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10/31/2003

 

of all that is holy and right

At the last minute, a contestant dawned a leather jacket and a single silver glove. And you guessed it, this insult to Michael Jackson won the competition. Of course he did make 10 copies of his vote for himself at the copy machine--and then came to tell me about it. And who came in second, you might ask? The two ladies with wigs.

There are many phrases swirling around in my mind that I think fit this occasion perfectly. "Office Space"...Zamir standing in front of the printer, fuming...

"This, is a ____."

 

If you could see me now...



Today is halloween. For those of you that don't know, I run a financial planning practice at a large Fortune 500 company. That means my daily attire consists of a suit, tie, capt toes oxfords--the works. But not today. No, today is halloween, and the office got more fired up for the costume competition this year than I can ever remember in the past. Being that my job is professional, and being that image is a large portion of professionalism, I've resisted the temptation to dress up in the past. Those that know me personally know that it's very difficult for me NOT to make a scene--especially in the realm of fashion. Many of my colleagues would dress up as cowboys, witches, ghouls, etc. Everything you would typically expect. And every year the winner by inner office vote gets a prize.

But they can do that--they have grey hair and great window views that boast of experience. I am beneath the mean age in the office by about 20 years...No joke.

But alas, they couldn't leave well enough alone. No, they saw the animal in me, waiting to come out, and egged that animal on. They encouraged--nay, they DARED me to compete with them. After all, there IS a prize at stake.

I knew I couldn't go too far, there are lines you shouldn't cross in these things, you know. For instance, a halter top, mini skirt, fishnets and high heels would be pushing the limit. [Reminiscing...] Ahhh, I wish I had a picture of that time.

So early this morning I dug into my treasure chest of accumulated dress up items, and started trying stuff on. To my dismay, I had "grown out" of most of the familiar items, except i don't think I've grown much "taller" in the last 10 years. No this was a different kind of growth--the spiritual kind. =)

I finally arrived at what I thought would be an appropriate balance of flair and caution, and proceeded to ressurect the pomp in my hair, without the proper products--a blowdryer and pomade. 3/4 of a can of hairspray, a hole in the ozone, and 40 minutes later, I was good to go. Plus I had fully protected my head from meteors falling from space--so I had that going for me, which was nice.

What I wound up with looked something like this:




I'm not quite sure what happened, but I wound up with about four different decades of style all rolled up into a fashion suicide mission. I'm sure I could've just come in the office in what I sport on the weekends and blown everyone away, but what the hay, I thought, everyone else will be dressing up too.

You think you know, but you have NO idea. Despite all of the trash talk and bragging that filled the office not more than 24 hours ago, first glance of my colleagues alerted me to the fact that they all "dressed up" in drab suits and polished pennyloafers. Fantastic. Everyone must've woken up this morning and forgot that it was Halloween. Out of 45 people in the branch (of which at least 25-35 have dressed up in the years previous), 7 dressed up. 7. And even they weren't "dressed" up. No my firend, a couple of them sported hats, a couple others sported wigs, and one gentleman brought in a paper bag hat with the words "bag dad" on it to complement his suit. How adorable. You've got to be kidding me. Here I am with my pomp, creepers, and bells that I had to pour myself into, and the only other person with an entire "outfit" is an assistant wearing a cowboy hat and boots. sweet.

Well, at least I didn't go with the miniskirt. That prize better be good.

10/30/2003

 
It's been an absolutely crazy day. Very little breathing room. Moving from one brushfire to the next, extinguishing like a multi-tasking animal.

Yesterday's memorial was bittersweet--more on that later. Also learned that a very dear friend's mother was told of her cancer relapse yesterday. Please keep her and the Bauer family in you prayers, as well as Stacey Littlejohn, who is feeling ill.


10/28/2003

 

Halloween

Every year about this time I reflect on my past Halloween experiences, admittedly with a sense of longing. If I wasn't committed to be in L.A. for Halloween, I'd be in Santa Barbara. Though traveling to L.A. will probably become a life long tradition, as initiated by my wife's family, part of me kind of wishes I could take my wife to downtown Santa Barbara, or Isla Vista on this night.

