Monday, May 30, 2005

Burning Man

There was a good article on Burning Man in yesterday's Chronicle. The article gives the following as tenets that are being preached by those involved with Burning Man:

  1. Anybody can be an artist
  2. Creativity and spontaneity should be part of one's everyday routine
  3. Watching out for others is more important that getting ahead
  4. If people work together, the world can be a better place

Mandy and I saw a film on Burning Man last year, so I know that it is about a little more than those four things, but still, those four things sound pretty good, don't they?

Here's the article in its entirety.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Raising your quarter-million dollar baby

Raising your quarter-million dollar baby

Children are priceless, but raising them is probably the most expensive thing you'll ever do. Here are some strategies and tips that may help.

By MSN Money staff

Every newborn child is a bundle of joy. But you better have a bundle of cash on hand if you want to raise one.

For 2004, the newest data available, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that families making $70,200 a year or more will spend a whopping $269,520 to raise a child from birth through age 17. Higher-income families in urban areas in the West spend the most, $284,460.

Though not as steep, the figures for lower-income families are just as unsettling: $184,320 for families earning $41,700 to $70,200 and $134,370 for families making less than that. That breaks down to nearly $15,000 a year from birth to age 2 for families in the $65,800 -plus income bracket. As your child ages, he or she gets even more expensive, topping out at $15,810 from ages 15 to 17. This is no back-of-the-envelope guesstimate. The survey involves visits to, and interviews with, about 5,000 households, four times a year.

For the rest of this fine article, click here.

Don't worry. I'm not freaking out. It's actually a very good article. The thing I'm most happy about is that this doesn't catch me off guard. We've been thinking through almost all of these issues (food, housing, health care, etc.) for quite some time, and feel that we've come to some very good money-saving options.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Todd Hunter

This is from Todd Hunter's website.

You’ve probably heard me articulate my vision to connect evangelism and spiritual formation into a seamless whole. I often state it like this: 'I want to help people become the cooperative friends of Jesus seeking to live lives of constant creative goodness through the power of the Holy Spirit for the sake of the world.'

What a great way to say what is in so many of our hearts!

A good lesson

On Sunday our house church community met at our place. Eric shared a story that I've been thinking about since our meeting. He works with the homeless in San Francisco. They were having a meal one night, and, while he was working in the kitchen, he saw a man walk to the sink, pick up the sponge, and clean his shoes. Eric just sat there stunned, not even knowing what to say. His response was something like, "at least don't put it back in the sink." The guy walked past him without saying a word.


I thought that was a pretty good response. I might have said something like this: "You've got to be kidding me," or "have you lost your freakin' mind?"


Eric kind of floored me with what he said next.

He said that in his disgust and frustration he totally missed this man's humanity. He felt that he had failed, that he had missed an opportunity.

I admired Eric for his immediate discernment. How many times have I responded like this, yet been blind to the reality of what I was doing?

I'm sitting at Zocalo (a local coffee shop) and just read this.

Wonder if God's trying to speak to me.

Practicing His Presence

About seven years ago I picked up a book called Practicing His Presence, a modern translation of Practicing the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence. That book made a profound impact on my life at the time. Today Mandy and I spent a few hours at Half Moon Bay. I took it with me and began reading it again. In my usual fashion, I will no doubt quote from it from time to time. I do, however, plan on reading the entire book.

The book begins with excerpts from a few of Frank Laubach's works. Laubach had read Brother Lawrence (who died in the 1600's) and had been impacted. He decided to try an experiment in which he would try to think about God for one second of every minute. Sounds like a daunting task, doesn't it?

Here's a great article by Dallas Willard on Frank Laubach. He lists the following as major themes of Laubach's works:

1. Submission to the will of God means cooperation with God in the moment-to-moment activities that make up our daily existence.
2. This cooperation is achieved through continuous inner conversation with God.
3. That conversation in turn is, from our side, a matter of keeping God constantly before the mind.
4. One learns to keep God constantly in mind by experimentation, by trying various experiential devices, until the habit of constant God-thought is established.
5. Then God permeates the self and transforms its world and its relations to others into God's field of constant action, in which all of the promises of Christ's gospel are realized in abundance of life.
6. It is possible for all people under all conditions to establish this habit if they make constant effort and experiment within their peculiar circumstances to discover how it can be done.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Bonneville is no longer...

Today we finished up our recent car saga. In an earlier post I mentioned that we were receiving $1000 from the state for retiring our vehicle. Today I went to the dismantler to say goodbye to the car. My parents bought the bonneville new in 1992. In 2001, after Mandy got her job in San Leandro, and we were still living in Mill Valley, they drove it to LA, where we bought it from them. It's been a good car for us, and I must say that we'll miss it a bit.

I kind of feel bad for getting rid of it this way. It's a good car, and the people at the dismantler site couldn't believe I was getting rid of it. (You have to understand that most people take cars that are older than 1985). It would most likely have been drivable for a few more years. I've been questioning myself on whether or not I made the right decision. Even if I had given it away, it would have still required up to $400 to fix it. The problem is that it's really not worth much more than that. Oh yeah, it's also a salvage...and the brakes aren't that great.

Anyway, it's over. The decision was made.

I'm going to go and fix dinner.

Tech problems

I just got my network back up and running. At some point yesterday something happened. Because my phone is through the internet (vonage), I had no phone as weel. I did all of the little troubleshooting I knew to do this morning (resetting both the modem and the router, etc), and still nothing. So I finally called Comcast. Would you believe it that the problem was that the power button on the modem was not on!!! Makes you want to cuss, or laugh, doesn't it!
The modem sits underneath Adam's baby bed, and I was getting some things out from under it for Mandy yesterday. I guess while I was doing it I hit the button.

I tried all of the complex things I knew to do, yet the solution to the problem was the most simple thing I could do.

I'll leave the applications to you.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Mandy's last day of school

Today was Mandy's last day teaching at her school. She'll be taking the next few weeks to rest and get ready for Adam. One of the second grade classes decided to write notes of appreciation to her. Tonight Mandy read several of them to me. Here's one of them...

May 18, 2005
Dear Mrs. Grisham

Mrs. Grisham. We love you because your going to leave but we don't want you to leave. We want you to stay here to have music with us. But your having a baby. We are going to miss you. I wish you don't have to leave because we are going to miss you. Because that you are a good music teacher because you have teached us music and we watch movies to. We sang the share bears just lots of songs. You are the best music teacher ever. We love you. We are going to miss. But music fun we played drums. We care about you when are you going to have the baby? And we played xylophone. Can we see the baby? Can we visit the baby to? We played lots of instermints lots of instermints Can we see Adam Grisham. We want to see him please can we.

As you can see, Mrs. Grisham will be missed!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Entrepreneurship among teens growing

from Business Week Online

By Jessica Thacher
Cultivating Biz Whizzes

More teens are starting their own businesses, and groups like the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship are helping them do it.

Many people who decide to become entrepreneurs do so because they aren't satisfied with the options offered in the corporate world. Natasha Spedalle was no different. At age 14, she wanted to land an after-school job, but most potential employers told her she was too young. So she decided to start her own business.

Her New York-based outfit, BliNg-BliNg Discount Fashion Jewelry, sells affordable, trendy accessories at street fairs and on college campuses. "It gives me a sense of fulfillment knowing that I can do it at such a young age," she says.

Spedalle, now 15, is among a growing number of teens and young s who are taking the entrepreneurial path, particularly within lower-income communities. "Entrepreneurship is the ultimate social-justice program," says Michael Caslin, head of the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a New York-based organization that partners with schools and community groups to teach young people in economically deprived areas how to run a business.

Founded in 1987 by Steve Mariotti, a former businessman and New York City schoolteacher, NFTE now works with nearly 20,000 kids each year in 45 states and 16 countries. By teaching young people basic business concepts, such as business-plan writing, marketing, negotiation, and pricing, Caslin says the foundation helps them "channel dreams into reality." NFTE recently honored Spedalle and 28 other young entrepreneurs at its 12th annual awards banquet in April.

Continue reading

Baby could come early!

Mandy and I went to her doctor two days ago. Dr. Polito is a very laid back guy, which I like. He told Mandy that her blood pressure was a little high, yet, because her last day to work is this Friday, he was not worried. He said that she should come back next week, and if her blood pressure is still high, "he might come a few days later." Now I'll be the first to admit that I still don't know that much about babies, so I asked, "What do you mean by a few days later?" I thought he meant that Adam might come a few days later than his due date (June 17th or 20th, depending on who you ask).

He informed us both that what he meant was that Adam could come as early as the end of next week!

I realized at that moment how much I value scientific things such as due dates. It's very easy to chisel these into stone, or, better yet, God's will. I felt that this was a bit of a humorous thing not only for Dr. Polito, but perhaps for God.

Mandy is not too worried about this. She finishes school tomorrow, and can rest for the next few weeks.

Three more things to mention in this blog...

1. Yesterday we went to Wal-Mart to buy, among other things, newborn diapers. It took us quite awhile to find what we were looking for. There's a lot to choose from. Again, I'm taking a crash course on "the baby."

2. Last night Mandy started looking for baby announcements. She found a website that had examples of their announcements. One had a picture of a cute little baby boy. The caption read,
"Hi. I'm Freddy. My mom and dad and I would like to thank you for all the gifts you gave me."

As I'm going back and reading this, it doesn't sound quite as funny, but boy was it when she read it to me!

3. I'm headed out in just under an hour to go see Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith! Very excited!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

My beautiful pregnant wife! Posted by Hello

Mandy at her first baby shower yesterday. Posted by Hello

Mandy and Jack Posted by Hello

Mandy and Jack in Adam's new room. Posted by Hello

Our new Vue. Posted by Hello

A new car!

About a month ago our 1992 Pontiac Bonneville failed a smog test. I found out that the repairs could cost up to $500. Because I was required to go to a test-only center, I found out that I was eligible to receive funds for repair, or...I could get $1000 for "retiring" my vehicle. After learning that I would not get anywhere close to $1000 if I sold it, I decided to go for it. We then went about trying to get a new vehicle. We bought our Nissan last year from a guy I met here in San Leandro. He now owns his own body shop in Sacramento, so I called him to see if he had a car he could sell me. This past Friday I went to Sacrament to pick up our new 2003 Saturn Vue. I got a great deal on it. It's a salvage, so there's some risk in a purchase like this, but I couldn't turn it down.

Next on the list is to go to Oakland to see the bonneville get flattened!

Jack on guard at our yard sale a few weeks ago. Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 05, 2005

National Day of Prayer

This morning I led worship for a National Day of Prayer gathering here in San Leandro. I actually didn't know that today was the National Day of Prayer today until I got there. A fellow by the name of Carl Davis was the guest speaker. Right away there was something that attracted me to Carl. He works at Morgan Stanley, but also is a leader in the area of marketplace ministry. He shared how God is working all around us, including things that are going on here in the Bay Area. I jotted down the following thoughts while he spoke:

1. I have a book I picked up not long ago called Reclaiming America for Christ. The book is a collection of articles/talks given by different pastors, politicians, etc., talking about how bad America has become, and how we need to pray that God would restore us into a Christian nation. I've had a few issues with this. First, were we ever a Christian nation? What does a "Christian" nation look like? What is it that we're actually hoping for? Larger churches? More "Christians" as we know them? Second, it seems that God has worked primarily in places where Christians were not in places of priviledge. I believe, as do others, that we need to go back to the Old Testament to see how the Jewish people behaved while in captivity in Babylon. I think this will help us better answer the question, "How then should we live?"

2. That's where I've been. I don't necessarily think that's wrong, but I don't think it's complete. Part of it is a reaction, and reactions lead to extremes. I remember at one point in my life I was organizing events for the National Day of Prayer. I find it odd that I didn't even know that was today. In my zeal for rethinking how to live as outsiders (in a land that is not our own), have I neglected something very important?

3. More and more I have been praying for God's Kingdom to come here on earth as it is in heaven. In other words, for God to give us a taste of what heaven is like: restoring broken lives and communities, ending massive problems like aids, poverty, disease, etc. Though this is huge, it is more tangible than just saying that we want America to become a Christian nation once again.

4. I want to be wise in knowing the times. Our culture is changing, and we need a new posture for living. At the same time, I don't want to lack faith. At some point God's Kingdom will be restored, but it may not be in my lifetime. Therefore, we need to learn how to live here. Is this a lack of faith or simply wisdom. I want to have both.

I realize more and more that I'm definitely a work in progress. As Paul would say, "Thanks be to God!"

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

An interesting evening

Tonight Mandy and I went to a class at Eden Hospital called "Breastfeeding Basics." I had this fear going into the night that I would be the only guy there. Fortunately, I wasn't. At the end of the evening we watched a video produced by a company called Injoy. Funny, I never saw John Maxwell on it!

I still find it crazy that we're having a baby in a little over a month.

Monday, May 02, 2005

New music

This past week I've discovered two new artists, and I'm really digging them right now.

Gavin Degraw and Damien Rice

It's not that these guys are new to the music scene, so I guess "discovering" is not the best word to use.

As well, here's a great site where one can (legally) download their tunes.


Mandy has been teaching music at Hillside Elementary School for five years. Occasionally she has come home with a funny story or two about her kids. I always told her that she needed to keep a journal on them. (She never quite took me up on this advice; therefore, I thought I'd help with the journaling process).'s a story she told me a few days ago.

Bruce is a second grader that I met at our basketball camp last summer. Funny kid. Last week the kids had testing, and at one point in the day Bruce came into Mandy's class when he should have been in his classroom testing. Mandy asked him why he wasn't testing. His response:

"They're doing geometry right now, and I'm not very good at geometry."

Boy, things have sure changed since I was in second grade!