December 29, 2005

Back from vacation. It’s nice to be home in LA. We spent time in Iowa with Kari’s family and then drifted our way across I-80 towards West Michigan to be with my always-getting-bigger family. Interesting tidbits:

We played hours and hours of poker with both families. In Michigan, nine of us visited a theatre to watch “The Producers.” Forty-five minutes later, nine of us walked out. Every day was cloudy. For Christmas, I received $150, a new Go-Lite backpack, four books, a poker set, and a new drill from Menards. I finished 4th and 9th out of sixteen players at Laser Tag. We rented a compact car for the week. Instead, we got a “PT Cruiser” – our most despised car of the year. America West allows you to check in over the web twenty-four hours before a flight. That was real nice.

Cheers to America West, Ace Rental car, jobs that allow us the freedom to travel, and families willing to take a couple of drifters in for a few days.


December 15, 2005

Sorry, not the list that gets checked twice. :) No, it's December 15 - which means it's time for an exclusive "Movie Notes" review of the year's best and worst films. A few things to consider: One, I haven't seen Munich, The Weather Man, The Producers or Match Point - so these will not be factored in, though they might have been. Two, lucky for you, I actually did see every other film. :)

2005 "Best Picture" Favorites:
_Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
_The War Within
_A History of Violence
_King Kong
_Lord of War
_Hustle and Flow
_Good Night and Good Luck

2005 "Most Enjoyable":
_Lord of War
_Batman Begins
_Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
_Little Manhattan
_Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
_Be Cool

2005 "Best Actor" Favorites:
George Clooney_Syriana
Heath Ledger_Brokeback Mountain
Terrence Howard_Hustle and Flow
Jake Gyllenhall_Jarhead
Robert Downey Jr_Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
Joaquin Phoenix_Walk the Line (a VERY close second)
Nicolas Cage_Lord of War
Russell Crowe_Cinderella Man

2005 "Best Actress" Favorites:
Flora Cross_Bee Season
Gwynneth Paltrow_Proof
Thandie Newton_Crash
Maria Bello_A History of Violence

2005 "Best Writing":
Stephen Gaghan_Syriana
Paul Haggis_Crash
Noah Baumbach_The Squid & The Whale
George Clooney_Good Night and Good Luck
Jim Jarmusch_Broken Flowers

2005 "Movies that Made Me Cry":
_The War Within
_Innocent Voices
_Little Manhattan
_In Her Shoes
_Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
_Cinderella Man

2005 "Movies that Made Me Laugh":
_Little Manhattan
_Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
_Lord of War
_Be Cool

2005 "Breakout Performance":
George Clooney_Syriana
George Clooney_Wrote/Directed "Good Night and Good Luck"
Flora Cross_Bee Season
Carlos Padilla_Innocent Voices
Jack Black_King Kong

2005 "Worst Movies":
_Must Love Dogs
_Two For The Money
_Bee Season
_Monster In Law

December 8, 2005

I'm at the gym working out.
45 minutes on the stair climber. 15 minutes of lifting.
I walk down the stairs and enter the men's locker room.

The sign in the hot tub reads:
You must take a shower before entering.
You must wear a bathing suit before entering.

Being a rule abider, I wander over to the showers.
I then proceed to "the room" with bathing suit on.
BTW_The room is enclosed by glass on all sides.

Much to my joy, the room and hot tub are empty.
I wander down the invisible steps into hot waters.
I face away from the locker room for unwitnessed relaxation.

Suddenly, the door opens and a large, uneven man enters.
He came straight from a sweaty workout.
And, by the way, no shower.

And then, with one slow and gruntful move...
he takes off his shorts and underwear.
And then the moment I feared most.

His nakedness plops down next to me.

SO - what would you do?

a) get up and leave?
b) make conversation as if nothing just happened?
c) sit still, trying to remain invisible?
d) none of the above

December 2, 2005

Personality Tithe: "A price paid for becoming a couple; previously amusing human beings become boring: 'Thanks for inviting us, but Noreen and I are going to look at flatware catalogs tonight. Afterward we're going to watch the shopping channel.'" Generation X, 143

It's funny how much truth and reality flows through Coupland's thoughts. I only hope my life with Kari doesn't fall into this trap. I think the other side of coupledom is being able to become more independent and alive. Hopefully we make each other better.

And I really hope we're not boring.

November 28, 2005

PRE-POST: If you haven't read the post below, you should do so before you read what is next.

So here's the dilemna: I want deep friendships with people I share life with. And I want to live in a neighborhood/city that I love. But I also want to be content, no matter where I am. I want more...but I don't want to suffer from terminal wanderlust.

Call it wanderlust, call is passion, call it idealism - on April 1st 2005 - Kari and I decided to go for it. We had an ideal (a vision if you will) of what could be for our lives, our friends and our city - and we we going to make decisions that would hopefully lead to our dream of doing life with our friends in an urban setting. If it didn't least we knew we tried our best. And if it did? Read our ideals below:

// Most of all, we wanted to do life with our friends. We're still trying to figure out what this looks like, but we've made some steps. It means living within a mile of one another. Close enough to walk or ride bike. Being close allows you to connect whenever you want. When you're this close, you can get together for one tv show. Most people plan ahead of time to get together and usually happens once a month at best. Doing life with friends means meeting each other at a bar after work for pool and drinks. This is the ultimate in doing life together...calling each other up on the way home for work to see if they (he or she) want to grab a bite at Jakes. It means taking care of each other...looking out for each other. This means more when you're in a new city trying to think through jobs and finances and how to register your car at the dreaded DMV. It means watching each others kids, going on weekend trips together, constantly borrowing money (and milk and dishes and movies) from each other. And so much more...

