Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Holidays in Pictures...

They say a picture's worth a thousand words, so I hope you enjoy these photos... a little glimpse of what we've been up to in the last few weeks...

Last week we enjoyed hanging out with Sid and Linda Newcomb's family in Paige, TX. They were there to visit Sid's sister and parents, so we just drove the two hours and spent a great day on the farm! We loved getting our kids together again, and it was awesome to see little Glory for the first time! We rode horses and ATVs, had some amazing food and even played with the family's potbellied pig!

Here are the kids posing in front of a nice Christmas Tree in Town & Country shopping center...

We had a nice Christmas morning in Houston... It was hard not to be around family, but we made the best of it. The kids were up at 5:30! We opened presents, had breakfast and went to see The Tale of Despereaux later that afternoon.

After Christmas Day, we had just one day to pack and get ready for our trip to Seattle! We got up at 4:00 on Saturday morning and left Houston International Airport at 7:30. (Zach was so excited he was in bed between Luanne and me - fully dressed and wearing his tennis shoes - at 2:30am!)

The plane ride was 4-1/2 hours long...

Adam and Thornley Anderson picked us up and brought us to the hotel... We're staying in the Embassy Suites in Bellevue... It's a very nice hotel! (Emily asked Luanne, "Mommy, is this the fanciest hotel we've ever stayed in?" Luanne told her that yes, it was.) We're on the 5th floor, the "Embassador Level," which means we have to use our key to get to this floor on the elevator and we get free coffee/drinks/donuts/newspapers every morning. It's all very impressive. :)

Sunday morning came really quickly, and we found ourselves back at Newport Covenant! I led worship with Luanne and several friends from the summer. It was great to be back. Then we headed over to e(x)tol to worship with Chad's music and Adam's preaching. I love the way it looks and feels over there.

On Monday, of course we had to head over to Skatebarn. The boys, especially Zach and Josh, love this place. We spent countless hours here over the summer, and they've already spent three days there this week...

Yesterday we spent some time over at Jim Giordano's house working on Zach's Pinewood Derby car. Jim is a master builder. Thornley and Adam joined us to work on Thornley's car, too. And then Chris Purrier showed up. This man is obsessed. :)

Last night we had a wonderful time over at Adam & Meghan's. They had a great party with lots of friends... But I forgot my camera.

Lunch with Luanne's Aunt Nadine and Uncle Larry earlier today...

And it's only Wednesday! More to come...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Eve @ Access

I loved our time together on Christmas Eve. We had a quiet, peaceful time that still managed to be joyful and celebrative. Laurie played guitar, Gordon played cajon and tambourine and I played keys. I shared that this was going to be a liturgical worship gathering. Liturgy means "the work of the people." This would be a time when we would ALL participate in worshipping God... no spectators. So we went straight through a program that Luanne had designed for us.

There were prayers and responsive readings and songs... and the liturgy took us right through the more "classic" worship order... Call to Worship, Invocation, Confession, Assurance of Pardon, Prayers of the People, Scripture Reading and Benediction.

It was beautiful... I loved the sweet spirit of worship in the room. It felt unpretentious and casual... and it was truly a community experience. Yes, I put together the liturgy and led us through it, but we were all participating. We were all praying and reading and singing together. It was not a performance, with one significant exception. Luanne sang a beautiful song, Andrew Peterson's "Labor of Love." It was wonderful to sing harmonies with her again, and I believe it really helped people to focus on Jesus. It wasn't about her, it was about our worship of the One who came to save us.

Afterwards, people hung around for quite a while before taking off to be with family or friends. I enjoyed my first Christmas Eve with Access, and I look forward to continuing to build relationships in the upcoming year and experience God together.

Thanks to Gerry Ahn for the awesome photography!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Chaos and Joy in Public Places

I have so much to blog about... But we're in Seattle and super busy until after worship tomorrow, so for now I'll just post these great videos I found. This is Improv Everywhere... I like how they describe themselves:

"Improv Everywhere is a New York based prank collective that causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places."

I can't vouch for all of their projects/videos... I'm sure they're not all family-friendly. But these two are awesome. I love this kind of performance art.

