Christmas Pictures

And, finally, here are some Christmas pictures for you to enjoy...

Check out our living room 'mess' once everything was opened.

Washington DC

It is a day of disjointed posts, to be sure, but a few weeks ago I was in Washington DC for a campus director's conference with CCC. I love DC, and managed to get out for a few hours to speedwalk the city and take in the sites. It was late, and the wind chill was in the single digits, so I had a hard time getting many good pictures, but here are a couple I am proud of. I like low-light photos with a wide-open exposure, but they are tough to take when the wind is blowing and gusting to 50 mph. So pardon the blur if you detect any:

Above, the capital building.

The next two are of the WWII Memorial, which has been completed since I was last in Washington DC. It is really beautiful at night:

And next, Donald Rumsfeld's office. Yes, the real deal. One of the guys I was traveling with had a former student who now works at the Pentagon, and got us an after-hours tour.

Of course I actually worked on this trip, too. It was a roundtable format where other directors with similar situations to mine (large city, small team, many schools, etc) discussed and shared ideas. It was a productive and enjoyable time.

Reading is done!

I mentioned some time ago that I have been teaching Alex to read over the last several months. The program we have been working through is made up of 100 daily lessons, and is designed for four- and five-year olds. Well, today Alex finished his course! He read all the way through lesson 100 with only two or three mistakes. His reading is tremendous, and he enjoys spotting words and signs when we are out. Here he is holding up his book in triumph:

(He is wearing his Spiderman pajamas received as a gift from one of his Aunts!)

Collide Conference

Our family hopes that all of our family and friends had as wonderful of a Christmas as we did! I leave tomorrow for our Winter Conference, held each year during the week after Christmas. About 600 students from all over the Northwest will be in attendance.

Read more about the conference here.

I will have stories from the conference soon!


Alex the runner

Alex ran a 5k this past Sunday. That's 3.1 miles for the metrically-challenged.

I'll say it again: 3.1 miles. He's five years old.

He did the whole course in 49 minutes. Other racers were so excited to see him out there, and hw drew cheers all along the course. We're pretty sure he was the youngest one in the race, although there was another five-year old that we didn't see.

Anne and I ran it with him, and Allison rode in the stroller along the way. He beat me at the finish line to earn a post-race treat for he and his sister!

What's new?

Well, it has been some time since we last posted. Much has been happening, which is why it has been a while. In the last four weeks I have travelled for two weeks, once to Reno NV and once to Washington DC, and school was out the week of Thanksgiving, putting me further behind with various campus responsibilities. What that effectively means is that in the last four weeks I have been away from campus for three of them.

Reno was a mix of two different conferences. One was a training on how to effectively coach students and ministries from a distance...basically, how to use technology to allow us to build ministries even if we are unable to be present all the time. Then I was a part of a two-day retreat for other campus directors from around the Northwest, getting updates on events in other places, and having some small input into the direction of things in our part of the world.

Then Thanksgiving happened. It was quite enjoyable, as our family spent the day with a woman from our church who made a tremendous dinner. I regret that I only have one stomach at times like that. Good food always makes me sad that I can't eat more!

But the week of Thanksgiving was a hiccup in the schedule. Students and staff pretty much disappeared for the whole week, so it was difficult to make any contacts.

Last week I was in Washington DC for a national conference with CCC. The theme of the conference was a roundtable discussion of other leaders in my position, leading ministries across a whole city or large geographical area. We talked about unique challenges we face, and what things work well to address those challenges. Some topics were how to utilize volunteers, how to keep a staff team connected to each other when they are on different campuses each day, how to provide ministry for faculty on campus, and the changing nature of youth culture that will necessitate different ministry tactics.

Now I'm home, and have a couple weeks until our Winter Conference. Time will be spent catching up on some details that are way behind completion, meeting with my staff team to process their semester so far, and making some changes and adjustments to the overall function of things and the specific campus mnistries in Portland.


Happy Birthday Allison!

Today Allison turned three. We had a busy day. We started the day opening gifts (her big present was a bike), and then had a small party with a friend at Krispy Kreme. The rest of the day was spent enjoying all the new presents. I always let the kids pick what they want for dinner on the night of their birthday. Allison's choice...corn dogs and pink stuff (which is a mixture of cool-whip, marshmallows, raspberries, and jello). She also picked out 'Pink Divinity' ice cream to go with the cake, which, along with being quite pink, had a blend of marshmallows and cherry-flavoring. Surprisingly, no one was sick following our dinner. Enjoy the pictures....



...we got our recognition as a group by Washington State University Vancouver. I have been working on this for weeks, and the process has been agonizingly slow, although not really due to the school. Anyway, we are going ahead with starting our ministry there in January!


Kid Humor

Is it cute or alarming when an almost-three year-old creates her own sixth-grade humor? Judge for yourself -

One of Allison's favorite games and movies is "Candyland". Anne asked her how she would like living in Candyland. Allison's answer:

"I would eat too much candy, and it would give me diaweeah."