// We also wanted to live in the city. This means walking everywhere...or riding bike. Cars become a pain and are only used when absolutely necessary. Urban dwelling means developing places that become common in the thread of a week. Theatres, restaurants, bars, shops, gym, church, post office, etc (all within walking distance of course) - it means going back to these places so much that we get to know the employees from each local establishment. This is what immersing yourself into a neighborhood means.

Our dream is now many months in the making and is better than we could have imagined. Sure, we sometimes think about other locations - but life is here in Pasadena. And it was worth the sacrifice.

Forget terminal wanderlust. But cheers to those of us who still want something more out of life. May we find ourselves living in between this delicate balance.

November 27, 2005

[top 3 movie of the year: Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang]
[new movie review: Walk The Line]

Terminal Wanderlust: "A condition common to people of transient middle-class upbringings. Unable to feel rooted in any one environment, they move continually in the hopes of finding an idealized sense of community in the next location." (Generation X, 171)

Anybody relate? I think Christians might call this "Chronic Discontentment." I used to fight this internal battle - will I ever be satisfied? Will I ever find the community I desire? Will I ever stop thinking about what's next? But not anymore.

I figured out a couple of things in the last 5 years:

1. That idealized community we all long for (like on tv's "Friends") is almost impossible to experience. First, not everyone wants community on the same levels. Second, you have to sacrifice to experience deep community, and not everyone is willing to sacrifice on the same levels. And third, there isn't an apartment building out there that has at least three vacancies, all on the same floor. KEY WORDS: sacrifice & want.

2. That idealized "next location" isn't actually better. The reality is the grass is just as dull and kind-of-brown on the other side. Plus, moving takes a lot of time and money. KEY WORD: reality.

3. That idealized perfect location isn't actually attainable either. The place where you live in the perfect community in the perfect city in the perfect state. Even the best places on earth (Sydney for example) can be lonely and dreary. And funnier still, places in middle America where the weather sucks can be exciting and hip. KEY WORDS: perfect & lonely.

So here's the tension: I want deep friendships with people I share life with. And I want to live in a neighborhood/city that I love. But I also want to be content, no matter where I am. I want more...but I don't want to suffer from terminal wanderlust.

Call it wanderlust, call is passion, call it idealism - on April 1st 2005 - Kari and I decided to go for it. We had an ideal (a vision if you will) of what could be - and we we going to make decisions that would hopefully lead to our dream of doing life with our friends in an urban setting. If it didn't least we knew we tried our best. And if it did?

The wanderlust dilemna will continue in a few days. :)

[for the sake of this being too long...and knowing you'll never read something too long...I'll post the second half in a few days.]

November 5, 2005

Part 2 is written and ready to be posted. But all this talk has got me thinking about Christians and our tolerance for people who question, doubt and reconsider their faith (read all the way through, I think it may be worth it). I’ve always been under the impression that it was good to question our faith. It was good to ask the hard questions and to take our time answering them. Several mentors even talked to me about the need to reshape my faith. We’re even told to doubt loudly, to share what we’re going through and question our faith in community. I think this goes back to our biblical desire to share our burdens with each other. We’re told to confess our sin, share our struggles and not keep things to ourselves. Even in recent years, it’s become more tolerant and safe to question, doubt and reform Christianity. Pop Christian books like Philip Yancey’s “Reaching for an Invisible God” and Brian McLaren’s “New Kind of Christian” trilogy have become A-list. I might even venture to say that questioning and being edgy has become cool. Rob Bell’s teachings and NOOMA video’s have sparked all kinds of conversations about revolutionizing Christianity as we know it. Even this past year I felt out of the loop for not reading Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz.” And all the hype around the book seemed to revolve around Miller’s honesty and ability to say what most of us think sometimes about God, Church and the Christian life. So not only is it okay to question our faith, for some, it’s a needed discipline. It’s even become “Christianly acceptable” recently…maybe even hip to doubt?

But apparently, doubting can go too far. There is a line that can be crossed and when it is, watch out. You could be written off in a moment. And people will venture to say anything. This is my frustration with Christian’s tolerance towards questioning, doubt and reshaping: We allow it up to a point. In other words, there is a “safe” way to doubt, but there is a point when it becomes dangerous and off limits. It’s okay to question and share differences on serious issues like world religions, Biblical inherency, and Christian exclusivism. It’s even okay to re-think spiritual disciplines like prayer and fasting. But be careful of re-thinking the Apostles Creed. And don’t bother thinking seriously or critically about Jesus death and resurrection (at least not enough to change your mind). And beware of reading author’s who don’t share an evangelical heritage. N.T. Wright is in. Marcus Borg is out. Well, it’s safe to read them, but over the line to agree with them. We can be honest with each other, but not too honest. Sharing what we really think about Jesus or how we really feel about Church publicly is as acceptable as confessing our deepest secrets and sin. You better keep that to yourself. Keep an open mind, but close it when it starts getting a little dangerous. Without knowing it, we seem to have made doubting and questioning an art form.

