Monday, March 31, 2008

Say What You Need to Say

We are off to the desert for a couple days, the four of us. There might not be many more trips like this, before our oldest heads off to college next year.

I am so thankful for my family, and for this ride called life. I thought I should share this John Mayer song, set to clips of one of my favorite movies "The Bucket List". Its about having an abundant life....

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Humility & Passion - Gustavo Dudamel

Last night we had the honor to attend Disney Hall, and experience the conducting of Gustavo Dudamel, the new (September 2009) conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The music was wonderful, the conducting passionate. I think I witnessed a visual representation of Joy.

What impressed me most was Mr. Dudamel's sense (at 27 years old) of his place on stage. Mr. Dudamel is a young phenom, and it would be easy for him to assume the roll of classical music conductor / rock star. But this is not what we saw at all.

Mr. Dudamel chose to conduct the final piece, Berlioz's "Symphonie fantastique", without sheet music. I was concerned he was trying to grand stand, and show the audience how much he knew. Not so at all. This was a young man who had, it seemed, literally crawled inside of a 50 minute piece, and let it become part of his soul.

The best part for me occurred after the music was over. What impressed me most was not the music, or the conducting, or the leadership of this young man. What left a mark on me was his great sense of humility, of his place in the orchestra. When the concert was over, and Mr. Dudamel came back on stage to take an encore bow, instead of standing alone in front of the orchestra, he moved several rows back into the orchestra, becoming a part of the greater whole. And then he turned around and motioned for many individuals, who had played beautiful parts during the concert, to stand, and receive their due. It was moving and wonderful - the probable classical conducting rock star standing aside, and giving way to the
"little people" of the orchestra. It was beautiful. The best part occurred during the applause.

I am a Gustavo Dudamel fan. Count me in. This young man has the potential, if he can keep his sense of humility, to going far, and in doing so, blessing the world of classical music in Los Angeles for years to come. We are fortunate to have him. Welcome to LA, Gustavo.

For a wonderful peak into the character of this man, please, take a few minutes and watch the interview below. All my pastor friends need to watch this.....I think you will get it very easily, without any explanation needed. Not a bit.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Elite 8

After a rough second half against a never-say-die Western Kentucky, the Bruins have advanced to the Elite Eight. Next up, Xavier.

Love those Bruins. Pun intended


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Who is it you are looking for?"

Easter Week. An empty tomb.

"They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him." At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. "Woman," he said, "Why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him." Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). From
John 20:14-16

Twenty centuries later, I ask myself. Who is it, or what is it that I am looking for?

For approval? Meaning? Importance? Recognition? Busy-ness? Wealth? Longevity? Comfort? Safety?

I wonder.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ave Verum Corpus

The day between Good Friday and Easter. Darkness and death surrounding. Everywhere.

Surely our lives have felt this way. For many, it occurs too often.

Mozart wrote a setting of the death of Christ in June of 1791, less than six months before his own death.

Ave Verum Corpus - W.A. Mozart

Jesus, word of God incarnate.

Of the Virgin Mary born.
On the cross Thy sacred body
For us men with nails was torn.

Cleanse us by the blood and water
Streaming from Thy pierced side.
Feed us with Thy body broken.
Now, and in death's agony.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Not a Very Good Friday

Good Friday. What a name.

In the Holy Land,
Good Friday is known as "Great Friday." In German it is "Karfreitag", an Old German word meaning "Friday of lamentation", although this meaning is not obvious to speakers of modern German. In Armenia it is called "High Friday (Ավագ Ուրբաթ)". In Russia it is called "Passion Friday" (Страстной Пяток / Страстная Пятница). In Ethiopia it is called Friday of the Crucifixion (arib siqilat).

I am going with the Germans and the Ethiopians.
But really now. Its not so Good. Its tragic. Dark. The Ultimate Sadness.

But history, and the Bible tell me that something is coming.

On Sunday.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Just Too Cool; Flight Level 390

I just have to share with you one of my favorite blog stops. This is a blog written by a pilot (who remains anonymous) who, I assume, flys for Alaska airlines.

Forgive me my geekiness, but his posts are just about the coolest thing imaginable.

