Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Origins Experience: Looking Foward, Looking Back

In just a few hours, Aaron (our worship/youth pastor) & I take off for sunny Southern California to participate in The Origins Experience, a "conference" led by the folks at Mosaic. My plan is to blog about this (a) from Aaron's laptop while we're there, and (b) when I get home.

Yeah, they'll be plenty of time for play: we're going to a Dodgers game and plan on hanging out at least one night with some of my gamer buddies... but I don't expect this to be a "comfortable" experience - despite my profound respect for Erwin McManus & Eric Bryant & all the folks at Mosaic. I expect this to be a challenging experience, as I struggle with allowing the Spirit of God to fan the flames of my calling into ministry and as Aaron & I use this time to connect deeply as friends & compatriots in the work of the church. Stuff like that doesn't happen easily.

Here's part of a summary I wrote 3 years ago about The Origins Experience 2004.

The Origins Experience is not your typical ministry/leadership conference - this is not about process or programs or strategy or structure. Practical teaching (how-to's) were primarily found in the breakout sessions.

Instead, the focus of the Origins Experience is on the issues of culture, community & spiritual passion.


  • What endeavor could we undertake that would be so reflective of the heart of God that even failure would be success?
  • Are you managing or catalyzing?
  • Are you leading from biblical or business principles?
  • Are you leading from a spiritual center or a strategic center?
  • Are you more like an architect, designer, or artist? How do you grow in all three?
  • Are you leading up to the level of real turbulence (but leaving the real battles unfought)
  • Are you hearing the voice of God... or is your Christianity a series of rumors about God?

Powerful Quotes

  • It is significant that the history of the first-century church is called the book of Acts, not the book of truths.
  • If those who prepare for leadership are looking for the safe place, who will lead the church into the dangerous places?
  • The ultimate goal of American Christianity should not be to make us good citizens, but to make us revolutionaries in the cause of Jesus Christ.
  • It's hard to believe that a movement born of visionaries and dreamers would have dominantly known for its traditions and rituals.
  • We have put so much emphasis on avoiding evil that we have become virtually blind to the endless opportunities for doing good.
  • I know this may sound like heresy, but it is more important to change what people care about than to change what they believe.
  • If we can do it without God, it doesn't count.
  • If our hearts don't burn for unsaved people, there is not much evidence of us being a church.
  • Human beings are far more environmental than they are informational. Spiritual leaders are called to create environments.
  • The battle is not about style or structure. It's about infusing the values of God. Which begs the question: does the value system of your community reflect the values & passions of Jesus Christ?
  • You've got to be willing to lose your job in order to do your job.
  • My job is not to feed the sheep, it's to make people hungry for God.
  • The limit of leadership is who you are in the presence of God.
  • You must become the person you long for your congregation to be.
  • Non-negotiable: if in fifteen years, my kids have left the church, but I love it, I have failed. On the other hand, if they are still a vital part of the church, but I hate it, I've succeeded.
  • The Gospel came to you on the way to someone else.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Gulf Games 18: Friday (Part 2)

I started writing this back in August of 2006... about a month after Gulf Games 18. Then it got shuffled to the bottom of the virtual pile of "to be written" stuff on my virtual desk. So, some 8 months later, here it is. Sheesh.

My Gulf Games Friday continued with a "GG-only" game - Pick Two. (By GG-only game, I mean a game that I only end up playing at Gulf Games.) Pick Two is a bit of a Gulf Games institution, what with Gail Schloesser & Vicki Watson both being "word sharks"... and it doesn't hurt that the game easily accomodates 6 players (or 8 with the new deluxe edition). This was my opportunity to play a game with Cassie Berg & her "friend", Adam - as well as Bill Hembee, Kevin Rozmiarek, and the shark herself, Gail Schloesser.

Pick Two is a real-time crossword game - you get 8 letter tiles to begin, quickly attempting to fit them into a crossword-like format. The first person to do so howls out, "Pick two!" and everyone at the table grabs two more tiles from the pile in the middle. Of course, unless you've set yourself up correctly, these tiles may do more harm than good, as they must be fit into the grid as well. This goes on, usually for 5-10 minutes, with cries of "Pick two!" followed by grumbling, moaning, and an occasional "whoo-hoo" as the right tile falls into someone's lap. When the tiles are exhausted (not to mention the players), the first person to finish calls "Done!" and play stops. The game is scored based on the tiles you didn't use - each tile has a point value. You play 5 rounds (I think?) and the lowest score wins.

This was an esp. good Pick Two GG for me, as I not only won this game over Gail (thanks to her drawing both Q's in the final round) but I also managed to win in an 8 player game later on Saturday, this tim with BOTH Vicki & Gail at the table. (My discovery - there are two odd words that are very helpful in Pick Two: "queue" and "valve".)

Possibly the least successful gaming experience of Gulf Games followed my euphoric Pick Two win: I talked five other folks into playing Fat Messiah's
Lifeboat. Note: this is NOT what many Eurogamers call "the Lifeboat game" - that's actually Rette sich wer kann (which is also about lifeboats & negotiation, but is a completely different animal.) This is a role-playing card game, with each person taking on one of six preset characters: the Captain, the First Mate, Sir Stephen, Lady ?, Frenchie & The Kid. Players are also dealt a Love card & a Hate card - at the end of the game, they are rewarded for the character they "love" being alive and the character they "hate" being dead... and yes, there are rules for if you love or hate yourself - or both.

Normally, this game is a boatload of silly fun... but something weird went wrong here. Despite the joys of playing something like this with Craig Berg, James Miller & others, it fell completely flat. And when I say "flat", I mean like a pancake that was crushed underneath a brick that was then leveled by a steamroller. I won - but, youch, we managed to create negative fun space in the room.

We quickly jumped over to play a hard fought match of Tumblin' Dice, where I snaked out a 7 point win over Craig. (If you've seen Tumblin' Dice, you realize that this had very little to do with skill.)

I'm not sure how the transition worked, but I found myself invited into a 6 player game of Iliade (the English version is Iliad.) With six players, you play in partnerships, so I was matched up with Dale Yu against the teams of Alan Moon/Valerie P & John P/Tyler P.

