Saturday, December 27, 2008

Rick Warren and Barack Obama

Thank you Beth for this wonderful post:


From Beth's Blog: (my answers have been substituted)

  • What song makes you instantly think of junior high? Mr. Big, "To Be With You", anything by Def Lepard or Tesla, and Tone Loc's "Wild Thing"
  • What song takes you immediately back to high school? Ace of Base "I Saw the Sign", G&R's "Sweet Child of Mine", and Roxette's "Joyride"
  • What song reminds you of your first girlfriend/boyfriend? hmmmm...
  • What song reminds you of your first heartbreak? Bryan Adam's "Everything I do I do it for you"
  • What song reminds of being young and reckless? hmmmmm....
  • What song is still your favorite after all these years? Ace of Base "I Saw the Sign"
  • What song reminds you of summer? Sheryl Crow's "Soak Up the Sun"
  • What song reminds you of vacation? anything fun!
  • What's the first album/cassette/cd you purchased? Tiffany "Tiffany" - especially "I Think We're Alone Now"
  • What song do you still have in your collection after all this time? Milli Vanilli's cassette
  • What song do you think you can sing but you really can't? Lots of them
  • What song do you always mess up the words to? Lots of them
  • What song makes you immediately 'bust a move'? The Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian"
  • What song do you wish you could fall asleep to? hmmmm....
  • What song do you wish you could wake up to? hmmmmm...
  • What song do you want played at your funeral? "Be Thou My Vision," some classical tunes, some happy, life celebrating music
  • What song do you want played when your casket opens? Open casket? No thanks.
  • What song do you currently have as a ringtone? Arizona State's fight song "Maroon and Gold"
  • What song do you currently have as a ring back? I think ringbacks are odd and a silly use of $.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

'tis the season

so it's christmas. while i ponder how many times i will watch "a christmas story" this year (1 of the greatest seasonal movies of all time, imho), this is also the time of year when most americans head to malls, stores & websites to purchase gifts for family & friends. while on the surface people view this as the "season of giving", i've started looking at it from the big picture. it seems to me it boils down to a lot of people getting other people stuff, but then getting generally the same amount of stuff in return...all within the same couple of days. so it's as if, in reality, we buy our own gifts but in a round-about manner. maybe i'm looking at this wrong. but if this is going to truely be the season of giving, shouldn't we just give and not get or expect anything in return? don't get me wrong, i can suffer from this sort of selfish/materialistic mindset, but i wonder if we should start straying away from this kind of gift giving. perhaps focusing more on giving to the less fortunate, maybe simply giving roughly the amount we would have spent on gifts anyway? it seems to me that this would help our local communities immensely. pick a charity & give. even if that "charity" is a family member or friend who has fallen on hard times. in the true spirit of christmas, with the celebration of christ's birth and all that it means, i think that would be more appropriate.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

goin' with the flow

the nerd in me loves these...just wonderfully funny. i have no idea why, but i have this odd fascination with funny flow charts. if you know of others, let me know.

and here's another one (added December 29, 2008). it's one of my all-time favorites.

Monday, December 15, 2008

stewart vs. huckabee

jon stewart interviewed mike huckabee last week on "the daily show". during the interview, jon tackled the issue of gay marriage with mike...and did it wonderfully.

i also came across this blog a few days ago. it's an example of why a heterosexual marriage is not necessarily better than a homosexual marriage in regards to the health of a child.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


it finally decided to snow earlier this week here in nashville, and oh how wonderful it was. since it typically snows about once a year here, julie & i took advantage of it. the snow was great for i made a snowball & it's still in our freezer. i don't plan on taking it out anytime soon. :) julie & i went outside and made snow angels and snowpeople. yay! it was fun to play in the snow. the sad part is, the next day most of it melted. snow doesn't last very long here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Great Thanksgiving

Brian and I surprised Jay and Joely last week and made a trip to Phoenix to see our new nephew, Jalen Allen O'Neal. He's so cute and sweet. It was a great trip filled with time with friends and family as well as an ASU game. Here are a few photos from the trip.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

we wore real clompen

it finally happened. something i have wanted to do for years, & a dream was realized. i was in the land of my ancestors. finally, i was in the netherlands! you've probably already read julie's post about the paris portion of our european vacation. i thought i would share about our trip to the netherlands. for me, one of the highlights was definitely our trip to see the amsterdam ajax, one of the top 3 football (i.e. soccer) clubs in the netherlands. we had a tour of the stadium prior to the match, which included a visit to the pitch (soccer field). that's me, ecstatic, on ajax's pitch. we also saw the press room and the practice field for the team during the tour. the game couldn't have turned out better. ajax won, 2-0, against nec nijmegan off goals from klaas-jan huntelaar & luis suarez.

