Saturday, April 28, 2007

It's Frog Season

Z is afraid of bugs. Even flies. It's true.

But she loves frogs. She runs around our yard chasing them to catch them and put them in her frog cage. I don't let her keep them overnight anymore. I learned that lesson last year when she accidentally killed a couple of them.

So this week I told her, "Go on out there before dinner and let your frog go."

She went outside and grabbed her cage. I was at the kitchen sink and I happened to look out the window in time to see her throw something over the fence into the neighbor's backyard.

When she came in the house I asked her what she had been throwing over the fence. She just looked at me with this blank stare. "Was it a frog?" I asked.

So today was our lesson in how to release a frog. today's frogs were named Ruby and Star. First, she washed them with purified water (we're big believers in returning animals to the wild cleaner than when they were removed from the wild). Then she took them back to where they had been captured and released them near their "homes". She wants to start a list so she can make sure she doesn't accidentally catch one twice.

I've taught her to consider all of the frogs her pets once she releases them. They all belong to her, so she needs to take care of them.

That includes not hucking them over fences. I went upstairs to look out the window and make sure the neighbors weren't out there. I'd hate to have to go over and explain why my daughter was throwing frogs on them.

Viva la frogs!

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Inaccuracies of Accurate Concrete Cutting

Today Krista went with Z to the airport to pick up Krista's mom. On the way home (11:15 a.m.)a softball-sized chunk of rock flew out of the back of a truck from Accurate Concrete Cutting and struck the windshield. Krista was driving about 60, and a big cloud of dust and rubble accompanied the chunk of concrete. Here's what happened to the windshield:

Of course they were all frightened. I'm glad that the windshield didn't give in... I think evidence that God was watching over them. Krista sped up to try to get the license plate, but the truck was moving too fast... Krista sped up to 70 but couldn't catch them. They were moving back and forth between lanes, apparently in a big hurry. They did get the name of the company and a partial on the license plate.

So Krista's mom called the concrete cutting place and they were very apologetic and said, "of course we'll take care of it", they just needed to have the owner call us back. So I called our insurance. They were startled to hear that the concrete company had agreed to pay. "Usually they just say... you have no way to prove that came out of our truck, we weren't there at that time, things like that."

We called the police, too, but they said they only take reports if the damage totals more than $700. Which is fine.

So, the owner of the company calls and says that he talked to his drivers and they said they had been where we "claimed" to have been... an hour ago (it had only been about 20 minutes at this point) and that they had been "on site" since then. They also said that there had been a big logging truck that threw some stuff off on them and that maybe that had flown off, hit their truck and been thrown up onto our car.

I told him that the rock had clearly come from their truck and he said, "Sir, that truck was empty. They were on the way to a job. There was nothing in it. I had them pull over and look inside the truck and make sure, and it was empty."

Here we see several issues: 1) They had been "at the same place as us" an hour ago, while we were there about 20 minutes before. 2) They had been "on site" for the last hour. 3) He had called them and they had "pulled over" to check the bed of the truck. Seems like Mr. Owner could have at least had the respect to work on making a consistent story.

Anyway, I said to him, "I'm sure that the truck was empty. It was throwing out rocks all over the road." He told me again that it was empty. I said, "Are you telling me that it's a brand new truck that has never had anything in it?" He just kept saying it was empty.

In the end, it was clear that they weren't interested in taking responsibility for what had happened. I asked him if he wanted me to call him back with a quote for the windshield and he said "NO!" That was the end of the call.

So we had to report it through our insurance. I ended up driving in to Portland and getting it fixed. It cost us $100. It cost the insurance company about $150. It cost somebody at Accurate Concrete Cutting a bit of integrity.

Me, I'd rather spend $100 than lie or shirk responsibilites. Not that I know who is lying... the boss or the drivers of the truck or both. But somebody over there is not telling the truth, obviously.

I realized as I thought about it throughout the day several things.

1) I'm thankful that my wife and daughter and mother-in-law are okay.

2) It is unjust that my family and the insurance company had to pay for what happened. You know, I would have been open to splitting the cost with the company. I don't think what happened with the rock was malicious. Negligent, maybe.

3) The inability to take responsibility for your failings causes more problems. As the day went on, having to pay for the window seemed a lot less of a big deal compared to the thought that the owner may not talk to his drivers about going the speed limit on the highway. He might not make sure their trucks are cleaned out properly. And that might mean that someone could get hurt. I find that a lot more disturbing... that the lies and avoidance of responsibility may result in not taking dangerous behaviors seriously.

