Why don't you purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka?

yet another crazy few days in the life of a youth minister...
oh man, there's nothing like taking a deep breath, and hearing nothing but the sound of the boat running through the water as you inhale a couple of gallons of lake water. so me and about fifteen other youth ministers had our tri-annual youth minister's retreat this past mon-tues. what an awesome time. there were a few guys from the inland empire there that we hadn't met before, so it was cool to grow our group of guys out a little bit. as you can probably imagine, the festivities took second place to the fellowship. there's something about youth ministers getting together that just begs for some good jokes. i'd try to write out some jokes form this weekend, but they pretty much all fall into the 'you had to be there category'. just know that we have no clue what we are doing when it comes to making and maintaining a campfire of reasonable proportions, wakeboarding, driving a boat, or keeping critters out of the food. oh yeah, and one guy locked his keys in his car. that part was funny because he made the comment, 'i don't know if any of you have had to think this before, but i really don't want to break this window, because it would cost more to replace the window than what i paid for the car'. been there bro, when i say i know how you feel, i know how you feel. i was pretty stoked to be the guy that finally picked his lock, kind of a pay it forward moment. what else happened... we laughed, we burned things, we did our venting, shared some stories about kids, talked about who we knew in college, shared dorm/club stories, talked about our events, threw in some philosophical debates in for good measure, and topped that off with denomination talk. pretty typical and expected, but always fun. add the inner tubing and wakebaording in the mix and we had ourselves a great time, minus a couple of bloody noses and an unfortunate wave hopping incident that involved me racking myself on the boat. ouch to say the least. i'm gonna try and see a doctor tomorrow if the swelling doesn't go down. other than that, the retreat was a blast. we had our own spot on the lake that was pretty isolated, and a cove for some smooth water for tubing, and we didn't have to go back to the campground until dinner both nights. we took turns cooking and cleaning, telling jokes, manning the fire... good times. i love hanging around the socal youth ministry crew. we get along really well for the most part. there's a couple of guys that refuse to come out of their shells, but that doesn't really last long when we get to telling stories. it's cool too, becuase we are all about the same age, and have pretty much the same interests, and a good majority of us got hired around the same time, so we're going through a lot of the same stuff.
stuff in the ministry is starting to step up to another level as well. more kids are coming to me with things that are pretty serious and personal, which as tough as that can be to handle, also brings about a peace of knowing that God must be in control, because i don't have a clue if i'm doing or saying the right thing. that's something we talked about on our retreat, getting a sense of wether or not what we talk to our kids about is right, and how God can use us as His tools verses the other way around. there's a satisfaction in knowing that you haven't helped a kid out, but God has helped a kid out by using you.
what else... my birthday present finally got here last friday, which was amazing considering how inept our local post office is (see 3/15 post). anyways, my present was pretty cool. mi madre and mi hermana sent a bunch of books, (including 'captivating' the female version of wild at heart, a must read) and season two of the a-team and dukes of hazzard. and then there was a check for me to buy a snowboard and some bindings and boots. to borrow a quote from hannibal, 'nice b.a., nice'. so i'm either gonna buy dantheman's other snowboard and stuff that i learned on, or i may check out some deals at the local sports chalet. we'll see. free time is growing increasingly smaller as of late. all in all though, it was a pretty mellow birthday. a couple of the kiddos brought in birthday cakes to our thurs night roots group, which was funny because half of the kids couldn't eat any cake, do to one of our previous roots. we had a talk about commitment a few weeks ago, where i challenged the kiddos to commit to giving something up for a time, which prompted a whole group of girls to give up chocolate and junk food, hence no cake. anyways, there were a whole bunch of leftovers that i had to give away, because the cuz and i are have neither one gone to the grocery store in weeks, and we'd prob have nothing but cake for dinner if that's all that's in the fridge.
oh yeah, and i got some passes to see star wars. i could go on for a while on how much i love star wars, but i'll spare the details. just know i own no costume of any star wars character. anyways, it was a great movie and i plan on seeing it a bunch more, but it comes with a bittersweet feeling. all of my life i've been a star wars fan. one of my first memories was when i was three i went to see return of the jedi and i remember seeing ewoks on speeders... yeah, i've been hooked ever since, and now the story is complete. as cool as it was to see the story tied together, it's weird knowing there won't be anymore star wars coming out. lame.
on to less nerdy things... i finally took some time to record a bunch of my songs onto garageband, and will hopefully have an instrumental cd finished before too long. i've got a lot of mastering to do, but i'm pretty stoked at how well most of the tracks sound so far w/o vocals. i'm not sure what i'm going to do lyrically, but we'll see. at the very least i'm stoked that my kiddos like most of my stuff, and even the cuz gave a few compliments on a track he heard. i even like it. it's a good cross between rock and reggae so, in honor of my cd that hopefully will be finished soon, here's a top ten list of potential album titles for my cd:
10. quiktunes
9. l.a. calling
8. dude: the soundtrack
7. greatest hits: vol 2
6. semi dub experiment
5. dubya
4. spare change
3. soundtrack to 5
2. put me on trl and i'll say woooo!
1. garagsta

