.

My Birthday

Aug 2, 2007

Concert in the Park

Here are some pictures not great pictures but pictures non the less from the Brandi Carlie concert I got to go to last week! It was amazing, but if you want to read about it just check out Brandon's Blog, he is a great writer, and took such great notes, I am sure everything you may want to know is in what he has already posted. Sorry about the quality of the pictures, they are from my I did not forget my camera, just the memory card that goes inside it :) Ahh technology.

Aug 1, 2007

No Pain No Gain

Most people go to a spa to relax...I guess that is why I went, to relax and be tortured at the same time if that is possible. Meaning that I went knowing that I had signed my self up for a 65 min deep tissue massage. Perhaps I am one of those people who enjoy pain, I don't know, but what I do know is that I was looking forward to my hour and five minutes of intense pressure, in hopes that it would produce the desired result of less pain in the hours following. What I did not expect is how hard it was to relax at a spa.

I have never been to a spa for anything other than a hair appointment, and then you are in the salon, so it doesn't really count. When I arrived at the spa I was kindly greeted by a few girls sitting behind a huge desk. Then quickly ushered through a etched glass door into a dark hallway. Having no idea where I was heading, I just focused on keeping up, as well as trying to retain all of the information spilling out of the girls mouth leading me.

"you are hear early, so you can relax in out library" She said pointing in the direction of a even darker room lit only by maybe three tea lights. I could kind of make out a book shelf. She went on,"when you come back here you can fill out this form before your technician (this is not a relaxing term) comes to get you." She continued on so I followed. "Here is the Ladies lounge," she said as she ushered me through another doorway. I entered a lit room with a counter and hair dryers, products and little stools to sit upon in front of giant mirrors. (oh goody, giant mirrors are always comforting, in bright light) Why not have the dim light in this room and the lights on in the room where you are supposed to fill out forms and read books. I was about to ask her this when I realized she was still dispensing information. So I just listened and kept walking. "Here are the toilets, the changing room and here is your locker. You have locker L here in the corner. Okay?"

I wasn't she why my opinion on which locker was important, but I said, "oh sure."

"Alright then you can change into this robe and these slippers, and then relax in the library. Any questions?" I was still trying to look like I had done this a million times before, "nope." She disappeared around the corner. Seemed simple enough. I used the bathroom, and then realized that she had not given me a key or a code for my locker. I sat there and worried for a min. But then when I got back to my little locker I found a key in the lock. How handy.

So I grabbed my robe and slippers and headed into a changing stall (side note do not make the mistake of typing a s in place of a c in the word 'changing')
It was not until I got in there that I realized I did have a question..."how much am I supposed to be wearing under this here robe?" But it was too late, the rambling girl was gone. So after debating with myself I decided that I was not supposed to wear anything under the robe, because the end of my session would be ending in a shower, and no one wears clothes in the shower.

Don't get me wrong I have had massages plenty of times before, but they are all different, some in full clothes, some in under wear and others in your birthday suit.

I was okay with my decision to ditch the clothes, that was until I got back to the library. And went to sit down and realized that this robe had no intention of being on my side. It wanted to play peek-a-boo (now I understand the need for the low lighting) with the old man sitting across from me trying to see his form enough to fill it out. He gave up. I tried to fill mine out and not lose the robe in the process. All of which was anything but relaxing. Finally just as I was starting to flip through a magazine, my technician came to take me away.

She lead me down another hallway and into yet another dimly lit room. She said, "I'll leave you here and be right back when you are ready." And left. Luckily I have done this part before so I hung the robe up and slipped onto the table, under the sheets. "okay time to relax, finally..." But then, there was the constant dripping of water noise...along with the stuffy nose that I had, from the smell of the candles or something...which left me to breath through my mouth, which seemed really loud in that room.

But even with all of that the massage was wonderful, painful but amazing... and it turns out I made the right choice in wearing only the robe. And I was glad that I had taken the time to shave :) And the steam shower was absolutely relaxing.

