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Even though I don’t have cable or access to any tv programming (outside of our friends the Palmers having us over to watch some shows)  I try to keep up with some sports stuff through, and one of the columns I really like is their Tuesday Morning Quarterback or TMQ.  I was reading this week’s article and noticed a little something about a congressionally-mandated-mpg-standard.  I really think Eastbrook’s take on the situation has razor sharp wit that penetrates our government’s ridiculous love affair with oil (and the lobbyists putting money in their pockets).  Anyway, I try to stay away from politics in this blog because I honestly don’t know much about them nor do I care enough to know much.  I feel this issue transcends politics, though; as a Christian who is called to be a steward and caretaker of God’s creation, that means that we are about taking care of not only people, but the earth God has given to us.

I love that people are waking up and realizing we need to take care of the world, and I love that Christians are championing the cause.  I hope our voting public makes a stand on this little problem and calls our leaders to hold up their decision.  Hope this wasn’t too heavy handed, but when it comes to the environment, I get my feathers all ruffled up.  Thanks for indulging me and please pay no mind to the random cheerleader pic in the article.  The specific section is a little more than halfway down the article and is titled More on Mileage and Politics“. If you like football and have time, go ahead and read the rest of the article, he says some funny things, even about UCLA’s high-school-jv caliber performance against a good BYU team (I give BYU all the credit, they played great; they were faster and stronger and more explosive than our beloved bruins).  Click here for the link if you havent yet.


This week was such a huge and wonderful week of milestones in our world.  We have seen so much happen; Annie has come back to work and this was her first week teaching high school sunday school by herself (which Ellie celebrated by having a blowout poop in a cloth diaper for her Aunti Stephanie!).  Anyway, to start earlier in the week, we hit some milestones in the beginning of the week when we we hit the milestone of great surf returning to Hawaii’s south shores and tha meant awesome surf that I was able to catch on Monday and Tuesday (AWESOME and BIG, and the first swell since father’s day).

Then, we saw the most amazing this on Thursday night.  Ellie loves to be swaddled and she usually can’t fall asleep without it, however, thursday night, I put her down in bed and she fell asleep unswaddled.  Now mind you, she had totally waken up from a diaper change and her nightly goodinght moon reading, but she totally fell asleep unswaddled!!!!! It is so exciting for us that she is doing this, and she has continued doing it most of the nights since then.

Thursday night was also incredible because it was the first time Ellie rolled over from her back to her stomach!!!!  So this was all in the same night, and we were so excited!!! we loved seeing our little daughter unswaddled, in footed-onsie pajamas, and rolled over onto her stomach.  We love it!!!  well, thats about all for the updates, more to come soon…

Well, the other day I finished reading William P. Young’s The Shack and I have been trying to figure out what I would write about in a review for it.  I mean this book is almost as talked about as The Purpose Driven Life was at its peak (except blogs are much more popular now, so probably more is written about The Shack- all you have to do is google the title).  This book  elicits all ranges of responses from readers, the subject is at once heavy, beautiful, incomprehensible, wonderful and funny.  The book’s theology breaks out of modern theology’s box and  many claim it is too liberal, even heretical in the way that God is presented specifically not white and male, and others cite the book’s irreverence toward Christian culture as another picking point.

I personally have read many reviews of this book that pick it apart.  They criticize the editing, the story’s resolution, and just about anything else you could possibly nit-pick.  I personally don’t see the benefit of random bloggers picking apart a best-selling novel, so I will mention my reactions and one part of the story I particularly loved.

I will preface by saying that I have a hard time getting into things that are popular, especially things that are popular in Christian culture, however, I really loved this book.  It is sad, beautiful, and joyful; it’s a picture of God’s love for humanity, of divine restoration; and it’s a great view into God’s big picture.  I Love that in this book God has a sense of humor, loves to cook, garden, and work with his hands.  I love that time and again the book shows God’s beauty amidst deep sadness; either through brilliant, glory-filled flashes or soft, quiet glimpses, Young reveals God’s redemptive heart in the middle of terribly sad situations.  I will say that this book made me cry quite a few times, but when it did, there were always combined tears of sadness for the situation and joy for God’s healing and love for us.