in other news, we've had a couple of losses in our church family that has me looking at how blessed i am. it makes such a difference to know that the person you've lost knew you loved them. i didn't really know either person too well, but i know their family, and it is so obvious the difference having faith makes in dealing with sorrow. so many other families i've known have blamed God, and asked for the person back, and it just seems so selfish to me. when i'm gone i don't want anyone praying to get me back, i'm going to be in a much better place. how selfish we are to assume that life here is better. also, the anger that so many people have regarding death is so misguided, many times we are only angry because we didn't take the opportunities we had to let that person know how we felt. i tell my kiddos all the time that christianity boils down to not being about yourself, and making sure that God and others are the priority. there's a time for everything, so embrace sadness, but letting that turn to anger is dangerous. anyways, i'm blessed to be around people who have it together.

in less important news... i'm almost done with my month w/o soda, and i can already tell a difference. i go to bed earlier and sleep much more soundly. i have quite a bit more energy and i've probably saved at least thirty bucks so far this month. i might stretch this thing out a bit more. i'm thinking of my next monthly challenge... perhaps being a vegetarian, or maybe something more spiritual like an hour of prayer each day. hmmm the possibilities....

well before i head out, me and the cuz decided to start keeping track of 'hannibal's words of wisdom' from the a-team dvds. so here's your wisdom for the day,
'When you pay peanuts lady, you hire a bunch of monkeys.'

one love, one heart


quick to the point, to the point no fakin, cookin mc's like a pound of bacon...

yet another great weekend...
so we just got back from springfest in bakersfield, and there are so many things that i don't want to forget from this weekend.
this morning as part of our service we watched a couple scenes from the passion. i say we watched it, i could barely keep my eyes on the screen. i was sitting next to mitch wilburn (who i was with the first time i saw it) and we were both having the same reactions. any other movie and i'd laugh, but the passion actually makes me sick to my stomach. every time i see it i pick up on new emotions and things that i've missed before. today, the scene that got me the most was the thief asking Jesus to remember him. sounds so simple, but when i see a man with no where left to go look into the bloody face of a bruised Jesus it throws me into a different perspective. i grew up with the felt board pictures of Jesus, with a nice clean robe and a huge smile on his face, and as much as that was a part of his life, i rarely find myself with a picture of Jesus bruised, blood, crying in pain, not able to stand, with nails through his arms. tough to think about, even tougher to watch. i'm not sure how the kiddos took it, but i'm grateful for the fact that they now have an image in their heads that hopefully can't be ignored.
this movie is also tough, because it reminds me of how blessed i am, and how little of what i have, i have earned. i work at a church that is truly blessed with some of the most caring teens i have ever been around. weird, goofy, and so full of life, my youth group has so much personality, i forget how blessed i am to say i work for them. i'm also blessed with some great friends and role models. my brother in ministry noodles was there from s.d., which is always a blessing, he's just one of those guys that makes you feel better just being around him. most of my friends i give a little bit of good natured ribbing, but noodles is one of those guys that hasn't said a mean thing about a person in years, and there's nothing really to give him grief about. he works as a part time youth minister in s.d., has for several years w/o the church stepping up to make him a full time offer. it's a shame. if socal loses him as a youth minister we're going to be hurting. anyways, we didn't get to spend a whole lot of time hanging out (something about keeping an eye on our groups... what's that about?) but the few minutes we could chill helped make the weekend a good one.
throw in person number two, one of my amigos from oc was there recruiting this weekend, and we got to chill just enough to bring back some good memories from the college days. we didn't hang out a whole lot until my last couple of years, but we def have a good laugh when we hang out, and it was good to see a face from oc. he came up and talked to my kiddos about going to a christian college, and validated a lot of stories that i tell the kiddos about college life. it makes coming home and seeing a few posts from old college friends all the sweeter.
lastly, i got to hang out with mitch wilburn, one of my favorite people of all time. as much as my old youth minister influenced me to become a youth minister, mitch helped me be comfortable in being myself as a minister. always one to come with a kind word, a nod of affirmation, or encouragement to pull of some crazy idea, getting to see mitch was a def highlight for me. and on a deeper level, mitch's encouragements have an extra sense of value these days. i know my dad is proud of me, and he can't say it anymore physically, so hearing mitch say, 'i'm proud of who you've become' takes on an extra special meaning for me. def makes for a good weekend.
as far as the kiddos go, i think we're starting to turn some corners and really get deeper into examining our relationship with God. the youth rally was good, and there's always room for improvement, but i can def see places where God can use us in his work. we have yet one more adventure to add to the bonding experience, and i think with summer coming up shortly we're gonna be on fire here pretty soon. hopefully. part of me wants a youth group to explode in numbers, and part of me wants to keep the status quo where i know every kid like a brother or sister. we'll let God take the reigns though, he's a lot smarter than i am, and he's been doing this a lot longer. anyways the kiddos were great, and i am starting to see so much potential sprouting in them. man, i can't wait to see where this group is five years from now.
other memorable moments from this weekend...
making a u-turn everywhere we went in bakersfield because i can't read a map and listen to the kiddos at the same time
being pulled on stage to rap during a comedy skit, and pulling out the vanilla ice because that's the first rap song i could think of that i knew the words, and then realizing not a kid in the audience knew what song i was rapping.
getting a hug from one of my kiddos that said they just needed 'a d.j. hug'
watching one of my chaperons lose it during the passion.
watching one of my kiddos take our lawn ornament santa and walk up to girls and ask them if they'd like to give santa a kiss.
the sound of silence when all of the kiddos have finally been picked up, and its just me at the church.

