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I had a wonderful Father’s Day weekend this weekend. I have been rare on the updates again, I’m sorry. I have been working on my creative responses, but they are all still in such a rough form, it will take some work to get them to a publishable form. So until then, here’s my sermon from yesterday, Father’s Day, where I preached to our church for the first time.

I’d love to hear any comments or feedback if you would.



My daughter loves to dance.  If one were to pick a single activity that this almost-two-year-old loves more than any other, I think dancing would top that list.  When she hears any type of music, she can’t help but move to it.  Whether it’s the Hawaiian music at her friend Ty’s baby luau, or the various Putamayo Kids albums we play (not just for kids, btw) or even gettin’ down to Jasan Mraz’s Beautiful Mess (I know, not exactly music for two year olds – she loves it though), she can’t keep her body still when she hears anything even remotely resembling music.

When Ellie dances, she works through a whole repertoire of moves from hip-shakes to little toddler jumps to endless spins.  She looks so happy and proud as she moves around but I notice she looks to us to make sure we notice that she is doing well.  Ellie is not perfect, she has a strong will and doesn’t mind rebelling, but she is definitely innocent.  She dances with all her heart and might because she loves to and because her mommy and daddy see it and encourage her and she is proud of that.  No one has ruined her innocence by telling her she’s bad or she’ll never be a dancer or whatever other ‘realities’ we tell kids, and so she dances with all of who she is.

We adults have a great responsibility to our children.  They are looking at us, watching to see if we notice they are doing something and are trying hard and are having fun.  They are waiting expectantly to hear that they dance or draw or sing beautifully, or that they run fast or build so well, or think so creatively.  Too often we fail them, we give them the truth, when they need encouragement; we give them realities when they need care; we knock them down when we have the greatest chance to build them up.  We have such an important role and we must work hard to build up children when they need it most, and trust that they will realize the realities later (or maybe we’ll realize that those realities really aren’t that important).  I dread the day when someone breaks my little daughter’s heart by telling her she can’t dance, but til then (and probably long after) I will keep watching her dance with a father’s pride, and I will keep telling her how beautifully she dances and I will keep playing the music for her.

I was scanning through my google reader when I saw this recent post by Donald Miller and thought I must share it.  He writes a convicting and thought-provoking blog here and I am challenged by what he says, but I also thought he does a fantastic job of explaining our need for a savior.

I have heard many presentations of the Good News of Jesus Christ in my life and many of them explained the fall in terms that left me unsettled and wanting.  Donald’s explanation here is awesome so I thought I would highlight it (pay special attention to the italicized part, which I added):

We were designed so our identity would be affirmed in a relationship with God. In other words, my feelings of self worth do not come from within me, they come from an external source. That source was supposed to be God. But in the fall of man, that relationship was severed (it had to be as God could not mix or mingle with anything opposing him, not because He is a jerk, but because He actually defines what is good in the first place) and so after the fall, we continue to look for affirmation from an outside source, and that source is each other.

I love the way Miller describes the fall here.  Through my life I have been told that at the fall our sin caused God to punish us with separation from him, which is sort of hard to reconcile when elsewhere the same people say that God loves you and wants to have a relationship with you in Jesus  (why did God mess things up in the first place, I wondered).  When we look at the fall, however, not as our punishment from God, but as the consequence of our sin and our choice, things become clearer.  If God is perfect (and God is perfect), then everything about and around God is also perfect (heaven and such), then it reasons to say they any imperfection (our rebellion and sin) around would disturb God’s perfection.  God’s perfection can’t, in fact, be disturbed and so any imperfection (our rebellion and sin, and therefore us) could no longer be around.  I am reading this parenting book that shows and encourages the parents to show that disciplining a child is not because we are mean, nasty jerks and want to make them suffer with punishment, but because we are loving, responsible parents who are enforcing the boundaries and consequences of their own choices and are providing the clear boundaries and structure we so desperately need.  I think when we understand the fall this way, God is no longer the bad guy(a mean, nasty jerk), God is in fact so good that we can’t even compare, and when we understand that, The Good News is actually Good!  God could no longer bear this separation so God came to us, in the flesh and became like us so that we could be made right! Thanks for sharing this view, Don.