All in all it was stressful at first and but by the end I felt like...well like me but a nice relaxed version of me. Until I had to drive my stick back over hyw17 :)

Jul 20, 2007

What a Girl Wants

My friend and I were talking and he said something to the effect that it is difficult to be the guy that girls want because we want various things. We want the silent brooding type, yet get mad when that same guy seems distant and unresponsive. Or perhaps we want the guy who will let us open our own door, and pay for things, but then we complain that the guy is not the gentleman we have always dreamed of. You get the idea.
I pointed out girls have the same issues. We don't know what to be the girl next door, or the independent self reliant woman. Unsure if we should pursue a career or be simply wife and mom. Should we be loud or soft spoken.
He said it was totally not the same because guys know that they are not going to get what they want, while girls hold on to the hope of finding that guy who can be perfect, brooding at times and talkative at others.
I found it mildly frustrating that he has given up hope of finding what he was looking for, until he went on to say that what he really wants is a woman who will leave him alone. At least that is what he wants right now.
I for one agree that I am holding out for the perfect guy, but not perfect in the sense that he is actually perfect, just that he is perfect for me. I don't know for certain what that entails but with each year that passes I am getting a clearer picture.

I do know this...The guy must have a sense of humor, able to find humor in life and to laugh with me and make me laugh. I want to be able to make him laugh as well.

May 31, 2007

Not Quite Italy

I've been meaning to write about this far a few weeks now. I was waiting to get some pictures off of my phone to post along with the blog, but I am thinking that may never actually here we are without the visuals.

On a Saturday two weeks ago I took Lizzie (my little sister by 14 years) out for the day. When I picked her up I figured we would just run some errands and end up at the beach. But as it turned out our day took on a life of it's own.

We did run an errand, but then because it wasn't quite warm yet we decided to go downtown. When we got there the streets had been transformed into a rainbow of tents. Surrounded by balloons and filled with people. It was Children's Day in Santa Cruz. So we wandered through the various canopy's and in and out of stores truly enjoying Santa Cruz. As we were strolling along we were instructed to clear the street, because the parade was coming. I love a parade, even the lamest parades offer ample opportunity to people watch with out being rude. And this parade did not disappoint in that regard. This was a bike parade to celebrate the end of Bike to Work Week. At first it was just a bunch of kids with steamers on their bikes, but soon came some of Santa Cruz's best. Bikes fully decked out in propaganda, people dressed to match their bikes. There were those with huge butterfly wings, a guy who had transformed himself and his bike into a giant bug. There was a whole squad of unicycle riders of all ages and heights. A guy on stilts who missed the memo about the bikes. Someone who had deconstructed their bike so that there was nothing connecting the front to the back allowing for some interesting stunts. Others had also altered bikes to hold up to 6 people on two levels, I am not sure why those on top had pedals but they were doing their best to be a part of the team. It was a truly Santa Cruz parade.

When it was over and we were allowed to cross the street, we wandered into Urban outfitters and each picked out 7 outfits for the other to try on. Creating a mini fashion show if you will. To both of our surprise everything fit and we did not buy anything.

Then we made our way back to the car but stopped along the way to make a chalk drawing together. Then covered in chalk we washed off in a near by water fountain, and proceeded to the car. But on the way a sign caught my eye advertising a Saturday Market in the park. So instead of turning left we continued on and crossed the bridge to the park. The Saturday market left much to be desired, but we stumbled upon a Broadway review that was just about to take place on the Duck Pond Stage. So we plunked down on the grassy hill to watch the show. It was by this time sunny and getting quite warm. We sat there together soaking it all in.

We left a bit early, to get back to the car in time, jumped in and headed to lunch. We ended up deciding to eat at the Crows Nest overlooking the beach, harbor, light house and Ocean. We sat outside upstairs to take full advantage of the beauty. By the time lunch was over we decided that it would be okay to save the beach for another day. Ran another errand and headed home. We finished off our day with the rest of the family enjoying BBQ Hamburgers on the patio.

It wasn't quite Italy, but it was a beautiful day filled with vacation like moments. And plenty of memories.

May 30, 2007

Teal Leather

I'll admit that I have a thing for shoes, as do I am told many women. But until recent my love of shoes was limited mostly to red shoes, and the occasional pair of Steve Madden's. That was until maybe a month or so ago when I fell in love with shoes. Not all shoes, but amazing shoes. Shoes that I have always been able to walk by before without much more than a glance now seem to call out my name.

