The highlights of Christmas Day were double this year. Double the people. Double the food. Double the blessings. Double pretty much everything.
Here's the loot that is not for 3 boys, but for 6 cousins. That's double the joy of giving.
Here's our food and family around dinner that night that is so much of what we thank God for and is well over double what we normally serve. (note the sweet wide angle I got with my new SLR lense my parents gave me. Thanks mom and dad. Thanks a lot)
My cup runneth over- all over everywhere actually. What a great thing it is to pray with family, enjoy my family, laugh and eat with my family, and share a passion for Jesus with my family. I know all too well in my line of "work" how rare that truly is. I am blessed.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
The highlights of Christmas Day were double this year. Double the people. Double the food. Double the blessings. Double pretty much everything.
I went once before with my boys when Shannon and I first came to SD and it was so boring I wanted to gouge my eye out. The lego city they built was so cool, but it was so sun bleached and nasty looking that I couldn't figure out why the main attraction was so poorly taken care of. Surely they could have at least covered it with a huge shade thingamajig or build it in a gianormous warehouse or something. But my wife insisted that there is a window of age in which Legoland is fun. She said my sister's 3 to 6 year old kids were perfect for it and should be given the privilege of seeing it when it was in their target age, since it would likely be years before they got to go and blah blah blah.
Well, I lost the debate and we went the day after Christmas.
And here's my confession, the old parts of the giant lego city are even more sun-bleached and nasty than I remember, but the new Vegas section is pretty cool. Plus, based on the amount of changes they've made to their ride offerings in the last 2 years, there are several things that we had a lot of fun doing; and yes, my sister's kids loved it and so did mine. My face also gives away some picture proof that I had fun with them.
So.. here's the evidence:
We even now have 13 passes to go back between now and Feb. 28th due to a buy one day, get one day free promotion that was going on. And thanks to Brad's internet research, our tickets were already 50% off as it was. So I'll be making at least one more trip to Legoland soon it seems.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Scott also had a sister who we see even less. But Becki and her family came to visit us too this year, all the way from Louisiana around the Thanksgiving time when Shannon's mom was in town. It was a great few hours.
The aunties then came in early December, but the month has had me so crazy that it wasn't until this week that I got to put together the pictures from our time together.
So Caitlin, Erica, and Becki... here you go. Here's the long promised picture posts. Thanks for helping us set up the tree and decorate the lights and eat and laugh and keep the Campbell name alive and well. Dad would be proud.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
22 years ago I sat in neighborhood church as a freshman in high school and as a result of my family, the mentoring/teaching of Mark Teyler, the invite of my then girlfriend/now wife, and the Holy Spirit's guidance- I dedicated my life to following Jesus.
So today, I drove to Nor Cal with my family to do Christmas with Shannon's side of the family in our old stomping grounds and to teach at Neighborhood in the main service. I'd be lying to you if I didn't say I wasn't both super excited and scared to death. I have such great memories there and I really don't want to drop the ball and screw that up.
I've taught in contexts like this lots before, but I still feel like returning home to teach at Neighborhood is somehow different. Maybe because I got married on this stage. Or maybe because after 14 years as a youth pastor, my name finally made it to the marquee. HAAAA!!!
If you're in the area this Sunday, Dec. 30th... drop on by one of their two services and we'll bond.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Here's my sister's first creation with my tutoring- but a mutual accomplishment none-the-less.
Merry Christmas to you. We celebrated Jesus with gifts, food, and family today. 13 of us in all. My mom, dad, and grandma and then my sister's family and mine.
Today was day 5 of a 7 day visit from the Crawford Clan- my sister's family. It's meant there have been 6 boys between the ages of 3 and 10 and at least 4 adults here since last Thursday which turned our house into a very busy place. Over the next several days I'll post some stories and collages. I have some pre-stories to do as well, which I hope to get done in the next week or so. December has been event packed. I have 2 field trips with my boys, a christmas party with our youth ministry, a day with the "aunties", and several activities of the last few days to collage.