Though I never celebrated Halloween prior to college, when I started going to Westmont, I began a tradition born more out of my friends' need for a sober driver than anything else. Each year, we'd go out to Isla Vista or downtown SB to party with thousands of others. If you aren't moved by the heart of God for people in SB on Halloween, you may never be. About 85,000 people crowd the streets of Isla Vista, the small frat suburb outside UCSB, and another 40-50,000 envelope downtown. This throng of people goes from one club/frat/party to the next, engorging themselves in every sensory pleasure--giving themselves to a grand, hollow celebration that promises little more than a headache and an entertaining memory the next day(if they're lucky). There is more free alchohol, substances, and sex that you could shake a 5 or 6 sticks at. But I LOVE being there. I love the anticipation of the crowd, the loneliness of many individuals in the middle of this massive crowd of people, the eyes I catch as I watch the passerbys. ...There's the 18 year old frosh who is having trouble walking, the kid passed out on the sidewalk, the guy strung out on a bad trip in the bathroom, the girl whose smeared mascara paints the picture of abuse and neglect...

I love being in the middle of that scene, because I can feel the search--the longing for something great. And I can feel the dissatisfaction with the emptiness. In that moment I feel so...responsible. So heavily responsible for loving people, and for providing a window of connection to the True Light, the source of the longings that drive us all. I want to be immersed in the expression of the culture around me--my peers. Not to stand in cirtical judgement, or with a moral measuring rod, but to stand and dance the dance of freedom I've learned, and to invite others to dance with me. An invitation to reconcile the cry of their souls, to find wholeness in the midst of emptiness, to experience ultimate satisfaction and belonging.

 

Life

Life continues. My schedule is growing increasingly tight. Here's my week.

* Had a great meeting this morning, and I've got one this afternoon that I still need to finish perparing for. My friend Justin, who is moving to town to take a job with me at Morgan Stanley, just got a studio here in town, and I have to pick up the keys for him this afternoon. The housing market in Santa Barbara is vicious, so it's a God-Send that he got this place, and that it happens to be about $200-300 cheaper than anything else around. Rent per month--$715. Tonight I've got practice for the Christmas ensemble, a non-negotiable activity if your wife directs the choir.
* Tomorrow I take the day off of work to be at the Bauer Memorial in Van Nuys. Cancelling one appointment, and a bunch of work that will have to wait until Thursday.
* Thursday I've got a meeting in the morning, and then I will be taking my new assistant out to lunch to discuss our arrangement. She's fantastic, and I'm looking forward to working with someone with at least moderate interpersonal skills, something my former assistant found entirely unnecessary. Thursday Evening my wife and I will be dining with a family in our community, sharing love and vision over food and vino.
* Friday I've got yet another meeting (or two, who knows), and work to proper prepare for ignoring over the weekend. It sounds failry easy, but you really have to work at these things. Friday evening I will be in L.A., in order to love on extended family flying in from the east coast. They flight out annually at this time, and all of my in-laws cruise out to the "Harvest Festival" at the Church On The Way. Fun time for the kids, as they drag us from one booth to the next, from carnival games and face-painting, to train rides and jolly jumps. It's fun watching the kids in this wonderland setup.
* Saturday is our own community wide carnival that we sponsor through the Bridge Communities. It's a blast, and I will be making sure that every loose end is wrapped up neatly, from setup to tear-down. Saturday Night another friend is opening his home to the men of the community, to reflect on our growth as men and as a community since the man-fest in September, and to play a few rounds of Mafia. If you don't know what Mafia is, don't ask. =) some role playing games are a bit to addictive.

In addition, I have birthdays to attend to, friends to move, family to care for, a practice to manage, and a guest speaker to support. Man that sounds like whining. But it's not--really. I thrive off of stress...it's just unfortunate that my blog does not.

Well, that's life...today.

10/24/2003

 

Scott Bauer

Over the last two days, Pastor Scott Bauer has been on life support; his brain hemorraging, with no brain activity. His family and close friends gathered in his room bedside today, and at 3:05 pm, they pulled the plug. Scott has gone on to the next leg of this great journey, and is now in the presence of indescribable beauty. His family is grieving, and though full of joy for his new home, is still dumbstruck by how quickly he was taken from them. No warning whatsoever. He was a healthy man, in his mid-late thirties, and died literally overnight due to an annurism of the brain.

Father, be with his family. Give them hope, peace, reconciliation.

10/23/2003

 

back to blogging, part deux

Thank you all for making me feel so necessary in my scarce presence here on the ol' blog. Life's been very busy, but that's not why I've been absent. My longings have simply led me elsewhere. It seems like every chance I have to blog, I fill with reading, meditation, work, phone calls, etc. But this morning I was reminded of the importance of this medium, and it awoke me again to the beauty of our diverse interaction, and I realized that my absence has left me in a state of want--missing out on the beauty that is added to my journey through you. Thanks for bearing with me.

That said, here's the latest happenings.
.::. My daughter Selah took her very first step last night, as my wife and I played with her. It couldn't possibly have happened at a better time. I was so sure that I would miss important events like this because of my insane work schedule. It was great. She let go of the coffee table, stood balancing for a moment, and then took a step toward Regina. As her other foot followed, she lost her balance and tumbled. But we praised her in amazement nevertheless. It was beautiful.

.::. In my personal meditations, I've not been able to move passed the Luke 7:16 passage. I'm still trapped by the imagery of the window, and the visibility of mystery through it.

.::. My wife wrote another song yesterday. I love her so much--I cannot be grateful enough for the prize that she is to me. And yes, the song is beautiful. It seems like everything she touches turns out that way. Makes me think of how Beautiful our God must be. That in his reflection exists creation--whose beauty alone surpasses what we can take in in 10 lifetimes.

.::. My wife also wants another child soon. RIGHT. We'll be getting right on that. I suggested that we practice really hard for a while first, but I don't know if she got it. My income is going to go through some major changes next January, and I'm not sure yet where that will leave us--we'll see. I've also been really beginning to look into buying a home lately, but the market here is very steep. It's pretty difficult to find anything at all worth buying in our price range, which again, is subject to income changes pending for January. God help us--provide for us in your timing, if this is something you think would be good for us. Otherwise, steer me away, give me peace about staying where we're at.
There's much more to recent life, but I've got an appointment at 1:00pm, and then more appointments all afternoon. But here's something to petition God for, asking for his divine grace and intervention.

Last night Pastor Scott Bauer, Sr. Pastor of The Church on the Way Van Nuys suffered from a massive brain hemorrhage and is now fighting for his life. The next 24-hours are crucial. The family is asking for specific prayer for the swelling in his head to go down so they able to do surgery and stop the bleeding.

My wife grew up with the Bauers, and Scott is probably not even 40 years old. He's got three kids that I know of (maybe more) and is a good man. Will you keep him on the forefront of your thoughts, and ask that God intervenes tangibly? I would not want to presume what God's desire in this is--whether for recovery or whatever else--but I believe that it is our responsibility to petition that whatever he does intend to do in this or against this is brought to fruition. Whether for peace, intervention, interception, or prevetion--God, would you be present tangibbly in the middle of this chaos to both Scott and his family. I ask that you hold him dearly and close in this hour, and that you birth life--in whatever you desire that looks like--in the middle of this.

I'll keep you updated as I am.

10/15/2003

 

Sweet Baby James

A conversation with a dear friend last night reminded me of this song.

"Hymn"

I got holy children to show me the light, singing hallelujah, brother how about you?
Yeah, we got holy scriptures here that prove us to be right,
in believing out loud what we wish to be true.

I got stoned out neighbors to take me in tow, singing close your eyes, singing open wide.
Watch the world fall away below, let the winter wind blow,
and where will we hide when it comes from inside?

Oh, hear me now, hear me now, hear me now, hear me now, hear me now, hear me now,
hear me now, listen I got sweet, sweet music inside.

Yes, a child inside me was alone in the night,
Now has come to me, love has set my soul free.
As a man and a woman stand alone in the night, here is reason to be like sun on the sea.


One Man Dog (1972); James Taylor

10/13/2003

 

Windows of Wonder

"Wonder is the window through which we see the mystery of God at work."

Still unpacking my thoughts from last night. The night went well, i thought--even very well. It was very dialogue-heavy, and as we ventured into the metaphor of becoming like windows ourselves, many that were gathered there did just that. They offered themselves as windows--allowing the mystery of God to be seen at work through their lives, and the beauty that I encountered through those windows was captivating and humbling.

It was a blessing to have Jon there last night. Him, Kay and their 3 beautiful kids had driven down from San Jose to visit the grandparents in Santa Ana, and decided to join us for the gathering as a pit stop along the way. I wished I could have seen more of them. What an amazing family. BTW Jon, Tim sends his love and huge thanks for the hookups.

