Thursday, June 29, 2006

Learning to Swim

The only thing more fun than a trampoline...

... is a trampoline and a garden hose.

The Location of the Pituitary Gland

Some of us had a long talk tonight about where exactly the pituitary gland was located. There were various theories, ranging from the front of the brain to the neck. We had a nurse, a grad school teacher, an architect and two missionaries throwing out their theories.

I thought it was in the neck. As you can see I was wrong. But I realized tonight looking at it that I was thinking of the thyroid gland, which is in the neck.

This has been a public service announcement of the Burning Hearts Revolution.

The Best Web Cam EVER

Take a look at this LIVE bald eagle cam. It's a live feed of the first wild eagle hatched on Santa Cruz Island in the last couple of decades. The hatchling is always there. I keep waiting for mom and dad to show up!

Z and A sing "Lord I Lift Your Name on High"

this is an audio post - click to play
Krista on guitar, Z and A on lead vocals. Me as audio technician (sorry). I wish there was some way to distill the pure, sweet cuteness of this onto the internet, but there just isn't.

More Costa Rica pictures

You can see a few more Costa Rica pictures here.

And here is our most recent prayer letter, available in pdf for download.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Leader's Thoughts on Leadership #1

So many of you have been writing in begging me to give my thoughts and insights into being a leader of such deep wisdom, international renown and pleasing, life-affirming aphorisms. I have spent some time working up a whole series of easy-to-remember proverbs on leadership for you all, and I will bring a few of these gems out every once-in-a-great-while when you all have been particularly well-behaved.

Here is your special leadership treat for today:

"It is hard to be a leader because everyone is always looking at you, and there is so little time to get your hair cut."

Dwell on that, O Leaders to Be, and you, too, can reach the dizzying heights of my leadership summit. VIVA LA REVOLUTION!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

New devotional

There's a new devotional up at the gnwstinters site. More personal than usual, I think, and thus better. It's more something I'm wrestling through than a devotional, I guess.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Christian Fantasy Blog Tour: Coda


So. I was supposed to be part of this big, fun "blog tour." It was the first blog tour that BHR was involved in. You might have noticed the frenetic energy as we connected with hundreds of other sites. Or, you might have noticed how I was in Costa Rica and completely spaced that it was at the same time as the trip. Which means people were wandering by here and wondering, "What does this website have to do with Christian fantasy?"

So, let's do our best to dispel the myth that I am a disorganized and mean-spirited hack. *Ahem*

DragonKnight, the third book in Donita K. Paul's fantasy trilogy was released last week. Now is your chance to run around to the tour and read interviews with her, read reviews of the book and discussions about the place of fantasy in literature. I know many of you love fantasy novels and at least one of you (Hi, Rebecca!) writes it. So, enjoy. And, since you are all speculative fiction fans, you can just go back in time and join the tour!

Sally Apokedak
Valerie Comer
Johne Cook
Janey DeMeo
Mary E. DeMuth
Beth Goddard
Rebecca Grabill
Leathel Grody
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Marcia Laycock
Shannon McNear
Mirtika Schultz
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower

Stuart Stockton , Rebecca LuElla Miller and Sally Apokedak provide some reviews of the novel.

Shannon McNear and Beth Goddard share stories about Donita.

Leathel Grody discusses fantasy’s place in Christian literature.

Rebecca Grabill tells us all about gnomes. No, really.

As for me, what do I provide? A small and humble signpost to the mighty tour of last week. There you go, my friends. Enjoy.

Costa Rica: Monday

Monday morning Adena led us in a devotional time all together. It was a little bittersweet, actually, for me, because she led us through I Thessalonians, which just reminded me how I was hoping we would be in Thessaloniki this summer, studying the book in the place where it had originally been directed. But Adena did a really great job.

Then we headed off to campus to do some evangelism. I went with Adena and K went with Alex to do evangelism. We agreed we would all meet up after lunch.

Adena and I had a great conversation with three freshmen girls, one of whom was named Anna Marie. She said that she had been asking God over and over to teach her how to be closer to him and that he never answered her prayers. I told her that maybe we were the answer to her prayer and she said maybe that was right. She also said that she heard God talking to her while we shared the gospel with her, which she found strange because a lot of times she felt that praying was like "talking to a wall." Be praying for Anna Marie.