I will also say that I love how this book works to break our perceptions of God as a white male, because truthfully, the bible shows us that God is spirit, and that both male and female are created in their (to quote the Genesis plurality) image.  God is the story clearly states that he/she can appear in any form the man needs, but doesn’t ever claim to be anything more than the omnipotent creator of all and intimate pursuer of our souls.

As for the editing, I had been tipped to it and barely noticed it because that’s not the point.  Their were a couple times when I felt the story got a little slow because the mind bending discussion of the incomprehensible continued on a little long, but that does not change the fact that I really did enjoy this book.  I also wanted to quote a passage that I really feel like Young hit on the head, and that I think modern Christian culture merely glosses over, namely God’s place in The Cross Event.  It seems like so often we Christians talk about God giving his only son as a perfect, sinless sacrifice; we also talk about God’s need for a sacrifice in light of God’s impenetrable righteousness, goodness and holiness (in short, God is 100% holy and good; evil and sin cannot even be near God, so sins must be covered by sacrifice).  Christians frequently discuss God requiring the sacrifice for us to be restored to God, but we mentally omit the fact that we claim Jesus to be fully God.  I’ll let Young take it from here…

“How can you really know how I feel?” Mack asked, looking back into her eyes.

Papa didn’t answer, only looked down at their hands  His gaze followed hers and for the first time Mack noticed the scars in her wrists, like those he now assumed Jesus also had on his.  She allowed him to tenderly touch the scars, outlines of a deep piercing, and finally he looked up again into her eyes.  Tears were slowly making their way down her face, little pathways through the flour that dusted her cheeks.

“Don’t ever think that what my son chose to do didn’t cost us dearly.  Love always leaves a significant mark,” she stated softly and gently. “We were there together.”

I love Young’s discussion of this.  So often we paint God to be angry, needing our sacrifice to restore us back to God.  We say God required the sacrifice and Jesus lovingly and willingly filled it.  We forget though, that (as John’s Gospel tells us) Jesus was with God, and is himself God.  We forget that the one willingly dying on the Christ and rising again three days later is the very God we worship as creator of the universe.  We don’t make the connection that God is that beautiful, compassionate God who will literally break the rules so that we can live eternally in relationship with God.  We miss out on that sweet, loving aspect where the holy and righteous creator of everything breaks all the rules, willingly taking on sin and pain and hurt, all so we simple sinful humans can live forever in relationship with that very God.

Anyway, enough of my yammering, I will say that I loved the book, am thankful of Young’s work and the refreshing picture of God it presents. I absolutely recommend reading The Shack, though you should keep the tissues close by and get ready to put aside the box you may have mentally placed God in.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!! This post is going to be as mushy as an old banana, but I love my wife so this is for her.  I have been thinking these things for a while and wanted to write about it right after Elianna was born, but as I kept working on it and it got later, I realized it could be a love letter on Annie’s 24th birthday.  So here it is…


