Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas At Our Place

We had Christmas at our house this year! My parents, brother, grandma, aunt, uncle, cousins, and Jess' grandparents all came to our little condo on Christmas eve for dinner, singing, and presents.

^Grandma, Eileen, Reuben, Gabriel and Isaac

^Dad and Binx

^Mom, Donny, and Jess

^Grandma, Isaac, Me, Jess

^Jess' grandparents

^Grandma, Gabriel, Eileen, Reuben

^Jess' grandma Marika w/ her camera

^Eileen, Isaac, Jess w/ her new coat

^Me leading in Christmas songs

^Jess and I w/ my parents and her grandparents

Friday, December 21, 2007

Preview For Prince Caspian!!

If you know me well, you probably know that I have always loved C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles Of Narnia." I've just seen the preview for the next film in the series: "Prince Caspian." I can't wait!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Binx's Early Christmas Gift

Whilst we were doing some final Christmas shopping the other day, we stopped in at Old Navy. As we were checking out, we came across some clothing for pets that was half off. We thought of all the funny dogs that wear little sweaters and such, and then we thought, "how funny would it be to put Binx in clothes?"

We bought him a little blue polo shirt (it was the only piece they had in Extra Small, and considering the clothes were sized for dogs, that's the size that Binx needed. Yes, big fat Binx needed an Extra Small. That boosted his little ego, we're sure!). We figured that half the fun of this little endeavor would be watching Binx rebel as we tried to slip this little wonder over his head and pull his arms through the holes. And even better would be his meltdown of trying to get the thing off once we had it on him.

Somewhat to our dismay, he didn't put up much of a fight (he had just woken up, and was a bit groggy). Jess totally could've got it on him while I was filming the short clip you'll see below, but she was laughing, and couldn't hold him still enough, so I had to take over.

So here's Binx in his Christmas shirt. Click on any of the small pictures for the full experience, and leave him a nice comment on how handsome he looks.

Jess trying to put the shirt on him
video

Like I said, he'd just woken up from a nap


He's momma's handsome boy


This one shows how much of his girth is due to his fluffiness


Abercrombie and Fitch? How'd this ad get in here? Oh wait...it's Binx!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

My Date With A Flat-Iron

Pastor Todd's daughters, Natalie and Ally, wanted to take flat-irons to my hair the other night before youth group. The results were amusing...

Having second thoughts...

Mmmm...fried hair...

Half-way there...livin' on a prayer...

Sweeeeeet

"You look like some type of wild beast from the prairie" - Jess

Thanks girls, I may do this more often... ;)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Winter Fun


Here are a few pictures from the past few weeks. Mallory Smith came over a few Sundays ago and taught me and Jess how to crochet, which is a very difficult and time consuming activity. I've got a pretty good like 10-inch start on a scarf which I should be finished with by Dec. 2010.

We got our fake Christmas tree, and man it has been great. The lights are already attached to it, so you just put the pieces together, arrange the bristle tips to your liking (so cool!) and turn it on! I also put up Christmas lights on the outside of our little condo.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Jess tearing it up with the crochet needle


I make crocheting look very masculine don't I?


Christmas lights!


It's harder than it looks...I was very proud


Jess and our new fake tree!


Have yourself a merry little Christmas!

Monday, December 3, 2007

All's Quiet On The Blogging Front

Not a whole lot going on at the moment. By that I mean, that the everyday tasks of life have been pretty consuming the last week or so.

I've subbed a few more times at Village Christian, and I have an interview this Wednesday morning at the Hart school district. If I could get in there, I bet I could sub every day if I wanted to. Pray for that interview, that it would go well, and if God wants me subbing in those schools, that he'd get me in the classroom.

We had our church Christmas party (on the 2nd?? yeah, early is good) this past Sunday night. It was a great night of food and hanging out, listening to Christmas music, and all the stuff. We even did Christmas light tours with a big ol' truck and hay bales in the back. I didn't have my camera with me, but I might be able to get a few to post.

I put up Christmas lights on our little condo. I was pretty proud of myself, considering there was no convenient electrical outlet anywhere. I'll take a picture and put it on here so you can be amazed. The lights were $1.50 at Home Depot, so I got like 5 boxes, but I think I might want to get a few more...

Oh, and I think we're decided on getting a fake Christmas tree.