When we found Krista and Alex again, Krista told us her bag had been stolen. Credit cards, camera, wallet... even her Bible. All the pictures on here are borrowed from someone else. We were sad to see her bag stolen, but so thankful that she hadn't been mugged or harmed. Apparently someone snatched it while she and Alex were spending some time praying together.

So, we spent some time cancelling credit cards. And scouring back alleys, just in case. Then we continued with our regular activities: meeting with the students on project.

We went to dinner that night with Kirk, Jill and their little daughter. We had a good time and a good talk.

Overall, a pretty good day. And everyone was so impressed with the way Krista dealt with her bag being stolen. They said they would use her as an example when the next person's bag was stolen.

Costa Rica: Sunday

Sunday, June 18th

Carlos, the national director of Costa Rica, said something when we first arrived that I thought was a joke: "I want you to give the message at our church this weekend."

So, I taught on Luke 5, a favorite passage of ours when we lived in East Asia. It's about listening to the Master's voice, obeying him, and having the expectation that we will have extremely fruitful ministries as a result... that he will "sink our ships" and take us beyond our resources as we fish for the souls of men.

One of the neat things at the church was meeting Laura and Leonardo, a Costa Rican couple that are hoping to be missionaries to East Asia. They were so encouraged to meet with us and talk some about life overseas.

We were taken out to dinner that night by Carlos and his wife, Tatiana. They took us to this asian restaurant where I had fried noodles (Hong Kong style) and Krista had palak paneer. I had some mango sticky rice for dessert, too.

We talked a lot about the needs in Costa Rica for the gospel. I can't go into a lot of detail about the possible solutions we talked about together because there are other people who need to be in the loop as we are making decisions. But you can be praying for the ministry in Costa Rica.

Carlos and Tatiana are great fun. K and I both felt like we were great friends after such a short time together. We are looking forward to seeing them again.

Costa Rica: Saturday

Saturday, June 17th.

We got up early in the morning and leapt into a bus bound for the rain forest.

Favorite quote during our rain forest expedition (said at least once by everyone in our party): "Hey. It's raining."

Correct response to this observation: "It's the rain forest."

We had a great time rafting. You can see my most important rafting lesson here.

We stopped for a while, upended a raft and ate fresh pineapple and watermelon. And, inexplicably, cookies. The Costa Ricans love sweet food.

This is where you could jump off the cliff. Which I proceeded to do.

After rafting we were treated to some casado. Yum! Then we saw howler monkeys! HOO HOO HOO!! Then we saw a weird animal on the side of the road, eating some Cheetos. It was sort of like a racoon. I guess. Also, a Costa Rican jumping viper which, thanks to God, no one touched. We also stopped for a photo-op with some large leaves. These double as umbrellas in the rain forest. No, really, they do!

When we got home everyone was sleepy. Almost everyone, I guess. I was hungry.

So we went with our raftmates to a lovely Italian dinner. I got the chicken parmesan. It was quite good. Everyone agreed that Jason's so-called "nachos" came in last place. I must say that, regardless, the company was nice.

Then we went to bed.

Watch this!

Here's a three picture progression that shows you why I probably came home from Costa Rica with giardia.

In this picture I am happy, I am enjoying rafting in Costa Rica. Life is good. Krista is immediately behind me in the blue helmet. For those of you who might know the others, the back left yellow helmet is Hayley from Idaho, next to me is Jason from Reno, then Adena of Corvallis and Alex of Montana.

As you can see, I am now completely submerged. Notice that K still has a big smile on her face.

I emerge from the river, wetter and wiser. A lesson for all of you: do not go under water with your mouth open.

Click on the pictures to see them larger.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Yo ho yo ho the writer's life for me!

We got home from CR yesterday and I went to get the mail. First, I had a free copy of Waking Lazarus waiting for me, which got me pretty excited. It looks good and you'll be seeing a review of it in the next couple of weeks.

The second thing waiting in the mailbox was MY FIRST CHECK for a published story. Woohoo! The story will be in the July/August issue of The Wittenburg Door.

The third thing awaited me in my e-mail box (through which I am still sifting, so patience my friends if you have written me a note). It was a note from the editor of The Sword Review. They've accepted my story, "Chariots" and need me to sign a contract. It's my second sale and my third accepted story.

Home Again!