we also took a day-trip to volendam, a fishing village outside amsterdam. we saw how they still make clompen (wooden shoes), we sampled some cheese, & wandered on the shore of the Ijselmeer. i realized why so many dutch people settled in the midwest. the climate & landscape are very similar to that of the netherlands. we also saw many very round cows & sheep. our trip also included visits to several museums. the rijksmuseum and the anne frank house proved to be wonderfully interesting. but the best was the van gogh museum. which, of course, focused on vincent van gogh.

van gogh's story proved to be quite interesting to julie & i. we saw some parallels between his life and mine, which i will get to in a moment. van gogh started his painting career painting in a very traditional dutch manner. still life paintings using a lot of dark colors, which create a melancholy & somewhat depressing mood. he then moved to paris & realized that he needed to paint in brighter colors, hence paintings like "starry night" and "sunflowers".

the part of his story that i found i related to was that he struggled with his father over his religious beliefs. his father was a pastor & believed the bible to be the only source in which you could be inspired by god. van gogh disagreed with this, & found inspiration from his creator in books other than the bible. it was this struggle that led to the painting of the crumbling church, known as "the peasant's churchyard". for van gogh, this represented the disintegrating influence of christianity. van gogh said something interesting regarding this in a letter to his brother about the painting, “Les religions passent, Dieu demeure” [Religions pass away, God remains]."

i found that i related to this because my parents & i clash on our beliefs. i don't believe, as they do, that the bible is the inerrant word of god. which is why when i see someone quoting scripture as a method of proving something as absolute, my 1st thought is, "so?". for me, it's the story of our fellow christian brothers & sisters and their struggles as they marched through history, as well as how they connected with their god and what that relationship meant to them.

needless to say, our trip to paris & amsterdam was amazing. we created some wonderful memories, learned more about each other, & saw some wonderful sights. we definitely hope to go again.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Paris Je t'aime!!!

I love Paris! I love Paris! I love everything about it! Well, almost everything. The smoking can go. But other than that, I love the Metro, I love the cafes, I love the madelines, I love the cosmopolitan feel of the city, I LOVE the food, I love the monuments and museums, I love the Seine, I love the bridges, I love the cobblestone streets, I love the fashion, I love the little teacups, I love the parks. I love paris.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Directly from a friend's blog...

To Set at Liberty Those who are Oppressed...with Liberty and Justice for All.

Fighting for justice and against oppression is what we're SUPPOSED to do, right? As Christians, as Americans, as Humans. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, right? Is there anybody who doesn't agree with that?

Liberating the oppressed, reaching out and responding to the marginalized, showing hospitality and kindness to the outcast, is how Jesus defined his own ministry and the kind of ministry to which he called the disciples.

Instead, certain people in certain churches in certain contexts have decided, and continually decide, to be the oppressers. I'm trying not to generalize. I recognize and affirm the individualilty and particularity of each human person.

But there are A LOT of people who seem content with their oppression, even comfortable with it, even proud of it. Building fences, building fences to bolster the fences, denying people communion, denying people the right to worship where, when, how, to whom/what, they please.

Here it is, folks. I have to say it. It might trouble some of you, it might get me in trouble. But right now, I have to say it:

1. Saying that women don't have the right to preach is oppression.
2. Saying that homosexual persons don't have the right to preach or marry or even become members of a church is oppression. And a church, say the United Methodist Church, that does not allow ANYONE to preach and proclaim the gospel is a participant in oppression.
3. Denying anyone communion EVER is oppression.
4. Thinking your tradition's baptism is better or, um, more official, is oppression.
5. Building fortified fences on our borders is oppression.
6. Calling to claim English as America's official language is oppression.

The ultimate oppression is the idea that one person, one group of people, one tradition, one nation can have complete and sole ownership of truth (or of God, which might be six and one). If you (I) ever, in any way, think you (I) are (am) better than anyone else or have a clearer understanding of the mysteries of life than anyone else, you are (I am) wrong and you are (I am) oppressing.