well, i've got an elders meeting to attend. talk to you guys soon, thanks for listening.
one love, one heart.


There were no utensils in medieval times, hence there are no utensils AT Medieval Times. Would you like a refill on that Pepsi? - The Cable Guy

i appreciate all of the phone calls after last weeks blog. yes, i'm fine, yes i was venting, and no i'm not going to write an emo song about last monday.

i feel some top ten lists coming on:
top ten things i remember from the pepperdine lectureships last week:
10. seeing people from san diego, simi valley, seattle, oc, okc, tulsa and kentucky all in one place
9. my toughest decision one day was wether to go to neptune's net, malibu seafood, or paradise cove to eat. (all three are overlooking or on the beach)
8. pretending to know the names of people that knew me somehow
7. trying to remember why i went to oc instead of peperdine
6. remembering how much it costs to go to pepperdine
5. psallo turning an hour of praise into revival time
4. getting random people to come up to my old youth minister and talk to him about how much they were excited about his new program at cascade college
3. hearing billy wilson, jeff walling, and randy harris in one day
2. getting the chance to be that guy that takes broke college kids out to lunch after being on the other end for so long
1. my sides being sore on saturday from laughing all week

top ten guess-you-had-to-be-there lines from last week:
10. 'my head is sticking out of the sunroof'
9. 'i'll wait here while you hike up the hill to get the car'
8. 'i know this sounds stupid, but i read your blog'
7. 'you wouldn't believe all of the people coming up to me asking about my work at cascade, its really amazing'
6. 'i'm doing nothing now. no really, i filed for unemployment yesterday. i'm going to see how long i can go without a job.'
5. 'does he know his name is bert reynolds?'
4. 'manuel?'
3. 'oh man, you gotta hear this'
2. 'so i'm in the dr.'s office in my boxers, and the dr. has all of these students around me with their stethoscopes listening to my heart, and then he makes me crouch and jump up with the students doing the same, it was kinda weird'
1. 'this is a man who, like a good carpenter, built a throne out of two used pieces of wood'