Day 2 of their visit here consisted of a trip to see Sea World. So much fun. I will say, that the nighttime Christmas show from Shamu and company was like going to church. Literally. It was amazing. I felt kinda weird, but I cried. Something about watching people interact with these whales in such a crazy friend/amazing swimming and theatrical event combined with Christmas Carols both sung and played by a choir and simple saxophone and even scripture on the big screens just got to me. I was glad we stayed for the closing event, even though we were a little cold. It was so worth it. Thanks Sea World.
Here's the picture set. (click it if you want to get a closer view) Merry Christmas to you all.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Everyone gets a gift and then sits in a circle, with the unopened gift. Then a reader reads this poem and at the obvious points, all gifts are passed around in the circle. There is no stealing, it's just an exchange.
Not a creature was LEFT stirring, not even a mouse--
The stockings were hung RIGHT by the chimney with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be RIGHT there.
The children were nestled RIGHT snug in their beds,
while visions of sugarplums danced RIGHT in their heads,
And mama in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled RIGHT down for a long winter's nap,
When RIGHT out on the LEFT lawn there rose such a clatter,
I sprang RIGHT from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the RIGHT window I LEFT like a flash;
tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
LEFT a luster of midday to objects RIGHT below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature sleight and eight tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver RIGHT lively and quick;
I knew RIGHT in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came;
and he whistled and shouted, and called them RIGHT by name:
"Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On Comet, on Cupid, on Donder and Blitzen!
To the RIGHT top of the porch! To the LEFT top of the wall!
Now dash away, dash away, dash RIGHT away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly
when they meet RIGHT with an obstacle, mount RIGHT up to the sky,
So up to the housetop the coursers they LEFT flew,
with a sleighful of toys and St. Nicholas, too.
And then in a twinkling, I heard RIGHT on the roof,
the prancing and pawing of each little RIGHT and LEFT hoof.
As I drew in my head and was turning LEFT around‹
down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, RIGHT from his head to his LEFT foot,
and his clothes were all LEFT tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung RIGHT on his back,
and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His RIGHT and LEFT eyes, how they twinkled! His dimples‹how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was LEFT drawn up like a bow,
and the beard LEFT on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held RIGHT in his teeth,
and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a round little belly,
that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was RIGHT chubby and plump, a RIGHT, RIGHT jolly old elf,
and I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself.
A wink of his LEFT eye and a LEFT twist of his head,
soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went RIGHT straight to his work,
and filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk
And laying his finger to the LEFT of his nose,
and giving a nod, he LEFT‹up the chimney he rose.
He sprang RIGHT to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
and away they all LEFT like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he LEFT--out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!"
For starters, the gifts were all found by an adult volunteer whose wife works for a company that repossesses homes. Most people leave them pretty much trashed. So they contract with people to go in and fix/clean them up before they can be re-sold. As a result, our adult volunteer found all the gifts at the party left behind in the garages and such. He even found the wrapping paper he needed. This is good, because if you ask a group of 40 high school guys to bring gifts to a party, 5 of them will remember and 35 will forget. Also, of the 5 gifts that were remembered, 3 would have been bought by a mom and are actually worth having. The remaining two are wrapped in newspaper and found under their bed and probably disease infested. The other 35 guys are standing around claiming you never told them to bring anything and looking for junk at church they can wrap in toilet paper so they can play too. So, having an adult bring random stuff is at least as good as what they would have brought anyway.
Regardless, since I was trying not to let the gift exchange go on for forever, I was searched the web and found a sweet new way to play the age old game of gift exchanges. It turned out to be so much fun that I think I'll do it again and surely lobby for it to replace the old drawing numbers and stealing until it's frozen method.
So, here's how it works- with a few changes I added in.
- Everyone brings a gift and puts it in the pile.