In the movie one of the characters steps in peanut butter and it sticks to his shoe. Allison told me:

"EEEWWW! He stepped in dog poop. In Candyland, dog poop is made of peanut butter!"

We say it all the time - she is just like her Dad. Uh-oh.

Day of Service

Coming up at the end of December is our Northwest Winter Conference, where 800 students involved in Campus Crusade come from all over the Northwest to gather for a week for worship, teaching, equipping, and outreach. It has fallen to my Portland team to plan the day of outreach to the city of Portland.

We have been frantically calling service organizations all over the city to find places where these college students can spend the day serving others and proclaim the Gospel through their words and deeds.

We have been in contact with homeless shelters, Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Habitat for Humanity, nursing homes, and churches all over the area. Please pray, as this is a huge undertaking to bring all these details and locations together!

More on the conference later...


Kid Logic

This morning during cartoons, a commercial came on for some sort of craft-type toy. The commercial went on and on extolling the virtues of the product and listing all the things you could do with it. Allison, captivated, turned around and told us:

"Wow, if I had that, I could do whatever I wanted!"

Advertising is indeed a powerful medium.


Turkey Trot

We started off our Thanksgiving holiday at the Oregon Zoo for the Oregon Road Runner's annual Turkey Trot. The kids both participated in the 1K tot trot. It was pouring rain that morning, so we didn't bother with the camera to document the event. Here are some pictures of them following their race with their ribbons and t-shirts. At the finish line they received a candy cane and a chocolate turkey.


More on the journey

A few weeks ago I was recounting my journey in ministry over the last two years. I mentioned that there have been a few verses from the Bible that God has used to define my journey. Daniel 7:13-14 is one.

The other is John 20:21. Jesus says to his disciples, "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." This has been a watershed verse for me as I have meditated on it. Remember from Daniel 7 that Jesus was given all glory, authority, and sovereign power from the Father. Why? So he could fulfill the promise and reconcile lost men and women to the Father.

Jesus' followers would have heard Jesus refer to himself as the "Son of Man" on numerous occasions, and they would have known he was claiming to be the Son from Daniel &. When Jesus claimed the title of the Son of Man, he was saying that he had been given all glory, authority, and sovereign power.

Can you imagine their reaction when Jesus said, very clearly, that he was sending them as he himself was sent? Imagine the owner of the company you work for called you into his office and told you that at that time you had all his authority and power to run the company, as he himself had. How would you react? No matter what, I bet the size of the task would overwhelm!

As I thought about this, I realized that Jesus' words apply to us as well. The disciples commissioned their followers in the same way. There exists a chain of descent from Jesus, through his followers, all the way down through the ages of church leadership, to you and I!

In my journey, I needed to hear this and learn it. I often am tempted to serve out of my own gifts and wisdom. The bad thing is I can usually get pretty far that way. But then inevitably I end up fighting God when he and I come to odds on how, when, or why something should be done. For me to learn that I have been sent with purpose, and with power, this has allowed my to confidently submit to the leading of Jesus. If he has sent me, as he was sent, that means that I have all his power and all his authority at my disposal, and that I use them in the best way I can to bring him all the glory. Being sent that way demands humility so as not to misuse or misrepresent. It means that we can have total confidence. It also means that when we suffer, we know that Jesus too suffered, and that if we are to go as Jesus did, that we too must suffer and sacrifice.

That commission does not apply only to full-time ministers, by the way. As far as I can see, it applies to all of us who claim to follow Christ. Imagine what the world would look like if we all (myself included - I get it wrong more than anyone) lived as if we were sent to the world as Jesus was sent to the world, to serve, love and sacrifice, in order to glorify God and build his kingdom? I am shaken sometimes to think how lives would change!

Portland State update

If you have been following the events at Portland State through our blog and newsletters, you have neard the story of how we were approached by the coach of the women's basketball team to start a Bible study there. Of the 15 players, 12 came to the initial study.

Two weeks ago, Shasta, the CCC staff woman leading the study, took the whole study through the Gospel, looking at Scripture along the way. Seven of the players were there; all seven decided to invite Christ into their lives.

Thanks for praying as you have. Please continue to pray. God is working on our campuses, and we are rushing to keep up with all the opportunities he has given us.


More kid logic

Tonight Alex was reading one of the Mercer Mayer books to himself. The boy in the story is being sent to bed but keeps making up games so he doesn't have to go. Finally the dad yells at the kid to "Just go to bed!" The kid responds with "But I'm a bunny!"

Alex is learning that an exclamation point means excited or loud speech, so he interpreted that exchange as the boy yelling back at the dad. His response:

"Wow, the boy yelled back at his dad! That's not so good though...it just means there will be more yelling."


My girl

Allison is almost three. She calls snowflakes "frosties". It makes me sad that one day she will call them snowflakes!


Alex's school fundraiser

Alex's school hosted a spaghetti dinner tonight to raise funds for the school.

It was chaos.

The tables were set up in the gym, and apparently it is a rule that all kids under the age of six must run as fast as possible, without looking around, in every direction. It was like a flock of birds had been released inside the gym, with random direction changes and 80-decibel squawking. As I could discern the rules of the running game, bonus points seemed to be awarded for slamming into adults trying to carry cups of juice back to the tables.