Ilide reminded me a bit of Taj Mahal in trying to decide when to drop out & take points and/or cards - but the partnership aspect helped to keep some of the "futility of hope" sentiments I feel during Taj Mahal at bay. (Others say it reminds them of Condotierre, which I've only played once and didn't particularly enjoy.) I don't think I'd buy a copy of Iliade... but I'd gladly play it again.

Dale & I made a valiant effort to catch up standing on John & Tyler, but it was to no avail. Alan & Valerie had built too much of a lead.

My notes become a bit iffy here... I think I ate dinner around this time. I know this was the same afternoon that the storm came roaring down the river - one minute you could see downtown Louisville across the Ohio (it is the Ohio River, right?!) and the next minute the rainstorm was blowing so hard that the city was gone. I mention this primarily because living in Fresno, I miss summer storms. Heck, I miss summer rain - it dries up in late May & we don't see another drop until late October.

And then, whatever I ate & wherever I went, it was back to the gaming. I had the privilege of playing Volle Hutte, a game I was introduced to at my first Gulf Games (GG2/Panama City Beach). I don't remember which bar I had (I'm usually partial to the Black Pig) but both Matt Albritton & Theresa Vander Ark managed to attract more paying custormers than I. (Thankfully, the other Vander Arks in the game - Dave & Sam - were eating my dust. Esp. Dave... whose score was 1/2 of Sam's!)

Then came a game of Expedition with the newest version of the game: the National Geographic edition. Imagine my surprise when we found that the rules were different and so was the map. My memory is very fuzzy on the rule changes - it'd be nice if someone did a comparison over on the Geek - but I do remember being irritated by them. Curt won, with me only 2 points behind him. Doug & Shelly, Rob Wood & Anne were also a part of the fun.

Next up was a personal favorite, Viva Pamplona. This "running of the bulls" game is lots of fun, and playing it with a Gulf Games crew (Elaine, Larry, Dennis, John P & Peter) only makes it better. I stayed in the middle of the pack, with John playing the coward (11 pts!) and Larry taking the win (37 pts).

Somehow I ended up with the Atlanta contingent at this point in the evening... not that that's a bad thing, but the final four games of the night all involved one or more folks from down Georgia way. The "Peachtree Street" (there are, btw, 17+ Peachtree streets in Atlanta) gaming began with Around the World in 80 Days - the new one. (The older one by Wolfgang Kramer is very good as well - I'd recommend folks give it a try. In fact, you could make an entire night of "around the world" gaming, what with the Krismus card game & Parker Brothers The Magnificent Race.)

I think my only real beef with Around the World in 80 Days is how many times the blue "reshuffle" cards mess over my carefully laid plans... but that's a randomness that you can foresee, so I'm not sure it's a problem with a game. We played with five players (Jack, Jim, Anne & Maria) and the order of finish was very interesting:
  1. Me (77 days)
  2. Maria (84 days)
  3. Jim (66 days)
  4. Anne (78 days)
  5. Jack (DNF)

As you can see, my early finish was eclipsed by Jim's superior use of time - a feature I really like about this game. (It's also one of the things I love about Jenseit von Theben... which is coming out in English in time for my birthday, people - hint! hint!)

I was then initiated into the cult of Gemblo... dang, that's a weird-shaped box & a very large board. I'm pretty good at Blokus, and some of the same skills (recognizing spatial patterns) are essential in this game as well, so that translated into a win for me against players with more experience. (Note: I also got lucky I wasn't getting messed with - another vital "skill" in Blokus.) It's a little harder to see the patterns in this one, but it's still enjoyable. I think the real attraction of Gemblo is that it will play well with 3, 4 or 6 players, whereas Blokus is really only good as a 4 player game (or 2 player with the travel edition). Jack was only one gem behind me, followed by Peter & Maria tied, Mike Green, and finally Anne.

Then the Atlanta crew introduced me to Dancing Dice... a game I liked enough that I've since picked up my own copy. It's a dice game with no down time - amazing! - but it does have a "arrange your dice in secret" element that would make me nervous playing with people I don't know. (The ability to cheat is pretty much unlimited.) Anne went from worst (Gemblo) to first here, outlasting Warren, Shana, Jeanette & myself.

Finally, we played another game of Pizza Box Football... this time Warren & Sheldon (I _think_ it was Sheldon?!) led the Patriots to victory over Curt & I playing the hapless Bills. We were just behind by 3 point lead at halftime that turned into a 13 point lead by the end of the 3rd quarter... but, because the dice in this game HATE ME WITH A PASSION THAT MAKES TELENOVELLAS LOOK LIKE A STEPHEN WRIGHT COMEDY GIG, we managed to score 13 points in the fourth quarter and still lose 43-33. Sigh. (Good thing I enjoy the experience, because I think I've only won one game of this EVER.)

With that defeat, I trundled off to bed.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Required Reading

They like Jesus...

Winston: Hey Ray. Do you believe in God? Ray: Never met him. Winston: Yeah, well, I do. And I love Jesus's style, you know. Ghostbusters (1984)

...but not the church:

Christians are hard to tolerate. I don't know how Jesus does it. Bono

I hate when people do stuff like what I'm doing right now: "If you read one book this year, make it this one." (Actually reminds me of a great Steve Taylor quote from the advertising from I Predict: 1990: "If you buy one album this year, buy mine too.") I tend to ignore it on purpose... as if to say, "Obviously you are in throes of some kind of mania and need to be brought down a couple of notches."

Look, I'm not condoning my behavior - I've managed to miss plenty of very good books, movies, albums & games this way. (If it wasn't for the kind persistence of Matt, I'd have missed Yspahan with this kind of dumb-butt snobbery.)

So, when I tell you that every person in leadership in a Christian church ought to read Dan Kimball's new book, I don't want you to blow me off. Go pick this up & let it mess with your head & heart. Give it the chance to burrow under your defenses & get you thinking about what kind of impressions those of us who call ourselves Christ-followers leave with the way we "do church."

This may sound odd, but quite honestly, I don’t blame people in our emerging culture for what they think about us. If I weren’t a church leader or if I weren’t friends with Christians who really are following Jesus in a loving and balanced way, I would probably judge Christians and Christianity based on what I could see from the outside. And it isn’t a pretty picture.