It’s really hard to put into words the admiration, love and respect that a husband develops for a wife through the process of childbirth but I will try.  To do that though, we must start earlier, when our love was new.  Annie, I think about how I definitely loved you before we were married but somehow, after we got married, my love seemed to grow and I loved you more than before.  It’s not that I loved you less while we were dating and engaged, I loved you fully, but I think marriage increases our capacity to love.
One cool thing about this process of marriage, of two lives becoming one, is that over the course of our marriage, my love for you has increased gradually.  As we spend time being married and we remain focused on Christ, somehow our union draws us closer to Christ’s spirit and each other.  As I set out to daily love you, my Sweet Peach, as Christ loved the church, my capacity for loving increases.  Anyway, I can safely and confidently tell you that I am absolutely more in love with you now than when we got married, but something amazing happened when you gave birth to our daughter.
I said before that this process of me loving you more and being able to love you more felt like a gradual thing that is occurring over the course of our relationship, but when you gave birth to Ellie, I felt a deep, tangible jump in my love for you.  It’s hard to describe in words, the whole event was surreal; I just remember feeling blown away by the literal miracle I was watching.  The fact that you brought a full little person to life is incredible itself, but on top of that you did it naturally and that is mind-blowing.
You allowed that pain into your life for this girl and it was clearly great pain that I won’t know.  I can really see this wild difference in your life now, you are so much more confident, you are even more selfless, and seriously more Christ-like.  I know it sounds silly and trite, but I was and am so proud of you for laboring and birthing without medicine, you are incredible (and a stud – this note is not even going into how much tougher it became from induction).
It’s funny how we were talking about and listening to “Love Grows Love” from Caedman’s Call’s Overdressed at the Palmer’s The song talks about a married couple and how their love grows more love, and when we heard it I couldn’t help but get giddy, because this is exactly what I have been thinking through lately.  I look at our relationship and how our love has grown for each other over the years, but also somehow, illogically, that love has increased our capacity to love each other, and it even flows outward, increasing our capacity to love others.
I guess my point is how I have noticed this process, but when you birthed Elianna, I felt a real outpouring of my love for both you and her.  I didn’t know I was able to, and I sure don’t always act like it, but with Ellie’s birth, my life is changed and my love is grown in a continual process.  Annie, I love you and am so thankful for your presence in my life.  You are a foundation for me, you make me gentler and you certainly make me better.  I am so proud of the woman and mother you are and are becoming.  I can clearly and confidently see God’s blessings and gifts unfolding as we live this life that is truly life.  I thank God for you, and I love our quest to live in the moment; to forsake expectations and simply enjoy the wild ride God has us on.
Happy Birthday Sweet Peach,
I love you

Monday was an awesome day of rest, Annie and Jess hung out in the morning scoring 5 dollar t-shirts at Old Navy, and so Sean and I spent the morning relaxing and enjoying Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs. and Hangin’ out with the boys, Kana and Nakoa.  Our church scheduled a labor day picnic from 3-7 pm at the beach and we were excited about it.  The only problem, however is that the UCLA-Tennessee game was scheduled for a 5pm Pacific start time, which translates to a 2pm start time here in the Aloha State. No worries though, Sean and jess have a lifetime tivo (they got it when it first came out and now have tivo as long as that little box works; genius!).  So we tivo’d the game with the plan to watch it that night. And we did, and it did not dissapoint.  All who watched raved about how great the game was, the score flopped back and forth and when UCLA scored within the final two minutes, I thought it was over and we put our very tired daughter into her car seat.  But wait, we went into over time and loved it and the Bruins came out victorious, the underdog victors in new Coach Rick Neuheisel’s first game (and our daughter’s for that matter).  We stayed up late for it and it did not disappoint.   The Neuheisel era has begun and we do love our Bruins.  U-C-L-A! Fight! Fight! Fight!

This post is a very long time coming.  I finished this book by Nathaniel Hawthorne a couple of weeks ago, but have been a little busy, and have been a little lazy so here is my dime review of The House of The Seven Gables.

This was my first full reading of a Nathaniel Hawthorne book; in high school I think we read The Scarlet Letter for a class but I don’t think I read all of it.  I was supposed to read this book in a class during my senior year of college, and I never even bought the book, but really enjoyed our class discussions so I got it and figured I would give it a go.  I found the story to be a little slow at first, as there was much detailed exposition, and I personally have a little bit harder time getting into the wordiness of Hawthorne-era literature.  Once the story picks up a bit, though, it is pretty gripping.  The story is suspense filled, even to the point of feeling like a ghost story, though the existence of ghosts within the story is never confirmed by the narrator.

The romance weaves its way through various centuries and between reality and myth (within the story’s fictional framework, of course) following the Pyncheon and Maule families and their intertwining history all based around the property on which Seven Gabled House sits.  The house’s deteriorating state mirrors that of the Pyncheon line, and the current Pyncheon, Cousin Jaffrey is shown to be a reincarnation of the original evil Colonel Pyncheon, the insatiably land-hungry father of the Pyncheon line. The story’s imagery works pretty well and it makes connections throughout the book to draw in the reader.  There are emphases placed on generational sins passed down, as well as the reality of the mystical and/or spiritual world.

The story was a great read, Hawthorne’s writing gradually pulls the reader in and as the story climaxes it becomes nearly impossible to put down.  It is a fun, classic, American romance and I really enjoyed reading it.  And this was my super-quick-psuedo-review of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of The Seven Gables.

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