4) In the end, my anger has subsided into sadness about our human condition. Too often in my own life I've denied the "concrete rocks" that my failings in life throw out on those around me. And when I do that, those things can only continue.

5) It's tempting to sell your integrity for cheap. Don't do it. Your integrity is worth more than money. Remember that!

6) My family means more than money, too. I'm glad that the whole thing only cost me a couple of hours and a hundred bucks, and that my family is safe.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

new devo

There's a new devo up on Today's devo is from John Rozzelle. I think you'll enjoy it. Check it out.

King of the Road

If you want to see Jesus ride a bull, play soccer and rock climb, then you need to visit
via The Wittenburg Door.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Please oh please don't cut my ears off

I got my hair cut this week.

My "stylist" was taking over for another stylist who had to go to the hospital.

Me: Why did she have to go to the hospital?

Stylist: Because she got a hair in her eye and scratched her cornea. She has a patch over her eye and can't take it off for 72 hours.

Me: Wow. I didn't know being a stylist was so dangerous.

Stylist: I know of at least three girls who have scratched their corneas in the last five years.

Me: That's terrible.

Stylist: You know what's terrible? I cut off my knuckle with the shears.

(She then proceeded to show me where she had sliced her knuckle off with the scissors. She had nine regular knuckles and one smooth, scarred knuckle.)

Stylist: These shears are pretty sharp.

7 days and counting

On May 1st the new issue of the Wittenburg Door comes out... with at least one piece by yours truly. Maybe even two!

I can barely stand the excitement. And I already know what I wrote! But I love seeing the new cover and the illustrations and seeing my name in print! Wheeeeee!

Not that I am easily entertained or anything. Ahem.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

In which my daughter makes up a word that already exists

My daughter (A) likes to make up words. This morning she was wandering around the house singing and making up nonsense words.

Today she managed to make up one that is already a real word. She happened to like this word quite a bit and she said it a lot. I think it is her new favorite word.

The word?


Friday, April 20, 2007

Virginia Tech blog and updates

Cynthia, a staff woman with Campus Crusade for Christ at Virginia Tech, has been putting some updates up about how their team and students are doing with the aftermath of the shootings this week.

Cynthia's husband, Paul, was in East Asia with me and Krista back in the day.

Feel free to drop by and share some love with Cynthia and the team.


A Stranger's Blessing

On the way to Z's soccer practice we have to stop on the highway offramp for a traffic light. Most weeks someone is standing at the bottom with a sign asking for money.

This week it was a guy in his forties, lean but well-kempt. He had the look of an ex-military guy. He was serious and looked vaguely humiliated to be out there with a sign.

I purposely drove up so I was past him, trying not to meet his eyes. He was standing alongside the car, looking off behind us. The light seemed to stay red forever, and every second that passed I was reminded of the cash in my wallet.

I had three dollars.

I rolled down my window and said, "Sir?"

He turned and looked at me, and I held the cash out to him. He reached over and took it, and looked me in the eye. "God bless you," he said.

"God bless you, too," I said. He stopped and moved back over toward the window.

"No, I mean it," he said. "God bless you."

"Thank you," I said. I had a feeling that he really did mean it, that his words were not some equivalent to "thank you" but a blessing, a true prayer for God's provision and care in my life. I sensed that I had received something from him far more valuable than three dollars and that my "thank you" was not really sufficient for what he had given me. I knew I should say something more, should let him know that his prayer was appreciated, that it meant something to me, that he had ministered to me in way that mattered more than three slips of paper.

And then the light turned green and he disappeared in the rearview mirror.

An important lesson from this week

So, completely on accident and at the age of 32, I suddenly discovered this week that you can taste things with the underside of your tongue.

First, I took a salty tortilla chip, lifted my tongue and stuck it underneath, being certain that it didn't touch the top of the tongue. I held it under my tongue and discovered that I could definitely taste the saltiness of the chip. In fact, it tasted great!

I haven't experimented with other taste sensations yet (sweet, sour, etc.) but I will get to work on it and keep you updated.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

New Devo

My wife has written up some devotional thought that you can see here, on the stint team leader's blog.


