Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Magic Continues - Epcot

Another LONG day at the parks...this time Epcot. We had to go by and get Kayla this morning (and every morning) since she has to go to the parks with us to get our tickets. The tickets are free, but per Disney's request, she can only get one day at a time AND she has to be there each time we get them. A big inconvenience BUT you can't argue with free at Disney!!

We did the usual "big" rides in the morning/early afternoon time. Soarin' is definitely the BEST ride at Epcot. If you ever get a chance to ride it, don't miss it - it's well worth the wait in line!

We spent the latter part of the afternoon touring the different countries in the World Showcase. Every time I'm here it stirs my appetite for a return trip to Europe!! John are you in?? I love stopping at the various countries - from the shops to the entertainment, you certainly get a "taste" of the world (albeit a VERY small taste!).

It's also the Flower and Garden Show here at Epcot and as you can see by this picture:

I'm in for a lot of trouble for the next decade - what a ham!! I love all the sculptures of the characters. They've spent a lot of time crafting these plants and the flower gardens are spectacular!!

We also had opportunity to see the Chinese Acrobats again. Take a look at this pic:

These guys are simply amazing!! There were so many different types of acts, and each one more impressive than the one before. Another "don't miss" show!!

We closed out the evening with the fireworks show at Epcot and then headed back to the condo where I am researching ideas for a "mate date" tomorrow night. We're going to take our good friends from Illinois with us, so I guess we'll call it a "double mate date!" I can't wait to get out for awhile minus the kids (Kayla is going to sit with them) and relax in some good conversation, dream a little bit, and of course, inhale some fabulous desserts!!

Tomorrow we're off to MGM Studios - more pics and stories to come!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique!!

An absolutely beautiful day in Orlando today - mid 80's, partly cloudy and a VERY nice breeze. We met Kayla early this morning and headed to Downtown Disney. Kayla works in the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique now, and she had a surprise for Emilee - hair and makeup in the Boutique!! The Boutique is a hoppin' place - it's booked solid from early morning until it closes. Emilee had a great time and wore her new "hair" all day long.

After our "beauty" stop, we headed over to the Magic Kingdom for the day. It was a bit busier than I anticipated, but overall we had a great day. We took Emilee around to some of her favorite rides (including a 30 minute wait for "It's a Small World!!") and then Kayla and I rode Space Mountain. Or at least we attempted to...a nearby ride failed causing Space Mountain to turn on all it's lights for about 10 minutes. From what I understand, it's a very rare thing to see the inside of Space Mountain lit up. So for all you Disney die-hards, here's a pic!

We stayed most of the day and evening (I had my first Pineapple Float) and by the time we got back to the condo for a quick bite to eat, we were all exhausted. We'll be off to Epcot tomorrow, so stay tuned for more updates! Until then!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Walt Disney World - Round One

After 18 hours in the car, with stops for dinner,gas, bathroom breaks (yes, the bathroom!) and of course, the all-important "IHOP" stop, we arrived in Orlando at 8am today. It's great to be here, but I am totally wiped out!!

This is the first time we have stayed "off site" from Disney. So far things have been great. We're hanging at a condo with some friends from Illinois and today was really a relaxing day. Instead of hitting the parks, we took time to take a breath, caught up with our oldest daughter who is living here in Orlando, met some of her friends and then kicked back for a good ole' Memorial Day BBQ. The weather is PHENOMENAL and the pool felt great. What a day to unwind!!

My youngest daughter had a blast tormenting the ducks. Check out this pic!

We're going to hit it hot and heavy in the morning. Lots to do and see. Get ready for Disney World 2007 - Round One. More updates tomorrow!!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

This Is Your Brain...On DOS

“I just found out that the brain is like a computer. If that’s true, then there really aren’t any stupid people. Just people running DOS.”

- Anonymous

Terry Storch points us to this site. I love the quote above! Take time to read this article on "33 New Ways to Overclock Your Brain." There are some great ways to "revitalize" your brain!

Saturday Quotable

Isn't it amazing that way 99% of our self-concept is defined by 1% of our experiences? Positive or negative, we're shaped by the defining moments.

