Sunday, September 30, 2007


Sleeplessness is not unusual. Many people I talk to wake up at 3:00am sharp with the things that weigh them down. Financial struggles and family worries top the list of things that cause us to lose valuable sleep at night. Here's the list of worries that robbed me of sleep last night:
  • I wonder if Ali will have a good day or bad day. What is life going to be like for her?
  • My brother in Portland called me yesterday and told me Charity bounced. She got on a bus and isn't really saying where she's going or what her plans are.
  • I've gotten myself into a stupid blog-war with some cat that's bent on bringing Pastor Bob down and I'm rehearsing arguments, pretty silly ones really, in my head. The book of Proverbs 15:2 says, "the tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness." I think of what I want to say and then I worry that I'm the 'fool' and not the 'wise.'
  • I think about my new job; am I meeting expectations or falling short?
  • Is my son going to be okay without me looking over his shoulder? Have I done all I can as a dad to prepare him for life?
I share these frets not because I think you can fix them or have the answers. You don't. I don't. Thats why I worry. And you have your own list. Some of your items are things I wouldn't worry about and some of your problems I'm definitely glad are burdens I don't carry.

What do I do with my worry? Sometimes I think I should just get up and pray, but then I start to worry that I won't get enough sleep and that makes me not sleep more still. So what works best?

For me, I get up, I brew a cup of chamomile tea, and I write in my journal all the issues swimming around in my brain and I bring them before the Lord. I wish I did this every time. I don't. But when I do, I'm glad I did. What happens is the Lord visits me with a peace that goes beyond my worries and surpasses my understanding and usually, I'm ready to go back to bed in just a little while. I set the alarm so I wake up an hour later than usual and wake up refreshed.

You and me have plenty to worry about. There's a never ending supply of junk to think about that we have little or no control over. This stuff springs up in our lives and becomes the perfect motivation to bring petitions to the Lord. So what keeps me from doing just that more often?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Off the Chain

My attempt to leave an edgy hook at the end of my last post by leaving a hook with soe hip-hop slang has back-fired. The sister of the charming and beautiful Susan called me this morning and asked, "what does 'off the chain' mean? Isn't that something bad? Because I went to Bob Caldwell's website and he's good."

The truth, Debbie, sister-in-law-of-mine, is that Bob Caldwell and "off the chain" are both good. Very good. Let me school you from the slang dictionary:

1. off the chain
fun or exciting. See "off the hook."

2. off the heezy
or "off the heezy for sheezy" meaning very cool. See "off the hook."

3. off the hizzle
see "off the hook"

4. off the hook
Exceptionally good. "Did you see John’s new 22" spinners? They was "off the hook!"

I hope that helps... But you got to know: once it hits this blog, the edgy life of a slang word has pretty well run it's course.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

missed this booger

The closer I got to home, the giddier I got. I was gone four days and I missed my girls, Princess Ali and the charming and beautiful Susan.

I made it home from Stanwood, WA, in eleven hours. Not too bad. The most beautiful part of that drive is the stretch of highway 101 between Eureka and Crescent City. Redwoods, lagoons, elk, and the beach are all part of the scenery on that stretch of highway.

Okay. It's closing in on 7:30am. I'm not on the computer between 7:30 and 9:00 am.

More on the pastors conference later. Bob Caldwel was off the chain...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

2007 Northwest Calvary Chapel Pastors' Conference: Wayne Taylor

I love this guy. He is one of the best examples I've observed as a gentle, wise, and experienced pastor. Wayne Taylor has thirty years of ministry as the pastor of Calvary Fellowship in Seattle.

He opened his message with a story about skydiving.

Now, I've been praying that God would speak to me during this conference, but I really don't want God to use somebody's example of free falling through space to be the thing God uses to change my life. I need a nice safe story to think about. Try to convince me over a nice safe cup of coffee. And bring some dessert while you're at it. Leave me alone with your free-falling and being kicked off the cliff stories. That's a bit uncomfortable.

Wayne told a story of his son being harnessed to an experienced tandem parachute expert. "We're harnessed to Jesus. He's the expert. It's scary, but He knows what He's doing."

