Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bait and Switch

Day Three: Lexington, NE to Susanville, CA. 1314 miles.

I got price-gouged twice in one day. Gas stations like to use the old bait and switch routine. I had Aaron video tape me getting ripped off.

Scenario one: It's four o'clock in the morning and I go to the only twenty-four hour gas station on the road near my hotel. The sign says $2.74 per gallon. I pull up to the pump and regular gas is $3.35. Another sign posted where it can't be seen from the street has small print. SMALL PRINT!It says: "$2.74 for regular with ethanol, pumps 2, 5, & 8" or something to that effect. Funny thing is, when I Googled "Conoco" this article came up. I'm not the only one miffed about this funky marketing...

I only got enough gas to get down the road to a more honest store.

Scenario two: We miss the exit I need for gas because I'm talking on the cell. The sign says "last services for 35 miles". I still have a quarter tank so I roll through. When I get to the exit with the gas, it's the only gas station in Buford, Nebraska (population 1). The sign visible from Interstate 10 says $2.69 per gallon. When I pulled up to the pump, gas was $2.99 per gallon. Again, there was a sign with small print. "$2.69 with card". So I go in to inquire about the card; $25. I was livid, but I really needed gas. I got enough to get me down the road a ways. I was livid. I felt violated.

Day Four: Susanville, CA, to Eureka, CA. 261 miles. Got home, kissed the charming and beautiful Susan and Princess Ali. Then Aaron and I unloaded the truck. I'm beat. But I'm happy I'll be sleeping in my own bed tonight.

Spider Senses Sizzle

My son created this cool Spiderman vid. Thanks, Chris, for posting it.

HT: Geppapa

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Separation Anxiety Part Duexe

Sunday I said goodbye to the church family that has poured into my life for the past ten years. Pastor Dan turned his pulpit over to me so I could tell everyone what's been going on in our family for the past few months and where we see life going for us. I was nervous and emotional about speaking to the church. I only speak to our congregation a couple of times of year, so I'm not all that comfortable in front of more than about ten people.

They went ahead and uploaded an MP3 recording of Sunday's talk. You can listen to it or download here. If you've been following Ali's Story, I think you'll find it semi-interesting...

Road Trip

Day 1: 875 miles. Stuart, FL to Oak Grove, KY. I could of gotten online to blog last night if I wasn't too tired and too full from dinner to make the hike down to the office to acquire an Ethernet cable.

Day 2: 857 miles. Oak Grove, KY to Lexington, NE. We definitely covered a lot more ground when Aaron and I cam across country last May. We weren't driving a U-haul, though. Instead of getting 7 or 8 miles to the gallon, we were getting 30 in my car. Looks like I'll be in Northern California on Thursday :(

I forgot to pack enough underwear and clothes. So I'm off to Wal-Mart to get a couple of t-shirts, shorts, and skivvies...

More later

Friday, August 24, 2007

Separation Anxiety

This is the first time I've taken a trip requiring four flights and no passport. The plane I flew from Eureka, (actually McKinleyvile) CA, to San Francisco had propellers.


As I type this, I'm sitting in Charlotte, NC. The final leg of my trip is a couple of hours away so I have some time to read and write.

I can't believe how much I miss the charming and beautiful Susan and princess Ali. For the past several months, I haven't spent more than two of my waking hours without Ali in my arms or being in serious conversation with my wife. While I'm away, all of my waking moments are filled with thoughts of what Ali has gone through. While I'm with her, I don't really think about it. I just hold her and love her and take care of her. It's when I'm separated from Ali that I feel the weight of her experiences. It's crazy how this one little person has changed the course of my life.

I'm excited to spend a few days at my home in Stuart, FL. But I'm also sad that I'm packing it up, taking what we absolutely need (things like my motorcycle and our bed and my Wired magazines). Everything else, including the house and one of our cars, we're leaving my son Aaron (Aaron and one of his buddies is paying us rent - we could use one more tenant). Aaron will help pack up a U-haul this weekend and we'll drive it across country to our new place in Eureka. This will be the second cross-country trip Aaron and I will take in the past ninety days. The charming and beautiful Susan left Florida in May with her carry-on baggage the first week of May not knowing that she was actually moving to California. It's crazy how one little person can change the course of your life.