There were some pretty cool crashes, too. Full-on, state fair demolition derby-style crashes. At one point some kid knocked over a cubicle divider, the noise of which reverberated across the gym. Every parent's head in the place came up, not to see if anyone was hurt, but to hope that it was not their kid that knocked it over.

We got out alright, though, and had a pleasant evening.

(No children were harmed in the above events.)

Pacific University

I had an encouraging meeting today with Dave and Karen, who are campus ministers at Pacific University with another campus ministry. We talked about how we could work together to build one another up and help each other succeed in ministry.

We agreed that for CCC to come to campus and set up another group might be covering the same ground twice, as they are doing a fantastic job of evangelism and discipleship on campus. But, they have some ethnic and foreign student contacts on campus that would like to launch ministries into their affinities but are unsure how to do so.

Thankfully this year CCC has some team members who are specialists in ethnic and international ministry. So, our team will be heading out to Forest Grove in a few weeks to see if God has given us favor to begin targeted ministries to these people groups.

I love it when ministries can work together this way. Each has something to offer, and the trick is to keep open minds and hands and allow God to lead each one to be used in the most effective way.


Portland Metro updates

So much has been happening in ministry lately that it has been hard to keep up. Along with Anne and I being out of town for two weeks in October, I have been behind on alot of things. Here, in bullet form, are a few quick updates:

Linfield College - One of our staff team members, Crystal, has been desiring to start African-American ministry groups on the campuses in Portland. Linfield, as she found out, has 28 A-A students in attendance. When she called the campus's Multicultural Office, they were a little hesitant about what she was asking about. When they met her and saw that she is A-A herself, they got excited! The office is now helping Crystal get a Bible study started for A-As at Linfield.

University of Portland - UP is a Catholic university that allows CCC access to perform the role of Protestant student activities, since nearly half of their student body is Protestant by background. Due to the nature of the agreement, CCC is not able to be very overt in how they go about publicizing and recruiting students for involvment. Three years ago some students from CCC organized a "Dodgeball For Jesus" tournament for the whole school. It has become one of the largest events on campus each year. This year saw almost 200 players on 30 teams, and dozens more spectators. While not overtly outreach-oriented, this event promotes good relations with the school, as well as exposes the whole campus to the CCC group, where Gospel relationships are formed.

Portland State - A few weeks ago I mentioned that we were approached by the women's basketball coach who wanted to know if we could start a Bible study on the women's team. 12 women from the team have been faithfully attending and are hungry for Christ and spiritual growth. Recently, Shasta, the CCC woman who has been leading the study, has been approached by the women's soccer coach as well to start something similar. Shasta has also caught wind of interest among the men's football team.

Also at Portland State - Sarah, a CCC staff who has been seeking opportunities for ministry among the international students in Portland, has discovered a once-per-week coffee house put on by the university that draws about 100 students from all over the world. Sarah has been given permission from the school to hand out some evangelistic materials and launch a Bible study among those interested.

Clark College - Abe and Jen, two CCC staff working to reach Asian-American students, visited Clark College and found a fairly large and very spiritually open population of Asian students. They are following up contacts there to try and put together a ministry to Asian-Americans at Clark.

Lewis and Clark College - One of our prayers for years at LC has been that God would surface men to lead ministry on that campus. In any given year, there will be one or less involved at all in any of the Christian groups. Josiah, a CCC staff, this year is leading a Bible study of three men who are all growing in their faith. Josiah has high hopes that these men will form a core of male leadership that our group at LC has never had.

New Orleans - Hurricane Katrina continues to grip the hearts of students in Portland. Another group plans to go for a week in December, and word has it that more will go again during Spring Break. I am amazed that their attention has remained so focused, more than a year after the storm hit.

East Asia - We will have a group of students and staff traveling to East Asia in December to do contact work and evangelism for ten days or so. In years past as many as 25 students have gone on this trip.

God is at work in Portland!

Truck update

I had the truck repaired last week...if you remember, it stalled out during Friday rush hour traffic. Thankfully the fix was pretty simple.

BUT...a few weeks ago the kids, who love to play inside my truck, broke the windshield wipers so they no longer turn on. This wasn't a big deal until last week when it started raining. So today I took the steering column apart to fix the wipers.

Good news...the wipers work again.

Bad news...the hi-beam headlights don't.

Life is like that, no? If it's not one thing, it's something else. At least I can see when it rains!


Sending Associates Conference

I (Anne) just returned from one week in Orlando, Florida. Apart from enjoying the Florida sunshine, which coming from the NW I truly appreciate, I was there as part of Campus Crusade's Sending Associate Conference. A Sending Associate is a role within Campus Crusade that works specifically with our new staff applicants. We assess, evaluate, hire and develop individuals and then send them to the mission field. I've served in this role for 4 years, and I absolutely love it. As a mom, I feel that my impact (while limited because of my responsibilites at home) is great because God is using me to influence new missionaries who will serve across the US and the world.