~ Mark Batterson,

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Crazy Little Thing Called...Life

As promised, it's been a crazy week. Here's a quick mind dump:
  • Prepping for teaching this weekend - it's kickin' my butt!
  • Watched the finale of Heroes - I was disappointed in the closer - was anyone else? The ending was a let down for me, but then again, I was expecting an all out brawl!
  • Watched five minutes of American Idol on Tuesday and Wednesday - congrats to Jordin; she deserved to win, but Blake rocks!
  • Watched "On the Lot" - Fox's new show. I'm a HUGE film buff and enjoy shooting video as much as the next guy, but this show stunk it up. It won't last. If you're still interested, you can click here and check out the submitted videos.
  • Played 7 holes of golf today. Yeah, you read it right - seven holes. We simply ran out of time.
  • If you missed the big announcement last weekend, we're going multi-site!! We looked at 15 or so buildings in the Arcadia Valley area today - a few possibilities!! Stay tuned!
  • Jason and Jamie's wedding is tomorrow - it should be a good one!
And finally...

I'm heading on vacation for two weeks starting Sunday afternoon!! YIPPEE!!! The family and I are heading to Orlando to visit our oldest daughter who is interning at Disney. She's hooked us up on some tickets and some friends of ours have a condo down there so we are all set! I'll post pics from the road for all of you die hard Disney fans!

I could use some prayers to make it through the rest of the week and weekend. It's like this every year as I get ready for vacation. As a matter of fact, I would hazard a guess that it's like this for most people when they get ready for vacation. It's hard to get ready and hard when you get back, but I'll sure enjoy the time in between!

Monday, May 21, 2007

A New Breed

This article is getting a lot of attention. Take a moment and read it. You may or may not agree with the accuracy of the article, but there are several items to consider:

(1) Change is inevitable. It's hard to argue against the fact that the world is undergoing some incredible changes. Spirituality as a topic of discussion is off the charts right now.

(2) Politics are still kickin'. Whether we like it or not, the direction of the country (for now at least) is determined a great deal by the political leadership of our nation. What does '08 hold? As it stands right now, the polls tell us the Hillary will win. How does that affect the way you view the world today?

(3) Young leaders are today's leaders. We must open the roads and let the younger leaders start to pave the way. We may not agree with their philosophy as a whole, but they are committed to seeing change happen, not just talking about it. We have a big choice to make: continue to talk about how things are or help set the stage for how things will be.

It will be interesting to see what the future holds. I intend to contribute my fair share in the process and I encourage each of you to give serious thought to not only the impact you will make today, but more importantly, what impact God wants you to make tomorrow and for the rest of your life.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Travel Bug

I've always loved traveling. I didn't have the opportunity to explore the world when I was younger, but as I grow older the "travel bug" is getting restless. John, a good friend of mine, has been to Europe more times than anyone I know. His "travel bug" has been unleashed since he was a kid and it hasn't gone away yet. Once you've caught the bug, does it every go away?

I've visited 36 of the 50 states (I hope to finish the tour before long!) and had the incredible opportunity to travel Europe for three weeks. (Sidebar: my favorite city? Florence!) There is so much of the world yet to be explored. This guy just returned from his own trip to Europe. I love his "theology" of travel and it really resonates with me. I love these thoughts:
Exploration is a godly instinct. It is a form of curiosity which is part of the Imago Dei. One way we glorify God is by exploring what He's made and praising Him in the process.

Just like an artist who wants others to enjoy his art; just like a composer who wants others to enjoy his music; God wants us to enjoy His creation. He wants us to explore it, to study it, to name it, to protect it, and to admire its beauty. Exploration honors God.
I don't know what the future holds, but I can't wait to prepare for it. I also can't wait to share this part of my soul with my kids. I want them to know that God has created an incredible playground for them to explore. So many places, people, cultures...the list goes on and on. We'd be incredibly selfish to think we "are the world" when there is so much more to explore.

I'll close with one final thought from this post:
I honestly think that travel will be one dimension of heaven. We will explore the earthly wonders we never got to see. I can't imagine that God would not want us to see absolutely everything He's created. That would be wasted creativity.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The 80% Rule

WOW! This guy does it again with a phenomenal "blog series" on Leadership. In his latest post he hits a home run with the 80% rule. If you're a leader at any level you must read this post!!

Popcorn Anyone?

It's already a busy day and I still have a few projects to wrap up before our evening experiences at Meadow Heights Church. This week? Part Two of "Who's Kidding Who?" Bryan will be talking about "Popcorn Parents." Don't miss this message! You might also want to jump over to the blog and post about some of your parenting experiences.

Last thing...

There will be a HUGE announcement at our experiences this weekend that will rock your world! I'm telling you - don't miss it. I can't reveal any more details, but I'll just say that this one little announcement will change everything. I'm pumped! See you then!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Keep Moving Forward!

