the luckiest 10 year-old in the world
Tuesday December 04th 2007, 5:00 am
Filed under: family

max seriously scored, gift-wise, on his birthday this past weekend. he’s been wanting a cell phone for a while, but jeannie and i keep saying no. but this fall, there were several times when it would have been so much easier for jeannie and me if he’d had one. so we broke down and got him a free one (which, of course, isn’t free with the monthly fees; but we were able to roll him into jeannie and liesl’s family plan without adding any minutes). he is indescribably giddy.


then, he’d been saving his money to buy himself a wii. but the family who is living with us right now got max and me a wii for his birthday, and for christmas for both max and me.


it would have been difficult to find two gifts that would have made him float more. i don’t think his feet have touched the ground since saturday morning, when he received these.

max got his gift from grandma and grandpa in the mail yesterday: two wonderful non-tech gifts, called books. one is on how to draw three-dimensional objects, and the other a full-color encyclopedic type of book on how things work. since he’s not allowed screen time during the school week, he spent all evening glued to these books. fantastic.


happy 10th birthday, max
Saturday December 01st 2007, 5:00 am
Filed under: family

today max moves into double-digits. big man. favorite son. awesome kid. fun and smart and silly and gentle and loving and giving and the best hugger around. seriously, the kid is the bomb (can i still say that?).



name my dad’s location
Wednesday November 28th 2007, 5:00 am
Filed under: family

here’s a pic of my dad i took on our trip to ireland in november that i really like. a free ys book to the person who first comments with the correct location.



this says something about the times we live in. kenneth, the guy who got the location correctly, lives in guatemala and has never been to ireland. here’s what he wrote about how he nailed the correct location:

I’d love to say I knew because I’ve been there, but unfortunately not yet. When I saw your post I did a quick image search off of google, found a map of the coast of northern ireland, tried to match that to the shape of the cove and the contour line of the rock that sticks out on top (I studied architecture). Larry Bane Bay was the only thing that looked close. Then I looked on Flickr and confirmed it. There are some great pictures of the same place on Flickr and it shows the handrail in the background which was the icing on the cake. Yeah, I know… a little geeky but hey, I was bored!!!


new glasses
Tuesday November 27th 2007, 5:00 am
Filed under: family

liesl (my 13 year-old daughter) and i both got new glasses. yipee-kay-yay.



my boy
Wednesday November 21st 2007, 12:17 pm
Filed under: family

love this pic of max at the beach, just sent to me by my friend tash:



love my kids’ school
Monday November 12th 2007, 11:56 am
Filed under: personal, family

saturday night, we went to the kids’ school to see liesl’s 8th grade class perform a midsummer night’s dream. like they did when they studied renaissance history while learning and performing an opera (which i wrote about here), this last bit, they’ve been learning about shakespearean england (liesl’s working on a custom book about shakespeare, with sketches and a biography and a bunch of other stuff). the dad of one of her classmates is a theater professor at university of san diego. he edited a midsummer night’s dream (only shortening it to about 75 minutes, instead of the orginal 2 1/2 hours, not changing any of the lines), then met with the class over a series of weeks to explain the whole thing, including having them retell it in a modern context (and with modern language).

every one of the 24 kids in liesl’s class was in the play (something you sure wouldn’t see in a play performance at a regular school), and it was absolutely fantastic. so stinking funny. and pretty amazing to watch these 13 year-olds performing rhyming shakespearean english for 75 minutes without one gaffe.


st. louis NYWC, sunday morning
Sunday November 04th 2007, 10:08 am
Filed under: youth ministry, faith, youth specialties, family, youth work

another wonderful day yesterday, in every way.

didn’t have to get up too early, which was a great start. morning general session was good, with lynn hybels (she went a bit long, but had some really great stuff to say; and i loved her attitude). then a had a great lunch with 18 national leaders from the catholic youth ministry organization, lifeteen. we’ve been friends with lifeteen for about 6 or 7 years, and continue to love their hearts and friendship and how similar we are in our organizational values. we’ve talked about partnering for years and years, but have never really done anything. but this lunch might be a catalyst into some cool stuff.

after lunch, i had a fascinating mtg in my suite. our ys exec team pulled together a few trusted friends of ys (jim hancock, mark riddle, ginny olson, michael novelli, eric venable, scott burkes, and scott kail) to ask them to assess us a bit. i lead the discussion, asking them to share stories of ys past, then to put themselves IN the past, and talk about what ys was like, from their perspective, at that time. we moved forward and had them talk about ys now. i asked them to speak as ys present, addressing ys past, and cautioning ys past on some things to come. i asked them to complete this sentence: it’s a shame that ys has become ___________. then, we looked toward the future — not in a predictive way, but in a possible way. first, we walked down a road to a preferred future, and talked about that. then we backed up, and walked down a road to a negative potential. ouch. interesting stuff.