Hi friends! I'm going to go backwards and fill in the details of our Costa Rica trip. It may take me a few days because we are packing up the family for our next trip (even though, yes, we got home last night) and there's a funeral for my great aunt later this morning.

But I will fill you in. There were a lot of cool events during our week.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Why I Want to Learn Spanish

Because I can't understand what people in Costa Rica are saying. And I am clearly the most interesting thing for them to be talking about.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Missives from Costa Rica

I know you all assumed we died in a fiery pane wreck, but no, we are safely in Costa Rica and safely ensconced in our home.

We had a good flight down. Apparently I look sufficiently like a tico for everyone to speak to me in Spanish, which is somewhat embarassing. But I am learning to cope.

And now, for the most important news... new foods I have eaten. First, I had a plate of fish wehn we first arrived. It had some sort of white sauce and cheese on top and was quite good. Along with that I had a guanabana smoothie. The guanabana is a mysterious fruit that I have yet to see, but the juice of which I am determined to imbibe every day during my stay in CR. Yesterday morning I had beans and rice and tortillas for breakfast *excellent* and for lunch I had some sort of weird little burrito. Then a before dinner snack of these sort of sweet corn pancakes and to drink a warm glass of milk, water and cane sugar. Yum!

Today we are going river rafting with the project through mosquito (and probably malaria) laden rivers, which will also be heavy with crocodiles. The best advice they have for us is to not fall out of the boat. But I am certain I will return with at least three of my limbs.

In other news, the work goes well here. The project is adjusting and Carlos, the national director, has been spending a lot of time with us.

Tomorrow I am speaking at the local Christian church (which was a bit of a surprise) and then joining Carlos and his wife Tatiana for Chinese food, which should be interesting. Be praying for us as we meet with and have deep conversations with the project leadership, participants and with Carlos, his team, and their church.

Muchas gracias and hasta luego.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Costa Rica, here we come

Hey all-- K and I leave for Costa Rica in the morning. Right now I am blogging instead of packing. But that is the sort of person I am.

As you know, I am sort of the Lucy Ricardo of the international travel set. I am always meeting famous people, having crazy adventures, falling down stairs and coming up with crazy schemes. We'll see if I can update from CR or, if not, I'll fill you when we get home.

Have fun!

The wonderful world of cotton

Yesterday I was packing for our trip to Costa Rica. I was trying to make sure I had enough long pants made of cotton (long pants because ticos don't wear shorts, cotton pants because cotton breathes).

That's when I discovered that jeans are made of cotton. I didn't know that. Pleased with my new discovery I went and told Krista.

Me: Did you know jeans are made of cotton?
Krista: Of course. What did you think they were made of?
Me: I don't know. Some sort of, um, jeans stuff.

Well, as it turns out (to my surprise) cotton is used to make all sorts of cloths. Like terrycloth, denim, chambray, corduroy, seersucker and twill. It's also used to make fishnets, for binding books, to make coffee filters and for the paper for U.S. currency.

So, things I've learned:

1) Cotton is good.
2) It's good to live today and not centuries ago, when cotton was a luxury in most of the world.
3) Obviously there is a woman somewhere coming up with lots of different names for materials made of cotton. I am sure men would have just called seersucker, denim and corduroy "cotton".

Monday, June 12, 2006

Weekend Adventures with the Mikalatos family


Friday morning we went to Z's "moving on" party. This was essentially a non-graduation from preschool. She starts Kindergarten in the fall, which is hard to believe. Z is pretty matter-of-fact about the whole thing. She barely said good-bye to her teachers. But yesterday she said she missed her friends and didn't even know where they lived.

Friday afternoon I hung out with the Costa Rica summer project and did some teaching on culture and helped them with their team norms. We're off to join them in Costa Rice on Thursday.

Friday night the CR team came over to our house for a big barbecue! It was great and we had a lot of fun. Steak, potatoes, chips and guacamole, followed by homemade strawberry shortcake. Yum!

Weekend Adventures (continued)


Saturday morning I met the project at their hotel and ushered them off to the airport. When I got home we went to the local Farmer's market. We bought a lot of fresh strawberries and that night K and her mom made homemade jam. That took the rest of the day. I went out in the afternoon and bought my dad a magazine because he was recovering from surgery.