My schedule for the next few days is nuts. Today, I will land in West Palm Beach and drive to Ft. Pierce where the U-haul truck I reserved online patiently waits for me. I'll start packing it up today. Tonight, I'll meet my close friend and his family for dinner (sushi from the Bangkok Bay restaurant in Stuart, Lord willing), then back home to Stuart. Tomorrow, I'll continue packing up the truck, and then enjoy bar-b-que and a movie at my good buddy Chris'. Sunday morning, I'll speak at my home church. I can't wait to see my friends at Calvary Chapel Jupiter. Support from them has come in every way: physically; emotionally; spiritually. I can't even begin to fathom where I'd be without this awesome church family. Sunday afternoon, I'll have lunch with friends. Sunday night, there will be a little send off shin-dig I'll be attending. I better have that truck all packed up by then because Aaron and I will be heading out before the sun comes up Monday morning. I'm sort of thankful for the busy-ness of the weekend because leaving fills me with bitter sadness.

On a different note: while traveling, I'm reading a really cool by Nathaniel Philbrick called Mayflower. I love books about American history and this one, so far, is great. I feel like Philbrick treats the Pilgrim's focus on God very well. He really brings out how central Christian faith was to the founding of this country. This book is not distributed by Christian book sellers, but, in my opinion, should be.

One reason I'm so interested in this particular book is that before my maternal grandfather died, he traced our families roots back to England and it turns out that I'm a direct descendant of William Brewster, one of the Pilgrim's spiritual leaders. I looked up Brewster on Wikipedia, and found that I share that honor with an interesting list of people.

I should organize a family reunion.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Happy Anniversary, Baby

Twenty-one years ago today I was so nervous I thought I was going to throw up.

Isn't that romantic? It comes naturally to me.

For some reason, the charming and beautiful Susan has stayed with me for twenty-one years. She has made my life wonderful and amazing.

I love you, Susan...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

another Ali slideshow

click here

Great Devotional

Sometimes life's journey takes you through a patch where having no routine becomes routine. I've always been one of those people (those people) that found it hard to believe that you couldn't manage your own time - until very recently. One of the things I learned from a close friend is that for a dad or husband or godly single dude or any other guy that wants to be a man of God is that a devotional life is a non-negotiable. Dan introduced me to Bill Hybels book Too Busy Not to Pray. The idea, of course, is that there are no excuses not to be in touch with God. You can't be too busy. If you are too busy, if you're buried, that's all the more motivation to be tapped into God and His Word.

Most years, for the past thirteen years, I've read through the whole Bible using a reading plan (click here to download mine). Last year, I felt like I needed to just read through the gospels over and over. I had a personal conviction that I didn't understand Jesus the way I needed to in life, ministry, or political thinking, so I read through His story repeatedly in 2006. In 2007, I resolved to get back on track with my through the Bible in a year routine, plus study the life of David, my all time favorite Bible character by working my way through First and Second Samuel. I didn't have enough of the warrior/poet/king thing going on in my life and that was going to change in 2007.

Well, in 2007, things did change. My life has been flipped inside-out and control of my schedule has been turned over to a one year old baby girl that's suffered brain trauma. So everything I've scheduled in my life for the next five years has been derailed; the train has jumped the track and I have no idea where it's going. I don't know when or if I'll ever be able to have a routine devotional schedule again. So, for the time being, I've resorted to advice given by Dr. Bob Barnes when he spoke at our church. Read through a chapter of Proverbs if you're lacking something to read during your quiet time. There are thrity-one chapters in Proverbs and up to thirty-one days in a month. Read, pray through, and meditate on the chapter that corresponds with today's date. Today is August 22, so I'll read chapter 22. I'll that 'til Ali decides to get up.

So that's how I'm doing it. I've never needed wisdom more than now. If I miss a day, I don't freak out; I don't catch up. I just read the chapter that corresponds with the next day's date. And I make the most of it. I read through. I pray through it. I journal through it.

Anyone else have any good Bible reading system? Tell me about it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Subject: Country Preacher

 Gary emailed me this joke...

An old country preacher had a teenage son, and it was getting time the boy should give some thought to choosing a profession. Like many young men, the boy didn't really know what he wanted to do, and he didn't seem too concerned about it.

One day, while the boy was away at school, his father decided to try an experiment. He went into the boy's room and placed on his study table four objects: a Bible, - a silver dollar, - a bottle of whisky and - a Playboy magazine.