Last spring I was asked by Crusade's National Sending and Recruiting team to help give leadership to this conference. This was one of the largest responsibilities I've taken on in my 8+ years on staff, and I must say, most enjoyable. I felt confident in my ability, not only because of how the Lord has gifted me, but also because of a highly qualified team I was working with out of Orlando. Over the course of 4 days we trained new Sending Associates and fine-tuned the skills of those who have been doing this far longer than I.

I believe in Crusade's process that one goes through in order to join our staff full-time. If it remains one that both serves and develops our applicants, I'm convinced we will continue to send more and more laborers into the mission field.


Alex the biker

I went running last night and Alex rode his bike with me while I ran. This has become something he and I love to do. My dad and I used to do that when I was a kid, and I have fond memories from those times.

Anyway, we ended up going six miles tonight. Alex rode his bike six miles. Yesterday he ran 1.5 miles. He is five years old. Amazing.


So Friday, on my way home from our weekly staff meeting, my pickup truck stalled and died at a stoplight. It has been sputtering for a couple weeks now, but that has gone away as the truck has warmed up. Yesterday, the sputter came to collect.

It was actually a good thing for several reasons. First, I was about to enter traffic on I-84 during rush hour on Friday. This is one of the busiest stretches of road in the Northwest. Breaking down just two minutes later would have fouled up traffic for miles in every direction, so I am thankful that didn't happen. Second, the weather was nice, so I didn't have to wait in the rain or the dark for a tow truck. Third, I have not needed to do any repairs greater than routine maintenance on that truck for almost five years now. It has served us masterfully.

Fourth, Anne and I have been thinking for some time now that we need to replace the truck with a more sensible car. I drive a ton, and the 15 mpg that I get just isn't cutting it anymore. Plus, with sputters and creaks and groans, it is showing its 15 years more regularly than it used to.

Would you please pray for a car for us? We are looking for a four-door, Camry/Accord-style car, although other models would certainly be fine too. It does not need to be new or flashy, but it will need to be in good mechanical shape for use around Portland and during our summer travels here, there, and everywhere. And we would like it to look decent; I loathe the "poor missionary" look that the peeling paint and rust on my truck communicate. We feel that it doesn't do honor to how well God has provided for us over the years.

We aren't in a hurry, yet. But this incident seems to be God telling us to start looking.


My girl

Before we had kids, I wasn't sure how I would do with a girl. I am not the most sensitive guy. I have no feminine side to get in touch with, and I tend to be very direct when I communicate. I am oblivious to fashion, and I have no grid to process cosmetics of any kind, be it makeup, paint, or fancy curtains.

I must say, I have been surprised by Allison. I love to go to her tea parties; I love to listen to her talk about "beautiful stuff" (makeup and hair care); I love to watch her TV shows with her. Tonight she and I watched "The Saddle Club", a show about three girls, their horses, and the adventures they all have together. I had a great time watching it, too.

Laugh at me if you want (but don't expect me to laugh at you laughing at me - my daughter gets a pass that no one else does!). She has been talking about Saddle Club all week. Every day she has asked me if it was going to be on today or another day. Her excitement has been contagious.

I have long thought that most Christians think too harshly of God. Yes, he is righteous and sinless and will judge. Yes, some will be condemned in his sight. But for those of us who stand as children of the Father through a relationship with Jesus, does he not love us exceedingly more than we fathers love our own children?

The Bible says that God "delights" over his people (children). If I delight at Allison's tea parties and girlie TV shows, which believe me are way out of my realm, how much more can we be certain that God the Father loves us, wants us to have good things, and is delighted when we are pleased with his blessings?

I hope that we all can learn to be loved by God the way that he really would have us be loved by him. I hope that just as Allison's excitement was contagious for her TV show, that Jesus' assurances that the Father is wanting to love us and be our True Father will be contagious too.

Alex the speedster

Today at school Alex's class had a runathon to raise some money. Anne showed up to pick Alex up and he was soaked from head to toe with sweat. He ran 1.5 miles in 15 minutes.

I am amazed. His short legs running at a 10-minute per mile pace is incredible! Apparently he was all confidence, too. He told the teachers that he knew how to pin his number on because he has already done a couple races. He also talked about his "next race", a 5k he wants to run in a few weeks.

This kid is already faster than I was in junior high school. I ran a mile in 11 minutes when I was 10.


This is creepy...

I was there when this happened. I didn't see it, but I was right where it happened the night before and the night after. Eerie. Read with caution - it is a fairly graphic news story.


Old beyond their years

I have begun to notice a disturbing tendency in my children. It isn't always obvious, and sometimes I go for weeks without noticing, but it is there nonetheless if I look for it: they are growing up.

Yesterday I had the kids in the car. I flip channels on TV and the radio very rapidly, usually knowning in less than a second if it is something I want to watch/listen to. I was changing the radio stations and scanned quickly through the song "Let's Get It Started" by the Black-Eyed Peas. I had moved on in less than a second when from the back seat:

Allison: "Dad, turn that back. That was the "Get Started" song!"
Me, amazed: "How did you know that?"
Alex: "We hear it sometimes when Mom drives."

