Sunday, August 31, 2008

Two wheels are better than none.

For several years now, Diane and I have been intrigued with the idea of simplifying and slowing down our lives. We seem to live in a culture where the norm is to fill every waking moment with some sort of activity in an attempt to find fulfillment and to somehow afford our children all the "opportunities" that we have missed out on. Like the opportunities to never be at home, not know how to relax and not be content unless something is going on.

We believe that we are called to live at a pace that is different than the rest of our culture. It seems like folly to dive into the same habits of filling up every second that everyone else seems to have. We really think our world would be better if people were able to find joy without having to be eternally busy.

I am not talking about working less or slower, but, rather, how we need to fill our free time. Well, I could go on about this subject for a while, but I will not.

I was intrigued by a book I read about a year ago entitled "How To Live Well Without Owning A Car". The book is about a journalist who ditched his car as a fluke, it broke down and he decided he would just do without until it was fixed, and decided to stay without a car. In it, the author explained how he took care of commuting, running errands, taking trips, dating, socializing, and more, all without a car.

He also cited a 2004 American Automobile Association study stating that the average American spends $8,410 per year (roughly $700 per month) to own a vehicle. that is a big chunk of change. Between your payments, gas and maintenance, how much do you think you spend per month on your automobiles?

We weren't able to figure out how we could do this with our children and with the distance we have to go to get to the grocery. But, it probably would not be impossible. As I mentioned, we do not have as wild of schedules as most people we know, but we still do go plenty of places that would require much more planning and thinking about if we did not have our car. Fortunately, our car is paid for(the whole personal debt thing is another problem), but we still have to pay for gas and maintenance.

So can it be done in Tucson? Here are a couple of articles about people who are moving thataway:

Dump your car for a bicycle or bus? Yep — and here's why

Less is more: Two wheels can be better than four

Friday, August 29, 2008


Here is an article about an earlier post:

Unconventional Baptist churches not shy about sex

the Wave Method of Neighborhood Improvement

Our neighborhood is considered sort of semi prestigious. It was built at the same time by the same builder as the Indian Ridge neighborhood, which was built as a kind of cheaper less exclusive sister of the Tucson Country Club. So, our neighborhood, like Indian Ridge, was initially home to generally professional families of Doctors and Lawyers and that sort of demographic.

Even the the neighborhood is fifty years old, we still have a high ratio of resident home owners, especially compared to other midtown neighborhoods. This ration bodes well for the safety and valuation of the homes.

Still, we have some wild people that come through from time to time.

So, one of the Deputy County Attorney's I met suggests this tactic for most any neighborhood. He calls it the Wave Test. Basically, it consists of waving at the people you see in your neighborhood. This accomplishes a couple of things. First, it makes your neighborhood appear more friendly. Secondly, it generates the impression that you are waving because you expect to know the people driving through your neighborhood.

This also provides some benefits to your neighborhood. People in your neighborhood might wave back, making it actually a little bit friendlier. those that are checking your neighborhood out, either to live there or for other purposes will gather that everyone knows one another and keeps up with who is in the neighborhood. Those that are looking for a friendly community oriented sort of neighborhood might decide to live there, while those that want their deeds to go unnoticed will move along to other areas.

So, wherever you live, you can help out a little bit by waving at folks as they go by. Try it out.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pictures from training

A few pictures from the padded assailant training. Can you even see the bruise on my head?

Kinda sad kinda glad story

I usually don't put my work stories on here. While some of them are very interesting, unusual and even exciting, it doesn't seem prudent. For one, they involve people's personal stuff, like their arrest record. Who wants that on my blog? Sometimes they involve ongoing investigations. Don't want to compromise that just so I can entertain you.

But, last night we had a kinda sad, but kinda glad story that I think I will share.

The Border Patrol received a call that a family of illegal immigrants was stranded alongside the roadway. We were called because it was considered a medical "follow up", as the family had indicated that they were dehydrated and starving.

The four of them; Mom, Dad, and dos hermanas were not only tired, dehydrated and hungry, they were also very distraught because they had lost track of two other sisters that had been traveling with them. They had lost them the night before somewhere in the desert.

Border Patrol Borstar guys, their medically trained search agents responded and we gave the family food, water, gatorade....stuff like that, before Border Patrol took them for processing. We told them we would keep looking for the other two. It would really suck to lose half of your children like that.