In other news and randomness, The Hawaiian Island Ministries Honolulu 2010 conference starts this evening and I am stoked to be going to it with some of our teens and Annie.  I am especially stoked because The David Crowder* Band is performing a worship concert on Friday night that is sure to be face-meltingly-rocktacular and worshipful.  I will try to post some conference updates as I can.

In further randomness, if any are following along with the shrinking JD, I weighed in today at 247lbs and am stoked to be down 20lbs from the original weight.   I wasn’t able to work out due to sickness, nor was I able to keep up with my lose it due to sickness and laziness and busy-ness due to Annie starting maternity leave.  Hopefully, I will able to get back into those next week.  I am posting this because the conference schedule on Friday runs from 8am to about midnight, not including drive time, so I may not be able to do my normal Friday weigh in and post.

aloha, (ps. we made it through the tsunami) (pps, i like to use the word stoke, I know, you couldn’t tell)

Allright, Don.  I get it.  You’ve made your point clearly to my silly, feeble brain.  There’s something important about story.  It started with a podcast I heard where you taught Mars Hill about how their story was important to their lives.  Then we downloaded this other teaching about it from your website.  Then I read your blog where you kept discussing (in an inspiring way, not as though you were beating a dead horse) about how you were writing this book about letting story guide the way you live your life and showing specific examples from your own life, even putting in parts of the book for we readers to look through and help give feedback on.

Then I read the book.  Wow.  First, I must say, that I’ve loved every book of yours that I’ve read (even those ones you mention that didn’t sell very many, I thought they were still great), but your writing has come of age in a powerful and poignant way.  There were multiple times while reading “A Million Miles in A Thousand Years,” when I was moved to tears.  Somehow your writing has become even more honest and meaningful and encouraging.  Thank you for that and for writing this book .  As I finished the book I found myself nearly shouting to my wife and my friend (we all read it together), “Why has nobody ever said this before!?  Of all the story-writers writing all the stories, knowing what makes a good story and what we people intuitively crave in one, and they only use it to sell their own stories?!  Why has no one else defined a story then challenged we common folk to live stories that we would want to read?!”  I still am a little shocked that this is just now coming out, but I’m glad its you who’ve brought this to us.  I am also glad and thankful that throughout, you point to God, our Writer, and how it’s not about what we do, but about following Our Writer’s Voice.

So to that end, and after reading how you wrote your “New Year’s Goals,” I thought I might reflect on the story I am living and look at what story God might be writing for me and my family.   (To my friends and family: Some of these things you read may be old news, some may seem new and weird/crazy, but the reason I am putting it out there is because I need the accountability in my story, I need some stake in the outcome of my story.  There’s not as much of an incentive to do these things if I don’t have my ten readers in on it, so here we go.)

A chubby, lazy character is not good for anyone, and right now that’s what I am.  I want to be a disciplined, healthy young man to look better for my wife, be in better shape to play with my daughters and students, and to keep my mental health positive by being able to feel good about myself.  You don’t watch a movie and root for the slob, and if an author was describing me in a book I wouldn’t read too far, so I want to change this about me.  My readers already know a bit about this and what it’s doing in my life.  They know my progress and what is happening so I won’t elaborate further.  This goal is also already helping me better manage my time and helping me to get up earlier and better.

