three little birds were on my doorstep...

ahhh, blogspot... like a cool pepsi on a hot afternoon. i have no idea what that means.
well, it's been a while since i've updated, and that's pretty much due to the fact that well, i really haven't felt like slowing down long enough to write. but today is a nice day. i've got a pile of stuff on my desk that is calling, so obviously this is much more fun. so where to begin...

i got back yesterday from my trip to the country of texas. i went to go visit mom, pops and mi hermana before she heads off to oxford for the fall. let's see, details from the trip... i got there last tues and got to see my parents new house. very nice. it looks like the backlot of universal studios where they filmed leave it to beaver. very suburban, very nice. the neighbors wanted to have a cookout to meet me and say goodbye to mi hermana which was really cool. this neighbor drove by and mentioned that he was a photographer and saw the neighbors out every night talking and watching the little kids play. like he said, it's good to know that this still goes on. anyways the cookout was fun, got to meet the neighbor kids that mi madre always talks about and they were pretty funny.

also got to meet mi hermana's boyfriend which was very anti-climactic compared to how freaked out certain members of my family were hyping it up to be. we got along really well, but i think he respected that i am the big brother and the responsibilities that are entitled to me. whatever, we got along and there's no drama there.

seeing mom and pops was really cool too. mi madre was a lot less stressed than i thought she would be, and handled mi hermana leaving really well. and, she's still my same old madre, going out of her way to make everyone else happy and relaxed (except for me stressing trying to keep up with her on the freeway). pops was his usual goofy self, which is exactly what i came to visit. it's amazing, the man can barely communicate but still manages to crack jokes and keep all of us laughing, if only with simple gestures. i messed with him on a daily basis, and got to ride just me and him out to abilene which was a lot more fun than i had realized i was going to have.

by the way, dallas traffic is much lamer than l.a. traffic. at least out here you have a reason for traffic, out there it's so open and spread out its just frustrating as to why there should be any traffic in dallas at all.

then there's abilene. first of all, i must start off by saying that the acu campus is much more impressive than the oc campus. i'm sure it probably loses some of its charm if you go there, but i was really taken back at how well the campus was maintained and how well designed the architecture was. i even bought an acu shirt to show some love, and to prove to my kiddos that i don't hate other colleges. as for the town of abilene, i don't think i could have handled west texas. as nice as the campus was, i am glad i knew that i had okc to go to while i was in college. not that okc is a raging metropolis, but it def is a step up from the town of abilene.

what else... i got to stay an extra day in texas and go to church with the fam which was cool. except mi hermana pulled the mom bit and was trying to introduce me to 'this girl i had to meet'. i told her 'you're right, i should quit my job and move out here'. ugh. pet peeve alert. that was overshadowed though, by getting to see a good friend from back in the oc days, mike simpson, one half of the simpson jam band that i used to rock out with. random i know, but it was cool to see him. kinda made me miss some of the other oc crew, but we had a good time chillin one night and just catching up.

unforeseen highlight of the trip def goes to my stop in tulsa sunday night. got to see some of the kiddos from park plaza, my amigos that i worked with and a few others i miss from the tulsa days. seeing the kiddos from the park was cool, but it def made me glad to see my kiddos here in simi. not really sure why, but i was def ready to come home.

and maybe a close second to unforeseen highlight goes to no big stories from the plane trips. no bad seatmates, no big delays, no one making out on the plane, just a lot of sleep and more sleep. my

the only big observation from my travels is that salt lake city might be the creepiest place on earth. everyone looks alike, not similar, alike. creeps me out every time i have to switch planes there.

other random thoughts...

it's nice to have phone conversations that end because you're simply too tired to talk anymore, instead of running out of things to say. had a few of those lately. very nice.

texas is nice when it comes to the people, but how anyone lives in the humidity is beyond me. this time last week i was walking out of an air conditioned airport into 98 degree, 98 percent humidity.

right now i'm sitting in my office with my door open and its a nice 73 degrees outside with just a hint of a breeze off of the ocean. ahhh... oh yeah, and there aren't any mosquitoes buzzing around.

the new 311 cd came out last week. buy it. nuff said.