We think that the pros outweigh the cons in this area, and although there's a unique charm to a real tree, the tying it to the car, dragging it in the house, getting all sap-covered, and the shedding needles are just a pain. If you feel we're making a mistake, leave me a comment, and we can talk about it. The fake trees are just...so easy.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving In Mammoth


One of my college buddies, Tim Sullivan, let Jess and I use his family's condo up at Mammoth over the Thanksgiving weekend. We left Thursday morning and came home Saturday evening. It was a great time to rest, relax, and we even went snowboarding on Friday!

It was my first time snowboarding, so I knew it would be a rough day, and that it would be even more rough for me since I know very well that God did not build me to spend extensive amounts of time in 30 degree weather.

Jess had been snowboarding a few times, so she was able to give me the basics, and help me to get started. However, learning to snowboard is similar to learning to drive a stick shift, in that you can only have so much "book" knowledge, before you actually gotta get out there and tackle that unpredictable clutch pedal, and learn as you go.

According to Jess, I did much better than most beginners she's known, and by my fourth trip down the run, I wanted to document my progress, so I held my camera in my hand and took video of my descent. I usually fell pretty consistently towards the beginning of the hill, and then I'd get going ok, and even link a few turns, but the mountain was crowded (as only two runs were open on the whole mountain), and I was not confident in my skills of turning sharply or stopping, and I'd take the dive to avoid a collision, or to just stop when I thought I was going too fast.

True to everyone's words, my whole body was sore immediately following, and even as I write this, I'm still moving pretty slowly from soreness. I admit it, I am somewhat of a wimp. I don't like being really cold, and I complain when my limbs don't move without pain. Despite the pain, snowboarding was fun, and I may do it again someday (although I might like to try skiing, as the mechanics of skis just seem like they make much more sense).

We got a lot of reading in over the few days, and had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner of spaghetti on Thursday night. Other than the extreme cold, the weather was gorgeous, and the mountain was certainly majestic to take in.

So thanks to God for creating such an awesome, amazing place, to Tim for letting us use the condo, and to Seth for letting us borrow his snowboarding gear. Here's a few pics from the trip, including the video of my awesome snowboarding skills...

(blowing snow on the mountain Thursday night [the snow machines, not us])


(Jess and I; I'm already really cold here)


(Jess reading by my killer blazing fire)


(Jess on the slopes)


(Me towards the end of the day; my fingers are numb)


Here's my trip down the hill caught on video:
video

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Radiohead Fan Video Causes Another Fan (me) To Worship!

Check out this video I put on my worship blog. It's a video made by a Radiohead fan, and it seriously points to God.

Monday, November 19, 2007

My Hair

Whenever I wear a hat or beanie, it makes my hair unravel and get all poofy. I wonder if it's time for a cut?

The problem with that is I don't like to "trim," in order to maintain a certain length or style. I don't like it because then you have to get another "trim" in another couple of weeks. I prefer to let it grow until it's slightly unbearable (both for me and for others), and then chop it all off. I'm talking like take some electric clippers, and go #2 all the way around.

Jess hates it when I cut it that short, but I like the convenience of not having to cut it again for 9-10 months.

-sigh-

Any suggestions?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Traffic School

Today Jess and I spent the day at home, thankful for the day off from work. What Jess was NOT thankful for however, was her online traffic school.

Each page of the traffic school has a timer that will not allow you to continue to the next page until the alloted time (30 minutes) was spent on each page. The couple of times I've done traffic school I've spaced it out over multiple days (or weeks), so it was pretty intense for her to do it all at once. But I guess that's the point that it resembles a real in-person course, which are usually 6-8 hours.

But after all the timed pages and chapter quizzes and her big final exam, she came out on top, finishing in only nine hours! True to her Summa Cum Laude form, she took extensive notes on each page, and passed her final with a 98%!

She's also said that after all this ordeal for her red-light ticket, she will never get a ticket again. (good luck right?) I wonder how many people have absolutely spotless driving records, I mean have never even gotten a ticket (when you do traffic school, the point doesn't go on your record, but you still GOT the ticket!). How many tickets have YOU gotten, and what were they for??