The analogy works. The truth is, serving God really just feels like free falling. But we're harnessed to a pro. So, we're not really in free fall. It just feels like it. How fun.

"God has amazing things for us."

2007 Northwest Calvary Chapel Pastors' Conference: Chuck Smith

Pastor Chuck Smith kicked the conference off via internet up link from Costa Mesa, California. Even when watching though I'm him on a big screen in an auditorium full of people, it feels like home. His style and message are so unpretentious, it makes me wonder why I feel like I have to be so pushy and driven by ambition. Why can't I just let God do it?

That really has nothing to do with what Pastor Chuck had to say, that's just what happens in my heart when I listen to him teach.

Chuck had a simple message. He usually does. Those of us that are trying to hack out a name for ourselves are the ones who always want to be so profound and sublime; Chuck is uncomplicated. The basics are simple.

The message: Pastors, feed the flock.

That's the message Jesus gave to Peter. That's the message Peter gave to the young pastors he wrote to in his epistle.

Peter saw himself as a fellow elder. Peter didn't see himself as more important. He was just a fellow minister.

Minister means servant. Minister does not mean lord. The pastor should not expect the flock to pander to him. He needs to pander to them. He's the lead servant.

Chuck wrapped up his talk with this point: Be an example. If you can't live the Word, you'll have a hard time teaching it. People don't learn much by what comes out of your mouth. They learn from how you live your life.

First Impression

Brett Williams opened up the 2007 Northwest Calvary Chapel Pastors' Conference with a great set. He's got a very cool sound. If you close your eye, you can picture Tom Petty leading worship. That's how he sounds. "Well she was an American girl...". Like that. Tossed in are a few "Don't Come Around Here No More" style guitar riffs.

I came to this conference eleven years ago and Brett lead worship then, too. This
time, he mixed things up a little by bringing in different guys to lead each set. This morning, they kicked things off with a twangin' country music meets Seattle grunge set complete with a slide guitar. That set was wrapped up "Praise the Lord I saw the light."


Up - Way Up - North

I'm up in the Northern Washington State at a regional Calvary Chapel Pastor's Conference. I can't stop thinking about this baby. This is the most recent picture of Ali. She's home with the charming and beautiful Susan while I'm here at Warm Beach Conference Center (it's actually pretty cold here at Warm Beach, WA, today) representing Shepherd's Staff Mission Facilitators. But it's cool to be here around a bunch of Calvary dudes to rub shoulders, worship, and sink our teeth into God's Word together.

This is my first official outside event with Shepherd's Staff. I'm actually a little nervous. I'll be giving a five minute spiel later today to promote the ministry so I'm all concerned about coming off smooth in front of all these pastors. Pray I pull it off.

Friday, September 21, 2007

While you stayed home...

While you and me and Ali were hangin' out at our respective domiciles, Cheryl, Nancy, and the charming and beautiful Susan were gallivanting all over Eureka, California.

We're so happy to be hosting a visit for Nancy and Cheryl from our home church in Jupiter, Florida. They've been a part of our extended family for over ten years and I'm so glad they got to see the town where I grew up.

Thanks, ya'll, for sending along some goodies with these guys. They had an extremely short shelf-life because I couldn't keep my hands out of the cookie jar :)

Enjoy the slides.

By the way, did you book your tickets yet?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ali: "I'm a Star"

Ali laughs out loud as she listens to her Uncle Aaron's sound effects as the video he made of her opens. Watch here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ali Mash

My boy helped me drive across country a couple of weeks ago. He brought a video camera and put this clip of Ali together.


Thanks, Bubba!

Spidey Story Continues

My boy created this video viewed by the masses on the internet a few weeks ago. This is the second installment in what looks like a story that won't end soon enough...

Monday, September 17, 2007

This Monday

Yesterday was a pretty big day. It was the first time we attempted to take Ali to church since we've been in California. She did pretty well. We can't leave her in the nursery yet because of her Mic-Key button, so we took her into the service and sat in the back row so we could make a quick exit if she got out of hand. She made it all the way through the music and really enjoyed it. Everything going on grabbed her attention. But after about forty minutes, she was over-stimulated and I had to take her into the lobby. Oh well. Definitely not bad for her first time. Ali always was a very social creature. She'll do alright after a few more times.