Based on outside observations of Christians, there’s no way I would want to become one of them. I wouldn’t want to become an angry, judgmental, right-wing, finger-pointing person. I wouldn’t be saying that out of rebellion against God or the church; I would simply conclude that from observations of Christians and from not wanting to change into something I wouldn’t want to be like. Dan Kimball, They Like Jesus But Not The Church

Snark & Superiority

I will take the blame/heat for getting my wife & I hooked on Survivor. Shari was going to a Thursday night Bible study and I was putting Braeden to be each night right around 8 pm. After doing a couple of quick chores, I found myself with 20 minutes or so before CSI was on, so I'd crank up the TV early and catch the immunity challenge & tribal council of Survivor.

In other words, I wasn't really watching it... I was just catching a little bit "accidentally". But it was the season of Tom and Stephanie and of getting Pagong'd... and by mid-season (about the point that poor little Pagong won the jellyfish reward) I was hooked.

Shari's the one who got us started on The Amazing Race... it was one of those "nothing interesting is on but we need the brain-dead embrace of the cathode ray tube" nights. So, we managed to catch a passle of contestants thrashing about Russia, drinking shots off of swords & trying to eat a stinkin' pound of caviar. We missed a few episodes after that... then started watching the last few episodes of that season (we loved Chip & his wife!). The rest is history.

Steve & Shane Oakley are to blame for American Idol... Shari visited Nashville in January of 2006 and was sucked into their weekly routine of watching the auditions. Of course, she brought it home with her. (Granted, I'm like a TV show addiction magnet, so it didn't have trouble taking hold at our house.)

Which leads me to TWOP, which I will now blame for making me "superior" to my reality TV shows. Television Without Pity is a recapping website that manages to snarkily comment on a number of television shows.

So, when I booted up my computer this morning, it was fun to find the following in the recaplette from last night's American Idol:

Tomorrow: two hours of celebrities pretending to care, plus Bono, who invented the concept.

I'll be there... but that's dead on.

Quickly, some more TWOP highlights from the last week of TV:

Mirna happily claims in an interview that she and Charla have coined a new phrase: "Yield karma." Don't tell them that they didn't coin it; you'll just make her sad, and she'll start begging for mercy in that charming accent. Mirna then cranks up her disappointed-playground-supervisor voice as she says, "There's really no reason to resort to dirty play, like the beauty queens." I have to respect Mirna's persistence and imperviousness to outside influence, given that she is the only person who came on the race this time who had a very bad reputation last time and managed to be much worse about absolutely everything. This is really all her "criminals, criminals" stuff from Season 5 all over again, which means she watched her entire season and never once cringed at herself. That takes a certain kind of resilience that most people lack. I mean, she's now managing to be morally outraged about things that literally have nothing to do with her. At any rate, Mirna says they're going to use "the muscles," then points to her head and says, "This muscle here is the one we try to use the most." She says this with absolutely no sense of irony, which is what makes it comic genius. It's like indignantly declaring, "I'm going to use my B-R-A-N-E." Amazing Race 11:9

Over at Ravu, Alex brings back the same message, rather nauseatingly addressing his tribe as "horsemen." As in, "Greetings, horsemen." "Ahoy, horsemen." "Does this tank top make me look feminine at all, horsemen?" I always wonder, when people use the "four horsemen" reference, whether they are aware of what the four horsemen actually are, and that the next logical question is which one of you is the Antichrist. They're not the four horsemen of the Greenwich Hunt Club, nitwits. Survivor 14:9

Important safety tip: TWOP uses language that is PG-13 or better/worse (you be the judge), so consider yourself fairly warned.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Soundtrack of My Life: Steve Taylor

The year was 1983, and I was a sophmore at Baylor University when Steve Taylor came to town. Of course, I had no idea who he was - and it wasn't like it was a concert or anything. He was actually the director for a tour of the Jeremiah People. (I was a big fan of the Jeremiah People - they were a drama & music ministry that did thoughtful, interesting & very funny things, primarily targeting the foibles of churches & cultural Christianity.)

During the intermission, he hawked his new EP, "I Want To Be A Clone." Steve explained that this was music adults wouldn't like... and the rest, as they say, is history.

I picked up a copy of the cassette for four bucks (I think - that was 23 years ago!) and listened to it so many times I nearly wore the electrons off the tape. Steve was not only exploring the New Wave sound, he was writing incisive, sarcastic & funny lyrics about Christianity and the church. It was like I had permission to ask tough questions about the faith I'd grown up in - that the culture I was a part of could be questioned & examined & poked fun at... without throwing away my faith in Jesus Christ.

So now I see the whole design my church is an assembly line the parts are there I'm feeling fine I want to be a clone

I've learned enough to stay afloat but not so much I rock the boat I'm glad they shoved it down my throat I want to be a clone

Everybody must get cloned "I Want To Be A Clone"

Thankfully, he didn't stop there. Steve Taylor & Some Band went on to record 4 more brilliant albums, full of the same kind of odd ("Am I In Sync?"), saracstic, ("I Blew Up The Clinic Real Good"), funny ("Drive, He Said"), insightful ("Hero"), angry ("Baby Doe") and stunning ("Jim Morrison's Grave") songs as the first EP.

Along the way, Steve managed to attract all kinds of controversy... you don't write this kind of music without stepping on some toes. (Imagine a cross between Randy Newman, the Clash & Billy Graham - that may get you close to the musical stylings of Steve Taylor.) He released, as far as I know, the first MTV-like Christian music video ("Meltdown (at Madam Tussaud's)"), and the first really cool concert film ("Limelight", filmed live at Greenbelt).

Of course, for a "good Christian kid" (that's me!), I loved the fact that he was theologically solid... but dangerous. Kind of "rebellion lite", if you know what I mean. Listening to Steve's music forced me to think about the implications of what I said I believed... while rocking to some very inventive music that didn't sound like anything else I knew.

Anyway, the early 90's brought about a new phase in Steve's career: a "super-group" of Nashville studio musicians who were all followers of Christ - and felt called to follow Christ into creating a great rock'n'roll band that actually talked about deep stuff. The group, Chagall Guevera, released one album & one video ("Violent Blue") and then sunk into oblivion. This, sadly, despite the fact that the album was critically acclaimed. (One of the privileges of living in Nashville was getting to see amazing live shows... and so Shari & I got to see the last live performance of Chagall Guevera at the Mark Heard tribute concert in 1992.)