At then end of my shift, one of our late shift guys tried to pull over a van that drove away and got stuck in the mud. About twenty people ran off, but four of them stayed behind. I was on my way home, as I was already late, but I decided I would go see if I could help. Who knows, maybe the sisters would be there.

When I got there, I found the four, which included two dehydrated and sick sisters, the same ones we were looking four. When we told them that we found their family and that they were terribly worried about them, they started crying.

I guess it was a good thing I went to see, because everyone else who knew that these two went with the others had already left for the night, so we were able to get them all back together before the night was over.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A New Running Mate for Obama

"Nothing says change like getting an old, white, rich politician as your running mate!"
- From my Dad's friend Doug's Facebook.

Sorry, just thought that was funny.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

About My Dad

I Added this section that has links to some of the posts, notes, blogs and words that people had to say about my Dad. If you haven't yet, take a look at some of them, because I am very proud of him.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Nudity in the Narthex or Sex in September

On Thursday the kids and I joined about 20 other people for a viewing of Star Wars Episode VI, The Return of the Jedi. I have come to appreciate the local library for the programs they put on, like the movies, some upcoming days that focus on various science topics and, my kids favorite, the summer reading program.

I probably get 2/3's of the books I read at the local library, which includes some of the books I mentioned on here. I have to refrain from reviewing all the books I read, because it seems a little silly to mention them all. But, I do try to at least share a bit about ones that I find interesting.

There is currently some sort of proposition in my town about banning pornography on the computers at the library. At the library I frequent, the computers are in the middle of the place, right next to the kid's non-fiction section. I can't imagine that as being a good place to have porno shows.

In other news, several of the Churches in town (at least three that I know of), are using September to focus on sex, sending out mailers and the like to advertise the upcoming focus. A couple are using the XXX Church Porn Sunday thing that is to highlight the problem of pornography in general and the effect it has on the Church. I know it is an important topic to address, but I think part of the idea (since one of the Pastor's I know said as much, so it is at least for one congregation) is to shock people by showing them how much they are so unlike all the other Churches(except for all the other Churches that are doing it) because they can talk about sex in their service, out loud. I still think it is an important topic to address from a Christian perspective, but does it need to be done in a way that shocks?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Things I learned at work this week

1. If you want the police to leave you alone, shooting at guys in my squad is not an effective way of ensuring this outcome. In fact, it seems to have the opposite effect.

2. It is fun to help teach the new recruits how to fight and apprehend people until they realize that, yes, they really are supposed to hit the hard as they possibly can.

3. Even though it takes a long time to get them ready before and clean them afterwards, riding quads really is a good way to spend your work day.

4. Backing the trailers that quads ride in is probably harder than riding the quads. At least I didn't hit anything.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

UpComiNg AcTion

A got a few pictures of the padded assailant training live and in color. I will put a few of them up soon so you can see them.

Oh, I should take a couple of pictures of the bruises and scratches I got so everyone can see how much I have suffered for the cause of training the Law Enforcement officers of tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Trip Up The Mountain

We took a little trip up the mountain today, and here are a few pics. I always kind of go reluctantly, because it seems to be such a long drive to get up there. But, it was actually a pleasant diversion. I definitely recommend going when everyone else is not. We ended up leaving the city at about five pm.

It really could not have been a better contrast. Five o'clock traffic in the city versus five o'clock traffic on the mountain.

My Dad, who died just a week over a month ago now, really enjoyed hitting the mountains. One of the guys that got up to share at his funeral told us how he had been talked into buying a jeep by my Dad, so he could go up the mountains. Then, on his first four wheeling trip, he unexpectedly found my Mom and Dad.

I don't know if it was mostly because of proximity or because it was peaceful and aesthetically pleasing, but my Dad always felt closer to God when he was out four wheeling and in the mountains.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

You'd Think....

I recently overheard a friend of mine say to his wife, "We've been married for ______ years. You'd think by now that you would have figured out the things that bother me and not do them."

I got a good laugh out of that, then I said it to my wife.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Race Reads I Recommend

I recently read a couple of books that outline some of the past failures we have had in this nation in regard to race relations. The first is The Execution of Willie Francis.