They proceeded to sing most of the words, including all the "yeah yeahs" and "uh huhs", spot on. Amazing.

Retreat update

As I mentioned a few days ago, much has happened around our house lately. Last weekend I was away for our Portland Metro Fall Retreat.

Overall, the quality of the weekend was high. Our speaker, Sam Osterloh, did an amazing job of bringing the Bible to life as he spoke about the book of Ruth. He spoke about how Naomi and Elimelech turned aside from their inheritance in Israel to pursue their own life in Moab, a lowly place. When Naomi and Ruth returned to Israel, they were redeemed from their wanderings by Boaz, and brought back into the family of God. Sam drew a beautiful image of sin, repentance, and redemption that will long stick with me.

Worship was good as well. Brian, a friend of Campus Crusade, led a simple but powerful worship set. When the worshipers sing louder than the worship leaders, that is a good thing.

The turnout was poor, however. This year is my first year as campus director, and I have been wondering what role this retreat plays in the overall ministry to the city. Students just did not respond well to our efforts to recruit (admittedly we could have done more, but that seems too much like manufacturing momentum). So, I head to the drawing board to determine if God is signalling a change for the next time around, or if we see this as an anamoly and continue to do business as usual.

Either way, the weekend was good. God was glorified, the Gospel was preached, and we learned a little more about how to do ministry better.


Pictures from the city

The French Quarter seems back to normal. Here are a few pictures I took on a short visit after a day of work. The French Quarter mixes history and seediness in equal measures, as you can see.

St. Louis Cathedral...a truly beautiful building. A psychic sitting on one of the benches asked us where we were from. Irony is funny.

This band is called "The Remedy". They are very good. If you are in New Orleans, go see them.

Stories from the field

Here are a few scattered stories from New Orleans to give a picture of what it is like there...

Have you ever mopped a floor? Do you know how the water in the mop bucket gets brown and smelly really fast? In a hurry, have you ever used the brown water to "clean" the floor? If you have, then you know the smell of a room that has been mopped with dirty mopwater. Well, that is what New Orleans smells like, in my opinion. The whole city smells like it has been washed down with that nasty-smelling mop water. Initially it was hard for me to adjust to the work there because the smell was so bad in so many places, and everything felt sticky. I don't know if that is how it always was before, but it wasn't until we started actually doing service work for people that I was able to put aside my recoil and get about helping others.

The wind-damaged areas of town seem to be pretty much back to normal, in terms of function and population. The flooded areas, however, are obviously still years away from normal. A few brave families have moved back into houses in St. Bernard and the Ninth Ward. Essentially they are camping inside their gutted houses; they are sleeping on cots among the bare studs, wires, and subfloors. They are rebuilding their houses as they have the money to do so...a room here, a room there. In many cases they do not yet have electricity or water in their houses.

The worst part of gutting a house is the refrigerator. They were filled with water when the floods came, and for some reason the water never leaked back out. So, 14 months later, after heat and rot, the "Katrina Stew" inside a refrigerator is among the most overpowering smells one could ever experience. The smell of a breached fridge has caused many relief workers to be violently ill on the spot. Because of this, gutters are instructed not to move a refrigerator until the very end of the gutting process, to avoid spilling or leaking even a small amount of the foul black ooze. Regardless of the warning, I decided it would help my group to move a fridge out of the way of the hallway it was blocking, and sure enough, the door opened and the ooze came out everywhere. I could smell it through my p100 super-filtration mask. I could smell it outside at the street. My group was not happy. Not happy at all. I apologized profusely. Even so, I heard stories about myself later that day from others not in our group - "Hey, I hear some idiot moved the fridge at one of the houses today." "Yeah, that was me." "Oh...that was dumb."

I have never seen so many roaches. It was like science fiction.

My favorite thing is having a hammer in one hand and a crowbar in the other. There is a certain technique that allows you to hammer and pry and remove an entire 4x8 sheet of panelling or sheetrock at one time. It is such a rush. You feel like some kind of man-machine. An entire room can be stripped in a matter of minutes. I literally cannot get tired of doing that.

The act of kicking down a door almost never happens for a happy reason - imagine bringing your baby home from the hospital and kicking down the door in excitement - but it is one of the most powerful feelings when you do it, and it is my belief that we each must take every advantage of an opportunity to do so.

Many of the volunteers who responded to the need are no longer there. The relief effort is hurting due to lack of interest. There are still several years' worth of work to do. The residents have no hope to rebuild apart from the efforts of volunteers.

I stepped on a nail that broke the skin on the bottom of my foot, even through my work boots. It can be dangerous work.

Many residents have no insurance to cover the damage. It is classified as flood damage, which is not covered by most home insurance policies. They must rebuild from their own pockets.

The camraderie from this type of work is intense. Friendships are nearly instantaneous.

New Orleans

New Orleans was amazing, again. I can't get away from how moving it is to work there to help the helpless rebuild their lives. 27 students and 6 CCC staff went with our group, and had a tremendous experience.