Physical therapy today went well, too. Ali was rolled onto her belly and it was the first time she didn't freak out or panic. She just kind of rested there quietly, thinking about what this was all about. She was sucking on her hand which always soothes her. Hey, whatever it takes. People learn new things better when calm than when all freaked out.

Later this week, we have our first interview with a representative from our adoption agency. Things are starting to move.

So pray that this interview goes smoothly. And pray for Ali this week. And the charming and beautiful Susan. Ali hasn't been sleeping very well either at night or during the day. That means no one really has been sleeping well. We have a system worked out where Susan takes care of Ali the first part of the night and then I get up from 4am on giving Susan uninterrupted sleep from 4 until 8am. She probably still gets the short end of the stick. But Ali like hanging out with Susan better than me anyway - who can blame her?

My new job is starting to become routine. I'm grateful that most of my work takes place right here in my home office so I can be productive on the job and still help Susan handle Ali. Next week, I go to Seattle for a few days to promote the ministry at a regional pastors conference. Pray for my as I represent at my first big event.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


I have to share with you all what I read in this Yancy book I've been reading. I don't read as much as I used to, so it's taking forever to get through this book. But it's all good.
"What is the point of their lives? Do their lives have any meaning?" asked Dr. Jürgen Trogisch, a pediatrician who works among the severely mentally handicapped. He could treat the externals, but what was going on inside, within such damaged brains?

For many years Dr. Trogisch could not answer the question of meaning. He performed his medical tasks anyway, but he had no answer. Then he ran an introductory course to train new helpers for the center, and at the end of the one-year training period, he asked the young helpers to fill out a survey. Among the questions was this one, "What changes have taken place in your life since you became totally involved with disabled people?" Here is a sampling of their answers:
  • For the first time in my life I feel I am doing something really significant.
  • I feel I can now do things wouldn't have thought myself capable of before.
  • During my time here I have won the affection of Sabine. Having had the opportunity to involve myself with a disabled person, I no longer think of her as disabled at all.
  • I am more responsive now to human suffering and it arouses in me the desire to help.
  • It's made me question what is really important in life.
  • Work has assumed a new meaning and purpose. I feel I'm needed now.
  • I've learned to be patient and to appreciate even the slightest sign of progress.
  • In observing the disabled, I've discovered myself.
  • I've become more tolerant. My own little problems don't seem so important any longer, and I've learned to accept myself with all my inadequacies. Above all I've learned to appreciate the little pleasures in life, and especially I thank God that he has shown me that love can achieve more that hate or force.
I wish I had written these myself. The bottom three are definitely an expression of what I've learned over the past several months living through this thing with Ali.

Read this book. This quote can be found on pages 205 & 206.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Jose & Mary

Tuesday afternoon I got a call on my cell from a South Florida number. Not unusual since I have so many friends from Florida checking in with us. But this caller was calling from Northern California. Jose Ramos, a buddy of mine for many moons, was just a few hours away from Eureka. So Jose and Mary arrived Tuesday night. We hung out for coffee, then on Wednesday, we got together again, and then today, we all had a big bar-b-que lunch from Porterhouse Barbecue here in Eureka.

As you can see, Ali warmed right up to Jose. And Mary couldn't seem to get enough Ali either.

Next week, Cheryl and Nancy from South Florida will be here to visit.

When was the last time you got out to Northern California for a trip out to the great Redwood Forest? Book your trip now.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sad State of Affairs

This is my best friend Tom.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Daily Increments

We have good days and not so good days.

Years ago, when I lived here in Eureka, I worked in the woods as a tree faller. It was hard, dangerous work. Working in forests filled with monster redwoods and Douglas fir can be daunting, dangerous, and stress-filled one day and unbelievably - euphorically - satisfying the next. My foreman had a saying: "sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you."

That's just the way it is.

My theology definitely doesn't answer the questions I want to ask, but Jesus does in one teaching when He says, "don't worry about tomorrow... each day has enough trouble..." you know how the verse goes. We do what we can to make it through the day. That's what we do.