"I'll just hide behind the door," the old preacher said to himself, "when he comes home from school this afternoon, I'll see which object he picks up.

If it's the Bible, he's going to be a preacher like me, and what a blessing that would be! If he picks up the dollar, he's going to be a businessman, and that would be okay, too. But if he picks up the bottle, he's going to be a no-good drunkard, and, Lord, what a shame that would be. And worst of all, if he picks up that magazine he's gonna be a skirt-chasin' bum."

The old man waited anxiously, and soon heard his son's footsteps as he entered the house whistling and headed for his room. The boy tossed his books on the bed, and as he turned to leave the room he spotted the objects on the table. With curiosity in his eye, he walked over to inspect them.

Finally, he picked up the Bible and placed it under his arm. He picked up the silver dollar and dropped it into his pocket. He then uncorked the bottle and took a big drink while he admired this month's Centerfold.

"Lord have mercy," the old preacher disgustedly whispered, "he's gonna run for Congress...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Her latest thing

Ali's latest thing is trying to find a way to prop her right arm so she can put her hand in her mouth. She's yet to regain full range of motion in her shoulders, so she compensates when in different positions by resting her elbow on the floor or a borrowed arm so she can sneak her fingers into her mouth.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Oh, Yeah it's Good to Be Free...

Good modern worship music is hard to come by these days. Most mainstream worship music we call modern has an 80's early U2 sound. It would be at home on classic rock radio playlist with Springsteen, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ad Billy Joel. That's nice for the forty plus crowd, but what about those of us under forty (whether in reality or in our dreams)?

Jeff Thompson's debut album featuring modern worship tunes has a refreshingly accesible sound. I listened to it a few times through while on the road this week and I'm diggin' it. Thompson's original lyrics are uncomplicated and run on repeat in your brain. They're fun to sing. The music and riffs remind me of Third Eye Blind, Foo Fighters, and the Ramones, only cleaned up melodically so they're not too out of place in church. The forty plus crowd has no problem joining in the chorus.

My absolute favorite track is Alive.

Order yours here.

Get in iTunes here.

Listen to it here.

New Ali Slides

I posted some new slides over on Ali's Blog.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Next Gig

Transition is freaky. Scary, freaky, crazy. If you've been following Ali's Story (or this other link), you know that we're in the process of adopting our granddaughter and that we're not able (for a number of good reasons) to take Ali out of the state of California. So we've moved to my home town of Eureka, California.

So, what am I doing for work? Those who know me know that I've been an assistant pastor at Calvary Chapel Jupiter for a few years. One of my ministry responsibilities there was missions. After talking with my senior pastor and some other men that I look up to, we all decided that missions ministry is something I need to be involved with no matter where I live. So, at the end of June, I began having a conversation with Shepherd's Staff Missions Facilitators, an agency that trains and provides support for overseas missionaries.

I've always enjoyed ministry most and was most successful when serving and training missionaries. I did that part time at Calvary Chapel Jupiter and now I have the opportunity to do it full time. Shepherd's Staff has been a partner of ours for several years so transitioning to that organization is a very natural next move. I'll help develop web-communications, branding, train missionaries, and consult with church leaders about sending missionaries and caring for them while over seas. I'm developing a new website that will include a blog for each missionary.

Here are screen shots of my run at designing the web page as well as a logo that's been re-worked a little.

More later...


In the above picture, Ali is playing with her hair. This is the first time I've seen her do something like this. As she lay there on the floor, she reached up several times and pulled on her hair.

While she was playing with her hair, another new thing she started doing while I was down in Santa Rosa for the night, is clicking or grinding her front teeth. She was doing this, too, this morning while she played on the floor.

I got the camera out in a hurry to try and capture a picture of her hand in her hair, but of course, she was done by the time I got the camera ready. Events like these are kind of like taking the car to the mechanic. You tell your mechanic that car pulls this way or makes that noise, but the car never malfunctions for the mechanic. I can't always get Ali to function for the camera.

Later this morning (left-coast time), Ali and I will go to physical therapy. I hope to remember to take the camera with me. She's doing well there and I want to get you all some pictures of that, too.

See you then.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Check it out

I know this kid...

Is this entertainment or what?

Kath sent me this video (thanks, Kath).

It rocks.

Monday, August 13, 2007

2 friggin' cute

i don't have much fashion sense, but this is one cute outfit...