then, i was off to a short dinner reception for graduation seniors of youth ministry programs (who are attending the convention as part of the youth specialties academic support network). always enjoy being with that crowd: they’re energetic and optimistic. the evening session was fantastic. michelle tolentino, a compassion kid (now grown up) from the philippines shares again, and slayed everyone. i was on stage with her, and had to talk after she finished (she received a massive standing o), and i couldn’t. i started a word or two, and they stuck. weird thing to be standing in front of 3500 people and not be able to get any words out due to an emotionally-constricted throat. doug fields spoke, and brought it, big time, again. his talk was on ministry envy. during the talk, i was in a conversation back in the green room (backstage); and at one point, i noticed that max (my 9 year-old son) was sitting on a couch watching doug’s talk on the monitor we have back there. as this continued, i was surprised to see max sit throuh the entire 40 minute talk, watching and listening. i heard his phone ring at one point, and could tell it was jeannie checking on where he was. i heard him say, “yeah, i’m watching a guy talk. no, not dad. some other guy.”

after the session ended, max said to me, “i need to go ask that guy a question.” doug was out in the room, with a crowd of people around him. max went out and waited — about 15 minutes, i’d guess. i made my way out there eventually, and sat nearby waiting. max got doug’s attention at one point, but doug didn’t realize max had a question, and after saying hi to max, went on to the next person waiting to talk to him. max waited again. then, i saw doug fields bent over, having a full-on conversation with max (with about 30 more youth workers circled around, waiting to talk to doug). on the way back to our hotel, i asked max what he wanted to talk to doug about. he said, “well, he talked about how sometimes we hate people, even though they’re nice people. but hunter, in my class, i don’t like him, and he’s really mean. and i wanted to know what he thought i should do about that.” “oh,” i said (pulling him on his healies, as i walked), “did he have anything to say?” “yeah, he told me what to do. so i’m good now.” thanks, doug.


thursday fire update
Thursday October 25th 2007, 3:01 am
Filed under: personal, family, news

i’m in galway, ireland, this morning, driving around with my dad. we’ll get to the cliffs of moher today, and the rock of cashel. not sure where we’ll end up tonite.

back home, my family never got evacuated, which is great. my kids are out of school for the rest of the week, but we’ve re-opened the YS office (shoot, we have another convention next week!).

here’s a summary of info my friend brian pulled together on his blog (brian lives about a mile from me):

Here’s the latest info I can find on the California wildfire overall statistics:
- Acreage: 431,377
- Homes Destroyed: At least 1,447, according to individual county reports.
- Evacuation: Over 1 million people have been evacuated.
- Damage: Over 1 billion dollars in damages
- Deaths: One fire death, five fire-related deaths.
- Injuries: 30 to civilians, 39 to firefighters.
- At least 12 major fires still burning

Here’s the latest on the Harris Fire- the one that is still burning in some places, with the active part about 5-ish miles from my house:
- About 73,000 acres north of the border town of Tecate.
- 10 percent contained- Containment expected Oct. 31.
- 200 homes destroyed, 2,000 homes and 500 commercial properties threatened.
- One civilian killed, 25 injured civilians and seven injured firefighters.

off to be silent
Sunday October 07th 2007, 4:23 pm
Filed under: personal, books, family

i’m overdue for one of my quarterly 3-day silent retreats. it’s been four months. and i REALLY feel it.

so, i’m pumped to be heading up to a time-share condo in carlsbad today for a 4-day silent retreat.

jeannie and i own a time-share condo at this resort, but we normally use it for trading. but we had an extra week we were going to lose, so we grabbed one at the home resort. i’m using the first 3 nights, jeannie will go up for a retreat of her own the 2nd half of the week, and we’ll go up with the kids on the weekend for a couple days of games and family fun.

books i’m taking with me:

, by scot mcknight. i’m about 25 pages into this book. i’ve been SO looking forward to this book, as i’ve struggled with my own understanding of atonement for a couple years.

, by rachel simmons

, by Frans Johansson

, by Will Self

, by Charlene C. Giannetti and Margaret Sagarese

(a novel), by Steven Hall

i don’t expect to finish them all, especially as i’m going to give myself an hour a day for writing, and really try to spend some time being silent and not DOING anything. maybe four of ‘em. we’ll see.

i have a post set to go live each day while i’m disconnected. later!


liesl’s coming home!
Wednesday September 26th 2007, 3:56 pm
Filed under: family

woo-hoo — liesl (my daughter) just called me (i’m at work for a bit) to tell me the docs decided to release her from the hospital this afternoon! after five days, they finally determined that it was definitely a bacterial infection, “an abscess”. she’ll be on antibiotics for a bit longer, and have some pain meds, but no other worries.

thanks so much for all your prayers!