We stayed at a Habitat for Humanity shelter: Camp Hope, in the St. Bernard Parish. This shelter is an amazing facility; any of you who plan to go should look into staying there. It is clean, well-organized, has good food, abundant hot water for showers, and air-conditioned sleeping quarters. When you are doing really dirty work like house gutting, these accomodations allow you to work harder and be more effective.

This is Kat, a woman whose house we worked on. Her insurance company cancelled her policy without notice in June 2005, two months before her house flooded. All day she was combing through the pile of debris we were making in front of her house. I will long remember the tears in her eyes when I handed her a picture of her daughter at her Homecoming Formal that had been untouched by flood water.

This is the debris pile at lunch time. We had been working for a few hours at this point, but the pile was twice as large at the end of the day, and there was still quite a bit more for the next day. Try and imagine for a moment what it would look like if everything you owned was piled in the street in front of your house. And then all the sheetrock and insulation and carpeting was thrown on top of that. This pile topped out at around nine feet high and stretched along the whole front of her property. This was a modest house.

Here are some of the University of Portland students on their lunch break, talking with Kat.

Overall, it was a great experience. Next week we will be having a meeting to debrief from our trip. I am excited to hear how they are processing what they saw.

Crazy times!

We are in the middle of a crazy two weeks. I was in New Orleans last week, got back, went to our Fall Retreat, and then Anne left for Orlando all of this week. My mom was in town but left today, my birthday was on Sunday, and Alex has a birthday party today. Which way is up?

Anyway, things are starting to look a little sane again. I am going to give some time today to catching up with everyone on New Orleans and everything else. There is much to share.

Thanks for being patient!


Back from New Orleans

I'm back from New Orleans. I will catch up on posting soon, I promise, with pictures and some stories. Tomorrow I am off to Portland Metro's Fall Retreat, out at the beach.

Anne leaves next week for her national CCC Human Resources Conference. She has planned much of it, and it is almost here.

After that, we are in the routine of life for a couple months. I travel a couple times in Novmber and December, but mostly we will have some stable time as a family.

Have a great weekend!


You always hurt the ones you love

Yesterday was a tough day with Allison. She was low-grade moody all day, and threw an epic tantrum right before dinner. By the time I got home, Anne had had enough. As she was venting to me about her day with her daughter, she said:

"You should take her for a while. She's your daugther. She's just like you: grouchy when she wakes up, loud, stubborn...well, at least she doesn't look like you!"

I found this extremly funny. I have always said that one of my fears was that I would have a daughter that looked like me.

I have long thought that we say things to our spouses that we would never say to anyone else. I actually think that is a good thing, since a marriage should be a place where you can trust each other to say and hear anything.

Even so, that was a good one! (Anne was right on all counts, by the way.)

Oh, and Anne can share some of my blurted-out gems too, if she wants.

Alex gets it

Last week I spoke at two different home Bible studies on two different nights. I enjoy sharing our ministry with others, but it usually drags a little on me because I have to be away from my family in the evening.

This time around I wanted to find out if Alex is finally old enough to come with me to some of my "meetings" (as the kids call anytime Dad leaves the house). I took him along to the first one, and he did great! He was polite and respectful to the adults, he behaved himself, and even cleaned up after himself when it was time to leave. (Seriously, I looked him over to see if someone had injected him with something!)

When we got home I told him he did so well that he could come with me again to my next meeting. He asked me if Allison could come too!

Me: "No, buddy, I don't think so."
Alex: "Why not, Dad?"
Me: "Well, Alex, what happens when you and Allison are around each other sometimes?"
Alex: "Ooooohhhhh, riiiight, goofing around."

Off to New Orleans

So, I leave for New Orleans tomorrow on a flight at the dark hour of 6:10 am. I am excited to go; it has come up on me very quickly. Many of the students who are going are not Christian, so our staff team and student leaders have an amazing opportunity to share Jesus with them. Pray for many chances to do so!

Also pray for our safety and the logistics of the trip. This time around I haven't been the one pulling the whole thing together as I did last time. Students have really owned the planning of this one. Still, we have several different flights arriving both Sunday and Monday, we will be working with two different relief agencies, and our departures are on two different days as well.

I'll have pictures when I get back.


The Pumpkin Patch

We had a beautiful 70 degree day here in Portland so we hit a Pumpkin Patch. Here are a few photos from our outing. Enjoy!


Now, my daughter has done it too...

I (Anne) was checking my e-mail yesterday morning in our home office. Now, I must say our office is not childproof and the kids spend very little time in there. Allison came down to see what I was doing, and I admit, I was focused more on the computer than on her. I heard the sound of 'snip, snip' and when I turned I discovered she was cutting her own bangs with a pair of scissors. Fortunately, I was close enough to stop her after only two cuts.

Later, when Adam asked her about it, her reply was, 'Well, if you guys would have put the scissors away, I wouldn't have had to cut my hair.' Pretty logical for a 2 1/2 year old.