If anyone's going to be in Pasadena, near Maranatha high school this Thursday (11-15), I'm going to be playing with Facedown for one of their Spiritual Emphasis Week Chapels. It's Thursday from 11:56-12:36.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Interesting Ethical Issue

I just read a very interesting post from Al Mohler. It talks about those who are on life support due to being diagnosed with permanent unconsciousness, and whether they should be "allowed to die." Check out the post here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Red Light Cameras

So last week Jess was stuck behind one of those huge trucks that blocks your entire forward view coming up to the intersection of Bouquet Canyon Rd and Newhall Ranch. They both got into the left turn lane and proceeded to make their turns. What Jess realized too late though, was that the truck had made his left turn at the very end of the yellow light, and as a result, Jess went through on a full red. Since she couldn't see the lights until the truck had turned out of her view, she didn't realize that she probably should have waited for the next green light. Sure enough the "photo enforced" intersection caught her, and took pictures of her license plate, the outside of her car, and even right into her windshield showing her behind the wheel (somewhat fascinating if it wasn't so awful).

Within a few days, her ticket arrived, and she owed $381! Wanting to just get it out of the way, she called the number on the ticket and paid over the phone. What we think happened was that she may have accidentally opted to pay the ticket without requesting traffic school, and so after she paid it, we were trying for hours to figure out how to request it from the court. She ended up having to take a morning off of work to go down to the courthouse. She got it all taken care of, but that $381 still hits hard.

What's funny is that we recently renewed our auto insurance, and when I did so, I updated our profile to our new address. What with moving to a safer neighborhood, and having a garage, our premium was less than it had previously been. But I guess whoever I spoke with didn't calculate everything correctly at the time, because we've now received three rebate checks for various profile changes in our insurance (safer neighborhood, garage, etc.). The first check was for $9, and the second check was for $120, but the third was for $260!

Jess was so worried about our insurance rates going up, and now it's our insurance who has paid for her ticket!

God is funny like that. :)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Moving and Birthday Cake

Moving is hard, and it is not fun. It's great once you're moved IN, but not the actual moving. Lots of boxes, a big UHaul truck, and both my cats riding in the front with me. Cats DO NOT like going in the car. They let out these noises that come from the darkest corner of hades, and it sounds like they're dying. Anyways, we're slowly getting unpacked in Valencia, and here's some pics from moving day...

"Bye little apartment..." --------------Me and my Dad


-Boxes, boxes everywhere---------Binx hard at work


We got all the boxes into our new place on Friday night, and Saturday, Jess went with our new church to Hope Gardens, a rehab center for women and their children in Sylmar. I thought that the event was a "women only" deal, so I went back over to Azusa for Matthew Papik's one year birthday party. It was a good time. I got him an electronic remote fart machine. He liked it. His daddy liked it too.

Matthew and Poppa Greg-----------Matthew and Laura


"Oh yeah, that's moist." ---------------The gang

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Albus Dumbledore

I'm sure that most of you have heard by now that author J.K. Rowling announced that one of the main characters in the Harry Potter series, Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, was gay. As Rowling predicted, the Christian audience, who already made so much fuss about the whole "witchcraft and wizardry" issue, now has one more reason to ban Harry Potter from their library.

I'm not going to go on some rant about the morality of Rowling's decision to make the character gay, I think it's a little ridiculous that there's so much controversy over the sexual orientation of a FICTIONAL character to begin with. I do wonder however, along with many others, why Rowling chose to reveal this fact now, after the fact, and why she didn't write it in to a story full of blatant political correctness. She would often give descriptions of characters that included their ethnic background and/or physical appearance, and so to leave out something like that is a little puzzling. Of course, maybe she thought that her books would have met much more opposition had the headmaster been openly gay from the get-go; as it would have shone a whole new light on his relationship with Harry, and his motivations for doing the things he did (looking back and reading the new information into the text is different than having the information as we first encounter the text, wouldn't you say?)

I read this very interesting TIME magazine article by a gay author named John Cloud, who's article "Put Dumbledore Back In The Closet" ponders the question of why Dumbledore took the facts about his sexual orientation to his grave (save for possibly mentioning them to his love interest Gellert Grindelwald). In Cloud's view, Dumbledore's failure to be honest and open about his sexuality imports a "lack of personal integrity that is completely out of character."

I found that an interesting take on the issue. There were plenty of times Dumbledore chose to keep information from Harry or other characters for what he believed were greater purposes, so maybe his sexual orientation would have made Harry uncomfortable or what have you, and he wouldn't have been able to have such an influence in his life, therefore rendering him helpless before Lord Voldemort?