- In exchange for bringing their gift, they pick up a cup of 4 dice- not a number from a cup like I'm used to. (This was no big deal since I have like 200 dice in a bag for playing liars dice in large groups.)
- Then, one party leader directs everyone to pick up their cup, shake the dice, and turn them over under the cup on a table at the same time. Anyone who gets 3 of a kind, yells out some pre-determined saying. IE: "I got it" or "Santa is fake" or "Happy Birthday Jesus" or "Fruitcake" or whatever.
- Then in the order they were heard, they are allowed to go get a new, unopened gift only.
- This continues until like 3 people are left or something, then you just tell them to go pick a gift.
- Then, once everyone has a gift, you now go into a pre-designated number of exchange rounds in which you do the same thing. Except now, you change what the dice must read to win. One round might be a round where the winner gets two pairs. Another round might be for dice whose sum total is 11. Another might be 3 of a kind with even numbers only. Etc.
- Anyone who wins one of the above exchange rounds and yells out they have it, then can either keep their gift or trade their gift with anyone else. Gifts are only frozen for that round. (IE: if 3 people win, they can only trade with different people who did not also win. This way, winning can be like an immunity shield for your gift too for a round if you'd rather not trade) However, all gifts are active for exchange in every round, no matter how many times they have been stolen- so there is incentive to want to win every time. The trick is you must win a round of dice to be eligible to trade or protect your gift in the event you want to keep it.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I laughed at the water bottle I found today at the bagel shop. Then tonight, after I put the boys to bed was reading this weeks Newsweek and found this article about the popularity of drinking water that claims to have some spiritual value to it. Water that does not "just promote good health, it actually makes you good" these companies claim. They are proving my previous post correct. You really can promise all kinds of bull and get people to pay ridiculous amounts of money, even for water.
"Like a crucifix or a rosary, a bottle of Holy Water is a daily reminder to be kind to others.""Holy Drinking water, produced by a California based company called Wayne Enterprises, is blessed at the warehouse by an Anglican or Roman Catholic priest.""The most recent entry in this niche is Spiritual Water. It is purified municipal water, sold with 10 different Christian labels. The Virgin Mary bottle, for example, has the Hail Mary prayer printed on the back in English and Spanish."
The makers of spiritual water, "Calmly refutes the implication that his Spiritual Water is bad for the planet. People put fewer of his bottles in the trash, he says, because they don't want to discard the images of Jesus or Mary."
Some according to Newsweek agree with me.
"Some religious believers, also convinced of the elemental importance of water, are campaigning against its unbiquitous sale and packing on the grounds that the practice is neither ethical nor good for the environment. 'Water is life' says Sister Mary Zirbes. 'It really should not be a commodity to be bought.'"
"In a world where a billion people have no reliable source of drinking water, where 3000 children die every day of waterborne diseases let's be clear: bottled water is not a sin, but it sure is a choice."Richard takes a lot of crap from "Christians" who don't give a crap about the environment, believing it's ours to rule and that since God's going to destroy it eventually anyway, we can do whatever we want to it now. However Richard Cizik believes Romans 8:19-26 and lives it. I'm a big Richard Cizik fan. (You can read what he believes here) He takes a lot of heat for the gospel. He believes that all of God's created order, including the planet, was hurt by the fall and that Christians not only care about the souls of human beings, but of the creation which is also called to declare the Glory of God. David evidently agreed.
"Spending 15 billion dollars a year on bottle dbottled water is a testimony to our own conspicuous consumption, our culture of indulgence."
If you want to chew on the behind the scenes issues that are really at stake in this water debate and how some cultures around the world abuse it and what a Christian ought to do about it, then you might want to read this covenant commitment to simple living from the Lausanne Commity for World Evangelization- orignally founded by Billy Graham. But be warned, it's long, deep, spiritual, theological, practical... and it will jack with you. Very few documents have impacted my thinking as significantly as the theological conclusions this group came to. I fully agree with them and am trying desperately to figure out what it means for me. I suspect it will take a while, but I'm on the road.