A couple of years later, Steve recorded his final studio album, "Squint", which even 13 years later is still one of the best albums in my collection. From the goofy rock opera that closes the record ("Cash Cow") to the overwhelming testimonial power of "The Finish Line", this album doesn't have a weak cut. My youth group even made our own Nashville-based video of "Bannerman" and sent a copy to Steve. (His reply to us: "You guys have a great future in film and/or jail" still cracks me up.)

There was a final live album entitled "Liver" - and yes, you can pronounce it either way: lie-ver or liv-er. The live versions of "Hero" & "I Want To Be A Clone" are incredible... and the video for "On The Fritz" is still one of the most stunning music videos I've ever seen.

Steve has gone on to move into other roles in the industry - it was his label, Squint, that broke Sixpence None The Richer into the mainstream market and introduced the world to the one-album wonder that was Burlap To Cashmere. (Yes, I know they had a live album as well. Don't e-mail me.) He played a major role in helping both the Newsboys & Guardian make some of their best music ever. Most recently, he's been directing films & music videos.

Sadly, the last bit of new music was a couple of "guest" cuts on the Roaring Lambs album and on Charlie Peacock's Full Circle collection. (You'll see more of Charlie in a later "Soundtrack" post.) Sigh.

For those of you Stevey-Come-Latelies, you can check out the links throughout this post (thanks to the magic of YouTube, a lot of his videos are available online) or you can purchase his greatest hits collection, Now The Truth Can Be Told. (It's a 2 CD set that comes with a very nice commentary/lyrics book in a handsome slipcover... featuring the snowball throwing polar bears that lived only a few miles from us in Nashville.)

Disneyland Resort: Christmas 2003 (Thursday)

Days like today (the fourth day of our visit to the Disneyland Resort) is why you spend 5 days here - this was a "clean-up" day as we had the opportunity to ride a number of rides again and take in some new rides & experiences that we had previously missed.

It's also a good argument for the Park Hopper tickets which allow you to jump from park to park. ("Regular" tickets are good for only one park per day.) While this is pretty important in California, it is vital at Walt Disney World (Florida), what with four different theme parks to be enjoyed.

Mad Tea Party: By now, every time we walk by the tea cups (they sit at an intersection between "flying Dumbo" and the Matterhorn), Braeden has me check to see if the line is short so we can ride them. It is, and we do. Thankfully, he still hasn't figured out that rotating the disc in the middle of the cup makes it spin.

Dumbo: Shari finally gets to ride Dumbo with Braeden - and I get the chiropracter-inviting joy of flying in the elephant in front of them to try & get a picture. (Which, as you can see above, actually worked pretty well.)

Storybook Land Canal Boats: Remember, Braeden has been checking out Monstro the Whale (the entrance area for Storybook Land) since Monday night - and as you can see by the picture to your right, it's pretty scary. Of course, I am completely behind my son on this one, as one of my most traumatic memories of Disneyland as a kid was going through Monstro's jaws.

Anyway, we finally talk Braeden into this... and as we leave the dock, he starts to weird out a bit. (Again, look at the picture. If you were 2.5 years old, this would pretty much look like your parents had lost their ever-loving minds, right?!) Shari managed to calm him down by engaging him in an extended conversation about Monstro's dental hygiene: "I bet Monstro brushes his teeth every day to keep them this white. Do you see any dirty teeth?"

Once we're through the whale, Storybook Land is actually a very sweet boat ride past detailed miniature houses from a variety of Disney films. Since it's the Christmas season, some of them have tiny Christmas decorations & trees... cool.

It's A Small World: This time, Braeden is narrating his favorite parts of "the doll house"...

Minnie's House: Since we didn't get to meet Minnie when we were in Toontown earlier, we went by her house again & got a family picture with her. Braeden, even at 2 & a half, is showing a "boy" level interest in a girl character.

Right after we toured Minnie's house (once again playing with the cake & the dishwasher), we ran into Goofy & Chip (of Chip'n'Dale). Unlike Minnie, Braeden was genuinely happy to see these guys.

Heimlich's Chew Chew Train: We trekked back across the park, through the entry area & into California Adventure to hit some highlights there - which, of course, included Heimlich's train. ("Mmmm, candy corn!") I think we rode it two or three times in a row...

Flik's Flyers: More spinning - Mom chickened out this time, so Dad (that's me) got to ride around in a circle over & over & over... sigh.

Ugly Bug Ball Show: One of the nice things about having lots of time at the parks is the ability to slow down & enjoy the shows... this A Bug's Life themed audience participation show was fun. Braeden's pretty shy about getting involved in stuff like this, but he liked watching the characters dance. Shari & I liked the break from walking.

Sun Wheel: A second trip on the Sun Wheel for us - again with the "still" cars. Braeden has obviously not inherited my fear of heights, as he would have bounced around the car like a rubber ball if we hadn't asked him to take it easy. (This isn't really as much for his safety as it is for our personal peace of mind.)

We took a break for the afternoon (lunch & nap) and then returned to Disneyland for our last night.

Tom Sawyer Island: I have fond memories of playing on this island as a kid... exploring Injun Joe's cave, walking across the suspension bridge with my dad making it rock, "shooting" at the passing boats from Fort Wilderness. So when we arrived in the late afternoon & the rafts were still leaving for the island, I insisted we make the trip.

Braeden wasn't interested in the caves at all (right, Dad... they're dark & spooky - you're the same guy who took me into the jaws of a whale this morning!) but climbing on the rock formations was endlessly exciting. (Many parts of the island have been "closed off" for safety reasons... which is disappointing but understandable. The island is currently - spring 2007 - being refurbished and turned into a pirate island to tie in w/the Pirates movie franchise, so I expect that it will be both safer & cooler when we visit in December.)

Tarzan's Treehouse: We ate at the Bengal Traders in Adventureland (it's been a great place to get a relatively healthy bite to eat for a long time) and Braeden & I climbed the treehouse again. (Again, you say? Yep, I don't know when we did this earlier - probably the day we rode the Jungle Cruise - but it didn't end up in my notes.) Braeden liked all the Tarzan figures - and enjoyed being scared by the leopard roaring at him. I still have a weird disconnect with it as this was the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse when I was growing up... and some of "their stuff" is still in here.