Either way, to hear a gay man say "put Dumbledore back in the closet" is pretty ironic. Check out the article, and let me know what you think.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Village Christian Family Fair

Last Saturday Jess and I went to the Village Christian Family Fair. It was so cool! There were hundreds of people there and lots to do. Jess had that corn-on-the-cob-on-a-stick snack, which I still don't really understand (at what point does corn-on-the-cob become a snack???) and we both had some delicious coffee that the guy called Senior Brahe specializes in making in the mornings for the school faculty.

I even won a chocolate-mocha cake in the world famous CakeWalk!

Here are a few pics:

Monday, October 15, 2007

Handed Over To Satan

Sounds pretty intense huh? That seems like the ultimate degree of giving up on someone. I know the Bible says that God gives people up to their own evil desires, etc. but that phrase of giving someone up to Satan seems somehow worse.

My pastor preached on verses 18-20 on 1 Timothy ch. 1 on Sunday, and the apostle Paul does exactly that: he hands some dudes over to Satan!

We don't know precisely what these guys were up to, but it had to have been something pretty huge that was endangering the purity and health of the church. In Corinthians, Paul addresses a situation where some guy in the church was having an affair with his own stepmother, and the church in essence didn't care!! He instructs them to remove the guy from among them. I wonder what kinds of things are going on in our church, that the apostle Paul would say "Woah!!! That is completely inappropriate and harmful, you need to remove those who are involved from among you!!" I would hope nothing of the sort. I know no church is perfect because it's comprised of sinful people, but man I hope our collective consciences are still in working order that we would be able to perceive and deal correctly with any of those types of issues that would arise!

But in the way that Scripture always points to God, the apostle Paul says that he hands them over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme! He's not giving up on them! He's not completely turning his back on them, and forgetting about them, he is trusting in God's sovereign plan to teach them in some other severe way the lessons that they were not learning in the safety and care of the church family. Needless to say, that can be a frightening method of learning.

As I said earlier, we don't know exactly what these dudes were doing, but the apostle tells us that because some reject faith and good conscience, they make shipwreck of their faith. That was the application of this passage to our lives; a warning to hold fast to our faith, and our conscience. Holding fast to faith means holding fast to doctrine, since it's what explains that which we have faith in. Holding fast to a good conscience means doing what we know is right. The conscience doesn't help us determine right and wrong, it urges and exhorts us to do what we know is right, and not doing that is sin.

So we keep a tight grip on the doctrines of our faith, and we preserve our good conscience by doing what God's Word instructs us is right. Paul calls it waging the good warfare, so prepare for battle.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In Rainbows

If you were to ask about my "favorite band," I would think about the multitudes of bands that I like and listen to, and then I would remember, "oh yeah, but then there's Radiohead." And I would easily respond that they top my "all-time" list as far as favorites go.

Don't misunderstand me, I'm not making some bold claim that Radiohead is the "best" band of all time (what is the objective standard for being "the best" anyway?); but I'm saying without a doubt, that their music strikes a deep resonance with me, and strikes it in such a way as no other band has been able to come close.

They just released their 7th studio album entitled "In Rainbows," and the way in which they went about releasing that album is intriguing in itself. But there's something in their mix of rock, electronic, folk, and ethereal awesomeness that consistently challenges my preconceptions of what music is/should be, but that does it in a brilliant and beautiful panorama of sonic bliss. In other words, they always strive for originality and creativity, but they always do it in a musically beautiful and pleasing way, not just doing different for different's sake.

Anyways, I'd recommend you check out www.inrainbows.com and give it a listen. If you haven't clicked on the link in the last paragraph, check it out, and you might be lots more inclined to give the album a listen.

Let me know what you think ok?

We've Hit The Big Time

Yes, that's right: we now have our own washer and dryer.

I'll let it sink in for a few moments...

...

Has it hit yet?

...

Good.

Imagine a world where there's no need for the proverbial can of quarters for the $1.25 fee to wash one's clothes; where the hamper doesn't start to overflow solely because you're trying to maximize that next laundry trip; and you don't have to pull a few clothes OUT OF the hamper in order to have something to wear to go DO the laundry.

Yes, this is the apex of luxurious and civilized living.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

My First Official Sunday at Crossroads

Today was my first official Sunday as Director of Worship at Crossroads Community Church! It was a great morning, and Jess and I are so excited to finally be a part of the church family. My brother graciously volunteered his Sunday off (from playing drums at SGUC) to come up and play percussion for me so we had a nice acoustic morning (also thanks to David Zimmer for letting us borrow his cajon and shaker).