This morning I went to go get a bagel and while waiting for them to make it into an egg thing-a-majig, I was checking out the beverages they sell in the fridge.
While examining them, I was thinking how stupid it is that America has like a thousand ways to buy bottle water when lots of the world has no water at all and we treat it like a fad with different shaped bottles that probably cost more than the water inside and that I promise you, I could come up with a new fandangled way to pitch water to you with some silly promise. One of them they sell is "smart water" which I'm positive is just water and it makes you dumb if you buy it thinking it will make you smart.
However I found this paragraph instead:
c-mon, get your mind out of the gutter, we only named this drink xxx because it has the power of triple antioxidants to help keep you healthy and fight the radicals so in case you’re wondering, this does not cost $1.99 a minute or contain explicit adult content or anything considered “uncensored”, it has not “gone wild!!!!” during spring break nor will clips of it be passed around the internet like a certain hotel heiress and it has never been seen nude, but it is definitely au naturale.
I think that if you're going to jack with people's water and sell it to them with some amazing promise, you should at least have fun doing it. I now want to take a second job working for vitamin water. I want to write the silly smack talk they put on the side of the bottles. Somewhere in the world, someone right now is sitting in a cubicle in vitamin water land saying to themselves, "I can't believe they pay me to do this." I take that back, they're probably on the ski slopes of Utah texting their latest paragraph to their boss while riding the lifts and laughing all the way to the bank as people buy colored water in the name of healthy living.
Monday, December 10, 2007
TJ's trash into cash project has meant that every Friday we've been bringing home cans and plastic bottles to be recycled. We've been stock piling them on the side yard and last week we took them in and....
Word on the street is the school has no idea what to do with the money since they never get money like this. This Friday everyone at school is getting ice cream... from money from the trash. Go figure.
There's a lot of cash in the trash evidently.
Every week I do a pastor on call day at our church.... and this last week a guy needed to put his family up in a hotel for 2 nights. He said he just needed a place for them to get out of the rain and to get ahead. So we paid for 2 nights in a motel since he had recently lost his job... long story but his job currently, is digging the recycling out of the trash every night. He says that he makes $80 every night doing it.
I was so surprised how fast the CRV added up that I've stopped giving my bottles to my curbside recycling program. I'd rather give it to the school.
Another class at seminary is now officially over. I just finished my ethics class final. Now I think I can actually get a little normal back in my life. This class had me slammed ever since the fires and then having my computer stolen. That and soccer made this schedule quite the doozy. My apologies to those of you who were looking forward to reading my promised once a week journal entries. I managed to post only 2 of them for you in the time crunch. Sorry.
I was surprised to discover that this was class number 10 since I've been down here in SD. Man time flies and sometimes, I think school does not. I think I still have like 20 classes to go.
Next class starts Jan 10. - The writings of Paul.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Merry Christmas from the thieves.
Last year around this time, I made this vow that I didn't want to pay any money towards extra fees in 2008. No late fees on credit cards, no extra money spent that was unneeded. I just wanted to use the money I had for advancing the ship. Maybe even save some.
Well, in the first week of January I got a red light ticket by a red light picture thingy on my way home from Nor Cal that slapped me with like a $400 bill. Then our dishwasher broke. Then my clutch went out in my truck. Then the fuel pump went out in the Yukon and so did the tires. Now the gas guage is broken. My car got broken into and my computer stolen and well, if you ask me, financially I'd just assume 2007 go away.
Money and the stuff it buys are stupid.
I wish I didn't like either of them.
I feel like they constantly beat me up and yet I'm attached to them and can't leave. I think I need to go to a support group for battered and beaten husbands. I'm getting a divorce from money.
Crap. I think that costs money too.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
That's the reason for no posts in 10 days.