P.S. Yes, I know how fortunate I am. So stop sending me all those e-mails asking me if I know.

Prayer Requests from Virginia Tech

As many of you know, I work with Campus Crusade for Christ. We have a staff team at Virginia Tech, and today they sent out some prayer requests for them, their students and their campus.

Here they are:

1. The families of the students who were killed

2. The students who were injured and still in the hospital

3. 4 students that were involved with Campus Crusade were killed. Please pray for their families and friends.

4. Survivors of the shootings who witnessed the horrors of that day. Pray for God¹s grace and comfort

5. Pray for wisdom for the CCC Staff and other campus ministers and pastors as they seek to counsel and love the hurting students

Many people around the world have set apart some part of tomorrow (Thursday) to pray for people impacted by the events at VT this week. If you have some time you are willing to set aside and you're one who prays, I am certain they would appreciate your prayers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Flowers cut and brought inside
Black cars in a single line
Your family in suits and ties
And you’re free

The ache I feel inside
Is where the life has left your eyes
I’m alone for our last goodbye
But you’re free

I remember you like yesterday, yesterday
I still can’t believe you’re gone, oh…
I remember you like yesterday, yesterday
And until I’m with you, I’ll carry on

Adrift on your ocean floor
I feel weightless, numb, and sore
A part of you in me is torn
And you’re free

I woke from a dream last night
I dreamt that you were by my side
Reminding me I still had life
In me

I remember you like yesterday, yesterday
I still can't believe you're gone
I remember you like yesterday, yesterday
until I'm with you, I'll carry on
I’ll carry on

Every lament is a love song
Yesterday, yesterday
I still can’t believe you’re gone
So long my friend, so long

by Switchfoot's Tim and Jon Foreman

Unseen Movie Review: Underdog

Here at BHR we like to occasionally review movies that we have not seen. It's completely unfair and also fun.

Tonight's movie: Underdog.

Watch the trailer and then read on, MacRuff.

I am not the target audience for this movie, despite certain evidences to the contrary. The target audience is, I am guessing, eight-year-old boys. And I am reasonably certain that they will think it is somewhere between mediocre and okay.

The problem is that even this trailer is inherently unfunny... and trailers tend to try to take the best parts of a movie and squeeze them into a short space. I am not sure why a movie that is targeted at kids is making rather lame attempts at humor by imitating the 1970's Superman movie. Which is a great movie. In fact, the scene of Underdog talking to the "cat burglar" is pretty much a direct rip-off from that movie. AS is the Brandoesque voice over. But what eight year old is going to think that's funny?

The tagline for the film is blatantly offensive to me: "One nation under dog." The pun is not only common but also, once again, unfunny. If you're going to offend people, at least have the good grace to be entertaining while doing it. These are the sort of gems you will be missing when you, like me, stay home from the theaters for this one. Lazy, pedestrian writing.

A couple of predictions for you: this movie will have a few laughs. I am predicting three. The rest of the movie will be crap. And I imagine many of the jokes will involve crap. Dog pee. Perhaps sniffing people's rear ends.

And now, a special treat for you, my faithful BHR readers. I have included a complete cartoon from the ORIGINAL (and funny) Underdog cartoon. I laughed out loud several times while watching this. You will laugh, too, even if you are reading this from prison. "What's to laugh at in prison?" you ask. Watch and learn:

Ha ha ha! Now that's comedy.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Rest In Peace, Kurt Vonnegut

No doubt you've already heard about Kurt Vonnegut's passing.

If you've never read Vonnegut, it's not too late to jump on the bandwagon. Artists always want to know if their work will outlast them, so it's a pretty nice-but-belated gift to Mr. Vonnegut.

I'm partial, myself, to Cat's Cradle as well as Slaughterhouse Five, the full title of which is Slaughterhouse Five; or, The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., a Fourth-Generation German-American Now Living in Easy Circumstances on Cape Cod (and Smoking Too Much) Who, as an American Infantry Scout Hors de Combat, as a Prisoner of War, Witnessed the Fire-Bombing of Dreseden, Germany, the Florence of the Elbe, a Long Time Ago, and Survived to Tell the Tale: This Is a Novel Somewhat in the Telegraphic Schizophrenic Manner of Tales of the Planet Tralfamadore, Where the Flying Saucers Come From.