Add to that, I just found out last night that my younger lovely daughter will be attending school next year with another girl whose Dad lived three doors up the block from me when I was a little kid, now lives across the street from where we grew up, is the son of
this guy and......wait for a pilot for American Airlines! Yes! Hello! That makes for some fun Father/Daughter dances for me.

Is there a TSA rule against a regular dude, who is friends with the pilot, riding jump seat in the cockpit on a flight?

I hope not, 'cause I am asking, pretty soon.

Anyway, Flight Level 390. Completely beyond awesome. Check it out.

Monday, March 17, 2008

In The Interest of Candor

Some people have blogs that make their lives look like they are simply full of happy days and hearts and flowers.

I think that is fake.

Today, I had a nice day at the office. Then, I came home.

I have been spending years trying to learn how be a calm, rational, non-explosive, affirming, lovely parent. I have read books, attended seminars, and yes (gasp!) even been in therapy. Lots.

I did not behave well with with my family tonight. Afterward, I needed to go for a long walk, to try to sort out both my feelings, and my failings. I came home after a while, and apologized. At nearly 50 years old, I am still working out what it means to be a good husband and father.

Its not easy. I need more work.

Just wanted to be honest here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

March Madness, Go Bruins!

After several close calls over USC, Cal, and Stanford, the Bruins are heading into the NCAA Tournament with one of four number one seeds.
Best of luck to the boys of Westwood!

The video below gives me chills; its for my friend Julie in Ohio. Remember the good ole' days, Jules?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

This Ball Field, Moon and Sixpence, Home

This is Orange Grove Field in South Pasadena; the softball field where my two daugthers have played for the past 10 or so years. I love this place, and I have been thinking about why that is.

We came here after a couple of years of T-ball in another park, with little girls picking dandelions in right field and wondering what base to run to after they hit if off the tee. The biggest event of the game for the girls was, of course, the snack. I loved those years, perhaps more now than I did back then.

The Moon and Sixpence (1919) is a short novel by William Somerset Maugham based on the life of the painter Paul Gauguin. The story is told in episodic form by the first-person narrator as a series of glimpses into the mind and soul of the central character, Charles Strickland, a middle aged English stock broker who abandons his wife and children abruptly in order to pursue his desire to become an artist.

What does "The Moon and Sixpence", from 1919, have to do with playing softball on the clay infield and green grass of Orange Grove park in 2008? Listen to this quote from the book, and maybe you might understand a bit more.

"I have an idea that some men are born out of their due place. Accident has cast them amid certain surroundings, but they have always a nostalgia for a home they know not. They are strangers in their birthplace, and the leafy lanes they have known from childhood... remain but a place of passage. They may spend their whole lives aliens among their kindred and remain aloof among the only scenes they have ever known. Perhaps it is this sense of strangeness that sends men far and wide in the search for something permanent, to which they may attach themselves... Sometimes a man hits upon a place to which he mysteriously feels that he belongs. Here is the home he sought, and he will settle amid scenes that he has never seen before, among men he has never known, as though they were familiar to him from his birth. Here at last he finds rest."

That's it. All of life seems to be about the search for, the often and silent ache to know the way, and the journey toward... home. Strangely, when I hit the grass of Orange Grove, helping to coach girls softball, if feel as if I may have settled upon a place to which I mysteriously feel I belong. Perhaps this green grass, this subtle pink and blue sunset above me, is just a peek, a glimpse of Something More, and a place I will someday call Home. A final place to settle.

Someday, I will know that place. I will be Home, at last. At rest.

Until then, I cannot think of a better place to be on a fresh, cool, spring night than at this field, with these girls.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What Happens At Death's Door?

Jill Bolte Taylor is a brain researcher. A number of years ago, while still a young woman, she had a massive stroke. She very nearly died, but she experienced amazing things.

Here is her story, you need 19 minutes to watch it, but I think you will be glad you did. While her "energy" language is a bit new-agey for me, just substitute in Holy Spirit (which Jill does not acknowledge, but I suspect), and you will be good to go. Hers is a remarkable story.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Honesty and Worship

This just simply speaks for itself.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A New School

This weekend we learned that our younger daughter, Heather, will be attending Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy next fall.