Ali Update

I've been in trouble lately for neglecting to post the ever popular pictures of Princess Ali. To be honest, life is becoming routine for us; everyone is adjusting to a new place, therapy, doctor's visits, and working out of the house. These things keep us busy, and, honestly, things don't feel as newsworthy as they did when all of this first began.

The downside of settling into a routine is feeling sort of like we're in a rut.
We face many new challenges that seem both insurmountable and unimaginable. It's weird that we're getting used to this. Even overwhelming; we're getting used to being overwhelmed. We have more time to think about how much we miss our home, our kids, and our church family in Jupiter, FL. It's hard to think about a future that will have less of these things in it and more unknowns.

The upside is that the Lord has always, always, always sent friends into our lives no matter where we were. Everyplace we've been, the Lord uses us and sends friends into our lives. So there is no reason to think the future will be any different from the past. We're thankful that so many of our friends back home are interested and supportive about what lies ahead, as unknown as it is.

Two Freed

Two ladies were freed by the Taliban and turned over to the Red Cross after three weeks of being held hostage. It's hard to imagine what those missionaries are going through. There is always the fear of this kind of thing happening to folks doing long or short-term work abroad, especially in a country where extreme violence is used without regard for human life or where people have no true awareness that their evil will be judged.

Missionaries expect that their lives will be a living witness that they serve a living God, but few expect that the Lord will allow their lives to be put on display world-wide as these Koreans lives have been. Already, I've heard that Christians doing work in the 10-40 Window are nervous. Not so much for their safety as they are worried that people back home will be fear-filled and unwilling to send teams and support. After 9/11, short-termers sent by churches to the field dropped dramatically. The church's response to attacks has been dramatic and fear-filled; not biblical. None of these events - they are as rare as they are publicized when compared to the tremendous amount of work getting done - cancels the Great Commission.

There are still 19 hostages being held. Of the original 23 that were snatched off a buss over three weeks ago, two have been shot and two released. We need to continue to remember to pray for the remaining missionaries.


HT: One World Mission

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Three Years in a Row!!!

Congratulations are in order for my little brother Dan. For the THIRD year in a row, my little bro', Daniel Mondok reigns as Iron Chef of Oregon.

Congrats Dan!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Florida Visit Scheduled

I'll be back at my home church of Calvary Chapel Jupiter on Sunday, August 26. I've been given the opportunity to tell the story of all that's taken place over the past few months and what the future holds. This information will begin to be announced at this Sunday's service at Calvary Chapel Jupiter.

If you're in the South Florida area and have been following Ali's story, come on out to the Sunday Service and the send-off reception being held Sunday night.

Pray for us as we pray for God's wisdom during the coming time of transition for our family. And stay tuned to more updates about Ali and the ministry we'll be serving with...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Korean Missionaries in Afghanistan

Over on the One World Mission Blog, I've been following the story of the kidnap of Korean Missionaries in Afghanistan. This story grabbed headlines when it first occurred and when the Taliban began making good on threats and killing defenseless missionaries.

Sandwiched between posts about why you should go into the mission field are the updates about the group of Korean Missionaries snatched off a bus by the Muslim militants in Afghanistan. Taliban extremists are offering to swap missionary hostages for imprisoned members of their terrorist organization. So far, two of the Koreans have been murdered.

Taliban Weigh Hostage Fate Taliban leaders are deciding what to do with 21 Korean hostages after Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. President George Bush ruled out making any concessions to free them, one of the kidnappers said on Tuesday.

Source: Christian Today

The situatiion has reached a stalemate and news networks really aren't following the story any more since no one's been killed lately. But we should continue to remember our brothers and sisters who've set out to serve and have ended up in captivity.

Here are a few other links for the interested:
Christianity Today
Pakistan Daily Times

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Ugly Models

There's hope for my modeling career yet.

Thanks to a story on Fox News this morning, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for me. I'll be following the link below, sending in some photos, and no doubt, soon be raking in the cash.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Auditory Perfection

Today Ali had her ears tested. This was our second attempt to have her checked. Our first attempt was aborted after Ali would not settle down enough to be checked. After spending six weeks in the hospital, anyone entering the room wearing one of those white doctor coats sets Ali off. She can spot one a mile away. Our ear doc didn't know that, of course. But she does now.