Haunted Mansion Christmas: There were a few rides I really wanted to go on that Braeden was just not old enough to try... and the Haunted Mansion was one of them. So while I Fastpassed my way in, Shari & Braeden went down the way to Winnie the Pooh (Braeden still remembers the room with the Heffalumps & Woozels... he was telling Collin about it the other day.)

Every October - December, the Haunted Mansion is given a Nightmare Before Christmas "facelift" - which is delightful. I've ridden the Doom Buggies enough times to have parts of the ride narration memorized ("And consider this dismaying observation: this chamber has no windows, and no doors... which offers you this chilling challenge: to find a way out!"), so the added stuff is a lot of fun. I esp. liked the pile of presents in the load-in area and the Oogie Boogie man (my favorite character from the film).

A gamer-y side note: I'm not sure he's done it yet, but I know that Frank "Moo" Branham has seriously considered a Disneyland vacation JUST to see this makeover, as he's possibly the world's most fanatic Nightmare Before Christmas fan.

It's A Small World: Again. 'Nuff said.

Autopia: Even with the Fastpass, we waited a long time for this. Of course, it's more fun to ride at night, as it feels faster in the dark & some of the elements (the off-road section) come as a neat surprise. They give each person a "driver's license" - Braeden still has his.

This is a good time to note that the Fastpass for Autopia only cuts down on your wait if the line is long - the place you enter the attraction is still 20+ minutes from driving if there is a decent crowd.

Fireworks: One of the great things about the Christmas season is the nightly parade and fireworks. There is also a very cool effect over Main Street where it "snows"(from some nifty machines mounted way up high). Our plan was to find a place on Main Street to watch the fireworks over the castle and let Braeden experience the snow.

But, as Robert Burns wrote, "the best laid plans, yadda yadda yadda"... Main Street was packed with people. The crush got so bad that we backtracked into the ice cream parlor and worked/shoved our way back out of the snow zone into the hub. (It was pretty scary - neither Shari or I are "crowd" people and it felt like Braeden was gonna get smushed and/or suffocated by the mass of people who were not exhibiting Christmas and/or Disney spirit.)

We found a nice place to watch the fireworks - which, to top it all off, scared Braeden. Once again, Shari saved the day by asking him questions ("What color is that one?!") and distracting him a bit. Shari is Super Mom.

The fireworks show is shorter (darn!) but still good - though for my money, the best Disney "end of the night" show is still at EPCOT.

So, tired and happy, we ended our last full day in the parks.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Soundtrack of my Life

On occasion, I write about music... granted, I'm not a music critic. My tastes are a little weird, esp. when you factor in an abnormal attraction to synth-based rock'n'roll. But if you can wade through the 80's lovefest, there's some interesting stuff in these posts.

And starting now, I'll be bringing you an irregular series of posts on the music that shaped my life. First up is Steve Taylor, which I'll finish up as time allows this week.

To hold you over until that happens, here's my top 10 albums of all time in no particular order (plus 10 that just missed the cut). Note: I didn't include greatest hits collections, cuz that would be cheating... and this is one of those "as of today" kind of lists.
  • Squint (Steve Taylor)
  • Graceland (Paul Simon)
  • The Far Country (Andrew Peterson)
  • Stop Making Sense (The Talking Heads)
  • Romeo Unchained (Tonio K)
  • Out of the Blue (Electric Light Orchestra)
  • The World As Best I Remember It - Volume One (Rich Mullins)
  • Under a Blood Red Sky (U2)
  • Russ Taff (Russ Taff)
  • The Secret of Time (Charlie Peacock)

Just missed the cut:

  • Free at Last (DC Talk)
  • One Way Home (The Hooters)
  • Just Like Real Life (Prodigal)
  • Turn of a Friendly Card (Alan Parsons Project)
  • I See Everything Upside Down (Derek Webb)
  • Journey to the Centre of the Earth (Rick Wakeman)
  • Sticks & Stones (the 77's)
  • 90125 (Yes)
  • 10 Songs (Adam Again)
  • Wonderama (Randy Stonehill)

It occurs to me that I chose almost all of these albums as the "best" of a particular band/artist - and I could well give you a 2nd album for almost all of them.

So I will.
  • Chagall Guevera (Steve Taylor in the band Chagall Guevera)
  • ---I really don't like any other Paul Simon albums - whoops!---
  • Love & Thunder (Andrew Peterson)
  • Little Creatures (The Talking Heads)
  • Notes from the Lost Civilization (Tonio K)
  • A New World Record (Electric Light Orchestra)
  • A Liturgy, A Legacy & A Ragamuffin Band (Rich Mullins)
  • Rattle & Hum (U2)
  • Medals (Russ Taff)
  • Love Life (Charlie Peacock)

Just missed the cut:

  • Jesus Freak (DC Talk)
  • Nervous Night (The Hooters)
  • Electric Eye (Prodigal)
  • Stereotomy (Alan Parson Project)
  • She Must & Will Go Free (Derek Webb)
  • Criminal Record (Rick Wakeman)
  • More Miserable Than You'll Ever Be (the 77's under the band name 7&7 is)
  • Yessongs (Yes)
  • Homeboys (Adam Again)
  • Love Beyond Reason (Randy Stonehill)

Keep Moving Forward

Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

Oddly enough, this quote from Walt Disney himself is the very satisfying ending to a very satisfying little film,
Meet the Robinsons. And I say "Oddly enough" because the the film itself is an interesting blend of newfangled sci-fi ideas & old school Disney storytelling. It's kind of like going down a new path & an old path all at the same time.

This is from the Walt Disney computer animation unit, who previously gave us
Dinosaur (blech) and Chicken Little (ok)... which means that the animation, while very good in parts, is not up to Pixar level (esp. with some of the more "normal" characters). There are, however, moments of magical quality - the first view of the future springs to mind, as does a later "scary" sequence involving the real villain(s) of the film. (I'm trying as hard as I can not to put any spoilers in here!)

There's a number of very Disney-ish things in the film:
  • a kid without parents
  • a surrogate family
  • really scary stuff that isn't TOO scary (I'm still working through my childhood trauma of watching the boys on Pleasure Island turn into donkeys -man, Pinnochio is a rough film for a 6 year old kid!)
  • a G rating that isn't hiding PG jokes (this is probably a topic for another post, but Pixar managed to sneak a couple of jokes into Cars - a film I adore - that I don't want to explain to my boys quite yet: "give my 2 lefts lug nuts" and "Piston Cup?" "He did what in his cup?"... and don't even get me started on Shrek as children's entertainment... sigh.)