Joe has some great thoughts about "moving forward." He even uses a quote by Walt Disney!!

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things - because we're curious. And curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. We're always exploring and experimenting.”

I love this quote!! I hope we're living life with this philosophy. At Meadow Heights Church we utilize this strategy as well - we want people to keep exploring and experimenting. That's what being a follower of Jesus is all about. We don't violate His truth, but we are constantly learning and finding new ways to reach others.

Think of it this way - "there are no failures at Meadow Heights...only experiments that didn't work!"


If you're like me, you probably struggle at times with your productivity. This might be something at work or at home, but most of us have challenges in this area. Here's a great article on "50 Ways To Increase Your Productivity." There's not many new principles, but some great reminders about how we've become lethargic in some areas.

Here are a few of my personal challenges:

3. Eliminate all distractions. This includes the phone, email notifications, and having multiple web browsers open on the desktop.

6. Complete your most dreaded tasks first thing in the morning. Whichever activity you are dreading the most is probably the one you need to complete first thing in the morning.

8. Just start. Often times, starting is the hardest part. Once you get going, you will quickly get into a rhythm that could last for hours.

27. Tell other people about your goals and you will instantly be held accountable.

28. Learn to say “No”. We can’t do everything and therefore we must learn when to say no in order to save our sanity.

29. Go on an information diet. Most of the world lives on information overload. We must eliminate mindless Internet surfing. Stop reading three different newspapers a day and checking your RSS feeds multiple times a day. Otherwise, you’ll never get anything done. The key is to limit yourself only to information that you can immediately take action on.

35. Don’t multitask. Research has shown that multitasking is not productive. For optimum productivity, focus on one thing at a time.

In what areas do you struggle?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sick and other four letter words

Sick. Yuck.

I went to bed early last night not feeling so hot. This morning I woke up with a massive headache, back pain and my intestines feeling like a truck ran over them a few times. The day hasn't gone much better.

Then, my wife starts to feel a little queasy, my son comes home from school with similar symptoms and the whole house feels like an infirmary.

What can I say? I hate being sick!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Shift Happens

Guy Kawasaki points us to the winner of the "World's Best Presentation Contest." Take a moment to click through the slides to "Shift Happens." It only takes about one minute or so, but I bet you'll find some information that will surprise and shock you!

Welcome Nancy Beach!

Nancy Beach is now blogging. For those of you who aren't familiar with Nancy, she is the programming director at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. She is incredibly creative, insightful and a great leader. Here's a short bio:

Nancy has always been a passionate champion for artists in the local church. For over 20 years she served as the Programming Director for Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago, building a community of artists who sought to create transformational moments in Sunday morning church services. Currently, Nancy is the Executive Vice President for the Arts at the Willow Creek Association, focusing full time on serving arts leaders and their teams in the U.S. and in several other countries. Nancy serves as a teaching pastor at her home church, and also uses her teaching gifts to cast vision at conferences. In her book, The Hour on Sunday, Nancy expresses the core vision and values which she believes are foundational to any effective arts ministry.

Nancy and her husband Warren live in Barrington with their two teenage daughters and a cat named Elphaba.

Who's Kidding YOU!

Man, if you weren't at Meadow Heights Church this past weekend then you missed it! We launched a new series called "Who's Kidding Who?" (grammar neglected for creative value - at least that's what we're saying...) This is a kickin' parenting series, full of creative stuff and of course, practical application on what God has to say about the subject. For more details, click here.

I'll also encourage you to check out the "Who's Kidding Who Blog" each week. There will be a short devotion followed by a few questions for everyone. I hope that we can get some great discussion out there and some ideas that will spur our marriages. Let the comments begin!

One more thing...what was your survey score? Care to elaborate? And now...what are you going to do about it?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A Mother Like No Other

Tony Morgan recently wrote about 16 reasons why he'd do it all over again (in reference to the sixteen years he's been married to his wife). I thought I would top him and talk about 38 reasons why I'd do it all over again, but I didn't want to mention my wife's age on my blog, so I'm going with 10 things I love about my wife this Mother's Day:
  1. Those big brown eyes
  2. How you care for people - especially those older than you (what happens when they're no longer older than you?)
  3. Your passion for life
  4. Standing up for the "little guy"
  5. The way you challenge me to be better
  6. You're in love with Mickey Mouse
  7. Your new blog (if you haven't checked out, do so today - she's got some great thoughts!)
  8. You always try to do the "right thing" - even if it's uncomfortable
  9. You like John Coltrane and the Denver Broncos
  10. You continue to put up with me!!
Happy Mother's Day!!