I think that title alone tells you why I liked him. Try out Mother Night, too. And hey, while you're at it you may as well read Welcome to the Monkey House.

Here's the most recent interview with Vonnegut I could find. And, just for kicks, here's a list from wikipedia where Vonnegut graded his own books in one of his books (Palm Sunday):

Player Piano: B
The Sirens of Titan: A
Mother Night: A
Cat's Cradle: A-plus
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A
Slaughterhouse-Five: A-plus
Welcome to the Monkey House: B-minus
Happy Birthday, Wanda June: D
Breakfast of Champions: C
Slapstick: D
Jailbird: A
Palm Sunday: C

And so it goes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Switchfoot: new "Awakening" video

As you all no doubt know, my Official Favorite Band is Switchfoot.

Band member Tim Foreman dropped me an e-mail today and asked if I would be willing to post their new video here at the Burning Hearts Revolution.

"Of course, Tim," I replied.

I think you'll enjoy it.

Tim also said, "The most challenging and time-consuming portion of the video was the creating of the 'animated' television. To create this effect, we printed out each individual frame (24 frames per second -- that's a lot of frames!), and then hand-ripped each person from each frame, placing each frame sequentially after the other to re-create the action (think claymation with photos!). This technique has actually never been done before, and took a total of 8 days, with 10 to 20 people working around the clock."

So, without further ado:

P.S. Okay, okay, Tim didn't just write me. I happen to be in the fan club. Yes, it is true.

So if you want to see all of Tim's comments, or you want the code to imbed the video on your blog or MySpace, here's Tim's post.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Grave Robber

Studying Hebrew has really brought a lot of strange things to light for me.

One of these is the grave, or Sheol. I've thought about this a lot today, because it's Easter, the traditional celebration of Messiah's victory over death and the grave, Sheol.

In my mind, Sheol has always had the connotation of a sort of grey, dusty land. Everything is one color and the spirits wander about somewhat dispassionately. But while translating Jonah this semester I learned that's a very different concept than what ancient semitic peoples would have thought of when they talked about the grave.

After Jonah has been swallowed by the fish, he says in his prayer (2:3), "I cried in my distress to the Lord and he answered favorably. From the belly of Sheol I cried for help and you heard my cry."

Have you ever noticed the personification going on there? Sheol has a belly. It's always swallowing people and things. Sheol is Death and is described in ancient semitic myth as having, "a lip to the earth, a lip to the heavens... and a tongue to the stars." He has a constant hunger for the souls of men, and Death says, "My appetite is the appetite of lions in the waste... if it is in very truth my desire to consume 'clay' then in truth I must eat it by the handfuls."

Death and Sheol are terrifying, unstoppable forces before which we are only clay. There is no way to fight, no way to escape. They reach to the stars themselves and before them we have no choice but to fall into the maw of death.

And that is where messiah comes with his good news. He has been anointed to preach good news to the poor, he has been sent to bind up the brokenhearted. He has been sent to announce freedom and a release from darkness for the captives! To proclaim the time of God's favor toward us, to comfort us when we mourn, to provide for our grief and to give us crowns of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and to clothe us in praise instead of despair.

He has taken Death's teeth. He has robbed the grave. He has destroyed terror and replaced it with his love.

"When my life felt weak, I remembered the Lord. My prayer, my God, went to your holy temple. Those who intently watch worthless vanities abandon their devotion. But I, with a voice of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will repay. Salvation comes from the Lord."

NOTE: If you're interested in the notes on Sheol or the quotes from Death, you should buy this book. And the text we've been using in my class to walk us through Jonah is this one.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

My children respond to Star Wars (Episode IV)

My kids watched Star Wars for the first time in their young lives. They had many excellent comments to share, but here are my two favorites.

Z, our five (almost six) year old was mostly interested in the Princess angle. Lots of questions about Princess Leia. Also, because I've told them the Star Wars stories before, a lot of questions like, "Does that mean that Luke Skywalker is a prince?" But her best comment was from when she first saw Princess Leia and she said, "Princess Leia has beautiful brown hair like me."

A, our four year old, was reasonably convinced that Star Wars was meant to be a comedy. She told me multiple times that the movie was alernately boring or funny. The boring parts seemed to be the ones that she deemed "serious." The funniest moment in this side-splittingly hilarious comedy came when Luke and Han, disguised as stormtroopers, take Chewbacca into the detention center to free Princess Leia. Then they start shooting everything, and they throw Chewie a rifle and he starts shooting everything, too. Here were A's comments on this:

A: HA HA HA HA! That is funny! Even the dog is fighting.

Me: That's not a dog, that's Chewbacca.

A: The dog's name is CHEWBACCA? Ha ha ha! This movie is VERY funny.

First Soccer Game

This morning we schlepped through the mud and rain to Z and A's first soccer games.

Krista took some pictures, which you can see on her blog:

First Throw In
Lucky Lizards
Purple Panthers
Off To Lunch
The Fans

It was actually a lot of fun. A did cry a couple of times because a) her shirt is green and b) "I looked over and Mommy wasn't watching me". Mommy wasn't watching because both games were taking place simultaneously and she was running back and forth trying to get pictures of both.

Because it's a "fun" league, Z's coach had to keep taking this one kid out of the game because he kept scoring all the time. Their poor competetion really wasn't much competition.

Both our kids did a good job, so we went out for lunch with Grandma and Grandaddy afterwards, and then this afternoon we went to the zoo for an easter egg hunt. That was fun, too. Then Krista and Kerri went out to a play and the kids and I came home, ate pizza and then we watched Star Wars together. It was their first time seeing it.

And now all is quiet. So I turn to you, my beloved but scattered community. Thanks for tuning in for the rambling family share time.

Yes, it is mandatory for both good taste and etiquette that you now say nice things about a) my children, b) my (or Krista's) parenting, c) soccer or d) Star Wars.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


My kids started soccer this week.

Soccer with 4 and 6 year-olds is funny.

First, a butterfly can derail an entire game (or practice) as the children abandon the soccer balls and chase after creation. I sort of like this, and would like to see a "butterfly rule" incorporated into the World Cup.

Second, the league we're a part of is a "fun league" meaning that we play for fun and the building of self-esteem (we voted on whether to buy trophies at the end of the season). So every kid plays at every game and I think they rotate through the positions.

I noticed, though, that the coaches have very different styles. Z's coach is a woman, and she focuses on having fun and building skills. I honestly don't know what will happen when Z has her first game next week, because I'm not sure she understands how to play.

A's coach is a very serious man, who focuses on... GOALS. "Take this ball to the end of the field, then come back and kick it... into the goal. Now let's pretend that the balls are easter eggs and the goal is your basket. Put your eggs... in the basket." Then there was a scrimmage. Which at this age is basically a mob surrounding a ball which occasionally makes some sort of motion toward the goal.

Other favorite kids' soccer rule: "If someone is lying on the ground, everyone stops kicking until they stand up."

The Blessings of Our Churches

We are extremely thankful for our churches.

Here in Oregon/Washington we go to the Village. There are a lot of reasons that we love Village. One is the amazing multi-cultural body represented in the congregation. We also have enormous respect for the pastoral staff. Pastor John Johnson brings amazing messages from the word every week, and the worship pastor, Dean Christensen, has deep convictions about worship and he leads us well. We are amazed by the continual commitment of this church to reach their community, and it's a place that we feel very comfortable bringing our friends and family to.

In California we have NorthCreek church, another amazing church with pastoral staff that we respect and have learned a lot from over the years. Dr. Jon McNeff has taught us a lot from the word, and Hal Kemp continues to minister to us and share wisdom as the missions pastor. I have a lot of great history with some of the other staff, including Tony "The Polar Bear" Aria.

These churches have really been places of refreshment and spiritual growth for both of us. I wanted to share this publically this week. I don't have a lot of patience for people who stand outside the church and throw sticks and stones at the pastoral staff. It's a ridiculous and disrespectful action.

Especially after living for three years in a country where people are glad just to be able to get in the same room and worship Jesus, we are so thankful to be part of two churches which are seeking to follow Christ and be a reflection of him to the world.

April 1st

April Fool's Day.

My kids somehow got it in their head a year or so ago that it's funny to say, "There's a spider on your head!" the entire day. Ho ho ho. It is to laugh.

Here is Gmail's little joke for the day. I'll say, though, that if they weren't joking, I would actually use this service. It would be nice to print off, say, novels and other writings and have them delivered to your door.

Meanwhile, Google has just introduced the Toilet Internet Service Provider.

Anyway, a big hardee-har-har to google and gmail, and remember kids, keep April first safe and honest.