[EDIT: I couldn't resist posting another. This is a great experiment in SF's Union Square back in 2005. I've joined the Urban Prankster Network on Ning. If they ever come to Houston, I'm there.]

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


We're off to see the Newcombs tomorrow. They're in TX for a week, and we're driving to a town called Paige to see them for the afternoon! We love this family. And our boys Jake and Payton have been best friends since they were in preschool. And we haven't even seen their newest addition, little Glory!

Can't wait.

To Santa Or Not To Santa?

A few Christmases ago, I wrote a post for a wonderful blog called Dadbloggers. Unfortunately, it looks like that site is no longer up and running. Anyway, I remember that it was a provocative post to say the least. It generated lots and lots of comments.

The gist of what I said is this: I don't want to be a liar. I'm not going to tell my kids there's a Santa Claus. We'll "pretend" Santa Claus, but they'll know from Day One that these gifts are from Mom and Dad.

How about you? How do YOU justify lying to your kids? ;)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Best Music of 2008

I *love* end-of-the-year Best lists... music, film, theatre, whatever... I love 'em. Here are some music lists to pay attention to...

Paste Magazine
Rolling Stone
NPR: All Songs Considered

And here are some year-end thoughts from some bloggers I follow...

High Gravity (Josh Jackson from Paste Magazine)
The Hurst Review (Josh Hurst)
Ramblings on Music, Texas, Etc. (David Kennedy)
Razing the Bar (Andy Whitman)

Now on to MY favorites. Before I list them, I have to list a few caveats. #1 - I can't possibly listen to all the music released in a year. #2 - I am not able to afford half the albums I want to buy. #3 - These are not necessarily the BEST. They're my favorites. Got it? Good. Also, I cannot possibly put these records in order. Alphabetical order is the only possible solution.

[EDIT: I'm gonna bust in here and talk about a great record. It's a late arrival. In fact, I just got it in the mail today. It's called "The Talk That I Have Wanted" by my brother Micah's band, God's Lonely Man.

I'm only three songs in and it's kicking my butt. His voice is awesome and the songwriting is really great. I've heard these songs in demo form, but they're really sounding fresh and good in finished form. I don't even know how to tell you to get this, but get it. I'll get more info for you.]

Favorite Albums Released In 2008:

1) @#%&*! Smilers - Aimee Mann
2) 19 - Adele
3) All I Intended To Be - Emmylou Harris
4) Ampersand EP - Derek Webb & Sandra McCracken
5) Apple Tree - Katie Herzig
6) The Art of Disassembly - David Greco
7) Between the Beautifuls - Hawksley Workman
8) Cardinology - Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
9) Charmed and Strange - Yoav
10) Don't Do Anything - Sam Phillips
11) Evolver - John Legend
12) Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
13) Hideaway - The Weepies
14) Holy Ghost Building - 77s
15) Los Manlicious - Hawksley Workman
16) Re-Arrange us - Mates of State
17) A Thousand Shark's Teeth - My Brightest Diamond
18) To Survive - Joan As Police Woman
19) Viva La Vida - Coldplay
20) Volume One - She & Him

Favorite Albums Released Prior To 2008 That I Discovered In 2008:

1) 100 Days, 100 Nights - Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
2) Asleep At Heaven's Gate - Rogue Wave
3) Back to Black - Amy Winehouse
4) Between Daylight and Dark - Mary Gauthier
5) Boxer - The National
6) Cease To Begin - Band of Horses
7) Floating World - Anathallo
8) Frank - Amy Winehouse
9) Gravity | Love - Sandra McCracken
10) Kala - M.I.A.
11) The Last Broadcast - Doves
12) One Cell in the Sea - A Fine Frenzy
13) Raising Sand - Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
14) Real Life - Joan As Police Woman
15) The Reminder - Feist
16) Rufus Does Judy At Carnegie Hall - Rufus Wainwright
17) Shine - Cyndi Lauper
18) The Story - Brandi Carlile
19) Version - Mark Ronson

Favorite Albums I Haven't Heard Yet (But Know I Will Love) Released In 2008:

1) Street Map [EP] - the innocence mission

Most-Listened-To Songs In My iTunes In 2008:

1) You Are the Living Word - Fred Hammond & Radical For Christ
2) Viva La Vida - Coldplay
3) Swing Wide the Glimmering Gates - Andrew Osenga
4) 4 Minutes [feat. Justin Timberlake & Timbaland] - Madonna
5) Fake Empire - The National
6) Rehab - Amy Winehouse
7) Handlebars - Flobots
8) Lake Michigan - Rogue Wave
9) When It Was Over - Sara Groves
10) Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us - Sam Phillips
11) Stop Me [feat. Daniel Merriweather] - Mark Ronson
12) Beat It [feat. John Mayer] - Fall Out Boy
13) No One's Gonna Love You - Band of Horses
14) Umbrella [feat. Jay-Z] - Rihanna
15) Antarctica - The Weepies

Most Highly-Anticipated Albums In 2009:

Only three really matter at this point...

1) Written in Chalk - Buddy & Julie Miller (March 3)
2) No Line on the Horizon - U2 (March 3)
3) The Fray - The Fray (February 3)

Another Christmas Gift

Free music from The Violet Burning! Download the Christmas album Divine here. My buddy Michael Roe is featured on the kitschy "Blue Christmas/Sandy Claws Is Back in Town." Thanks to Eric Barnikel for the heads-up.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

2008 Retrospective + Who Are You People?

I'm enjoying my newest widget. Feedjit enables me to see who's checking out my blog and how they're finding me. It's kinda fun. I'm averaging 23 unique visitors every day. Welcome, Everyone!

It's funny, because I don't really have a focus for this blog. My blogging hero, Curt, who unfortunately doesn't blog anymore, encouraged me to find a topic and stick to it. But that's challenging to me. So over the past year I've blogged about our family's decision to leave PCC, my ministry dreams, candidating in Sacramento and Boston and Houston, our family's adventures from the SF Bay Area to LA to Seattle to Houston, our new church/nonprofit, Hurricane Ike, friends, trips (here and here), kid accidents (here and here and - just yesterday - here), politics (finding myself on Beliefnet and Matthew 25 Network in the process), addiction and recovery and car insurance... oh yeah, and music and art. I wrote a post about the Art*Music*Justice Tour that has had quite a few visitors (Including Mr. Charlie Peacock himself! He even emailed me... a very nice surprise.)

In my defense, those things all fit very nicely into "Life. God. Art." Now, on to the "Discuss."

According to Feedjit, I've had visitors from California; Massachusetts; Washington; South Australia (!); Queensland (!); Ohio; Texas; Illinois; Canada; Michigan; Washington, D.C.; Pennsylvania; New Hampshire and Colorado in the last few days. I often get people searching for the lyrics to "Center" by Charlie Hall. (As of this writing, I'm #1 on Google for this search. So if Charlie Hall sees this: Hello! Please check out a few of my worship songs, record one of them on your next album and help me send my four kids to college!) Sometimes people click through from friends' blogs... Tony or Bristol or Meghan... or maybe from the Covenant worship blog. Sometimes people find me via the Access blogroll. And then there's always Facebook. I import my blog as Facebook notes.

So here's a question and a request: Who are you? Would you take a moment and leave a comment? If you're not registered with Blogger, that's OK... You can do it "anonymously" and just let me know who you are and how you got here. Maybe that can jump start the "discuss" part of this blog.

(Thanks to Tony, Suzie and Meghan, who often comment on what I write. I'm grateful!)

A Holiday Gala in Redwood City

I'm excited for my former church tonight! They're living out a dream that we started talking about a long time ago... Tim Zimmerman & The King's Brass are giving a concert at the Fox Theater in downtown Redwood City. Peninsula Covenant Church is working in partnership with the city and the Redwood City Education Foundation to benefit arts programs in the public schools. I love this concept!

Have a great concert... Praying that this will encourage everyone, benefit the city in a powerful way and build bridges into the community. And may this allow people to see Jesus more clearly tonight.

[EDIT: Just got this email update from Ugur, sent from his iPhone...

He writes, "Show is going well. Wish you were all here to see it!"

And this one from Tony, just now...

He writes, "So awesome. 1st time in this theater. Beautiful!"]
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