Suzie and I fight, we blame shift, and then when we feel better, we treat each other better. Not exactly the way I would do marriage counseling, but this isn't a counseling session; its real life. I wish I could say we handle the stress well. All I can say is that we're committed to seeing this thing through. If we think about the future or the past or what someone else has done to make this situation this situation, we're overwhelmed. It's too much information for my brain to process.

But there's grace for today. Today is all it seems the Lord expects to handle; just today. I might have goals and expectations and hopes for the future, but I honestly think, according to a loose interpretation of Jesus words, we're only accountable for the moment. When you think about it, that's all we have control over anyway; this moment. The past has slipped away and the future isn't ours to control. It's scary, but freeing.

Living it out can be difficult, but, once again, we're only have power over this moment. And limited power, at that. That's the philosophy I've tried to live by the past few months. I don't know if that helps. But sometimes this knowledge helps me.

Ali sitting up

I love getting your emails and comments. I know that there are so many of our friends out there reading this blog and praying for us, but for some reason, it takes your daily encouragement to help keep us going and still feeling like our lives are friend-filled.

One friend emailed and asked some questions about some of the recent pictures I've posted of Ali sitting on the charming and beautiful Susan's lap and in the highchair. The question was: "Is she sitting up on her own now ... or is she more

Here's my answer:

Ali is being supported in the picture or the most part. But her head and torso control have really improved. So, yes, Ali is getting a "spot." But alot of that "is her." She's definitely more and more comfortable in her own skin. She pleases us at every therapy appointment. We're working hard to have her sitting up in the next six months. I'll probably blog the contents of this email as it relates to Ali since you're not the only one with questions.

Ali has a long way to go. Deb the Magician has done incredible work with Ali. Yesterday, we blew bubbles (yes, bubbles) and it was evident that Ali saw them. Deb the Magician is a speech language pathologist that uses methods that wake up and restore muscle control through out the whole body. Deb the Magician is an Anat Baniel Method /Feldenkrais Practitioner. Follow the preceding link for some interesting reading and continue to pray that God continues to fill Deb the Magician with wisdom and discernment.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sweet Threads

This outfit came from Grandma Ruth deep down in South Florida.

"Grandma Ruth gots taste, style, and pizzazz," says Ali. "I hope I inherited some of that."

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Ali's on the floor playing.

Susan is upstairs in the office paying bills.

I'm drinking coffee, watching the news, taking pictures, and posting this on my blog.

That's a lot of balls to keep in the air, don't ya' think? Who says females are better multi-taskers?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Excellence of Wisdom

Proverbs 8

1 Does not wisdom cry out,
And understanding lift up her voice?
2 She takes her stand on the top of the high hill,
Beside the way, where the paths meet.
3 She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city,
At the entrance of the doors:
4 "To you, O men, I call,
And my voice is to the sons of men."

18 Riches and honor are with me,
Enduring riches and righteousness.
19 My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold,
And my revenue than choice silver.
20 I traverse the way of righteousness,
In the midst of the paths of justice,
21 That I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth,
That I may fill their treasuries.

The Book of Proverbs captivates me. Proverbs is smack in the middle of the number one best selling book in all of human history, but every time I read it, I feel like I'm reading about how to do life for the first time. The wisdom found in Proverbs makes SO much sense, I'm like: "Why didn't I think of that?"

King Solomon, the author of the lion's share of what's written in Proverbs is one intriguing cat. He's remembered as the wisest King that ever lived. Fables and fiction about his life abound. The Bible esteems him as the wealthiest man to ever live with more personal assets of anyone that has preceded or followed. I wonder if that includes Bill Gates? I'd be interested to know.

He also had quite a reputation as a ladies' man. He was a playa (sorry for that). He had 300 wives and 700 concubines. That's 1000 ladies all to himself. He knew what it was like to be pursued by gold-diggers, one would surmise.

He was the king of bling (oops, I did it again). He covered everything with any surface area with gold.

He knew love and he knew money. So when he ascribes female attributes to wisdom; when he says wisdom pursues us, he's got my attention. When wealthy, insatiable Solomon says wisdom is more valuable than cash, I'm listening. He's definitely got credibility.