Sunday was "Free Fishing Day" in Oregon. We packed up the kids and met K's mom and dad, her brother and sister-in-law and her family and we had (yet another) big barbecue at the lake.

Z caught three fish (which are now in our fridge because she promises she is going to eat them).Overall, a pretty action-packed weekend!

A Pox on Early Clappers

I have noticed with some dismay a recent and disturbing trend of early clappers. Perhaps you have sat in front of these individuals. These are the people who CLAP CLAP CLAP a moment too early. Perhaps the song is still being sung. Or the speaker is on her next-to-last word. It is distracting. It is annoying. It is a desperate ploy for attention. It is disrespectful. It gives the impression of a cloying, fawning sycophant.

Clapping, as we all know, is meant to be a frightening show of solidarity. It is--as the picture above can attest--a terribly serious business that will not allow for smiling or individuality.

If one must be an individual when clapping, here are some suggested techniques that are more acceptable and less revoltingly servile:

1) Simply do not clap.

2) Try to be the last person to clap rather than the first. (Note: clapping for more than ten claps after the penultimute clapper will give an impression of sarcasm. Use this wisely.)

3) As a variation on #1, do not clap, furrow your brow, scowl, hunch your shoulders and cross your arms.

4) Emit a piercing whistle just as the clapping is ending.

5) Stand-- as if for a standing ovation-- but stop your hands ten centimeters before they come together. This is called "phantom clapping". It is most effective if your hands are held over your head so that people can tell you are not actually clapping. If an entire audience partakes of this terrible criticism of a performer it is referred to as "a standing no-vation."

6) Snap your fingers instead of clapping.

7) Clap your neighbor's hand.

8) Stay home, alone. Clap every time you hear the word "allergy" on the television.

9) Clap only when you see clearly marked "APPLAUSE" signs.

Until everyone knows someone in South Carolina who really knows Jesus

Our good friend Taylor wants to know:

Does anyone at the BHR know anyone who loves Jesus in South Carolina? She has students going to Myrtle Beach who need a church.

You can leave her a message on her blog, or leave a message here and I will forward it to her.

Yes, it appears BHR is now a message board. Carry on, minions.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Eavesdropping with Matt (Episode Nine)

Dedicated to the young woman at the park, whose Rottweiler was nearly as large as her and was tethered to her by a vicious choke chain. Also dedicated to the large and well-meaning woman who sat on a nearby blanket. And lastly, to those sweet, misunderstood, gentle giants: the Rottweilers.

Young woman (speaking to my daughter, A): You can pet the dog if you would like to. He's very nice and he loves children.

(My daughter stands as far away from the dog as her short little arms will allow, stretches out her hand and brushes her fingertips against the dog's haunches.)

Blanket woman: It's a shame that people train Rottweilers to be guard dogs. They can be such sweet, nice dogs.

Young woman: I know. Those people give Rottweilers a bad reputation.

Blanket woman: Training those dogs to attack people, it's just too bad. They seem so sweet and loving.

Young woman: And it's not like they even need training. Our dog tries to kill the mailman every time he delivers the mail. They are natural protectors.

(A small, black dog wanders over to meet the Rottweiler. The Rottweiler goes for the little dog, intending--so far as I can tell--to eviscerate it and feast upon its entrails.)

Young woman (Yanking with all her strength on the choker): NO! DOWN! DOWN NOW!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A New and Noteworthy Blog

I am extremely pleased to announce that my lovely wife Krista has at long last started her own blog. It's called Blue Sky, and I know you will like what she has to share. Enjoy!

Big chicken

For all my friends who are coming back to America right now: this is the key moment in current U.S. culture. It's more important than DaVinci Code, the X-Men and Mission:Impossible combined. And it's so spicy!

Also, in case you don't know, "hucking" is a slag term used in various extreme sports. It seems to have a reasonably wide semantic range. I've seen it used referring to big jumps on a bike, to throwing a bike around, and even to skiiers going off large cliffs. But I think the best definition is to watch this video.

Louck out!

Our good buddy Kerri has started a blog! Hooray! Everyone is starting blogs. Right, Carolyn Culbertson?

The Tent

There's a new devotional over at GNW Stinters.

It's about tents.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Comedic Genius?