Willie Francis was arrested for the murder of a well known pharmacist in St. Martinville Louisiana in 1945. He was convicted entirely on the weight of two confessions, which were obtained by a Sheriff that was investigated by the FBI for beating, harassing and running off black citizens that were getting "sassy", including a school teacher and doctors.

His attorneys made no defense and the jury deliberated for 15 minutes before handing down a guilty verdict. Willie was sentenced to death. The time limit for the appeals passed without his attorneys filing any motions and the date was set.

A poor black kid convicted of murder on a sham trial in the deep south. So far, this story is sadly unremarkable. But it takes an intriguing turn.

When the hungover executioner and his prison trustee assistant throw the switch on the portable electric chair that the state sent to local municipalities in a truck, the current surges through Willie's body. As his body convulses he manages to call out "I am not dying". And he did not.

A year later, after Willie's father finds him an attorney who takes on the case and fights the decision to send him to his death again, Willie is executed in the same chair.

The story was especially interesting to Diane and I as it takes place in St. Martinville and New Iberia Louisiana, where we have visited. St. Martinville is also the home of the Evangeline Oak, known mostly because of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, Evangeline, a Tale of Acadie.

The other book is Buried in the Bitter Waters: the Hidden Story of Racial Cleansing in America. It is an account of twelve counties in the U.S. where, between 1864 and 1923, the entire black community was driven out and the counties today remain almost exclusively white. Many of the communities where this happened have largely forgotten about it as the stories were not passed down from one generation to the next.

Here is an excellent interview with the author, Eliot Jaspin, by the History News Network.

As shocking as it is to me, we still carry the scars of horrific acts that were done in the name of not wanting people with a different skin color and different culture to be be anywhere near us. The home that we purchased in West Sacramento in 2001 had a clause in the CCRs that only Caucasian people could purchase in the neighborhood. The clause was voided, but served as a reminder to me that racism is very real.

I think we still see the remains of racism socially. Do I dare say it remains, as it is still quite real? In any case, much of our lives are still segregated. Churches are still predominately one ethnic group, as are many neighborhoods and other segments of life. And we are all the poorer for it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A couple of Pics

Here are a couple of pics of the wedding of my friends Nick and Amber. Amber just sent some pictures over, so I thought I would share a couple. Of course, they are the ones with me in it. Thanks to Agent and Mrs. Pipes for watching our kids that night so Nick and Amber could get hitched.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Confuseus Say....

I recently heard someone respond to the idea that we have to have illegal immigration because no-one else will do the jobs they do. The response was that we should re-institute slavery, because slaves will do the work that no-one else will, because they have to.

Of course, this is a ridiculous thing to say. But, this argument for illegal immigration is the same argument that was used for slavery. We have to have slavery, because citizens won't do the work that slaves do.

So, think we need to come up with better arguments for why illegal immigration is a good idea, rather than recycling the same old ones that really degrade people that are not like ourselves and show our arrogance in refusing to do anything that we deem beneath our dignity and pay grade.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Joseph and his amazing technicolor.........

Diane reminded me recently of a sermon about Joseph and the necessity of taking in all the bases before you can make it home.

First, Joseph. He had dreams, visions and a calling from God to lead God's people and his family to safety and peace. Joseph was so clear and compelling in sharing his calling with his brothers that it inspired and motivated throw him into a pit and sell him into slavery. Years later, circumstances and a changing heart brought him to a place where he had genuine compassion and care for his family and he was used to save them from famine and lead them to peace and safety.

It seems that it is impossible for us to make it to home plate until we have rounded all the bases, as the sermon told us.

We had a friend who wanted to be a mass crusade evangelist like Luis Palau or Billy Graham. So, he tried to set himself up in mass crusades and was terribly frustrated when he was unable to set up any mass crusade gigs. Didn't God call him to be a mass crusade evangelist? Then why didn't he work out the details?

Sometimes we overlook all the important bases that might take years to round before we can make it home. Moses was called to lead God's people and, after discovering this, led sheep around for decades in preparation.

We've known others that wanted to Pastor a mega church. The focus on this goal led them to ignore and overlook people and their under-developed people skills drove away many that wanted to journey with them.

Like Joesph, it seems that God doesn't care for us leading his people until we care about the people God has called us to lead.

I too have been guilty of what I might call over-focus on the vision. It is easy to do. The vision becomes more important than what the purpose of the vision was in the first place.