Finally, as a big fan of William Joyce's books (I especially like Dinosaur Bob, George Shrinks and Wilbur Robinson), I'm pleased as punch with how the animators at Disney captured the spirit of the original book and yet still managed to flesh out a meatier story. (There's no real villain in the book - it's basically a search for Grandpa's teeth and a chance to let Joyce go nuts with his retro sci-fi/fantasy art style.)

Let me chase a couple of rabbits here:

  1. For a similar William Joyce adaption pleasure, check out PBS' version of George Shrinks, which builds on a very simple picture book and manages to make one of my favorite TV cartoon shows. I'm really miffed our local PBS station isn't showing it anymore... it's one that Braeden loved and I actually enjoyed watching with him.
  2. William Joyce writes wonderful "boy" books - what young man wouldn't want to take home a dinosaur, or have a full-sized train running through the house, or shrink down to mouse size & fly a toy airplane around the house? (I'm not being sexist - I'm guessing little girls would like this stuff, too... but we don't have any of those around our house.)

OK, back to the movie. It's also being shown in Disney 3D... but Braeden wasn't willing to go see it that way. He was afraid that it would be too scary. (I'm going to try & convince him - both because [a] I want to see it, and [b] it'll be good prep for seeing Honey, I Shrunk the Audience and It's Tough To Be A Bug when we go to the Disneyland Resort in December.)

It's received a wide variety of reviews - everything from "wowsa!" to "worst. disney. movie. ever." (It had a 65 on But I like what Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times said:

Though state-of-the-art technically, I think you'll find there's a healthy, old-fashioned feel to this movie -- one that will make you walk out of the theater feeling satisfied, and all warm 'n fuzzy inside.

Yep, that pretty much covers it for me. Go see the thing before it's out of the theaters!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Spanning the Globe bring you the constant variety of Mark's mind... the thrill of victory... and the agony of defeat... the human drama of intellectual competition... this Mark's blog!

Somebody drop Jim McKay a line & tell him I'm very, very sorry... but then again, he helped foist Superstars on us, so there.

For anyone still reading, here's the highlights for April 22, 2007:
  • I'll blog more about it later, but I had the opportunity to see Meet the Robinsons with Braeden on Thursday night. Amazingly, they managed to capture the feel of William Joyce's book, A Day With Wilbur Robinson, yet create their own story.
  • I just finished reading Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer - another great page-turner from the author of the Harry Bosch series. (Warning: this is a dark book, as are most of his novels.)
  • The Apples Project is winding down - the final voting is finished & I'm in the process of compiling the top ten lists of participants to compare to the overall results & to the game ratings at BGG. Hop on over and check out the last few categories... be esp. on the lookout for Strongly Themed games, which yielded the most interesting list of games.
  • I've finally given up on the Anno 1503 expansion, Aristokraten & Piraten. This is the classic "it seemed like a good idea at the time" expansion for a game I that I dearly love... unfortunately, all it adds is extra time & fiddliness and manages to take away some interesting decisions in the process. Sigh - it's on the trade pile for anyone who's interested. (Speaking of the "agony of defeat", I got clobbered in the original game by William & Richard at our last game night.)
  • Braeden's newest "favorite" game is Screaming Eagles - no, not the more recent Mission Command version, but the original. Yes, he's almost six & the box says 10 & up, but he's got a pretty good feel for when to do what. So far, we're 1-1 against each other solo... and I beat him & his mom in a 3-player game. (If you've never played, it's worth your time to try it - this is a really nice design that feels like a Top Gun dogfight.)
  • Cardinal Industries took 3 months to answer my e-mails & finally send me the missing pieces to Lost: the Game which I received for Christmas. I appreciate them finally getting their act together - but what took so dang long?!
  • I finally caught up last night with Heroes (thanks to NBC's 3 hour marathon) and all I can say is "Wow." I'm hooked again - I've been taping 24 & trying to catch Heroes on iTunes. Starting tomorrow night, that's reversed - because, frankly, much as I love Jack Bauer, Heroes is the better show. (Well, right now... things could change.)

And finally, a quote from Randy Alcorn's The Grace & Truth Paradox to finish this out:

Truth is quick to post warning signs and guardrails. Yet it fails to empower people to drive safely, to avoid plunging off the cliff, and fails to help them when they crash. Grace is quick to post ambulances and paramedics at the bottom of the cliff. But without truth, it fails to post warning signs and build guardrails, and therefore encourages the very self-destruction it attempts to heal.

Grace without truth deceives people, and ceases to be grace. Truth without grace crushes people, and ceases to be truth.

May you have both.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Been There, Done That

This wouldn't be so darn funny if it hadn't actually happened to me once or twice. (Thankfully, not here at NewLife.)

Credits: found this on
MMI who found it here

Disneyland Resort: Christmas 2003 (Wednesday)

This was our morning to go to California Adventure... I was both excited (new Disney park! new rides! old rides I like from WDW!) and worried (bad press about the park! two funny Simpsons jokes which I'll reprint here for your enjoyment!):

When The Simpsons visit Sideshow Bob in prison, Marge states that she doesn't think prison is "a great place to bring the children", to which Lisa replies "It still beats Disney's California Adventure." Also, in another episode of The Simpsons, while Homer is driving his convicted mother, he mentions that he'll hide her where no one will ever find her, Disney's California Adventure. (from Wikipedia entry on California Adventure)

While it's not Disneyland... or even equal to any of the WDW theme parks, California Adventure is on the way to becoming a great park. I wouldn't suggest a trip there just to see it - but it makes a great addition to a Disneyland trip.

Soarin' Over California: If you watch any of Disney's previews for the American parks, this is one of the rides they hype... and they're absolutely right to do so. It is an amazing experience that does feel like flying. I rode this one by myself, as Braeden was too small and Shari does NOT do rides that combine movement & movies. (No Circlevision 360 for her, either... sigh.)