the night before i left i was trying to tie up some loose ends at the office when a lady walked up and asked for my help because she was a meth addict and was trying to fight the urge to get high. we talked about the story of the prodigal son for a while, and she kinda calmed down, but it was the first time i've had someone come to me in that type of situation where i actually felt like i helped the person out. it was a good feeling. i don't know where she's at right now, but i know i did the best i could, and there's a lot of joy that comes from that.

story of the week goes to one of the kiddos at park plaza. he was helping out with officiating at a special olympics track meet, which may just be one of the coolest ways to volunteer to serve ever. anyways, one of the competitors decided not to run in one of the track events, and this kid had the responsibility to go tell the judges on the other side of the middle infield. so he kinda jogs from the starting line area over to the middle infield where the judges are, and as he starts jogging, people in the stands start cheering him on and applauding. he doesn't know what to do so he keeps running to the judges, who are also cheering and trying to give him a ribbon. oh man, i was on the floor as this kid was telling the story. what a great story though, it says a lot about the attitude of the people that attend those events and their spirit. even those helping out with the special olympics deserve a round of applause, even if it is under some funny circumstances. way to go evan, you get a blue ribbon in my book any day!

today is a just a good day. i've got a lot to do, and a lock in to prepare for, but it's a good day nonetheless. i'd like to thank everyone who contributed to me having a good day.

last night was pretty sweet as well. the youth group cooked a spaghetti dinner for our senior saints, and then we had a q&a time afterwards. it was awesome to hear our saints tell stories from growing up, and how much the world had changed in their lifetime. we have some really cool saints at our church. one lady used to have a hot rod in the 50's and snuck onto a movie set with elvis presley, and a couple of our guys worked on the apollo rockets that landed the first man on the moon. if you haven't really talked to any senior saints lately i highly recomend it.

and last but not least, i went ahead and got my tattoo that i've wanted for a while. i got my dad's signature on my shoulder where he used to put his hand when he was talking to me. nothing flashy, but it means a lot to me. it took him a second, but he seemed to really like it when i showed him, and mom absolutely loved it. i can't imagine anything else i'd like to get tattooed and i'm fine with that. when i was getting the tattoo i ended up telling the whole store the story of my dad, and why i wanted his signature and i almost had a couple of people in tears. it turned into a great ministry time, and i was really stoked that i actually went through with it. when i get my batteries charged for the camera i'll try and get a pick up for those that are interested. it's still a little weird whenever i catch a glimpse of it in the mirror but i'm so glad i got it. for anyone thinking about getting a tattoo be sure to think about it for a long time, def don't do something you're going to not be completely stoked about years from now, i.e. tribal designs or random stuff like that.

oh yeah, our mission team got back from india last week with some pretty cool stories. check out http://osh-india.blogspot.com/

well, i'm sure there's other stuff on my mind, but it's turning into a gorgeous afternoon and i think i'm going to sit outside and play guitar and have a pepsi. hope you're having and awesome day. God loves you and so do i.

one love, one heart.


you win... you always do.