This seems to be a rite of passage in a young girl's life. I've noticed they either cut their own hair, or someone elses'. What I am wondering is why it always seems to happen right around a prime photo time, like a scheduled Christmas card picture. :)

You can see the missing pieces below. The good thing is, we can hide it behind the rest of her bangs.


Clark County update

So we have had a difficult time over the years getting campus ministries established at both Clark County schools - Clark College and Wahington State- Vancouver. But, God seems to be showing us favor this year.

I meet tomorrow with the pastor of a nearby church that would like to explore a partnership with Campus Crusade at Clark College. At a commuter school, it is often difficult for us to find enough students who can lead a ministry at their campus. A church partnership brings an established group of students to build the ministry around. Campus Crusade provides on-campus access, resources like our Freshman Survival Kits, and numerous conference and mission opportunities. This type of partnership can be tough to set up, but has mutual benefits for us and for the church involved and is worth the effort.

Also, I have been contacted by a faculty member at Washington State - Vancouver who is considering being our faculty advisor. All campus student groups need to have a faculty advisor, but this can often be the hardest part of getting established. He was approached in this case by a student who is helping to get CCC recognized at WSU-V.

Putting the pieces together at commuter schools can take time. I have seen it done hastily, and the result is almost always a poor group that has to be regularly restarted, or worse, shut down intentionally. If we are patient for God to assemble the right people and circumstances, we will have a better, more impactful group on campus.

We are looking to do the same thing (start-up in new locations) at several other schools in Portland. Please pray for the right people, circumstances, and wisdom to put them all together.


More thoughts about ministry

In a few previous posts I have recounted my discontent with ministry in the last two years. Read them again here, here, and here.

The next step in the process was the reading of a few key verses of Scripture that I felt addressed my dicontent directly. The first was Daniel 7:13-14. When I read and thought about it, I nearly fell out of my chair:

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory, and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”

Jesus made no secret about claiming to be the 'son of man'. Far from being his attempt to downplay his own deity, he was identifying himself as the fulfillment of the prophecy pictured here in Daniel. Jesus was saying that all authority, glory, and sovereign power were given to him by God the Father.

Does that strike you at all? The Christian culture has so over-emphasized the 'Sunday School' Jesus, who is gentle and kind and nice, that we have forgotten that he is also the most shockingly powerful being in all of creation and beyond. I have realized that true gentleness cannot exist wihtout power; when it tries, it is merely passivity. True kindness cannot exist without power; it is merely an empty gesture. Jesus can only forgive sins because he has been given the authority to judge.

This Jesus pictured in Daniel defies the very things I was discontented with. There can be no formula with such power; such power will do what it wills. There can be no passivity, for such power requires action and initiative. It will change anything it touches. Such power cannot possibly be irrelevant, for any force that has authority over life and the human heart will be sought by anyone who understands what it is capable of.

It has changed my thinking about ministry tremendously. As a minister (but really, as a Christian, as I will talk about) I am a steward and vehicle for this power. I am a servant of this Jesus, and he has involved me in his work. Now as I survey my life and ministry, I am constantly confronted with the question, "Is there anywhere, or anyone, who is not under the dominion of this authority, glory, and soveriegn power? Is there any place or circumstance where Jesus is not powerful, or where his dominion has passed? Has the Father taken some back, or failed to give all in the first place?" The answer to that question is so important!

More to come...


After the race

People have asked us how we have felt this week after the marathon. Truthfully, we have felt pretty good! Anne went walking for the first time again on Wednesday, and I ran yesterday for the first time since the race. We are already looking forward to another race sometime.

The photo on the left is after Anne finished, and the one on the right is coming across the St. John's Bridge at 17.5 miles. This is where I started to feel great and picked up my pace a little.

Something that has been fun for me has been how proud my dad has been of me while doing this. It's funny how I am almost 32 and I still get a kick out of impressing my dad.


Earlier this week I posted this:

"At one point the coach from one of the women's athletic teams came up to our table and asked us if we would come to her team and get a Bible study started. She shared how there are a few Christians on her team, and quite a bit of spiritually open women as well. Now one of our staff team members is following that up and putting together a study that we hope will grow to involve other athletes as well!"

One of the women on our CCC staff team went and spoke to the team as the coach had requested. When she was done talking, 12 women, almost the whole team, stayed to get a Bible study organized. Most of them are not Christians, but are interested in talking about Jesus and finding out who he is.

Thank you for praying. Please continue to do so, it makes a difference!


God is powerful even here...

at Lewis and Clark College. Determined by the Princeton Review to be the fourth most spiritually apathetic university in America, LC has a well-deserved reputation for skepticism. I wrote morre about LC here.

Anyway, one of my team members, Joe, recently set up an appointment with a baseball player who had indicated during our outreaches the first week of school that he would like to talk about spiritual things with someone. Joe called him up and they got together.

As Joe talked with Eric, he asked Eric if he wanted to hear about how he could know God and know he would have eternal life. Eric was more than excited to listen as Joe shared his own story about knowing Jesus. A short time later, Eric asked Jesus in to his life!