The questions:
1. Knowing this, saying this, believing this, how do we claim Jesus Christ as the way to salvation?
2. How do we show tolerance to the intolerant? Kindness to the unkind? Love to the hateful? Are we supposed to? Aren't we supposed to hate what it is evil and cling to what is good?
3. How do we teach "liberty and justice for all" to the affluent, the liberated, the powerful?
4. How are we, individually and collectively, participating in oppression and what are we doing, individually and collectively, to set at liberty ALL those who are oppressed?

The answer, always: grace.

Your friend, brother, partner, collaborator, Brad-owner of one microscopic atom in one grain of sand of the vastness of the truth of God.

An unexamined life is not worth living.

(Courtesy of Brad Bryan:

Friday, October 3, 2008

to the lands of cafes & bicycles

in just a few short weeks, julie & i are making our trip to paris & amsterdam. i am exploding with excitement. which may make those weeks seem to take longer. this is going to be my 1st international trip, so it's perfect that part of it involves going to the country of my ancestry (the netherlands).

we're in the process of narrowing down what we want to do while we're there, how we're going to get around, along with all the other details that go with international travel. there are things we're definitely doing. in paris, things like the louvre and the eiffel tower are among the places to experience on our list. in amsterdam, we plan on going to an ajax match (1 of the biggest soccer clubs in the netherlands) and the rijksmuseum...among other things. one other thing that i'm excited about is the opportunity to go into buildings that have been around since medieval times. i can't wait to experience history like that.

Monday, September 22, 2008

a picture is worth 1,000

i saw this picture and couldn't stop laughing. if you have any concept of "emo" music & the hipster scene that surrounds it, you'll get it. if not, well let's just say this may take some explaining. let's just say the swooping hair over the face is what makes this pic work. click on the pic to see a larger version.

Friday, September 19, 2008

In case you missed it

Sunday, August 31, 2008

...and it's done (almost)

julie & i chose to take labor day to an extreme this year. we moved over labor day weekend from our apartment into a house! we're excited about it, and our cats seem to like it too. panini and squigs (our 2 cats) are finding great joy while playing with their new toy, the stairs. they haven't lived in a place with those before.

it's sunday night as i type this, and all of our stuff is in our new place after 8 crazy hours of moving on saturday. we've made some good headway in a few of the rooms, but we still have cardboard boxes a' plenty with stuff in them. ah, the joy of moving.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Olympics Fever!

I have loved watching the 2008 Olympiad. I always look forward to the games and the sheer athleticism of the competition. But this year I have noticed something that I hadn't in prior games. The tone of this year's games seems to contain a subtle arrogance and elitism of the U.S.A.'s supposed superiority. I've felt this through the commentary and have quite frankly been embarassed at times at the some of the things that have been said to fill time. (During one synchronized diving performance, Bob Costas said, "it's best if the synchronized divers practice together", during the opening games both Matt Lauer and Bob said many times "Now to the Chinese it's quite obvious that this symbol means harmony," "Now to the Chinese it's apparent that...") Thanks Bob and Matt for your accurate reading of the script furnished by the Chinese. But more than the annoying commentating, what I've been most frustrated with is the hype around Michael Phelps, Nastia Lukin and Dana Torres... Don't get me wrong, I know they work hard in what they do and are extremely talented. But what gets me, is the lack of the obvious that ALL of the athletes have trained hard to get here. ALL of the athletes have spent countless hours going over their routines, ALL of the athletes have nerves about this momentous occasion, ALL of the athletes would like to win a gold medal. I feel as if we assume that we are entitled to the bronze and silver and certainly the gold medal simply because we are the U.S.A. In my opinion, there are always winners and losers and sometimes we will be the winners and sometimes we will be the losers. Sometimes we won't get a medal. Sometimes we will get 12 medals. Regardless, everyone who makes it to that level is entitled to an equal chance at standing on a podium and hearing their national anthem. And sometimes, we won't be the ones who get to stand on a podium. Sometimes we are off in our game, sometimes we slip, sometimes we fall, but just as we celebrate when we succeed, we also should admit that someone else was on their game, they didn't fall, and we weren't as good. Again, don't get me wrong that I enjoyed Michael Phelps breaking record after record, but I also enjoyed (possibly more) watching the lesser hyped athletes win their first (and possibly only) medal. Their victory seemed just a little sweeter, a little more genuine, a little more real.