I want my daughters to know the blessing of serving God and putting yourself out there.  I want our whole family to get out to the Nehemiah House in the Philippines.  Our church is even taking a trip back there in May; our family can’t afford this and it certainly won’t be easy to fly across the ocean with a newborn and 2 year old, but I feel like this is where God’s leading me.  I understand and believe that this is probably not going to happen this year, it would take a true miracle of God to get us over there 2 months after we have a baby.  It sounds crazy, I know, and I’m not going to push it where it isn’t right, but if God wants it for us, who am I to stand against God; also last year while I was in Cagayan De Oro, Mike told me that the next time I came back, I would bring my wife and kids.  The only thing is, we were not pregnant with baby number two then (and he knew we weren’t pregnant), but maybe he was foreshadowing, who knows?

Don, according to you, a good/sympathetic character wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.  Currently, I think I am living that out as I seek to facilitate relationships with teens and Jesus, but I feel drawn to a more difficult and more self-sacrificing story line.  I feel like God may be asking me to give more of myself.  This is going to sound crazy and out of character and maybe even silly, but I think that it would be glorifying to God to become a lawyer and work to right wrongs and injustices in 3rd world countries and maybe even our own.  Right now, UH Law is very affordable, has an Asia and Pacific discipline and will keep us here in HI a little longer.  This story is going to be really difficult.  Law school is hard and time-consuming.  What I’m looking to do is not going to pay well, and so I must rely on God to find the best way to support my family.  Also the legal profession provides the dangerous lures of self-reliance, pride, greed, and any number of other pitfalls to pull me away from Christ and my family. After all that, though, I think that the story God wants for my life involves those conflicts and dangers and victories.   It probably is no small coincidence that I have been thinking about and praying about this for a while and trying to figure out if it is right, and then I read your book, feel called to a better story, and this idea keeps coming to my mind the whole time I’m reading (it also doesn’t hurt that Bob is a lawyer who works to right wrongs in 3rd world countries, and that he coincidentally mentored one of my best friends while he (Andy) was in college and even got him (again, Andy) excited about this line of work.  Whew, that’s a sidebar!)

Finally, what I think is most important, I want to be the kind of husband and father that a reader would root for, respect and that provides the love and time and care that my wife and daughters deserve.  I don’t think anyone roots for the crappy parent in a movie or novel, and we all get behind those parents who give sacrificially, and really are the parents we want to be.  I figure, why don’t I start being the parent I want to be, and stop thinking about not being the parent I want to be.  To do this,  I need to get past the laziness and sloth that keeps me sitting at home and doing nothing.  I want to take my wife and daughters on fun, cheap, memorable dates and I want us to treasure our time together and the memories that it creates.  This will take great creativity and willpower as I am not normally the type to figure out, plan and enact memorable dates and family outings.  We’re trying for it, and as you say, Don, it’s better for us to try these things and fail gloriously than to do nothing at all.  So thanks again, Don.  You may have been my inciting incident, and my life might never look the same, and I might be the child of God, man, husband, and father that I dream of being, all because you wouldn’t let up on this story business.

It feels like so much is going on in my world right now and the last thing I have time for is writing.  Additionally, I feel like so much of what’s going on has created in me an inability to shape these thoughts cohesively to present to others.  We wrapped up 2009, one of the hardest years I can remember and moved into 2010 with one final crotch-kick from 2009 as Annie, Ellie and I all spent the First week of 2010 cooped up in our house with the stomach bug from hell.  We are recovering now, though it is still taking a long time.  As I previously said, I don’t know how to formulate these coherently so its going to come at you in a sort of bullet-point-stream-of-consciousness form.