I was suprised to discover while at the video store this weekend that Will Ferrel is a "comedic genius." I was doubly suprised when I watched the movie (the newest version of "The Producers") which was lacking any real spark of comedy. Yes, Will Ferrel is funny. I have laughed out loud while watching him. No doubt some of you are laughing right now and thinking, "You know what the Burning Hearts Revolution needs? MORE COWBELL!" And you are right, so right. But is Ferrel a comedic genius? Not according to my definition.

Clearly the people writing on the back of video boxes are using the most permissive definition of genius, which would merely mean, "someone who is sort of good at something." I prefer a more restrictive definition, something along the lines of "someone whose IQ is at or above 140." Of course, real traditionalists prefer the extremely limited definition of "a tutelary or guardian spirit" (i.e. a genie or jinni).

Fitting my definition of genius would be (among others): Steve Martin, Geena Davis and Sharon Stone. As you can see, being a genius does not mean that you will choose wisely when choosing films to star in. Steve Martin, of course, is forgiven for any bad movie he has played in just because of the good ones, which are very good.

And, for the traditionalist, Robin Williams could be referred to as a "genius" purely on the strength of his performance in "Aladdin."

In conclusion, I would like to say:

Tell us we will die like dogs.

You will die like dogs.


Free (NEW) Switchfoot song

My lovely wife points out that Switchfoot is giving out a free download of "Daylight to Break", a song from their new album due at the end of the year. It's pretty darn good.

Sacred Space

I've included a link at the right for Sacred Space, a prayer site run by the Jesuits.

It's basically a meditation site that will walk you through a few "centering" techniques, after which a brief passage of scripture will come up for you to dwell on and consider, listening for a message from God. I've found it, at times, a very profound and interesting experience.

At the same time I should point out that it is, after all, a Jesuit (i.e. Catholic) website, as I know not all of you revolutionists are, in fact, Catholic, as I am not Catholic. With rare exceptions this site is not pushing a certain theology, it's merely providing a framework for prayer and listening to God.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Monkeys on Ice

One of our ace reporters sent me this link to more monkey news. Our reporter has requested anonymity, so I shall say nothing other than, "Well done, good and faithful journalist."

And just remember: if a monkey is chasing you, you really can't escape them. Not by climbing a tree. Not by running out on a frozen lake. They are an unstoppable menace.

First Friday

The first Friday of every month the Burning Hearts Revolution is signed on to host the first chapter of a published novel. This month it's "Deliver Us from Evelyn" by Chris Well. You can read it below. Enjoy!

First Chapter: Deliver Us From Evelyn

This post used to be the first chapter of Chris Well's book, "Deliver Us From Evelyn." You can find all of Chris's work available for purchase here.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Not as Smart as I thought I was

I had a few spare moments today (we all, after all, need to "use the potty"), so I thought I would start one of my new books. I am, as you all know, an insufferable snob about fiction. I can hardly stand myself. I mostly like literature as opposed to, you know, what normal people read. Popular fiction. Don't get me wrong, I read the occasional "book for the beach" but what I really like is a good literary novel.

So, I started reading Europe Central. I read, in fact, the whole first chapter. And all I can say is, whoa. What the heck? I have no idea what is happening. As near as I can tell the author is setting up a metaphor in which there is a switchboard somewhere that you can listen in to what is happening all over the world during World War II (Or, as I like to say just to tick everyone off, World War 2). Then I started looking through the book for some dialogue and I couldn't find *any*. EIGHT HUNDRED AND THIRTY-TWO PAGES and not a single line of dialogue. Well, actually, there is quite a bit but it appears the author has an aversion to quotation marks. One probably "bit" him when he was a child. Oy vey. I am not cut out for this, I thought to myself.

So I decided I would try, instead, Haroun and the Sea of Stories. Now this is more like it! It's accessible and funny (I laughed out loud twice in the first ten pages or so). I'll let you know how it turns out, if it's worth a read all the way to the end. And, I'll set "Europe Central" into that pile for books I intend to read when I live in a foreign country and have limited choice and unlimited literary patience.

In case of emergency....

As we're driving Z starts suddenly volunteering arcane knowledge she learned in school:

Z: A cucmber turns into a pickle if you put it in a jar!

Me: Is that right?

Z: If you call the number 911 then the ambulances, the police and the fire people come.

Me: Wow. Where did you learn this?

Z: School.

And now my other daughter, A, gets involved.

A: 323!

Me: What happens if you call 323?

A: Horses will come!