well it's been a while since my last post, and while part of me wants to apologize, there's a majority of my brain that says, 'i'm a youth minister, this is summer.'
so summer is my crazy time and i wouldn't have it any other way. summer for me means late nights with kiddos, early (yeah right) mornings into the office so i can get stuff done before hanging out with kiddos all day, and into the night as previously mentioned. but most of all, summer means church camp. seriously, i look fwd to camp more than christmas.
so this past week i was at teen camp (hence no weekly post) rocking out with a bunch of kiddos and my bros in youth ministry. fun was had, but most importantly God was praised in a way that still has me stoked. lemme see if i can explain.
to start of the week i was told that there were four kids coming from our church that i either hadn't met or had never attended anything here. awkward. some of us had reservations because of the stories that kids had come back with from previous years. yeah, enough with the negativity, everything was awesome. we bonded with the kids that aren't too involved in church and def built relationships that are going to be a huge blessing. and a couple of my guys really opened up and let loose for the first time since i've been here. dantheman typically judges the success of a youth event by how many kids cry, by his standards this was a great time. one of my kiddos was really upset by the soldiers laughing at Jesus during a Passion clip we showed, and that anger manifested itself later on that night when he asked the other kids point blank why they don't go to church, and later on when he revealed that he couldn't remember the last time that he told his parents that he loves them, or gave his little brother a hug instead of making fun of him. another kid really realized how much he holds back in the time we spend together and i think that really got to him. yet another kid really came out of his shell and got some great positive attention from the whole camp. he even won the camp 'hip-hip hippopotomus' contest. way to go rockstar. one of our girls was put in the hotseat one night and given a whole bunch of compliments, which was cool because she had a: earned it and b: never in a million years asked or wanted to be in the hotseat. what else... had another kid that wants to start studying about baptism, we had to resist the urge to go right then, but we decided it would be better to help him know what he was doing before he made the biggest decision of his life. the heart is there but the knowledge isn't. i think every kid that went from our group got what they needed. some kids needed to make new friends, some had to break out of their shells, some just needed to get into worship, and all of us needed to just focus our attention on God completely for a week. the most impressive and important part of the camp was our worship time. it's cool to see conservative and liberal churches get together and throw out all of the devisive stuff and just worship. dantheman and the wookie led our worship time which consisted of everything from art stations, clay stations, phones to talk to God, pennies to represent people we needed to forgive, rocks with our struggles on it to throw away, a tree where we attached what kept us from answering God's call that ended up being burned (think moses and the burning bush), an encouragement station for us to write two letters to a couple of kids that were kicked out the first day for bringing drugs to camp, feet washing stations... it was all awesome. so creative. it's the first time that i've ever been able to include my art in a worship time. talk a about a huge blessing for me. the kids got into it as well, one kid went to town drawing all kinds of stuff throughout the day to decorate the barn where we worshiped. and the singing... i can't even begin to describe. throw in a couple of really moving short videos and worship was a huge impact on our lives.
so the devil def played his hand to early with the drugs on the first night. the response by the kids was overwhelming and quite moving. we told all of the campers what happened so that there wouldn't b any rumors floating around, and they responded by embracing the message of the day, which happened to be forgiveness. i was moved when a 15 year old kid said, 'i'm not going to say anything bad about them because i didn't come up with here with the right intentions either. just because what i was doing isn't illegal doesn't mean i'm just as wrong.' wow. the youth ministers were speechless. the devil tried to get at the camp early but he made several mistakes. 1. he messed with a camp that was completely committed to God. 2. by keeping the counselors up the first night he forced us to rely on God for strength to get through the week. 3. he underestimated the amount of love that the camp has for each other and the love we have for God. there's some lessons to be learned there on our part, mainly being committed to, and totally dependent on God for strength is sooooooo necessary.

last but not least for me was being able to be around my friends and fellow youth ministers. what a blessing we have. we work so well together and encourage each other so much. i was looking around at our crew one day and realized that we were probably going to be working together for a long time. and then it hit... THIS IS MY JOB! oh man. i almost lost it right there. what a perfect mix of friendship we have together. i can't really explain it, but can you imagine being friends with everyone you work with, no drama, no talking behind each others backs, just blessing each other with laughter and encouragement and a shared passion. man, i really am blessed. i was having a rough time before camp but right now i feel on top of the world.

here's some of the other stuff that stuck out this week:

one of the kids that i haven't seen around much went from literally running away from people hugging him, to being the first give out hugs when the time came.
we were able to laugh during worship. i don't know how many guys i know that have a great sense of humor but put that aside when they get a mic in front of them in a worship setting.
the guys in my cabins broke a bunch of dvds and cds that one of the guys needed to get rid of.
the younger guys cabin did a skit where guys with guns came and cleared out all of the non-believers during a church service.
at campfire one night we had two chairs set up where people could either apologize or forgive whoever they needed to.
seeing my girls hanging out with so many different people.
praying for our mission team with just our youth group.
playing robert goulet for a skit one night.
laughing at every staff meeting.
eating it running up the ampitheater back wall and leaving a part of my leg on the wall.
the silence of the camp being empty.
being able to hear God in that silence.
the skits.
merle and burl.

well, it's too nice out today to stay inside. i'd love to stay and update you more on what's going on, but it's time i went and made some more stories.

one love, one heart.