what a great week to follow up a lame day. last tuesday i got a call from a kid outside of the church that asked me to bring them a bible in the hospital. it's nice to be making inroads to simi like that, and to see right off the bat the impact you can make on someone just by showing up. the pepperdine lectureships started that night and it was awesome to see all of these people from everywhere i've ever lived in one place. i stood by the fountain for almost two hours one night and didn't talk to the same person for more than ten minutes the whole time. there were a lot of my parents' friends from san diego there, kids from my old youth group that are at pepperdine, other youth ministers, professors, fellow oc alumni and just random people i hadn't seen in a while. as much as the lectureships are built up as a learning time i have to say i got much more out of the fellowship with old friends and familiar faces.
and so it goes...
so now its back to the grindstone, planning events, trying to read and study up for classes, dealing with parents... getting some graphics done for t-shirts and stuff and trying to sneak in some fun stuff there as well. prob doesn't sound like a whole lot, but i'm on a tear lately of wanting stuff done well, which means everything gets a lot of attention, which means i dont have a lot of attention left for myself, which i guess is a good thing as of late. maybe.
that, and i'm turning 25 next week and that's starting to get to me a little. not in a bad way, because i've got so much more accomplished by 25 than i thought i would, but it's those few things that i haven't been able to do that has been nagging at me.
oh yeah, and i was challenged to not drink sodas for a month so i'm in a weird mood. i didn't realize how bad sodas affected me, but i've had a constant headache for a week now, and i feel sleepy all of the time too. i've caught myself a couple of times ordering sodas out of habit, and have been fortunate enough to catch myself before it was too late. i'm not really craving soda, its just that nothing else really sounds good to drink with a hot dog at a baseball game. pink lemonade? seriously, i'm at angels stadium yesterday downing a couple of hotdogs with a pink lemonade of all things... i couldn't even bring myself to buy bottled water there... what am i supposed to do? ugh. i think the quote of the week is 'no soda is lame'. i know the cuz has had to hear it a few times already. i should prob warn him next time i feel like giving up something.
what else... going back to birthday issues, i'm not sure exactly what i'm going to do for my birthday. star wars is coming out the day after my birthday so i was thinking it would be cool to go to hollywood on opening night to see the midnight chow at the chinese theater, but guys have been camping out for 8 weeks fro tix there, and i can't find my jedi outfit, so i wouldn't fit in. so that leads me with zero ideas for what to do for my birthday. its in the middle of the week and i have youth events on the weekends before and after, so i guess my options are somewhat limited. we'll see.
going back to baseball... the cuz and i decided that since our mothers had raised us to love baseball, what better thing to do to honor mother's day than go to a baseball game (i had already sent a card and got her season one of her favorite show). so we drove down to anaheim to watch the angels game and and a blast. there were a couple of padres fans there, and this guy in front of us kept talking about how lame northern california is, how they should be their own state, and raiders fans are a plague to the sporting society. the great thing about this was that he kept saying things that i tell the cuz all the time, giving a lot of validity to my rants. so now the cuz is convinced i actually know what i'm talking about when i say we should split the state at santa barbara county, and everything north should be southern oregon. i have to say i was impressed by angel stadium. the fans were some of the best i've ever been around. they were mellow because the team was getting stomped, but they were still cheering for their team for the little things. and i saw more red there than i did blue at the dodger game, which was a real trip. the cuz and i have discussed this before, and the matter was settled for me yesterday afternoon: the angels are our home team, and we are officially going to be angels fans. here's our rationale behind our being angels fans:
10. you should always have a home team to root for
9. we hate the dodgers
8. we still refer to the angels as the 'california angels', which means they represent the state (all the way up to santa barbara county) or
7. the los angeles angels of anaheim refers to them as the team from the los angeles 'area', which would include us, since we are not actually in l.a. county, but next to it.
6. vlad guerrero
5. at the games the ushers throw out free peanuts during take me out to the ballgame
4. the cuz has an issue with rooting for more than one national league team, and pulling for the angels would not interfere with his being an astros fan. (i grew up rooting for the padres and the astros, so i do not consider having more than one team an issue, and i'm not going to stop being a yankees fan just because they can't win a game this year)
3. (tie) i like their old hats/ parking is cheaper at anaheim stadium, and the traffic problem doesn't even begin to touch dodger stadium
2. my job gives me a certain leaning towards rooting for teams with biblical themes i.e. padres and angels
1. we really hate the dodgers

well, its a pretty decent afternoon, so i think i'm going to take some down time here and go do something outside.
one love, one heart.