Beyond these invisible lines, I’ve found that the way we talk about our questioning is an art form too. Any sense of edgy creativity or unusual methods seems to be over the line. Keith Drury can write articles that push and prod ideas and values (and even use creative titles like “I Used to be a Gay Evangelical”) as long as he “comes around” on some level at the end. But articles that push and prod but don’t come around at the end are off limits. Apparently we can push people to think, but only so far. I’ve also found that if I write something remotely different, unorthodox or edgy, I need to sugar coat it with words of care and delicacy. Saying things like, “This is just something I’m thinking through” or a precursor that says “I really don’t believe all of this” is helpful. It’s also helpful to always present both sides of a matter so that everyone can visibly see the alternative. Being as winsome as possible so that fewer people are offended is a plus. And as I’ve found out recently, sarcasm is completely off limits - especially if it’s targeted at ourselves. It’s funny, we don’t have any qualms about questioning the lifestyle, practices and beliefs of those outside the faith – we even call them lost, broken and helpless and pray that they will find real life. But when it comes to really questioning our own beliefs and practices, we’re accused of all things imaginable. Again, without knowing it, we seem to have made the way we talk about our doubting an art form – full of invisible lines and safe dialogue.

How far is too far? It seems like we find out as we go. Except, I don’t always want to be safe. I’m not comfortable with always trying to perfectly craft my words so that I sound winsome and offend fewer people. And I want the freedom to use different methods to help people think. Whether it’s sarcasm, a provocative book review or a short story. Or gut level honesty. My point in writing my BLOG is twofold. One, I want to push people to think about their lives and their faith. Two, I want to use provocative methods to help this happen. And since 90% of the BLOGS I read are coming from a similar worldview, I hope this one can be different. I understand this may not be the most conventional BLOG or the most liked. And I understand that this leaves me vulnerable to lots of criticism. None the less, I think it’s worth it.

October 27, 2005

Migration toward lower-tech, lower-information environments containing a lessened emphasis on consumerism.
Generation X, 173

So I had to get pants tonight. I've been riding one pair of pants for almost 3 months now. Not one pair of jeans. One pair of PANTS. Do you know how hard it is to make it on one pair of pants when you're working full time?

"Is that what you wore yesterday?"

"No, this is what I've worn every day since I started."

So I had to get a pair of pants tonight. Determined not to sell out to the Gap, I've scoured half a dozen thrift shops and found nothing. But I can't wear my jeans to an interview tomorrow, right? So I hopped on my bike and began moving my legs ever so slowly down Euclid towards Route 66.

I walked in the Gap a little nervous. I'm uncomfortable in these consumer driven establishments. I always feel like I'm suddenly thrown into the ring of a popularity contest.

I ran through the sale rack. Nothing. I twitched over to several pants racks and grabbed the very size that drove me down to one pair. Damn weight loss.

As I ran out the doors, I felt relieved. I had a pair of pants and 33 more miles towards a flight on United. I later added 9 more miles from a store I won't admit to setting foot in.

Two pair of pants. 42 United miles. A short bike ride. And losing another popularity contests?


October 23, 2005

We started at 8pm off Highway 18 (free parking) and hiked by the moonlight for 5 miles. It was incredible! We went to sleep (on our comfy PILLOWS & EXTRA LONG sleeping pads) at around 10pm. We woke up just before hiker noon and spent the next 6 hours walking 15 more miles. Yes, that's right *name* - 15 MILES in 6 hours!! The PCT near Big Bear Lake was unbelievably EASY...huge switchbacks!! We kept laughing because every time we came to a turn in the trail, our natural instinct was to take the hard way - straight up...instead we'd take a sharp turn and continue on our lazy stroll in the woods! And best of all? The PAY-OFF was incredible!!

We decided that for any LA Patagonia-clad yuppies that we met, we had been hiking since Mexico and were well into a month on the trail. :) One lady yelled, "WHAT? You've been hiking for a month?!" Yep, and we've lost some weight too.

The bad news is two-fold. First, since our hike together in recently drenched NH, I've had a re-occuring sharp pain on the left side of my stomach (closer to my waist). Since the AT hike, it becomes painful after a long walk or a hard work-out. And after 20 miles, the pain kicked in hard core. So we walked to the nearest road (a dirt track at best). After an hour, the first car drove by, stopped, and drove us all the way back to our car. Typical, right? Second, a winter storm came in a few hours later!! The snow and 30 degree temperatures would have made us stiff. We had shorts and a t-shirt for clothing!

So we headed to Big Bear Lake for some thrift shops and a sports bar. We crashed in the car, woke up to giant flakes of snow and drove back down the mountain to 75 degree sun.

It was perfect.

October 4, 2005

The tendency in one's youth to avoid traditionally youthful activities and artistic experiences in order to obtain some serious career experience. Sometimes results in the mourning for lost youth at about age thirty, followed by silly haircuts and expensive joke inducing wardrobes. Generation X, 106

Any of you in your 30's, 40's or 50's experienced this? I'm doing my best to avoid the silly haircuts and embrace life as it is now! Though, I do grow the occasional beard...does this count as sillyness?

I do wonder what role Christianity plays in this...always trying to improve and get better and become mature. Good INTENTIONS, no doubt. But I often think of my college years as a time of trying to be a 40-year old...wise man - I.E. always asking what the wiser thing to do was - instead of being the young, passionate punk I was. Sure, learning the art of wisdom is important...but so is reality. I wonder if it would have been freeing to hear after a mistake or bad decision: "Hey, your barely legal to vote, you just left your parents house, you hardly have any experience in life - of course you made that decision. But hey, YOUR 19. It's okay to mess up every so often."

I remember a conversation I had with three IWU kids while I was in Australia. They wanted to come for the summer and serve at Crossroads and "do ministry." I suggested they spend one month working at Crossroads and one month traveling around the country. I think I even said, "Mine as well live it up if you're going to come all the way down here!" They seemed shocked and disappointed in my suggestion. One finally responded, "All of our lives are ministry. We wouldn't want to travel." I wonder...did the good intentions of Christianity lead to this...and will they be the thirty-year olds who start growing mohawks?? I guess they were young and crazy and's "okay to mess up every so often." :)

They never did make it down under.

Cheers to being young WHEN YOUR YOUNG and to being wise WHEN YOUR OLD and maybe a little of both for a lifetime.

October 2, 2005


The act of visiting locations such as diners, smokestack industrial sites, rural villages - locations where time appears to have been frozen many years back - so as to experience relief when one returns back to "the present." - Generation X, 11

(Sense the sarcasm here, or the tone of a used car salesman)

Are you looking to boost the morale of your current life? Something that will give you an ounce of dignity as you forge ahead into the future? Something that, when compared to, will give you hope that things "really are better?"

If this is you, why don't you give historical slumming a chance? Go back to your parents house and relive the decade when they last updated their house! Can't find a computer? Imagine life without one! Or how about visiting the neighborhood you grew up in? Notice the people living in the houses - yes, your old neighbors all still live there! Imagine what it would have been like to not leave your hometown!

If your down about life, try historical slumming. You will get the perspective and strength you need to construct a satisfied present and preferred future!

September 30, 2005

Before I begin this long (short) series, I need to acknowledge a couple of worthy blokes. One, Adam Thada for his relentlessly creative blog that inspired this series. And two, Douglass Coupland for his unbelievably honest and insightful book, Generation X: Tales for An Acellerated Culture. Written in 1991 for a generation born in the 60's, it is a tail of three friends trying to figure out life. I think half still applies to generation whatever-we-are-called. SO, to Adam and Douglas, I salute you as I begin the definitions:

1. Historical Overdosing :: To live in a period of time when too much seems to happen. Major symptons include addiction to newspapers, magazines, and TV news broadcasts.

September 9, 2005

After living in 1 condo, 2 houses, 2 apartments and a duplex - we felt confident in what we're looking for as we moved to Pasadena. The world knows we've failed on at least three of those occasions. 50% is not good when your talking about a HOME. So we, at 26 and no kids, came to LA with a few desires:

Keep it small :: We've never enjoyed space. Sleeping in our living room? Sounds nice. A studio will do just fine.

The older the better :: We like the wall that's been painted 18 times and the bathroom tiles that are more than "off white". With age comes authenticity - unlike the newly built exposed brick, fabricated, "city apartments" down the road. :)

Spend. Try not to waste :: Our desire for simplicity flows into the kind of place we live in. We know we need a roof...and that IS what we need - just a roof. So we came to find an inexpensive place. Fortunately our first two desires make the third desire easy.

All that to say:


Living Room 1.

Living Room 2.



September 7, 2005

We're on Euclid Ave. between Colorado Blvd. and the 210 Freeway. Our building is an East Coast style - more brick and wood floors, less bungalow and carpet. We like it that way. We haven't met anyone over the age of thirty who lives here. It seems to be full of artists and musicians. We like that too. I'll let the pictures say the rest...

Walking up the steps.

Three story brick. Lots of character.

Each floor has it's own lounge.

The view from our rooftop deck.

September 5, 2005

Today is Monday, September 5, and our work is nearly complete. After 6 long months of invisible stress - living out of suitcases, traveling back and forth, sharing bathrooms and watching movies on our laptop...we are HOME. We're renting a little studio in the heart of Pasadena. Thanks to some friendly advice, we're keeping our world small. In other words, we can walk just about everywhere. And after leaving Sydney with a few suitcases, we want to thank the good folks at Goodwill and Craig's List for supplying us with most of our new (used) belongings. After purchasing a couch, television and fan from a middle aged man now working for Richard Branson, he decided to give us four boxes full of dishes, cookware and appliances to outfit our new studio. As we hopped into our Civic hatchback he said, "I only wish I would have done what you're doing when I was 25, instead of playing it safe in North Carolina." So to Ralph - thanks for the stuff.

We spent the weekend setting up shop. We already feel settled - which in short means that we can walk to our closet instead of our suitcases. We have a roof, we have jobs, and we're slowly finding our purpose.

Today is Monday, September 5, and this adventure...begins NOW. I get the feeling I better buckle up.

September 3, 2005

August 17 :: Kari applies for a Paige Position at CBS.
August 22 :: CBS calls for an interview. Unreal.
August 24 :: Kari spends two hours interviewing at CBS.
August 25 - September 1 :: Waiting (and waiting) for a call.

Septemer 2 ::

"Hi Kari. It's Karen from CBS."
"I just wanted to call and let you know that you've got the job here at CBS."
"Holy crap, I can't believe it." (Not really, but something was said here)
"Can you start on Tuesday?"

Kari met a bunch of people at an interview on Wednesday who have been here for a year and still haven't cracked into anything. To put it mildly, we can't believe our fortune. We're so thankful to get a break like this. The Paige position is an entry level job where you assist in a variety of ways on different live television shows. CBS intends to move you up from this job into a full time position. In fact, if you hven't been hired within CBS or one of it's production companies within 18 months, they hire someone to replace you. They actually told her in the interviews that after 3 months, you're free to make as many connections with producers and directors as you can. Next week she'll be working on the Tyra Banks Show and Dancing with the Stars. Unfrickenawesomebelievable (a word picked up on the hike that's intended to be used for a moment like this). We'll keep you posted.

August 24, 2005

On the trail, we often talked of the 'payoff' - the payoff being what the trail gave back to us for all our hard work. Like stepping over the last rock to find yourself above treeline or having breakfast 'in the clouds' on a given morning. Many times, the payoff is much deeper - the payoff of solitude, of emptying yourself, of finding kindred spirits along the path. But, in order to get the payoff, you have to 'pay the trail' - hours and hours meandering your way through endless forest. Hiking downhill when your knees hurt. Waking up at 4:30 when your body is doing whatever it can to manipulate your body to rest.

Kari and I often talk in similar terms when we move to a new city. We've learned over the years (LA being our fourth city) that we need to 'pay the city' before she'll ever start paying us back. If you've ever moved to somewhere new, you know exactly what I'm talking about:

// The awkwardness of meeting new people (over and over).

// Getting lost on the highways and biways for several weeks (or months) because you don't have a clue where you're going.

// Feeling lonely on a consistent basis (weekends by yourself for a while).

// Finding a place to live!! Need I say more??

// Acclimatizing to new jobs that make you feel unsure of yourself.

// The joys of trying to find a job and going through the task of interviewing.

// Having to learn your spots (theatres, restaurants, best place to get gas, etc) for the first time.

// Wasting money eating at restuarants you thought were going to be good.

// Changing all your digits (phone, address, driver's license, etc, etc, etc)

Sometimes, depending on the size and location of the city, it takes 6-12 months of paying the city before you start feeling adjusted and at home in your new city... before the city (places & people) starts paying you back, depositing into your account called TRUE LIFE. Lots of people (especially young) bail in this time because it's hard and awkward and doesn't always feel like a fit. I don't blame them though - it's like hiking on the AT - hard.

So, we've been paying the city for over a week now. I'll keep you posted.

August 20, 2005

Okay, it's only been six days - but who's counting? The week was capped off by an urban meal @ Cafe Metropol and a free concert downtown with friends and first time acqaintances. We've met so many people already who we love. We feel so fortunate to have Sam $ Rosie introducing us to LA and lots of people. What a week it's been...flying by the seat of our pants...

Monday :: Sam took us around every part of the city that we thought could be home material. After driving, walking and thinking - we decided Pasadena was the perfect fit. Here we can walk to everything - it's more East Coast in the sense that the grocery, pub, University, restaurant, Post Office, theatre, train station and bookstore are all within a John Elway stones throw. This is what we imagined our new urban home being like.

Tuesday :: We spied out different buildings and started calling the signs that read 'vacancy.' We didn't have much luck until we stumbled upon a building in the heart of Pasadena and happened to meet the apt. manager. He showed us a studio that was opening up Sept. 1st - the guy who lived there wasn't even out yet. We signed the lease today!

Wednesday :: I had two interviews - one with i-Soldit in Santa Monica and the other with Marriot Hotels. Both went great - I took the Hotel job yesterday because the commute to Santa Monica was too far.

Thursday :: We swore our loyalty to Bank of America and received library cards from the amazing Pasadena Public Library.

Friday :: We walked five miles around our new neighborhood and finally hooked up with our best friends and teammates 'in the move' - Justin and Jess - it was amazing to hook up again!! Kari made some sweet connections with people who can make some sweet connections in the television production side of things.

Saturday :: Kari and I are spending all day together!! A bit of a refresh after a long week of making decisions and spying out the place!!

August 16, 2005

We made it!! And more remarkable, our 1990, 193,000 mile Honda Civic made it! We also survived 95 - 110 degree heat and no A/C from Spring Lake to LA. Yes, it was bloody hot – the 44oz ice waters from Taco Bell did help a little. It was an unbelievable trip.

Tuesday :/:
From/To :: Spring Lake – Muncie.
Distance :: 284 miles
Sleep :: We crashed at Matt and Liz’s place!! Amazing to catch up before leaving again.
High :: Going to a local pub with the Carder’s
Song :: “Standing Outside The Fire” - We screamed the lyrics at the top of our lungs:

“Their so hellbent on living, walking a wire, convinced it’s not living if you stand outside the fire. Life is not tried, is merely survived, if your standing outside the fire.”

Wednesday :/:
:: Muncie – Kansas City.
:: 558 miles
:: We crashed with Justin and Jes @ the American Inn for $44.95
:: Going to Kauffman Stadium to see a Royal’s game with the gang!!! (see blog below)
:: “Hangin’ Around” – Screaming once again,

“I’ve been hanging around this town corner…I’ve been hanging around this old town too long… I’ve been hanging around this town corner…I’ve been bumming around this old town for way, way, way, way toooo long…”

Thursday :/:
:: Kansas City – Denver
:: 604 miles
:: We crashed with Josh and Em Stokes at their temporary pad!
:: Celebrating my 26th birthday with my favorite people (and getting an old NES Nintendo Game System)
:: “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own” – Reflecting on Bono’s words while singing them loudly,

“Listen to me now I need to let you know. You don't have to go it alone. And it's you when I look in the mirror. And it's you when I don't pick up the phone. Sometimes you can't make it on your own”

Saturday :/:
:: Denver - Las Vegas
:: 748 miles
:: Motel 6 - $82.00
:: Driving over the hill that overlooks Vegas. We were side by side screaming and yelling.
:: "Glasgow Love Theme" - It's a beautiful anthem of sorts that makes you want to stand up and cheer

Sunday :/:
:: Las Vegas - Pasadena
:: 262 miles
:: Crashed with our temporary housemates - Sam and Rosie Bills!!
:: Highlight of the day was celebrating our move with Justin and Jess before we split ways in LA. It was chaotic and wonderful!!
:: 710AM Sports Radio - So we were getting to know our city!!!

Well, I think that is all for now. I have more to say in the days of ahead about what it means to "Pay The City" and of course, where our new home is going to be!! Lots of SoCal love to you - Josh

August 11, 2005

So I went to a Brewers game on Monday and a Royals game on Wednesday and knocked off two more stadium’s in the process. When I was a kid, I decided I wanted to visit every Major League Ballpark before I died. Dad started the journey with me and I think Kari will finish it. I have eight left and in case you care – here they are:

1. NY Mets (I’ve been to NY 10 times, what was I thinking?)
2. Washington Nationals (At least I don’t have to go to Montreal)
3. Florida Marlins
4. Tampa Bay Devil Rays (really, I’m waiting for the FL teams to be sold)
5. Texas Rangers
6. Arizona Diamondbacks (I flew over it once?)
7. Oakland A’s
8. Seattle Mariners (beautiful new stadium)

I hope to visit 6-8 next year while we’re living out West. Texas will be my toughest get-to stadium - Would anyone be willing to fly me to Dallas so I could see a Ranger’s game? I may start all over with my son one day. That would be nice.

Oscar and I, Josh

August 7, 2005

After four fantastic days together, the Jackson reunion is over. We spent lots of time talking and inventing new ways of playing UNO (re-inventing if you ask Regina). Mike and Joni’s wedding was a blast! The ceremony and reception were beautiful. On Monday, Dad and I head to Milwaukee for a 24-hour Father/son trip. Heading to a Brewer’s game on Monday night – I’m getting closer to finishing my goal of seeing games at all the MLB stadiums.

One week till LA...

July 21, 2005

Hikers say knowing the real impact of long term walking comes months after the trek ... so I'm not sure if this attempt at a debrief makes a lot of sense. I do have a few early hunches at the impact this trek made on my life and will spell them out - now.

I Finished :: It's no secret I've had a small string of experiences that were cut short - Australia being the last one. Experiences that were supposed to last longer than they did. And no matter how much I can justify their relative shortness, the bottom line in each experience is that I quit. I didn't make it as long as I intended. My greatest fear going into this hike was that I would mentally give up for whatever reason. Bugs. Sleepless Nights. Boredom. Frustration. Aches and Pains. I know my mind well enough that it can talk me into things that seem impossible. But on this trip I didn't give up, didn't quit, didn't give in to what was easier. I made it the entire way - no doubt about it. I'm not sure how this will play out in the future, but I know it will play a part.

Emptied Myself :: I had heard from Coach this idea of "emptying yourself" before we left and that sounded good to me. A centeredness, a place where your completely drained of thoughts from the outside world, of stress, of things you need to do when you get back. Instead you go for miles without thinking - you walk for hours and all you think about is what you'll eat for lunch. And there was something profound about just being that will hopefully have some long term influence on my life.

Spiritually Solidifying :: Going into the hike, I had wondered if I might "find God" out in the woods. I wondered if all that alone time would bring me back to the evangelical faith that I once knew. I wondered if my empty thoughts would eventually turn towards God. Instead, my thoughts confirmed what I've already been walking through. A re-invention of the Christian faith, a new way of looking at the world. A way of life that is outside the evangelical faith. I've always known I wasn't abandoning God or Christianity - but was instead leaving much of evangelicalism behind. Being alone out in the woods and conversing with Coach and thru-hikers made this more real to me than ever. And in this way, it solidified, it confirmed the spiritual direction of my life.

In the end, I look back with fondness. I'm glad I walked and hiked and climbed and bouldered my way through New Hampshire. The woods had a profound impact on my life and I'd like to continue to make these bookmarks of my life meaningful, sacred, reflective and adventuresome.


June 17, 2005

Overnight hiking is like salsa. Great at one locale, tasteless at another. Two restaurants in the same day can provide two completely different tastes.

Monday - 7pm - Mile 3 :: No problems. Let's get on with it. Our bodies yearn for something like this. These 22 miles will only beg us to come out again.

Monday - 10pm - Bivy Tent :: Lights out. Uncomfortable, but a feeling of grand accomplishment; six miles under our belts. We can handle two nights out here.

Tuesday - 11am - Mile 12 :: Kari and I talked about how fun this would be out West, thinking through how we could best manage a week long hike on the PCT. This is good for us.

Tuesday - 3pm - Mile 16 :: Suddenly, without hesitation, our mood shifts to utter entrapment. Will these hills ever end? How many miles left? This is boring.

Tuesday - 6pm - Salem Motel :: After flipping four coins, we decide we've had enough and hitch a ride to a motel and eatery where we find ourselves enjoying Burrito's and Margaritas at El Casa. The salsa, you ask? Incredible.

There's Beauty in the Breakdown.


May 16, 2005

    My 3rd grade class is currently singing along to Country Music. I never thought I would see several 50 Cent wannabees singing (and closing there eyes) to Tim McGraw. But that's how 3rd graders are. No qualms about what's politically correct. Last week a little 2nd grader ran in after lunch screaming, "Mr. Jackson! I didn't finish my sandwhich. Do you want the rest?!"

    Thanks for your kind responses below. I'm continually encouraged when I hear of others who are experiencing similar awakenings. Yesterday I read McLaren's new book, "The Last Word and the Word After That." It finished his New Kind of Christian trilogy that has influenced so many. His last script focused on hell, judgement and the Christian idea of after life. I didn't feel like it was as rich in content and story as the previous 2 books, but it was a good read none the less. I would highly recommend the entire trilogy to anyone experiencing thoughts of wandering, drifting, melting down, not fitting in, doubting, confusion...anything along these lines. They sometimes paint a beautiful picture of what being a Christian can look like in the days in front of us. You can find the last book to the right under "May Reading."

    I'm still not sure what this BLOG will end up being. Probably a collection of confessions mixed in with updates and rantings. I guess we'll see.

    Deconstruction is not destruction.

    It is HOPE.

May 12, 2005


    Feeling strangely like driftwood lately. Not deadwood. Driftwood:

    Driftwood // Endlessly floating through currents of change
    Driftwood // No longer connected to a system of roots
    Driftwood // Completely vulnerable to the forces of nature
    Driftwood // Slowly decomposing and taking new shape
    Driftwood // Eventually finding a place of rest
    Driftwood // Isolated but connected to others like itself

    The endless pursuit of truth and ultimate reality seems to be catching up with me. Mind numbing amounts of books, hundreds of hours of conversation, endlessly thinking and exploring. Three years of deconstruction has left me raw, tired, and as I'm finding more and more, isolated. I'm not overtly Christian these days - at least in the sense that I hesitate to 'talk the talk.'

    God this. God that.

    I never understood Paul's words about being a foreigner more than I do now. Only I'm a foreigner in Christendom, not in the world. The journey was easier in Sydney. Less pressure. Less Christians. Less criticism. Less big eyed looks. And no Denomination to wrestle with. Maybe this is catching up on me because I'm back home?

    Please don't get me wrong. My situation is not unique. Like driftwood, I am loosely connected to thousands of others like myself who have gone before me and will follow behind. Nor do I feel "better than" or more right. More like a "not fitting in."

    I'm still excited about the process. Some might call it a meltdown. In truth, this is probably what it is. But it feels more like an awakening. In the end, I long for the days to come of reconstructing something that is real and honest for me. Something that makes sense in light of history, scripture and culture. Eventually, I too, will come to a place of temporary rest. This is my peace.

    A mentor once told me, "There will always (emphasis his) be criticism no matter what you believe or how you live." This simple reality breathes hope to my soul. For now, I will follow Bono's enlightening words...

    And I know it aches, when your heart it breaks. You can only take so much.

    Walk On.

April 22, 2005

It's a crazy, crazy, mixed up town...

Writing from Justice Middle School in Marion - my first post in Substitute (should this word be capitalized?) teaching. I think I was more nervous before 1st period showed up than I was for any teaching I've done. I called Pops whose laughter made everything seem a little less dramatic. Then fourteen 8th graders walked in...

"Awesome, we have a sub!"
Blank stares.
"Can we sit wherever we want?"
Cold stares.
"Is this your first day subbing?" (Could she sense my anxiousness????)
Kind smile.
"Where's Mrs. Chin?"

They were supposed to read quietly for 30 minutes. I resisted the temptation to read them my book for the day, Fight Club, and let them hang out/read quietly instead. My findings from 1st period Social Studies:

IWU is too religious.
Marion sucks and they want to get out.
They dressed the same as I did when I was in Junior High.
No where near as cocky as I thought.

All morning I imagined being Nate Kingsbury and that boosted my confidence. I pictured him lighting farts or something and the kids crying as they left because they just "loved him so much."

2nd period consisted of me dinking around on-line while 4 students did computer assignments. What am I doing now, you ask? This is my PERSONAL PREP TIME. :)

$70, Josh

April 4, 2005

I've temporarily changed the subtitle of this blog (look up). I'm not sure if these rants will prove to be confessions, but I am fairly sure that I'm, a "wanderer."