Heimlich's Chew Chew Train: One of the things that was (evidently) messed up when California Adventure opened was the lack of small kid rides... so they opened up A Bug's Land, which is a collection of old-school carnival rides re-themed for the Pixar film, A Bug's Life. The "chew chew" train, besides being a horrible pun AND an homage to the classic film, "Murder By Death", is a train shaped like Heimlich that rides through some food-related scenes: apple, watermelon, animal cookies and, of course, candy corn. There's nothing spectacular about the scenery (with the exception of the piped-in cookie smell in the animal cracker box, which made me drool every time we rode the thing)... what makes this ride fun for kids & bearable for adults is the narration done by Heimlich. Not only is he quite funny, there are 3-4 different quips at each trigger point, meaning you have to ride a number of times to catch all of them. Of course, since we had a 2.5 year old who loved Heimlich, we rode it 11 times in the three days we visited California Adventure... I'm pretty sure I've heard all the jokes.

One good thing about visiting the parks in early December... we could ride rides like this over & over again without even exiting the vehicle. When the crowds are low, ride operators are very cool about letting you do that.

Flik's Flyers: Still in A Bug's Land, we rode this "Dumbo for families" spinning ride... a lot. It's not vomit-inducing & it's kind of cute, but for my money, I'd rather be listening to Heimlich (funnier) or zipping around on the Astro-Orbiter (cooler & higher).

Boudin Bakery: One of the oddball things about California Adventure is the way that the Disney designers chose to fill in the holes with what amount to fake factory tours. This & the Mission Tortilla Factory are very nicely done, but pretty much standard state fair kind of stuff. Points to the tortilla people for giving out lots of samples - we stopped by here 2 or 3 times this day to snack.

Redwood Creek Challenge Trail: This is how you would build a kid's play area if you had room & cash. I imagine this thing is a nightmare on weekends or when public school is out, but it was a lot of fun to chase Braeden through the maze of climbing stuff, cargo nets, and lookout posts.

The Magic of Brother Bear: In the center of the challenge trail is a small-ish outdoor theater where they have a show for kids. Part of it is live (both face characters & the bears in costume) and part of it is audio-animatronic (the mooses). The SFX are cool but no big deal and the show ran a little long for Braeden... not to mention scaring him a bit. [Side note: Brother Bear was his first "in the theater" Disney movie... it's not one I recommend highly but it's not as bad as Pocahantas or Home on the Range.]

Lunch: We ate in the Monterey Bay area... which is funny, since we've grown to like the ACTUAL Monterey Bay as a vacation place for the family. Sadly, my notes are over 3 years old... all it says here is something about a "monster duck," which based on Shari's history with waterfowl was probably a funny incident. I just don't remember it anymore.

Meeting Mickey: This time around, we found him out in the entrance plaza as we were working our way over to the Hollywood part of the park. Again, Braeden was starstruck - this time, Mickey was in some kind of beach/safari gear and Braeden was happy as a clam to have his picture taken with him.

Disney Animation: One of the places Shari & I loved on our trips to WDW (Florida) was the Animation Tour - the great film, seeing the artists at work, getting to talk to an animator. But we weren't prepared for how much we loved the Animation building here at California Adventure. The first room (the lobby?) is literally filled with huge screens, projecting classic scenes from Disney animated films. (That description doesn't even do it justice... the scenes are repeated around the room & coordinated, with some screens showing closeups & other screens showing just scenery. It's absolutely captivating.) We sat there long enough for Braeden to fall asleep in Shari's lap - it was naptime.

This gave me time to explore on my own - I checked out the exhibits (nifty) in the "museum" area, some of the interactive games, and even thought about going to the animation class. But by that time, Braeden had used his 45 minute nap to rejuvenate... and we headed back into the interactive area to play with the Beast's magic book (you answer questions to find out what Disney character you are most like - I remember that Braeden was like Flik!) and the undersea grottos where you get to do ADR (voiceover) work to classic Disney songs.

Alladin (Hyperion Theater): Shari & I wept (seriously) over the Hunchback of Notre Dame mini-musical at WDW's Disney Studios... sadly, it's gone now. (What an amazing production - incorporating puppetry performing behind the cloaks of some of the actors to tell parts of the story!) Alladin is very good, but it's not that good. They've borrowed a bit from The Lion King's Broadway staging (some of the animal designs) and condensed the already pretty insubstantial plot down another notch. Braeden enjoyed it (we were worried he'd be freaked out by the snake). I'd go see it again as it makes a great mid-afternoon break in air-conditioned comfort.

Playhouse Disney Show: We don't have cable or satellite TV in our home, so the only contact my boys have with the Playhouse Disney characters is when we stay in a hotel. The show was cute, Braeden was mesmerized but not as involved (since he didn't know the characters). It will be interesting to see how he takes it now that he knows more about what's going on. (Parent warning: there are no chairs in here. You sit on the floor.)

Muppets 4D: My deep love for all things Muppet-y is well known... and this 3D + SFX film is possibly Jim Henson's crowning achievement before his death. (He completed the filming of this the year he died.) And don't get me started on how his death & greedy Disney lawyers kept all of us from enjoying an entire section of the Disney Studios devoted to the Muppets, including a parody of the Great Movie Ride and a eatery run by Rizzo & the Swedish Chef, complete with audio-animatronic Muppets. Sigh.

So, I was just excited to see the show again in a slightly different setting... but Braeden was a little overwhelmed by the 3D and the SFX and didn't enjoy it nearly as much as Shari & I did. (Of course, writing this trip report up reminds me that this was his third theater show of the afternoon - his reaction might have been much better if it had been his first.

King Triton's Carousel: It's another merry-go-round... this time with fish. Braeden rode it a number of times - once with the whole family and then more while Shari & I traded off single-ridering California Screamin'.

Sun Wheel: The Sun Wheel is a part of Paradise Pier, which is a collection of "standard" carnival rides dipped in Disney pixie dust. It is, without a doubt, the cleanest & safest looking set of fair rides I've ever seen. And the Sun Wheel is monstrous - huge. I know there have been bigger ferris wheels, but this thing is gigantic. There are also two ways to ride it: 1) sedate (the cars just hang) and 2) scary (the cars are on sliding tracks that drift along & swing). We, of course, chose sedate... and not simply because I'm scared of heights & Shari was scared of Braeden falling out. Seriously - the line is MUCH shorter. :-)

It's actually a very nice ride - the view is gorgeous and would be stunning on a clear day.