Usually my bank account keeps me in line though. Knowing that the choice is between rent and shoes, or grocery's and shoes, helps me to say yes they are amazing, but I will have to wait.

That is until this week, this week when the shoes I had been ogling over went on sale. Still I told myself, "self, they will not fit." So I tried them on to prove to myself I was right. As is often the case, (but not with shoes) I was wrong. They fit. They not only fit, they felt amazing. And they looked amazing. But sale or no sale I knew I could not just plunk down the cash (card) and get the shoes. At least not till Wednesday when I got paid. So I had them put on hold...thinking, "that will give me time to come to my senses."

I even called my friend to discuss the shoes, sure that she would talk me out of buying them, after all how practical are teal shoes? Instead she pointed out how logical it was and broke down the cost with an equation about how often I would wear said shoes vs the price. We ended up deciding that they were not much worse than buying coffee. How we got to that conclusion I am still wondering about.

All this to say, that today I gave in and bought myself an early birthday present. See, aren't they amazing...

Totally worth the splurge, after all what's the fun in being a girl if you can't have the shoes to go with it.

May 3, 2007

I'm a Christ Follower (Mac vs. PC Parody) Part 02

I found this video along with a collection of others after visiting Markos' blog. Which if you have not been to and are into youth work I would encourage you to check out. I posted this because I think it opens the door to some much needed dialog about what it means to be a Christian vs. A Follower of Christ. But before I post my opinions I want to know yours...

Apr 24, 2007


If you would have suggested to me last week at this time that I would be on the 5th day of a 40 day fast I would have called you crazy. The idea of fasting has never really tempted me. Lets be honest what is tempting about not eating for 40 days? Aside from the thought that I might loose a few pounds not much, and there are easier ways to lose a few extra pounds.
But here I am five days into a 40 day fast. So what in the world? Well, too be honest it is out of this world. God grabbed my attention, asked me to fast and I obeyed. I don't write this to say, "hey look at me, I obeyed God." No, in fact had I been doing a better job obeying God on my own, I may not be fasting at all. You see I got to a point in my relationship with the Living God, where He wants to really get my attention, to change my focus. To move me from a self centered follower of Him to a Christ Centered Image of Him. That sounds somewhat self centered I know, but there is no other way to say it. God has been trying to get my attention off of me and my desires and on to Him and His for sometime now. It is just that now I am at the point where I can trust Him enough to actually allow Him to replace my desires with His.

So that is where the 40 days of fasting come in. It is a symbol and a opportunity to trust God to care for all of my needs, even the most basic of needs. It is not just starving myself, it is taking the time I would have spent eating or going out to spend time with my God who is hard at work replacing my desires with His. And though that concept would have struck fear in me even a month ago, I can honestly say, it provides peace now.
Everyday I have opened up His Living Word, the Bible and found His words to meet my needs. To provide the reassurance I need to keep trusting in Him. Today I opened to Psalm 40 and this is what God's Word said...

I waited patiently for the Lord;
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on the rock
and he gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.
Blessed is the man
who makes the Lord his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.

It goes on, but you get the picture, God is meeting me where I am. Placing my feet on the Rock as I put my trust in Him.

I am not suggesting that you start fasting. But I wanted to share what God is doing in my life. To give Him praise for the work He is doing. To point out that God's Word is alive and active and not just words on a page. And to hopefully encourage you to trust the God who created you to continue that work. To allow Him the freedom to remove the part of you that is not of Him and replace all of that with more of His Character. This is not easy, but as I talk with friends across the globe I see that God is calling out to His Children, longing for them to trust Him with more no, make that all of their life.

Be encouraged by His Word, that He who created a good work in you will carry it out until the day of completion.

Apr 18, 2007

Happy Moments

I have been thinking about what makes me truly happy. You know the kind of happy where you just cannot help but smile inside and out. Where you feel totally content. I guess the train of thought started on Tuesday AM when we (my fellow staff and I) were praying, we prayed for joy. Now I firmly believe that there is a difference between joy and happiness, and I don't really want this to turn into a theological discussion about the difference between the two. I just wanted to share what it is that makes me happy with the hopes that it might inspire you to think of what it is that makes you smile. And perhaps thank God for some of those things that we just take for granted. So here is my list thus far...