Here's what I know: when I sit down and read Proverbs, my soul is satisfied. I want to be identified with the words written in this book. I want to, somehow, graft each principle into my spiritual and emotional growth and then be known for wisdom.

What did you get out of your quiet time this morning?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

When shaken babies grow up

Thank you, Michele for sending me the link to this article.

One day, their father, George Poole was in charge of the babies while his wife went to her job at a Walgreens. George and Monica were a young couple trying to make it. For years, George - Michele's son from a first marriage - had been in and out of trouble, small stuff, drug-related, but now that he was a dad, he was trying to straighten up. This day, though, Nov. 19, 1994, would turn out to be the worst of his life - and not just his.

In a plea deal, the fuzzy outline of his story tumbled out: George stays home with the twins. He has a temper. Gabbi cries. Louder, until she's wailing. God, he has never heard a sound like that before. So he picks her up ... and ... he shakes her.

Five seconds or 10. Who knows. It was enough.

"Cerebral contusions," the doctor's report said. "Shaken Baby Syndrome."

That is why Michele Poole and her husband, Rod, are now the legal parents of two growing girls who ought to be their grandchildren; why Michele, at 57, has devoted the better part of a decade to lecturing on the perils of shaking a baby; why she needs a giant motor home and a backup band of loyal helpers (not to mention a husband who changes diapers) to accommodate all of Gabbi's needs.

That is why Gabbi is Gabbi.

Please remember to pray for Gabby and her family when you're praying for us...

Read the rest of the article by clicking the link below

Source: When shaken babies grow up

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Some Stats

We love to give things to our kids. I gave Ali a cold.

Char the Matron Nurse of Humboldt County and Deb the Magician were both here before I had a chance to down a bagel for breakfast. Char weighed, measured and took Ali's temperature. In the past month, Ali's gained a pound and grown half and inch. And she's also running a little fever. She weighs 19.4 pounds and is 28 inches long.

You wouldn't believe the results Deb the Magician has been getting from Ali. Deb is Ali's speech therapist but is also an expert in other kinds of physical therapy. She has loosened Ali up so much. Ali is able to move with much more flexibility. Ali responds and learns so naturally when Deb works on her. Please continue to pray for Ali's results and these ladies as they work their magic on this baby.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Good Morning

Ali's playing on the floor and I'm here watching the news over a cup of coffee. This week, since I've been back from Florida, we've gotten Ali into the routine of sitting in the kitchen in her high chair while the charming and beautiful Susan putters around the kitchen. Ali gets a few bites of baby food then. This is pretty huge, believe it or not.

Before I left Florida, some friends gave us a really nice jogging stroller. We've used it daily since unloading it from the U-haul. Ali loves it and tolerates riding in it for longer than her regular stroller. We've been able to take her all the way downtown (a little over half a mile from our townhouse) and enjoy time together as a family out on a stroll.

Helping Ali sit up is where we'll be concentrating our efforts over the next several months. Ali had a visit with a specialist last Thursday that said it is way to early to put any limits on Ali's recovery. In spite of the blindness diagnosis by an optometrist, this specialist was very encouraging. So please continue to pray with us for Ali. Pray that Ali will cooperate with her therapists Rena, Michelle, and Deb the Magician. Pray that she will continue to develop control of her tongue. Believe it or not, this kind of motor skills develop has a direct effect on other motor skills development. Pray that Ali's hips continue to loosen up as this will help her sit and crawl and, ultimately, walk. Pray for Ali's range of motion in her arms and shoulders to continue to improve. When she sits, she'll need to be able to keep herself from falling over.

When we watch Ali's face while she plays, we can see her thinking. We see her processing what is happening in her environment. She plays with toys that have light and sound (thanks, folks, for sending those) so she understands cause and effect and her control over things in her environment. She laughs and she shouts when she's happy or frustrated. So she is communicating with us. This is behavior no one expected to get from Ali. So we are grateful for the diligent prayers of those that read these posts and take action on their knees.

While you all are praying, can I ask you to pray for one more thing? This move here has become so final since we said goodbye to our home church family in Jupiter, Florida. I've taken a position with Shepherd's Staff Mission Facilitators. Pray for us as we transition into our new life in Eureka, California.