Google Image Labeler

Google is just plain smart. Their applications are unbelievable, and now they have turned a useful tool into a fascinating game. Check out their latest app called "Google Image Labeler" - it's incredibly addicting!! Don't say I didn't warn you!

And A Parsonage In A Pear Tree

The Detroit Outreach Church recently bought their pastor a 3.65 million dollar house - now that's what I call "pastor appreciation"!! If anyone is looking to give away a house, you can give me a call or email anytime!! :)

You can read the full story here.

You're A Real Winner...

"1989-1998 Prairie View Panthers lose 80 straight college football games."

I had the opportunity to attend the middle school sports banquet this past week. Let me say up front that this event is well organized and a classy way to honor young athletes. As I listened to each of the coaches talk about their players, the season, etc, I was struck by the fact that losing seasons did not garner as many comments as winning seasons.

Losing is certainly not something any of us enjoy. In fact, it can be downright embarrassing at times! How many of you remember a time when you were thumped at something? It might have been a sporting event, or a music contest, or simply a game. How did you feel?

It's tough to get over defeat. It's easy to be on top, but much more difficult to swallow when you're on the bottom. Is that why so many leaders who are "winning" get complacent? When you're winning everyone is "for" you, it's easy to sit back and enjoy it all, and your vision for the future is not as important as living in the moment.

When your losing however, reality strikes. Your vision for the future suddenly becomes VERY important. Words like strategy, brainstorming, and evaluation invade your environment. Blame and pride can become embittered in your soul and covering your tail is a daily event.

Does either scenario sound familiar? It seems like your value as a human is based upon whether you win or lose. How many times have we seen a coach win a championship in his career but be fired soon after a losing season?

Let me clarify a few things...Winning is a good thing. Losing is a good thing. A balanced perspective is the key.

The banquet got me thinking about our role as a follower of Jesus. I mean, let's face it - as humans, we're losers. We mess up all the time. We never get it perfect and we never will. If we look at our life "record" we'll find it extremely lopsided.

Wouldn't it be fair for God to look at our record to determine our worth? That's what we do with others right? So why can't God? If that were the case, we'd all be in trouble!

Thankfully, God looks at our heart and not our accomplishments:

1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)
But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

No matter how many times we stumble or fall, we have to continue to run the race with perseverance. Despite the fact that we might not win a game or we have a losing record,God still loves us. If we follow His path, if we are faithful to the end, if we love God with all of our heart, soul and mind, in His "record" book we are winners.

Deut. 5:33 (NIV)
"Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess."

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Turning Negative Into Postive

It's tempting to talk about other people. It's VERY tempting to talk about other churches. Especially in the negative. I've heard lots of people talk about Meadow Heights - both in the positive and the negative. Most of the time, they are giving their "opinion" based on what they've "heard" and not what they have experienced.

Has this happened to you? Has someone said something about you personally that had no foundation or basis? Does it feed your soul or devour it?

Craig Groeschel ( has some great thoughts on this subject - Postal Pastors Part 2. A few thoughts of his really stood out:
  • Before long, church leaders are criticizing, gossiping, and feeding a growing and unjustified, self-destructive anger.
  • The most insecure leaders are those who have to criticize everyone else. Deal with your anger. Deal with your jealousy. It isn’t pretty. It isn’t helpful. It doesn’t honor God.
  • Remember, if we are preaching Jesus crucified and risen, we’re on the same team.

If you find yourself quick to comment...slow down, breathe in and remember that life is too short to be fighting ourselves and each other. Focus on turning the negative into a positive. You do what you only you can do, and trust God to do what only He can do.

Do You Like [Most] Christians?

Scott Hodge, lead pastor of The Orchard, taught this past weekend on why he didn't like [most] Christians. If you're not concerned with the reputation of a lot of Christians, take a look at this video.

How can we improve our reputation in the community?

Monday, May 07, 2007

From the Unusual Files

An Arkansas couple (leave it to those Arkansas folks!) is expecting their 17th child! Talk about perseverance! These guys must have unbelievable patience. Here's a quote from the article:

"...she (Michelle) and husband Jim Bob, a former state representative and U.S. senate candidate, view each phase of their children's lives as an adventure."