  • The disastrous tragedy in Haiti is incomprehensible and has caused so many to question how a “Good God” can allow such tragedy and destruction.  It has also caused some to proclaim God’s judgment and many others to explain why we can still love and trust God in the midst of this, I have been encouraged by the latter and encourage any and all who read to check out some of these links, as well as to be God’s body here on earth to this nation through prayer and compassion giving.  Here’s Ben Wintherington III, Donald Miller/ Mark Stuart, Adam Mclane, and Andrew Jones
  • One of my Christmas presents from Annie was Donald Miller’s most recent book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.  It took me 3 sessions and 3 days to read it.  The book is fantastic and the best he has yet written.  I was moved nearly to the point of tears multiple times and the book’s message has given both Annie (she’s now almost finished it) and me a gut-check that is helping to shape and change the way we live even now.  I don’t want to ruin the book for any who want to read it, but the premise is that if we look at our lives as stories, then we will live them differently.  I highly recommend this book with the caveat that you should not read it if you don’t want to be challenged and inspired (and disturbed, as Rob Bell reviews in the liner notes)
  • Ellie is growing and changing so much.  She has been doing things more and more like a girl and less and less like a baby.  She has become sort-of compulsive about cleaning and now insists on clearing and wiping her own tray after meals and she can regularly be seen wandering around the house with a paper towel or wipe or rag cleaning away.  She’s also talking much more.  She has been babbling and speaking in full sentences to us (in her own nonsensical language), even gesturing and changing her facial expressions while she looks us in the eyes to communicate some great truth.  The the other day, she took it to the next level by speaking her first real, unprovoked, non-parroted sentence; “I like food,”.  This has led way to others, notably today saying, “I(‘m) a baby,” to which I replied, “Ellie, you’re not a baby, you’re a big girl!”
  • My mind has begun wrapping around the idea that we  have two children and particularly two girls, I can’t really express it yet, but I am (and have been) very excited to be a family of four and the father of two girls.  These are uncharted waters for me, I am a guy and grew up in a house full of guys (and my poor sister had to deal with only brothers) and I honestly am about the dumbest guy when it comes to girls.  I don’t understand how they think and other things like that, but I know that God isn’t putting me in too far over my head, so I know it will be good and I will learn a little more about how to understand and relate to girls.
  • With gift money from my last birthday and this Christmas and a little I had saved on my own, I was able to recently buy an electric guitar and amp.  I have had a blast jamming and practicing scales this past week.
  • We are beginning a crown financial ministries study this month with a couple other young couples and our friends the Metcalfs.  Craig has taken these classes and is an instructor so he is graciously leading us through this study that will teach us how to better handle God’s money.
  • It’s an El Nino year and the surf has been so great this whole winter on the north shore.  It has been much bigger than my feeble abilities can handle and everywhere else has been too small for my large size/feeble abilities.  They even ran The Eddie, Quicksilver’s big wave competition at Waimea Bay.  I have had a surf drought and it’s no fun.  I miss the ocean and surfing.
  • My weight loss and workout plan is progressing pretty well after the holiday hiccup and time off for stomach bug.  This has been a good week of workouts and my eating habits have improved (and probably my appetite decreased). I weighed myself Tuesday and weighed 252lbs, which might not sound great but then I realized it means I have lost 15lbs since I started in late September and am about halfway to my goal of 235 (251 is technically halfway).  It has also been great to see some of my strength coming back as I continue to push myself in the weights.  I typically go in an start with 20 minutes on the elliptical, then move on to a fast (45 minute) weights session where I alternate between working back, legs,  shoulders and biceps one day and chest, legs, triceps and shoulders the other, and I finish with a quick but grueling ab workout that takes 5 minutes or less.  The leg and shoulder exercises are very different so I won’t develop overuse injuries.  It has also been fun meeting new people at the Y, as well as seeing more of others that I know from church and from when I coached football.

Well, I think that’s all I have for now, hopefully I can further delve into some of these topics in future posts as I have more time and clarity to do so.  Aloha from Hawaii.