I still wonder what God will lead me to in serving him, but I also have learned that it takes some time and some painful things to get to the place where he can use you. Hopefully it doesn't take 40 years.

But, if it does, it is worth the wait.

* cartoons by Henry Martin

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Pet Question

Ecclesiastes 3:21 "Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down to the earth.?"

Ok, I have been asking people about this all week.

I have discovered....some people don't care
some people care deeply.

The question is, "will we see our pets in heaven?".

I got some info about this from Hank Hanegraaf's book resurrection, pages 119 - 122 and from my friend Mike, the Minister.

Hank explores the voices of some others that he knows. He quotes Joni Eareckson Tada in saying, "If God brings our pets back to life, it wouldn't surprise me. It would be just like Him....Exorbitant. Excessive. Extravagant in grace after grace."

He also references, of all people, C.S. Lewis, who posits that pets may be restored in the resurrection.

My friend Mike the minister pointed out a passage in the Old Testament Book of Isaiah, which states that the lion will lay down with the lamb and mentions several other animals in "heaven".

So, basically, my answer to the question as to whether or not pets will be in heaven is, "Who knows? But, Why not?".

I know, not much of an answer for those that were waiting, but it will definitely suffice for those of you that don't care.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I Talked with Balhead Bruce

I just had a chance to talk on the phone with my friend Bruce. Bruce was with me at my second Church Planter's Assessment. A Church Planter's Assessment is a tool that is used to evaluate the skill set that someone has that are commonly shared by successful Church Planter's.

Some of what you need includes:

1) A clear sense of God's call,

2) A visionary leader,

3) A starter/gatherer,

4) Communication skills,

5) Evangelistic Skills

6) Excellent People Skills,

7) Team Building Skills,

8) Church planting skills ..namely, you have learned and understand the basic principles and processes of church planting &

9) Emotional maturity

(These are from The Church Planting Office of the EFCA)

I think Bruce has these skills in abundance, even though the Church's we worked on before didn't work out as the leadership kind of folded on us. That is another story. I will share that with you in the coming weeks.

My next post topic should be the one about the pets. Stay tuned.

Anyways, Bruce is doing good and working in Youth Ministry now. Check him out here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Riders on the Storm

I don't want to blog about whether or not pets are in heaven. I had to turn off the computer because of the storm and now I am tired and have to go to a class on interviewing and interrogating early in the morning.

I did conclude a couple of interviews on the subject and did a bit of reading, so you will have to wait. Anyone have any thoughts on that matter before I begin?

Emily's Poem

Be sure to check out Emily's new poem, "To have a world of your own".

She doesn't blog a whole lot on there, but when she does, they are good ones, in my opinion as her parent.

Also, I recently heard some friends having a conversation about whether or not you will see your pets in heaven. I will address that from the bible, some theologians and my own thoughts late tonight.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

There's bats in the belfry, Part Duex

Perhaps you will recall this post. Well, it happened again.

Not in quite the same way. This time, it was Emily that discovered the creature. Stepped on it, actually. She entered her room in the dark and thought it was just a leaf on the floor. Apparently, it seems perfectly normal to have leaves on her bedroom floor and to step on them.

The thing looked like it had already gotten some attention from the cat and was none too happy. Diane, who speculated that it came in with me at 2:00am after my Thursday night work shift was over, put it in the carport in a box. No, I don't usually bring bats back from the desert, I think they find themselves roosting over our door from time to time. Roosting, is that the proper term, or would it be nesting or shacking up? No, shacking up is something else entirely.

This morning, it looked alive, if not well. So, Diane called the Desert Museum who referred her to some other lady who referred her to Glenda who told her to take it to the Valley Animal Hospital.

Oh, the Valley Animal Hospital is the same place where my buddy's wife took his sick rabbit and a nearby fire led the rabbit to die from smoke inhalation. This led to the first time I have ever heard of a funeral and burial service for a rabbit, complete with a minister that made all the attendees ring a bell at the graveside. But that, I suppose, is another story.

So, now we know what to do with the bats, and are relieved to discover our cat has it's rabies shots up to date and that no one had the thing land on them, which would have been the worst fate of all.

Friday, August 1, 2008

And Another.

Here is another blog about my Dad.

My mom sent it and I wanted to share it.