When I called my wife before she left to come to the service and asked her to "please bring the camera," I guess I didn't imply clearly enough that I would've liked her to take some pictures :) so unfortunately I don't have any!

Last night SGUC held it's annual Battle of the Bands, and it's always a great time of reaching out to the kids within the community that play in bands. Pastor Tim shared a short gospel message, and the rock and roll was abounding as bands competed for a cash prize, and although I left before the winner was announced, I heard through the grapevine that Master's College based "Chasing Cadence" came out the winner. They spent the summer up at Hume Lake as the Jr. High worship band, and they've also had the opportunity to record an album of worship songs, which although I haven't heard all of it yet, I am confident to recommend. You can find more details about the CD and the band here.

This afternoon we celebrated my Mom's birthday with a barbecue at my grandma's that my older brother Oscar put together. We had a good time relaxing with family and eating some delicious kabobs together. Her birthday was Wednesday Oct. 3rd, so if you see her, wish her a happy belated birthday.

We are continuing to slowly move our stuff out to Valencia and our new condo we'll be renting, so maybe in the next few weeks we'll be able to have a little "house-warming" party and have some of you over!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Do We Still Believe In Objective Right and Wrong?

I was sort of pleasantly surprised today when I channel surfed across The Steve Wilkos Show.

Steve Wilkos used to be the head security/body guard guy on the Jerry Springer show, and became popular enough in his own right to apparently warrant his own "talk" show. I expected antics similar to Jerry Springer, but was surprised to hear him dealing with the subject entitled: "My Son Beats Me."

I didn't know what to expect, and wondered how they would address these mother-beaters. I was sure that they would delve into their past and somehow justify their actions (while maybe not directly condoning them) and try to "help" them deal with those past issues.


The guy I saw come on the stage was a classic "Jerry Springer-esque" fellow; an extremely overweight, messy, arrogant, obnoxious kind of guy. He came on and was going off about how he was "his own man" and he was born this way, and he didn't feel bad or sorry for beating up his mother when he wanted his way.


Contrary to what I expected, Steve Wilkos called him out and told him that he was blatantly wrong to beat up his mother! Steve is a pretty big guy, and looks pretty buff as well, so when he came and stood right in front of the guy, and yelled in his face about what a horrible thing he was doing, I cheered on the inside!


In no way am I trying to say that "Hey, Steve Wilkos is a Christian" or anything of that nature. I am only observing that in a world of post-modernism, where any way can be "a" right way, someone had the conviction to stand up for the moral law that God built into us! There's technically nothing "wrong" (as in against the law) with beating someone up (sometimes I bet we think people really deserve it), but it was plain to everyone in the audience, that this guy was completely wrong to beat up his mother.


It is funny though, how when we as Christians stand up for what we know is right, based on God's Word (issues of homosexuality, abortion, etc.), we are labeled as "fundamentalists" and increasingly shoved off to the side. Is this because we're doing something wrong? Or is it because Christ told us that the world would hate us? (John 15)


Objectivity still exists, if only in a few extreme cases. Everyone agreed that this dude was wrong to beat up his mother, but what about other things that aren't so clear? Are we supposed to have clear opinions about everything, and die on those hills if necessary? Or is there room for grey?


Leave some comments with your opinions...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Dare you not to laugh...

Thanks Ashley Fenderson, for posting this on Facebook! I especially liked how you titled it:

"This is Chuckles, he is my friend."

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Our New Condo And The Dodger Game

Saturday we went out to pick up the keys to the condo we'll be renting in Valencia! Brand new carpets and fresh paint; the place looks great! Kathleen Perdisatt (I finally got her last name!) is an awesome land-lady! Here are a few pics of the place:

(This is looking in the front door)

(The living room)

(The kitchen and dining area)

(The backyard nook)

(Master bedroom)

(Bedroom #2)


Then that night we went to watch the Dodgers vs. the Giants at Dodger stadium. Greg Clark came along with us, and it was his very first professional sporting event! The "Generations" class from SGUC had put the trip together, so there were some babies there, who were almost as much fun to watch as the game itself!

(Greg and I at his first ball game! The Dodger hat is mine.)

(Matthew Papik and Micah Costine)

(Good ol' Dodger Stadium)

(The Hoovers, the Papiks, and Josh. Thanks Greg, for taking the pic!)