Monday, September 03, 2007


I don't comment much here about politics or entertainment on this blog because I'm very, very sensitive about who I might offend. But since today will probably be a slow day on the Internet with everyone putting their diets on hold and grilling hot dogs and burgers and feeding their kids highly caffeinated and sugared drinks, I thought I'd go out on a limb and make some political/entertainment commentary.

I've been sitting in front of a flat screen TV more than your average couch potato lately. Movies and Fox News are pretty much all I can tolerate. I like those spy/war movies. Watching those kind of movies is like getting a steroid injection and a high-intensity workout without ever leaving my Lazy-boy. The Shooter and the latest Bond flick, Casino Royale are the most recent DVDs I've seen. One thing I notice when I watch too much Fox News combined with politically charged action flicks is that reality and fantasy kind of morphs into a world view that gets slightly skewed. But that keeps the conversation interesting when we're on the verge of electing a new president.

The Shooter was a cool movie where Mark Wahlberg plays a retired Marine Gunnery Sgt. (my dad's a retired Marine Gunny) that takes on war mongering ex-military national security types run by a red-state Republican megalomaniac/senator (the ultimate bad guy). I dug this movie. It celebrates the highly-trained-but-easily-duped-military-patriot-regular-blue-collar-guy while demonstrating how incredibly-evil-money-and-power-hungry-Republican-conservatives with more authority and weapons than they can morally commandeer. The bottom line message of the movie is that we hate our government but love and support the troops that carry out their leaders' evil will. For some reason I found it very entertaining and will probably kick my work-out up a notch so I can be as buff as Wahlburg.

I also saw Casino Royale. I've never been a fan of James Bond movies, but I kinda dug this movie.
They cast Daniel Craig as the latest Bond James Bond. I personally think Craig is even more studly than Sean Connery (but don't tell the charming and beautiful Susan I said so) or Roger Moore (Roger Rabbit is more macho than Roger Moore). The latest Bond fights and breaks all laws of gravity like Jackie Chan. But Craig's got funny looking ears.
They remind me of a Delorean with its doors open.

I also think that the movie was a little ahead of its time as far as political commentary is concerned. If you've been staying in tune with our slow news summer as I have, Russia has been making news lately with claiming the North Pole and a defiant, demonstrative show of military prowess. I think its interesting that they made the antagonist in Casino Royale look like Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Putin

Le Chiffre

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Tough News

Last week Ali was declared legally blind.

Ali's optometrist says that Ali has mild optic atrophy. The doctor arrived at this conclusion using equipment that revealed that Ali has a pale optic nerve. Like most normal people, I don't really understand what this means so I have to Google things on the Internet to become somewhat knowledgeable about this stuff. Apparently, it's not the end of the world. In fact, the doctor said that most of the time, this isn't picked up on until a kid is eight to ten years old and has some trouble in school. Knowing this early will permit us to begin teaching her early to maximize the vision she has. I take some comfort in knowing that for the past twenty years, I drove among many who were legally blind yet issued a driver's license in South Florida.

Damage from shaken baby syndrome is far reaching. Every single day I think about what happened to Ali and I'm moved with emotion that I have difficulty processing. It's not fair. Ali's just a baby. I feel like I should be more grown up about this, but with Ali being hurt, Susan and I having to move over three thousand miles, leaving my friends in Florida, and watching my family get separated, Ive been reduced to tears and disbelief and often questioning God. I've said it before: I don't have enough of a theological grip on the way things work to answer all the questions that come to mind. This is not the life I picked.

But, then, we don't get to pick, do we? We like to think we're in charge of our destinies, but are we? The bottom line is I've given my life away. When I trusted Christ with my life, future and eternity, I gave it all to Him. So I know He'll strengthen me and give me the wisdom I need to live it honorably before Him.

So many lives around us have been changed by what's happened to Ali. And I don't expect that the impact her little life has had is in vain. Diagnosis or no diagnosis, this is the beginning of an amazing story with Ali as the lead character.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Back Home with My Girls

Again, I'm chastised for my blog-sloth. I'm not posting enough in frequency or content about Ali.

I'm lagging behind in pictures.

Information and prayer requests are spotty.

This will change. I will do better, I promise.