About a year ago, Heather let us know that she would like to apply for private Catholic girls school. Frankly, she was feeling exhausted by the environment of public school, and needed a change. As her parents, we would have never predicted this from one of our kids; we have always believed that being a part of the local community; being invested, was what we wanted and really, who we were as a family. This will be a change for us, too.

And so, over the last year, we have all been on a journey - to see where God might be leading us all, together. Tutors, extra studying, entrance exams, and test preparation. Interviews. Test taking. More interviews. Applications. And then, waiting, and praying.

Nancy and I could not be more delighted about Heather's choice. She actually had a choice of two different private schools to attend, and we feel she has worked very hard toward a great goal, and has made a wonderful decision.

For those of you who might be worried, Heather will not be worshipping Mary daily. Everything we have learned about Sacred Heart has left us with a terrifically positive feeling; the spirit and grace of Christ was present in all our experiences.

It is so fun to watch our girls spread their wings. What an amazing ride.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Hour of (Pot) Power

The other night I was at a dinner event, and a friend told me a true story that I thought I should relay here.

It turns out that a pastor of a church was, a number of years ago, called on the phone by the parents of a college-aged boy, who was attending college in the area. This boy's parents lived out of town, and they had become concerned, as their son, who had been raised in a Christian home, had reported that he was no longer attending church. The parents gave the pastor the phone number and address of their son.

They asked the pastor if he just might look in on their boy sometime, to see if he were doing alright. So, several weeks passed, and one Sunday, on the way home from church, the pastor decided to drop in at the college fraternity house of the boy.

As he ascended the steps to the porch of the fraternity house, he could see inside the living room, where he spotted four college guys, including the wayward son, all smoking rather generous quantities of cannabis, and huddled around the local afternoon broadcast of
The Hour of Power. They watched in rapt attention, loudly agreeing together with the major points of the sermon. Hearty "amens", "oh, yah, mans!", and the occassional "dude!" could be heard through the window.

The pastor decided not to interrupt this time of interesting religious devotion, and reported later to the parents, "well, I stopped in on your son, and he was, in his own unique way, attending church".

Forgive me my sacrilege, but this story nearly made me wet my laundry.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Right Reverand Rat

I have an old friend who is a pastor. His nickname is KC. But he is not your traditional pastor. The other day, this respected man of the cloth went to a local elementary school and donned a large literary rodent costume.

This is not a pastor who needs the respect of the local public. In fact, he wants to get a little disrespect, if it works for Kingdom purposes.

The other day I teased him about his rat costume, and his reply was rambling, but so good, I needed to quote him here. I have his permission:

"Not a professional (pastor) yet. No cheapening (of the gospel) here brother. Converts will come if I'm living my life like I'm forgiven in front of the world. A world where the church is "blowing chunks" (reference to the act of barfing) right now, and someone has to wear the dumb rat costume. My take? Go to where the people are. Next door. Meet them on the streets. Hang with them in their workplaces; Debbie's (his wife's public) school. Take them on long car rides to UCLA for kidney checkups, read to first and second graders and special ed. kids, so that the teachers get a 30 minute break in the midst of their hellish days. Work out with the people at the gym (24 Hour Fitness and Snap Fitness is an unreached mission field). Drink Starbucks with them. Be with them. Listen to them at Target, hear their struggles with the churches they attend. Go to barbecues, coach Little League with them. Christmas carol with them. Pray with them. Live like I'm forgiven and allow the Holy Spirit himself to do the intervening upon everyone I meet and greet, the souls in need of just a little bit of hope in the midst of a world that just isn't the greatest right now. Kingdom work even means wearing dumb rat costumes."
I wish I could hang more with my friend KC.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Dandelion - Antje Duvekot

My wife is away in Texas visiting friends. I am home with my two teenager daughters. We are having a fun time, just us three, as the family dynamic changes when Mom is away. We all miss Mom, but are enjoying a change of pace. The quality of the food has definately declined.

One of the best things about teenage girls is the new world they expose you to. Today, I learned about Antje Duvekot, a folk singer who moved to the US from Germany at 14. She is remarkable.

I am thankful beyond words for these girls that God has loaned us for a just a little bit longer, and for new little blessings and discoveries.

Come to think of it, these girls that live with us now, they are like dandelions, they will soon blow away. May I be able to watch it happen with bittersweet joy and sorrow, mixed together.

For the lyrics to this song, go

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