Joe is now meeting with Eric to help him learn and grow in his new relationship with God. Please pray for Eric as these first weeks are critical for him to become established in his realationship.


Prayer time

Today was Campus Crusade's national Day of Prayer. Our team took the morning and put aside our other responsibilities to meet together and pray for each other and our ministries.

It was very encouraging. In three hours together, we did not have enough time to thank God for all he has done so far in the six weeks we have been back on campus, nor did we have enough time to pray for all the things we see and sense him doing in our ministries.

It is great to be a part of something that God is using so greatly. I have never experienced having so much to pray for and be thankful for that time runs out, but it was really a wonderful experience.

Portland State University

Last week saw the launch of Portland State University. Our team was on campus all day, meeting students looking to be involved on campus.

At one point the coach from one of the women's athletic teams came up to our table and asked us if we would come to her team and get a Bible study started. She shared how there are a few Christians on her team, and quite a bit of spiritually open women as well. Now one of our staff team members is following that up and putting together a study that we hope will grow to involve other athletes as well!

We are seeing quite a lot of 'divine appointments' like this this year. Our staff team has been praying non-stop for God to surface opportunities like this one on all of our schools, and God is definitely being faithful to answer. We are starting to bog down a little in trying to follow them all up, and we still have several schools to launch. This is a good problem to have.

Please pray for us as we discover where God is working in Portland and attempt to join him there!

More kid language

Last night the four of us took a walk in the neighborhood park. We plan to run/walk a 5k with boht kids later this fall, and so we have been trying to get Alex to run a little (a couple hundred yards at a time) to practice a little.

Allison loves to run. She'll just take off and go. Alex doesn't like it quite as much and tends to goof off more when we run.

So, the three of us were doing a slow loop around the park and Alex was being goofy. Allison's advice, shouted at Alex while running as fast as her little legs could take her:

"Just do like I do - run and don't stop!"

Kid language

Allison tonight at dinner:

"When a hippa-ma-potamus poops, it wags its tail!"

She's right, too...they do it to spread out their scent. We saw it on a PBS special. It stuck in her mind. She blurted it out from nowhere, and we all laughed.

Alex's birthday request

I meant to post this last week, but I couldn't find the picture. Anne asked Alex what he wanted for his birthday dinner, if he could eat anything at all. His answer:

"Cream puffs, chicken strips with honey, and a donut."

Back in the saddle

OK, sorry the posting has been sparse lately. The marathon had us pretty full up the week before, and we have both been moving a little slower the last few days. I think we are pretty much up and about again, though, so there should be more coming your way this week.

There is much to report on, too!


Marathon report

Anne and I raced the Portland Marathon today. It was unbelievable!

We will post some pictures in a couple days, but here's the pertinent info:

Anne's goal: 6h 10m Anne's time: 6h 17m 56s
That's walking each mile at an average of 14m 25s. What an amazing woman!

Adam's goal: 4h 0m Adam's time: 3h 54m 22s (Adam's secret goal: 3h 55m)
That is an average of 8m 57s per mile.

Both of us feel pretty good. Anne has a blister, and both of us are sore, but it was a great time.

I was amazed as I looked around. I am no model of fitness, and I did fine. There were a lot of people who were working with less than God gave me and doing just as well as me. Having done one now, I don't think marathons are as inaccesible as most people think they are.

I want to thank my good friend Robb, who trained me for the race. He put a ton of time into coaching me, and every bit was useful and insightful.


Mount Hood Community College

This week we were at Mount Hood Community College to get the year started there. I posted about the ministry at MHCC here. Here are a few pictures from Wednesday, when my colleague, Josiah, and I were there.

I had a good talk with Sara (below in the pink shirt), who is a Christian student wanting to be a doctor. We talked about the strengths and weaknesses of the peer-review process in science. this basically is the procedure by which the scientific community decides what to accept as truth and what to reject. The strength is that it allows a tight control on what passes for fact. The weakness is that many things which challenge the accepted norm will be rejected, and some will later prove to be true. So, the scientific community wold say that intelligent design is false because no peer-reviewed study has ever been accepted or published. This is not the same as saying something is not true, however. It merely means that majority consensus thinks a certain way.

For an interesting example of how peer-review rejected a true hypothesis, read here. Even more interesting is that this story is about my great-uncle.

Read here to see how peer-review initially rejected Charles Darwin's theory.

Here are David, at left, our key leader at MHCC, and Josiah, center, talking with Tim, a student hurt by and hostile toward Christianity:

All in all, a very good day.


The Frosting is the Best Part...

I (Anne) had to add these pictures that I just came across. The first one is from Alex's second birthday. The second one is from Tuesday at dinner. Some things never change...


The birthday

Sorry I didn't get these up sooner, but here are a few pictures from Alex's 5th birthday. (No way we have a kid who's five...)

Here is the life of the party:

Here they both are:

Here are some of Alex's buddies from church:

Opening presents:

Alex's buddy Kaden at Chuck E. Cheese:

Cake at home:

My girl

No one else has a daughter this beautiful: