forgot this one

I forgot to post these pics of the kids hanging out with Grandpa and Grandma Santos back in October (sorry Dad and Karen). Kara and the kids took a trip up I-5 to see them in Washington, and their first stop was a real live steam locomotive that was being rebuilt.

Kara thought Caleb's head was going to explode with "choo-choo" excitement.

that's my boy

Yeah, he knows he peed his pants.

So do you.

But who's gonna be the first to laugh? Huh?

Not me...


ny trip - day three and beyond

Sorry to leave all you people hanging like the Star Wars Trilogy.

Ready for the Readers Digest version?

Beginning of the Rekindle the Flame conference. The first two sessions left a lot to be desired. I began to wonder why God brought us here. What I thought would be a conference that filled me up started off like a masters degree course that was emptying me of all hope.

Then the night session started...

We learned about "listening prayer", asking the Holy Spirit for direction in praying for people, and following his whispers. Totally new mindset for me. Then we got to practice it. Imagine that...putting movement to scripture.

Maybe this conference won't be a forgotten memory.

Started with hot Starbucks. This day had to be good.

We joined Nyack College for their morning chapel service. Totally brought back memories of leading worship at Simpson College for our chapels. Except...and don't take this the wrong way...but we had no culture back at Simpson. For that matter, we had no culture in all of Redding. There were 5 African Americans in my entire high school.

Sitting in the chapel service, I looked around at the melting pot. And I smiled as I heard voices other than the sound of Caucasian conversations. I miss that. I miss the energy and passion that African American people bring to a worship service. And their voices together in that jam-packed gymnasium filled me up.

Then the speaker got up and spoke on prejudices. Ha! Love it. Once again, we put feet to our faith and were asked to pray with someone of a different culture than us. I found a guy named Hakeem and we prayed together for unity, asked forgiveness for pre-judging, and declared God's heart for each other.

A couple of us took a trip to Hobokan, NJ to seek out a bakery that is featured on the TLC show "Cake Boss". After the GPS took us to the wrong place (operator error), we finally found the promised land. While we were there, we saw the guy who plays Cipher in the Matrix movies.

Day 4 was good.

Last day of the conference. Started off with a bang.

We heard from a professor at the seminary on prayer and spiritual warfare. The most eye-opening thing was that we have been given the authority to push back the darkness in our world. Jesus has the power...and we the authority. That better change the way I pray or nothing will.

Half of the team went home today. I would have been happy to go home with 'em. But I had chosen to go home on Saturday. So I was "stuck" in NY City, checking out Central Park, getting dizzy looking up at the Empire State Building, and eating at Thunder Jackson's Urban Roadhouse for the second time this week.

What? They've got the Dirty Burger. Don't judge me.

Heard from my wife that Sam was throwing up...for the fourth time...and I wanted to be home.

After we checked out the Staten Island Ferry and the huge bronze "Charging Bull" on Wall St., we headed off for the airport. I was pretty homesick at this point.

Got home at 10:00 that night and rejoined life with my wife and kids.

I want them to go with me next time.


ny trip - day two

Our first full day in the city that never sleeps. Greg and I got up at the butt crack of dawn (officially 5am) and drove to pickup our coworker Becky from the Newark airport. Keep in mind we went to bed at 2am. For you math majors = 3 hours of completely useless non-REM sleep.

Thanks be to my Lord and Savior for the creation of caffeine.

We drove into Manhattan and visited the original church of the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination. I grew up in the CMA. My dad was a CMA pastor. I went to a CMA college. I now work at a CMA church. It was pretty sweet to see our roots and to see how a small passion in the heart of a brash and bold preacher grew to literally change our world. The church is now a pizzeria.

So instead of a sermon, we received the ministry of pizza.

We split up into 2 groups after that and one went to the Ground Zero Museum. A-maz-ing. Pictures and artifacts from the rescue and recovery operation after the towers fell. CHILLS ON THE BACK OF YOUR NECK ALERT: There was a clock that was located underneath the towers that stopped when tower one fell and it still reads the exact time (right down to the seconds).

Then we visited Ground Zero where they are finally starting to build the memorial building. We visited St. Paul's Chapel which was directly next to the towers and served as a safe place/cafeteria/sleeping quarters/counseling room for the rescue workers. To see how people came together after 9-11, how they loved on each other, how this church served as heaven's outpost...makes me proud.

The rest of the night was spent eating dinner, walking to Rockefeller Center (we didn't see anybody famous), walking to Grand Central Station, and back to Time Square.


1. Don't eat at HB Burgers if you go to New York. I don't usually call for an all out boycott of businesses, but not only did our server walk by our empty drinks all night, but he FORGOT MY STINKING RANCH!

2. I got a whole new respect for the pandemonium that must have ensued after the plains hit the towers. People were everywhere. And you add a terrorist attack to the mix...

3. I love driving in New York City. I honked twice tonight, almost hit 4 pedestrians, tailgated a taxi cab, cut in front of 4 cars to change lanes (without using my blinker), got back to our hotel without the use of a GPS system, and did it all while humming "Bohemian Rhapsody" to myself.


ny trip - day one

I'm writing from my hotel room in the beautiful state of New York. A couple families in our church blessed the entire church staff by sending us all to the "Rekindle the Flame" conference at Nyack College in Nyack, NY.

But the conference isn't until Tuesday. So until then, we be tourists.

Here are my thoughts from our first day in New York.

1. Spend the money and rent the GPS. I'm pretty darn good with directions but this place is nuts. There is no North, south, east or west here. It's a black hole for instinct and "This looks familiar".

2. You could eat all night in New York City. We walked around looking for a place to sit down and eat dinner. We passed bar after cafe after grill after diner...and our problem was not that there was a shortage of places, but the exact opposite. Don't worry about dinner. The restaurant will find you.

3. Don't stare at Times Square too long. The gi-normous tv screens that stretch from concrete to sky light up the streets like it's day time. I found myself overstimulated and wanting to find a dark corner to suck my thumb. My eyes hurt like they do when you watch too much TV and you can't blink. That kinda hurt.

4. Bring the ones you love with you to New York. My wife and kids couldn't be with me on this trip since it's staff only. And I miss them. Like a fat kid misses cake.

Day 2 is tomorrow.

Bring it on.