Stethoscopes also freak her out. Our nurses have to smuggle theirs into the house in something harmless looking - like a hollowed out teddy bear.

So today we showed up at the office and it was obvious that hey choreographed Ali's entire visit. The doctor was very low-key as she welcomed us and was incognito in her civilian clothes. The doc put a comfortable chair in the sound proof room for me to get Ali comfortable and as close to falling asleep as possible.

Ali has to be absolutely quiet - the whole room has to be absolutely quiet for at least thirty seconds before the test is given.

The room was dead quiet. Ali was on the verge of nodding off when the doc sneaked little earphones into her ears. She - the doc - was just about to start the test when we heard "put-put-put" as Ali broke wind.

"That wasn't me," I said.

We all started shaking trying to choke down laughter. And then the room filled with her smell.

It took us another few minutes to get Ali back into the test zone. She was being good - it was the grown-ups that were uncooperative. Including the doctor.

Ali's hearing is perfect.

Her plumbing seems to be working good, too.

Charming and Beautiful Birthday Girl

Happy Birthday to the best wife in the world.

I couldn't do this life without you, Honey.

Crazy Busy

August first we signed the lease on our new apartment. We spent the weekend moving in. I skipped church for the first time in eons to help the charming and beautiful Susan nest.

For those of you that don't know, we are going to be staying in Northern California awhile. We're working through the process of adopting our granddaughter and that means we can't leave the state. And we won't be able to leave for a minimum of a year after we adopt Ali.

But even if we could, I don't know that we would. Ali is getting care here that we're not sure can be duplicated somewhere else. Occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, doctors, nurses, and social workers have teamed up around Ali to help her become all that she can possibly be. We are constantly blown away by their commitment to this little girl making sure her story has a happy ending. I see the fingerprints of God all over this team and our current situation.

I'll be transitioning to an organization that equips, trains, and provides administrative support for missionaries. I'll be teamed up with incredibly experienced men to develop a missionary care program as well as provide churches with the educational materials needed to send missionaries into the field and train teams for short term trips. We'll also streamline communications between missionaries in the foreign field and home.

We're excited about the possibilities and pretty well scared to death. I feel I'm in an incredible story and in the middle of an unexpected plot-twist. I'm perched on the edge of my seat, biting my nails as I watch the rest of the story unfold.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Ali has found the joy of putting her fingers in her mouth. She moves her hand across her teeth and pushes and pinches her little lips and her eyes roll back in her head. Bliss. While all of you are telling your kids to "get your fingers out of your mouth," we love seeing Ali find her mouth with her hand all by herself.

One of our homework assignments before Ali began to take the bottle was to help her get her hand to and in her mouth. We helped her discover the inside of her mouth with her finger tips. This was the beginning of the brain re-discovering and connecting different parts of the body. This activity gave Ali so much pleasure. I'm convinced that this motivated her to take the next steps and start drinking her bottle.

During the past week, we've reported all this progress to her doctors, nurses, and therapists and new life has been breathed into the team. We've reduced the dose frequency of Ali's medicines so that she no longer gets any in the middle of the night through her g-tube. All medicines are taken orally.

Medicine is not her favorite. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Medicine time is not a happy time. But as much as she hates it, she goes along with the program and swallows it down. She never spits her medicine out.

Ali grabs her bottle when she's being fed as was her habit before she got hurt. She rests her little hand on top of the bottle as the charming and beautiful Susan or I feed her. The only thing is that toward the end of the day, she gets a little wound up and has a harder time making her hand do what she wants. Which frustrates her and gets her even more worked up. That makes it hard for us to get her to bed.

But we're ecstatic with every improvement we see. While Ali was laying on my lap sleeping this afternoon, I was able to read a couple of chapters in a Philip Yancey book I've been trying to get through. In Where is God When it Hurts, Yancey dedicates a chapter each to the stories of two people who when at the top of their games, experienced tragic accidents that left them paralyzed. Joni Eareckson Tada and Brian Sternberg were living full, active lives when, in the blink of an eye, each lost all use of his and her limbs. They watched all of their hopes and dreams traded for broken bodies. But the faith they've displayed through trial is legendary.

We think, sometimes, that if this happens or that, then we can serve God and live a full life. But that's backwards. All we have to do is cling to Him at all times and give what we have to Him, and He'll do things we never thought possible.

Actually, without Him, they're not possible.