Since I have exited college I have noticed something fairly substantial growing.  It’s my belly and its no good.   I have added about 25-30 lbs to my gut and it is not pretty. Instead of being a sleek and svelte young man like my brother Kenn, I look like a saggy, lumpy man who you would not peg to be physically in his prime.  Over the last few years I have tried to begin running regimes and even tried make sure I was bodysurfing alot in efforts to fix this but they have been to no avail (I think it’s because I am wired to get jazzed about lifting weights – I know, hardcore meat-head – and even while running 3 times a week I wasn’t burning enough calories to change anything and I would get disappointed and bummed when my weight stayed the same and would eventually stop)

In college I had fantastic access to a great gym, fitness center weight room and pool and I made use of all them.  Since leaving college my access has dropped, even though I have lived next-door to the YMCA for the last 2 1/2 years.  We couldn’t afford a membership to the Y, but in January 2009 the Honolulu YMCA instituted its Membership For All program, where every member’s dues are based on their earnings (they also dropped the start-up fee).  Additionally, we paid off some lingering debt this month and per Crown ministries decided to celebrate that.  So we are now members of the YMCA, I again have access to weights, fitness and pool and after a half a week I am already energized and stoked to do this thing.

So that brings me to why I’m writing.  I am going out on a limb and posting my goals and methods here on the blog.  It is a bad time to start this (the holiday season fast approaching, my wife is pregnant with baby number 2 and craves Taco Bell and McDonalds – which I usually have to go get) but I am going for it.  I downloaded the best app ever for my Iphone, its a free app called “Lose it” and it is keeping track off all my numbers and serves as my personal fitness and diet consultant.  This app is seriously awesome for anyone who wants to lose weight or probably even gain weight too.

So as I entered into lose it, I’m a 6 foot, 2 inch, 25 year old man, who weighs 267lbs and wants to weigh 240lbs.  I said I wanted to aim for losing a pound a week so this is projecting my finish date 27 weeks from now in the middle of march, right about when we should be having a baby (you see, terrible timing, but its needed).  Lose it has given me a daily calorie budget of around 2787 and I enter in my daily foods and exercise and it calculates how many calories I take in over the day.

So this is the start, I will post the before picture, and we will move along on this thing.  Its not going to be like the biggest loser, I will define success by losing a pound a week, so it will be pretty boring, but I will keep you updated as we go and  will post an after picture later.  I would add this: any readers who feel like they want to go for this thing too, we can make this into a group project and we can all share our stories together here, so let me know if you are interested.

This past weekend I caught a powerful bug and spent 3 days in my bed. Wondefully, Ellie caught said death-bug just in time to begin her funk as I said aloha to mine. So she has been sick for the past 2 or 3 days and has been miserable. Our family has also, therefore, shared in Ellie’s misery. It has been a rough couple of days and the really sad thing is that she is not being nasty or mean or anything like that, she has just been miserable and we all feel so sorry for her in all this.

Anyway, Ellie was supposed to have her one-year-old appointment at the doctors. I overheard today that this is called a “well baby appointment”. These are the terrible appointments where the babies are checked and vaccinated and kept well, I guess. Apparently they aren’t kidding around about the name. I just also over heard our wife canceling said doctors appointment due to our daughter’s cold.

So I guess nowadays you can’t come to the doctor if you are sick. Unless it’s for a” sick-baby appointment” or something like that. In the midst of my grouchy, sleep-deprived stupor I found this pretty funny.

Well, Elianna is one year old (this is a couple days late). What an incredible year it has been. She is growig so much and is becomming a sweet little girl. When I returned from my trip to the Philippines she started taking her first steps. A month later she walks everywhere. She seriously doesn’t even really even crawl anymore. She just toddles around everywhere. She is talking and communicating more and more. She says words like dad, mom, dog, duck, woof, ok and probably more that I forgot. She also signs pretty effectively signing thank you, more, finished and she’s working on others.

My life has also dramatically changed over the last year. You show me how selfish and impatient I am and can be. You have made me into a father, rather than being just a guy who has a daughter. We are growing together, all three of us. Your mommy, you and I are growing as a family and we love having you in our lives. We love this journey we are on and we can’t wait for all the other things that come. It’s been a great year. Thanks for making it so great.

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…

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