An adventure? Like at Disney World? She continues:

"Here I am a mama with her 17th child on the way, and so many people think 'Oh you've got it all figured out,"' Duggar said. "I am still learning. Just when I think I've got something figured out I try it on the next one and it doesn't work."

Hmm...obviously something is working - they have 17 kids!

The Duggars' children are Joshua, 19; John David, 17; Janna, 17; Jill, 15; Jessa, 14; Jinger, 13; Joseph, 12; Josiah, 11; Joy-Anna, 10; Jeremiah, 8; Jedidiah, 8; Jason, 7, James, 5; Justin, 4; Jackson Levi, 2 and Johanna Faith, 19 months.

The baby on the way? Jennifer Danielle.

So those of us with kids - when things seem tough with those one, two or three kids around the house? Count with your blessings - it could have been 17!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

God? Are you there?

Do you hear from God?

That's a pretty tough question. While God could certainly speak to us in an audible voice, He doesn't often use that medium in today's world. Instead He chooses to speak to us through the Bible, through other people, through prayer, or even through some circumstance in our life.

What is God saying to you right now?

As you read this post, what is God saying to you? And possibly the bigger question...are you listening? Mark Batterson has a GREAT post on hearing from God. I encourage you to read his post and then consider which of his points you need to act on. Go ahead and read his post. I'll wait.


Okay. You're back. Now...

What is God saying to you?

Did You "Remember When...?"

It's been a CRAZY weekend. Lots of stuff going on...

It was an incredibly fun weekend at Meadow Heights Church. We titled the weekend "Remember When..." and it was a blast. From the food (RC Cola's and Moon Pies) to the decor to the music, the theme was a big hit. Special thanks to Tim at Unique Ink for creating our graphic and for popping out some kickin' t-shirts for the band, techs and first impressions folks. We had lots of peeps asking for a t-shirt...if you were one of them - hang tight and we'll see what we can do!!

The best part of the weekend was the content of the messages themselves. Bryan, Mac and I prepared a total of 15 message shorts about the most "annoying" things about Christians. Talk about a blast to prepare! And people loved it. It was a great way to talk about some difficult subjects that are sometimes tough to bring up. This weekend gave us an awesome platform to address some of the most common Christian annoyances. Here is a list of all fifteen topics:

  • Christians who never make a big deal about anything.
  • Christians who are lousy tippers.
  • Christians who major on the minors.
  • Christians who have no limits.
  • Christians who would rather call the police than the ambulance.
  • Christians who blame everything on Satan.
  • Christians who are all talk.
  • Christians who think church is all about them.
  • Christians who hide in a bubble.
  • Christians who won’t add skill, knowledge and training to their passion.
  • Christians who speak “Christianese” all the time.
  • Christians who think everyone should be just like them.
  • Christians who think everything can be explained with a simple phrase or a trite slogan.
  • Christians who use “God told me” as a silver bullet.
  • Christians who explain God by saying of God what God never said of himself.
We had a HUGE wheel on the stage with the corresponding 15 categories (and one question mark - you choose your own!). We invited five people up per service to "spin the wheel" and we talked about whatever number came up. Our motto? You spin. The wheel decides.

During the course of our five weekend gatherings, we covered 13 out of the 15 categories. A pretty decent coverage rate! AND each of us spoke just about an equal number of times - another very interesting statistic!

Overall a great weekend, phenomenal theme, crazy messages, incredible music and of course the BIG WHEEL!! We'll be working on recording all 15 of these messages - they'll be available soon, so stay tuned!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Artistry in Motion

As a creative artist I am always interested in other artists and their "trade." I love this post by Mark Batterson on the artistry of Jesus. Something we don't think about very often!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Running With Perseverance

From the Life Force Article this week:

“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

It was incredible to watch the Holy Spirit move this past weekend. There were hundreds of people who cast down their sins and were obedient to the voice of God. But the race is not over yet. Every one of us will continue to be tempted by our favorite sin. The question is not if but when. What do we do when that happens? Return to God.

“If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored…” Job 22:23 (NIV)

Let’s face it – life is complicated. Jesus said himself that in this world we will have troubles. It’s not how many troubles we face, but what we do when we find ourselves in tough circumstances. How will you respond? Will you give up, give in or give control to God? As Jeremiah challenged our youth via video last week, we must persevere; we must keep going. No matter what stage of life you find yourself in, God is not finished yet. He remains strong and He’s asking us to do the same. Our shoes may be worn, but with God’s help, we will finish the race!

“God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.” 1 Cor. 1:9 (MsgB)