I am wandering in a variety of ways - in location of course. This week will take us from Moline to Minneapolis to Marion. Wandering in my faith journey...wandering in the sense that I feel like I don't have many roots left and I'm not completely sure where I'll end up on the journey. Wandering in my the sense that I'm in between jobs at the moment. I was struck dumb while getting my car insurance - the lady had to label me "unemployed" - I wonder if this bumped the price?? So I'm wandering at the moment...but feel really good about it. I was struck over Christmas by something that Tolkien said so profoundly and I think it sums life up for me well and how I'm feeling:

All who wander are not lost.

So early this week we'll be with John and Patty and then later this week we visit Heather and Jodi in Minneapolis at their new place!! Plus we get to see a Twins game...opening night for the Twins!! Santana should be pitching and it's one more stadium I can knock off my list...8 more to go. Updated April reading to the right. I'll add more later when those are plowed through.

These are my confessions, Josh

March 31, 2005

Well, we're back in the States. For obvious reasons, it marks the end of one journey and the beginning of another. It also marks the end of the one-life as you once knew it. This used to be a site for all of our partners, family, and friends to catch up on what was happening in our lives while we served in Australia. We posted prayer requests and often talked about what we were up to in a certain week. And we had a great run - I'm so glad a guy called Steve decided to start his own blog which gave me the idea to start this one. We are thankful for all of you who read and watched us from afar - praying and encouraging us along the way. THANKS for everything you have done.

This blog will now look a little differently. Instead of it centering around both of our lives, it will just contain thoughts and notes from Josh. I will still update on what Kari is up to from time to time, but her life won't be on display like it was before. SO - this marks the beginning of a new kind of one-life. It probably won't be as interesting, but none the less, it is changing! I'm not quite sure where it will take me, so I'll just keep walking to find out and hopefully some of you will join me. :)

A quick update on what we're doing and where we're at in the world:

We looked at apartments in Chicago on Monday and Tuesday, but felt odd as we did. We felt aprehensive about the whole move - we felt like we may be rushing into the next thing without giving ourselves adequate time to rest, spend time with people, and recover a bit from our time overseas. We could have signed on a place for a great deal, but we both felt "off" about it. I even got a job at Wrigley Field working in concessions, but still felt off about it. So we drove four hours to Marion (which we were planning on) and talked the whole way down here. We decided (and later confirmed after talking to the Johnson's and Papa Jackson) that we just needed to take it easy for now instead of diving so quickly into the next thing. So it looks like we will make Marion, IN our hub for the next six weeks or so. We're living with the Johnson's and spending time with people here as well as traveling around quite a bit to see our families. THEN we'll see what we'll do next. We don't feel rushed which is so nice. We're just taking it easy for the time being. We have a cell phone now if anyone is trying to reach us: 616.402.6139

I'm thinking I'll post a couple times a least fairly regularly. We'll see what happens. Have a great day...and a big "HEY!!!" to our friends in Sydney!!!! Josh

March 10, 2005

Hey friends!! Just wanted to write and update you from North Queensland! We are having a great time! Lets see...

We love our hostel. It's this little dump in the heart of Cairns. SUPER friendly people and we have AC which has been amazing. We forgot our camera so no great pictures to show you. I may google some later. We go to a restuarant every night for free (with our hostel coupons). I usually pay a small amount to upgrade the meal and Kari goes for the free dish. They are usually sweet little pubs with crowds of backpackers.

We saw an INCREDIBLE film last night called "A Very Long Engagement" - a French film that we gave a 10/10. I think this is our 3rd or 4th movie to get this ranking since we've been in Australia.

We are also walking a lot (about 4 or 5 k's a day). It's been good to balance out all the ice cream I'm eating.

Today we scored a little MINI Cooper car and headed for the rain forest. It was beautiful...despite all the rain we got. Sweet!! We got back and ate some dinner and decided to chill on the internet cafe for a while (at the hostel - $2 an hour). After this we'll head back into town (1 k walk) and get some coffee and ice cream. Tomorrow we head to the reef at 7:15am - we are SO PUMPED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The weather hasn't been sunny at all...but the Cyclone missed us so that was good. It's been a great week despite the weather. Well, we will be home soon! We leave 2 weeks from today.
Have a great weekend! Josh and Kari

March 6, 2005

I just tried writing a beautiful and eloquent blog about the lessons that we have learned over the past 18 months. It just wasn’t working. So...

We had good days and bad days. We made great friends but consistently felt lonely. We loved Sydney but missed America. We feel like we made a significant difference here but also feel a little defeated as we leave. “Missionary” work was tougher than we thought.

We learned a ton. We learned more about who we are and what makes us tick. We realized how much we love the city. We learned more about serving in the local Church. We learned about what it means to balance work, play, marriage and studies. While we learned a lot, we leave with lots of questions.

We worked hard. Kari learned a brand new occupation. We invested heart and soul into the work at Crossroads. We led four life groups. Kari wrote a commentary on half the Bible. Josh preached 34 times over the past 18 months. We helped raise up new leaders within the Church. We helped John get through a tough last year of University. And we took part in life transformation.

We changed a lot. We read provocative books. We thought about new ideas. We questioned everything. We came to different conclusions. And hopefully we’ll keep changing and thinking.

We watched a lot of movies.

In the end, we’ll look back on this time with great fondness. It was tough. But it was life changing and something that we’ll never forget. We are so thankful for those of you who have stayed with us from the beginning. We appreciate your prayers, your love and your encouragement.

Signing off for now – Josh and Kari