Now I'm back in the grind at work. I feel terrible, my body struggling to fight off a cold that was probably brought on by the accumulation of sleep depravation last week. But I feel good at the same time. Last week was one of the richest weeks of mediation and personal growth to date. I'm still soaking in the wonder of this great mystery around me, silently taking in and meditating in quiet reflection.

This morning's other news:
1. 485 new emails this morning in my inbox, 19 of them were personal. Time to check out 0spam.com
2. Craig finally got his first tattoo. (right on craig!)
3. I'm fading fast. Time to go upstairs and grab another cup of coffee.

10/07/2003

 

For Your Consideration

They all realized they were in a place of holy mystery, that God was at work among them. They were quietly worshipful--and then noisily grateful, calling out among themselves, "God is back, looking to the needs of his people!" The news of Jesus spread all through the country.

And from "Blue Like Jazz":

"When we reduce Christian Spirituality to math, we defile the Holy. All of the wonder of God happens just above our arithmetic and formula. I think we have two choices in the face of such big beauty: Terror or Awe. And this is precisely why we attempt to ‘chart’ God—we want to be able to predict Him, to dissect him, to carry Him around in our dog and pony show. I don’t think that there is any better worship than wonder."

Just a tidbit form my meditation this week...

10/06/2003

 

and now, back to blogging

The last couple of weeks have been crazy. I've been extremely hard pressed to find even a moment of silence. After another fairly hectic day, I've been forced to make a decision that i was hoping to not have to make. Tonight, tomorrow and Wednessday, many of the leaders of various communities of faith within our district will be gathering in Pismo beach. We gather annually in what is known as "The Fall Leaders Conference" to share what is going on in each respective community, and to look at the collage of movement in the district as a whole.

Not only would it be a good time of encouragement for Regina and I to connect with those we have personal realtionship with in other communities, but it would be a great time for us to get away for a couple of days and just relax in one of my favorite places in California.

Though taking off work for yet another couple of days would have been tough on me, work was not the deciding factor on whether we would go or not. I've been collecting my thoughts on how to facilitate this weekend's gathering of the Bridge Communities. This afternoon I began randomly jotting down my thoughts, experiences, recent illuminations and musings--and realized that I've got much more wrestling to do. My desire is not to conjure up something compelling, and layer it with sensory echoes, but to find that place of Holy Mystery that God is leading me into, and share what he desires me to.

So I've decided not to go to the conference, which is honestly a bit disappointing. I need the time off with my wife. But at the same time, the fact that I cannot spare the time has illuminated a couple things to me.

1. I need to create more time in my daily schedule for silence and reflection.
2. I need to be more intentional about spending time with my beloved wife. The fact that I look forward to a conference to provide that time to me is pretty bad.

Ultimately, though I wish I could take a few days off, I am excited that I feel so prompted to spend the amount of time in preparation for this weekend as I do. I feel as though I am on the threshold of discovery, about to fall into something of tremedous beauty.

Well, that's it. That's is where I'm at--or where I was a moment ago. Thanks for your support while I attended to matters of life over the last couple of weeks.

10/02/2003

 

Blue Like Jazz III

Also Read: not getting a single thing done.

Page 205--currenty 37 pages away from finishing a book I wish would not end.
Good thing I'm not busy...

 

Blue Like Jazz II

Now reading Page 151...

Must stop...Must work...Aarrgg.

10/01/2003

 
...and it just occurred to me that neither Jeph Hurst nor Craig Littlejohn have been added to my blogroll. Could it be because they are such similar personalities--down to the "Pursuing" names they've chosen, and the colors of their blogs??

Probably not. But that is funny to think about.

 

Blue Like Jazz

In an effort to put some distance between the conversation in the comment bar of the last post and what is current and important, here's an amazing book that Jeph has sabotaged my life with. I've been listening to him and Greg rave about it for months now, and was never moved to pick it up and give it a chance. So Jeph mailed it to me. And now I owe him big.

Couldn't have mailed it to me on a week where i wasn't already buried with work...

This book is unreal. Seriously. I can't put the frickin thing down. It is sitting right now, on the right side of my desk, calling to me. The 50 pages that devoured about 90 minutes of my time today have created an insatiable appetite in me to finish the book.

Maybe i'll go into how beautiful this book is at a later time, but for now all I can say is "wow" and "thanks".

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