Golden Zephyr: Braeden saw it across the Paradise Pier lagoon and wanted to ride it - it's basically a big rocket on a pivot that spins around and around - Dumbo crossed with Flash Gordon. It's nothing to write home about but it was fun to ride as dusk was approaching and all the lights around the lagoon were coming on.

Mullholland Madness: Shari & I traded off feeding Braeden french fries & letting him play as we single-ridered this "mad mouse" coaster themed as a drive through the Hollywood Hills. It's actually a neat little coaster - I look forward to taking Braeden on it this December.

California Screamin': This is a proud entry in the pantheon not only of Disney coasters but of steel coasters everywhere. It's smooth as silk, has a great take-off, almost every good coaster element you can think, and a synced soundtrack blaring through speakers behind your head. I can't wait to ride it again.

Heimlich (again!): We closed the day with a couple of more rides on Heimlich... and then went out to dinner outside the parks (much cheaper!) The highlight of the evening: watching the fireworks through our bedroom window.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Deeper Magic

"It means," said Aslan, "that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards." C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe

Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin's every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ's sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That's what Jesus did. Romans 6:6-11 (The Message)

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Gathering Ye Random Thoughts While Ye May

Apologies to Robert Herrick for the title... since I'm going to use it to refer to gathering my thoughts about The Gathering of Friends & other things, when he was probably writing poetry to convince young ladies to, well, um... "be not coy." (The poem is entitled "To The Virgins, To Make Much of Time" - you do the math.)

It's the week of The Gathering of Friends, which in the small pond that is the gaming world is a time when many of the big frogs have the opportunity to get together & play games. (In a previous post, I've chronicled my own invitation & yearly sadness at not getting to go, so we won't get into that right now.)

But I've gathered a few thoughts on the Gathering & the early reports coming out of Columbus, so here it goes:
  • Beware the negative buzz on "big" games - the year I attended, Goldland was getting lukewarm reviews because people were playing it with 5 players. (It's yet another one of those games that has components & rules for more players than it really needs.) The early "loser" in the bad buzz category looks like it will be Colosseum, which is just getting ready to be released by Days of Wonder. My advice: wait for a few more people to play it before you give this game of bread & circuses the thumbs down. (Interesting side note: Goldland & Colosseum are both designed by Wolfgang Kramer.)
  • Race for the Galaxy continues to gather buzz momentum... which is no surprise, as a number of folks I respect (Brian Bankler, Joe Huber, etc.) have been raving about it for a while now. I'm curious if I'll enjoy it since I really don't like San Juan.
  • Just in case I wasn't clear enough earlier, Goldland is a GREAT game for 2-3 players. It's a puzzle/logic game crossed with an exploration game and done up in classic Goldsieber style.
  • Game I'm most miffed I missed out on this year: Hour of Glory... esp. since I'd get to play it with my one of my favorite gamers, Frank Branham. (And I'll bet he has the minis painted, too... sigh.)

Other thoughts I've gathered that don't have anything to do with gaming:

  • The only thing keeping me from pulling my hair out (what little I have left) at the thought of Charla & Mirna staying in the Amazing Race and Sanjaya not even being in the bottom 3 on American Idol is the elimination of both Rocky & Lisi on Survivor. (Yes, I watch too much TV... we clearly established that last fall.)
  • I'm currently reading Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory graphic novels... Mr. Morrison is one trippy dude. (I'm about 1/2 way through the third volume - there's four of 'em - and I have no clue how this is going to all play out. Nice.)
  • It's Good Friday... take a minute and read the Gospel accounts of the death of Jesus. Whether you buy into Christianity or not, these events are watershed moments in world history. It'd be wise to check out the story from the source.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A, E & U

As with most fine things, chocolate has its season. There is a simple memory aid that you can use to determine whether it is the correct time to order chocolate dishes: any month whose name contains the letter A, E, or U is the proper time for chocolate. Sandra Boynton

I'm not sure which genius decided that two very important times of year would overlap:
  • The "Great Candy Bonanza" - which begins in October (Halloween), continues through Christmas, limps through January but picks up speed again in February (Valentine's Day) and rises to a crescendo in late March/early April with the appearance of chocolate bunnies & Cadbury eggs (Easter)
  • The manic "Lose Poundage In Order To Look Decent in Shorts & Swimsuits" season - which starts in January with a flood of New Year's resolutions, disappears under the tide of chocolate unleashed in heart-shaped & egg-shaped form (and the annual attempt by the Girl Scouts of America to turn everyone into a Thin Mint addict)... then reasserts itself with a vengeance as the weather begins to warm up...
In my darker moments, I wonder if there is some sort of Prison Break-ish "The Company" conspiracy going on here... if some secret cabal of weight loss companies & candy manufacturers works together to put everyone on the roller coaster. You know, the one where we eat enough chocolate until we all look like Augustus Gloop... then diet like crazy, nibbling on "rabbit" food trying to have the same figure as a supermodel. (The roller coaster part is that we do this cycle over & over again!)

Some notes (read: complete & total digressions from the topic at hand):
  • I'm actually not as much of a Thin Mint fan as I am completely enslaved to the joys of Samoas.
  • If bunnies eat "rabbit food" (i.e., carrots & lettuce), how did they ever end up being made out of chocolate?
  • Hollow chocolate bunnies bother me - they give new meaning to the phrase "empty calories". If you're gonna give me a chocolate bunny, I want a SOLID chocolate bunny.
  • When I feel the aforementioned darker moments coming on, a quick trip to the store for caramel-filled Cadbury Eggs will clear it right up
This obsession about candy has a payoff, though - over the next four weeks, my messages in the Sunday morning service are going to revolve around four kinds of candy: Mentos, Peeps, M&M's & Jelly Belly's.

Want to know more?

Part of this article originally appeared in the 4/4/07 issue of the Grapevine, the newsletter of NewLife Community Church.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Birthday Time

It's April 1st, more commonly celebrated as April Fool's Day... but here at aka pastor guy it's the 2nd anniversary of this blog! That's right - we've had two years of deep thoughts, random musings, adorable pictures of my two sons, and just a wee bit of discussion of games. In honor of this momentous occasion, I've picked a post from each month that I think is a "highlight" (you are welcome to disagree - but you'll be wrong with a capital "Wr").