Monthly Archives: September 2007

An open letter to a thief

Dear Thief,

The chairs you stole from our front porch weren’t heirlooms. They were silly little canvas beach chairs purchased at Tarzhay for around $20 each. (see below)


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Filed under home life, Stockton

And so it begins

I was one of about 30-plus guys who began the ordination process Thursday, at a district convention service with all the officialness, pomp and regalia one would expect.

I went into it with a little bit of trepidation. There remains something of a bohemian hedonist in me that shuns the notion of being a company man. And yet, when it was all over, it was a beautiful thing. God and I had a little conversation in which He, once again, reminded me of the big picture. I don’t know why God endures my selfish tirades and rants, but I’m glad he does.

Here’s a photo of the Missus and I after Thursday’s service, all aglow.


¡Hijole! I’m getting fatter every year. Day of rest or not, I’m working out today.


Filed under doubt, God

Wow. Wow, wow, wow.

I’m sure all of you know about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Columbia University. What you might not know is the underground blog presence in Iran. The Iranian blogosphere was a blur of activity, with most of the opinions anonymously lampooning the oft-reviled and misunderstood leader.

The New York Times published excerpts from Iranian bloggers, translated by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center. Most of them are what you’d expect: perfectly sane, rational people wincing over how their leader is making a mockery of their country. My favorite excerpt and the exception to this trend is from the blog

During the speech of my favorite president, I felt broken. The belittling killed me little by little. He thought Columbia University was just another visit to the provinces and everyone would applaud him. How could he stand all the insults to his people?

Last night, before the speech of my knowledgeable Ahmadinejad, I was so worried. O Lord, how are we going to be ridiculed now?

Don’t worry, friend. Yours is not the only nation being ridiculed. That why our leaders love a good foreign dignitary gaffe. It takes the heat off their own administration and it’s foibles.

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Filed under New York Times

Monkeying around with the camera

The Missus has been after me to take some photos of the view from our front porch and dining room. My camera batteries (both sets) are losing their ability to charge and I’ve been busy taming The Paper That Ate Manhattan. Finally, today, after spending a half-hour in the yard and catching up with dear, dear friends who dropped in for a visit (with goose paté in hand, mind you, cuz my hi-dolla-dolla peeps just roll that way), I grabbed the camera and popped off a few shots.

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Filed under home life, photography

Who you gonna call?

Martin Schongauer, St Anthony tormented by Daemons (1480 engraving)

We kicked out an unwelcome guest in our home Sunday evening.

We’re in a new house and getting used to the acoustics. We’re finding that my usual detached mumbling is insufficient for communicating in the house. Or so my wife would have me believe.

So, I was in the restroom while my wife was talking to me in the hallway. She didn’t know I was in the restroom; she was talking into the void and waiting for me to respond.

From her peripheral vision at her right, she saw a shadow pass from one doorway to the next. Thinking it was me, she kept talking. Moments later, I walk out of the bathroom from the opposite direction. There was no way I could have walked to her left unnoticed, since she was standing diagonally, with the restroom at her immediate left.

An evil spirit was living in the house. Continue reading


Filed under home life, spiritual warfare, Stockton

From the Pew Forum: Hispanic Churches Add English Services

Editor’s note: the link for the full story is no longer active. Newsvine has the article, which you may access here.

This little gem arrived Aug. 28 from my Pew Forum feed. It deals with a lot of topics found in my congregation. As we grow and take on more English-speaking members, we are learning how to communicate to a broader audience.

Our congregation is roughly 55 years old and started an English-language service four (?) years ago. It’s going well enough but the attendance is still far below the 12 p.m. Spanish-language service. There are many in our church who are perfectly fluent in English but who prefer the Spanish service for its “fervency.” The songs have more of a salsa beat, there’s a bigger crowd and the people seem to get into it more than at the 9:30 a.m. English service.

By comparison, the English service music is more staid, with choruses that repeat a lot — although this is changing. We seem to be singing older songs; by older, I mean gospel music of the 1970s. A lot of Andrae Crouch and others of his type.

I’m not sure how we crack the code on worship during the English service. It seems like the pastor has to prime the pump quite a bit more during the English service. What does one do? I’m committed to making the English service not only work but grow by leaps and bounds. We seem to have hit a temporary plateau. Any growth minded people have any ideas on how to work past this without sacrificing the spiritual health of those already in fellowship?

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Filed under Christianity, Hispanics, Latinos, Pentecostalism

The happy homeowners


Today, we celebrate. We thank the good Lord for his incredible generosity in providing a home for us. In our present housing market slump in which mortgage companies are closing from one day to the next, we are extremely grateful for the resources to purchase a home. As the crisis in Darfur worsens, as bodies continue to gather in Iraqi morgues, as Hondurans and Nicaraguans deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Felix, I have a safe, clean home on a quiet street with old-growth trees and a park nearby.

Thank you, God. You didn’t have to do all of this. There are certainly more deserving people that us. All I can say is that I will use this home as a place of healing and community for those around me.

With keys in hand, the finality of the purchase has hit us square in the face. We are now the proud homeowners of a craftsman bungalow. I can’t believe we own a home. A stylish one at that, with all the wains-coating, hardwood inlay and built-in hutches we can stand. A backyard in which to plant a garden, a garage and a basement in which to putter. Life is good. Continue reading


Filed under home life

Coffee wars



Have I mentioned to you, dear reader, that I am sick of living out of boxes? It’s a quarter past seven in the morning over here in blazing HOT Stockton, CA — It was 104 degrees Sunday, 99 degrees Monday and hallelujah!, a manageable 90 degrees today — and I am surrounded by boxes, boxes and more boxes. I stub my toe on a box as I stumble from the bedroom in the dark to make the missus fresh coffee.

“Can you make me some coffee?” she asks, grinning widely and blinking wildly, dressed in the native costume of her people, a damp bath towel on her head and a terry robe.

“Grrr.” I reply, in full denial of the reality of morning. Somewhere on an island in the Pacific, my native people are fast asleep. It is night there. I sleep for them. Continue reading

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Filed under married life

Tio’s timeshare


The missus and I are still trying to navigate the seemingly hopeless waters of purchasing a home. Things came to a head Friday when our loan didn’t fund on time. This meant that our loan wasn’t recorded on time, meaning Friday. This had a number of ramifications.

  1. We didn’t get the keys to our place. We won’t get them until Tuesday.
  2. We rescheduled the rental date for our moving truck.
  3. We rescheduled the moving date for our party.
  4. We extended the lease on our apartment. Another bill.
  5. We wasted a perfectly good three-day weekend. Sort of.

So, with the moving project going down in flames, we did the logical thing. We left the 100-degree plus temperatures and headed to Capitola, a charming beach community about 90 minutes south of San Francisco. My uncle has a timeshare there and it was his week to have fun. We ate too much red meat, courtesy of my dad, who doesn’t do anything small. We didn’t catch Gayle’s, our favorite bakery ANYwhere, but we had a good time watching Cal trounce Tennessee 45-31. Heh.

I hope all of you have a relaxing Labor Day. I’ll upload some more photos as soon as I reduce the file size. The process is painfully slow, and the missus is shooting me dirty looks and threatening to hit the Labor Day shoe sales, if I don’t get my rear in gear.

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Filed under family