Dancing, candles, a good cooking show, cooking, sitting outside at a cafe and people watching, coffee, my family (most days), students who get "it", packages that are from friends (not the IRS), cards, snuggling, when I finish a task, spending time with God, the beach, the sun, a good (but not long) rain, certain songs, old people (the funny nice ones not the grouchy ones), chocolate (this is new for me, I used to not like it), time with my closest friends, buying presents for people just for fun, cute shoes, shopping for my house or a new outfit, the days I wake up and look in the mirror and think "not bad", when I get to write, when I am inspired with a new idea, having fresh flowers in my home, eating out with friends, being held, praying, reading a good book, watching a travel show or a movie about Italy, traveling,driving,throwing parties...

Okay, now it is your turn. What makes you Happy.

Apr 13, 2007

These Ears Have Heard Some Funny Stuff

I work with youth, and thus get to hear some pretty funny stuff...

My first week we were talking about sin and one of my students asked " making pot brownies a sin?"

Then we were in the middle of a game where the kids end up hitting one another with a giant foam block when they are to slow to give the right response. One girl after getting hit with the block one too many times, proclaimed "I am not a human pinata!"

But one of my all time favorites is one I was told...

One of my girls was riding in the family car with her mom, dad, older brother and sister when all of the sudden she yells out, "I AM NOT A VIRGIN." Which came as quite a shock to mom and dad. When asked to clarify she said, "she called me a virgin, but I'm not, I'm not." Mom and dad are now alarmed that their baby girl is not only not a virgin but is proud of the fact. Later to find out that her big sister had convinced her that to be a virgin meant the opposite of what it actually means. Quite funny if you ask me. Points to the creative big sis.

Mar 27, 2007

Stickin With It

So this is my new ride. Cool right? Yep. But not when you have never driven a stick. But don't you worry this girl is stickin' with it. I am going to make this car look good. Which means having to look like an idiot for a day or two as I kill it in intersections and do my best to avoid rolling backwards on hills. SO if you live in Santa Cruz County and you see this cute car jetting about give a girl a break and back off. No one is perfect, give me a little time and I might even give you a ride, if you are nice.

Mar 15, 2007

Taste of Life

When in high school you could not have paid me enough money to cook you a meal. Well, babysitting kids aside that is, those kids suffered (according to my sister) having to eat my mac and cheese. I even spent some time living with people who forced me to cook, thinking that I would change my mind about cooking if only I was forced to participate in the cooking of meals.

High School is now almost 10 years ago and I can honestly say that I have gone from dreading cooking, to desiring the chance to chef it up for family and friends. This last year or maybe two I have fallen in love with cooking.

The last two weeks have given my ample opportunity try out my cooking skills numerous times. I had my family over for Thai food. Then two of my youth students invited themselves over for some steak, scalloped potato's, and green beans. But this last Sunday was the most adventurous I have been in the kitchen as of late. The theme was Italian.

I had three friend's over to enjoy the meal with me. We started out with a first course of steak tomato's topped with a lightly breaded and fried goat cheese atop of which sat an herb salad spritzed with balsamic vinegar.

Then we had some homemade pizza. An herb crust topped with caramelized onions, green olives stuffed with garlic, Gorgonzola and Fontana cheese and sprinkled with fresh parsley.

There was also an herb pasta tossed with a fresh plumb tomato sauce.

And of course we had to have some tiramisu gelato for desert.

All in all we had a great time around the table. Looking back it is hard to figure out what it was about cooking I could have hated. I am not sure what is on the table next, but I sure look forward to making it.

Mar 10, 2007

Caffine and Opium

My dad picked me up with Coffee and a Lemon Poppy Seed muffin this morning. Which he kindly picked up at Coffee Cat.

I guess that would make him my drug supplier as those are my drugs of choice. My Dad, My Boss, My Pastor and My Supplier. Hummm what a collection of roles he holds.

quotes i love

  • "they will never care how much you know until they know how much you care."
  • "never be afraid to trust a well known God with an unknown future." - Corrie Ten Boom
  • "God doesn't need you, He loves you, that is much better."
  • "the world has yet to see what God can do through a man/woman who is totally commited to him." - D.L. Moody
  • "be who you is, cause if is ain't who you is, you is who you ain't."-
  • "some people say movies should be more like real life. I say real life should be more like the movies."