Tyler Durden: Now a question of etiquette; as I pass, do I give you...?

today is one of those days i write because ... to be honest i'm not sure. more than anything i need to vent i guess...
i went down to san diego on sunday afternoon to go visit topgungirl and dantheman. i'll start off with the fun stuff i guess... i got to hang out with dantheman pretty much all day yesterday which always makes for a chill day. nothing special, we lazed around the apt till 11 or so, wandered over to the movie theatre to see if there were any movies that we could catch. not happening so we went and blew a few bucks at his fave store (ross) and mine (best buy) and went back and watched die hard and jammed on guitars all afternoon. probably doesn't sound like much but its days like those that i love the most. nothing pressing to do, cracking up, telling stories, coming up with ideas on how we can change the world... the usual.
then comes last night. you know things are off to a bad start when you're in the living room of a girls house, she's coming down the stairs, and a family friend asks her as she's coming down the stairs, 'so who's this guy you've been bringing to church?' and you're not that guy. i should have bailed right then. but, being the idiot that i am i decided to stick it out, i mean, i came down from simi to see her, i'm not exactly going to give up that easy, at the very least i should see what's going on. mistake number two. flashback to my last semester of college and sr. philosophy, we' re debating 'gimpel the fool', where gimpel is referred to as the town fool because he does not know what is going on around him. the question is, is it better to be ignorant and happy, or aware and not? tough one, and evidently man has been wrestling with this for ages. back to topgungirl's living room. i know this has the potential to be a train wreck, but why not, i figure i'm due. so we go out to eat at her favorite dive and get to talking and everything is copacetic until she drops the 'i'm seeing someone' bomb. here's the list of things that are going through my head at that moment: 1. check please! 2. this is one of those things that you should mention on the phone before a guy makes plans to drive down to see you. 3. is this some sort of twisted punk'd episode? 4. keep your face still and your mouth shut. and 5. don't laugh at the lettuce in her teeth. so she just mentions this new guy in passing, as one of many details about this tutoring project she's been working on, and now i'm looking at my watch realizing that it's going to be a while before i get home and i have a long week of lectureships that i'm going to have to endure. i manage to pay attention for the most part and try to be a good conversationalist while pushing this whole new guy thing to as far back in my mind as i can. it works for a while, long enough to make it through to the time when i need to get headed back on the road. so we end up talking while i'm on the way back home and she pulls out my all time favorite line, 'i never really thought of us as more than friends.' what? since when do friends hold hands walking down the beach? since when do friends kiss each other goodbye after an evening at disneyland? since when do friends drive a hundred miles to see you face to face when they could very easily call you on the phone? then she pulls the whole long distance thing into the picture, which at the very least i can understand, sorta. but that doesn't make up for the fact that this information would have been a lot more useful before i had made the trek down to see her. then it hits me, i'm totally clueless (cue the fountains). i have no idea what separates a friend from a boyfriend. good for her, and good for this new guy that they figured it out, i'm driving back to simi clueless. she said something about always looking at me as a friend again, and i told her something, i'm not really sure what... at that point it just hit me like a ton of bricks that this whole friends/ big brother (the other popular comment) thing i get is lame. the thing that really got to me though is that there has always been potential on the horizon. like i always knew in the back of my mind that there was something that could possibly be there, and that's gone. it's times like last night when you don't feel like driving home. you don't know wether to throw on the mellow christian cd to get your focus back, or to throw on metallica's black album and vent. i went with metallica, and fortunately i didn't see any cops on the freeway last night, or at least they didn't see me. it's nights like last night where you ask God questions that really can't be put into words. and it's nights like last night where you have to question what you know about yourself, not because you want to, but because you have 100 miles to go still before you can crawl in your bed and make the day go away. needless to say i'm a wreck today. not so much that she's going out with someone else, but that i had the whole situation so misread. i realize i've done that a lot. my mind is full of memories of ones i thought got away, but i realize now i never had. hmm... that's hard to look at on screen.
so now the question is how do i put my game-face on for this week? when i see all these people that are coming into town for the lectureships and they ask how things are going do i tell them the truth? that i feel like garbage and i have no clue how to read people, and its eating me alive, or do i smile and put on a happy front and spare them the sob story. what do you do when being yourself isn't what you thought it was? hmm.... i think today i understand why whiny emo bands are so popular.
oh yeah, other side-note... we were talking about self control a few weeks ago in our small groups and the challenge was given to me to give up caffeine for a month. i'm on day three and i feel like garbage. more updates as the month goes on.
well, time to go get my mind on something else.
one love, one heart.