So as the games are nearing to a close, I celebrate the medals that the U.S.A. won and I celebrate the medals that the other countries won as well. I will wish that those countries who only had a handful of athletes will have increased the ratio of athletes to medals. I will hope that those who didn't get a medal will cherish the experience and be celebrated upon return as if they did.

I will look forward to the next Olympiad and hope that the commentators will recognize the dedication and hard work that each and every athlete possess in order to get to this level.

And as a side note, I will never need to see G.W. oggling the women's volleyball team again.

i've heard there was a secret chord

i came across this blog on NPR's website about the song "Hallelujah". the NPR blog (here's the link) has some youtube videos of various artists performing it. the song was originally written & performed by Leonard Cohen, and made famous by Jeff Buckley on his album Grace. i had forgotten how moving this song is. if you haven't heard it, you need to. you could consider it a modern hymn, especially with it's many biblical references. i won't go too much more into it, especially since the comments in the NPR blog cover what i would want to mention anyway...and then some. all that i ask of you is to take a few minutes, shut the door to whatever room you're in to block out all distractions, and listen to this song with your eyes closed. sometimes that's the only real way to connect with music...especially a song like this one.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Life List

So the idea for this list came both from the movie "The Bucket List" with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, but also from a friend's blog. I prefer to call it the Life List for now, because writing a bucket list seems as if it could be so far away (not that I can predict the time in which I will pass). So here is my list so far:

(in no particular order)
- become fluent in French (been close, been far, now starting to get close again)
- visit all 50 states with Brian
- live in France for 3+ months
- regularly take dance classes (especially ballet - and build enough strength to dance pointe)
- have enough money to make it mandatory (and convenient) for apartment complexes to have a recycling program
- own the Monet painting called "The Flood" - not the one that is common, the one he painted after his mistress died (it was owned by Gustav Rau and was part of the Rau Collection and then he passed it on to UNICEF in Germany for one of their auctions)
-dispel racism when it crosses my path
- teach my children about the pain of racism
- spend an entire day at the Louvre
- start a compost pile
- live in an entirely "green" house
- visit South Korea with Brian
- adopt 1+ child and birth 1+ child

That's enough for now. I'll share more later!

Monday, August 11, 2008

I'm Famous!

But probably only for about 15 seconds. I've been attending a career networking group in my efforts to land a gig in the music industry for the past several months. A couple weeks ago some people from the Tennessean, the Nashville newspaper, came to interview some folks at this group. I was one of the lucky ones. The article appeared over the weekend, and I'm even the focus of the main picture. Funny, how even in today's culture of Facebook, Myspace & the like I still feel special having my picture in the newspaper.

Monday, August 4, 2008

the tower of...

maybe i get too emotionally attached to certain movies, but i just finished watching one that is causing some deep thoughts.

i just watched "Babel", staring brad pitt (amongst others). it's the story of loneliness, of connection, and of simply being human. there's one scene in particular that stands out for me. brad pitt's on-screen wife was shot by random gunfire while they are in calcutta. one of the locals extends his help as he assists them in taking them to his village to find a doctor & help in any way he can. it's a picture of what we americans would think of as destitute. dirt floors, ramshackle housing and the like. but for this culture it's normal & nothing to be ashamed of. as brad's wife, a little later, is about to be taken away via helicopter by the u.s. embassy, brad offers money in appreciation to his friend. he turns it down. not because he didn't need it, but because (i think) he didn't want to turn what he just did out of friendship into something as meaningless as a commodity. something that can simply be bought, sold or traded. this was far deeper than that.

and it struck me. this is what it means to be human. willingly extending your resources, no matter how limited, to to someone else without asking for something in return.

another part of the plot happens in japan. there is a daughter of a wealthy businessman who is struggling with loneliness, and simply trying to connect & find meaning in the wake of her mother's suicide. the movie ends with her embracing her dad on the balcony of their (at least) 30 story penthouse. as they hug, the camera pans away, revealing more and more of the city skyline. the blinking lights of immense skyscrapers, the hum of a major metropolitan city. it made me think of how easy it is it get lost in the whirling sea of humanity around us, and how it is so easy to feel alone in the middle of a crowd. which is exactly what happened to her earlier in the movie. it was interesting how that came to mind as the camera stopped focusing only on the father & daughter and moved out to more & more of the city.

it also makes me think, how do we find meaning & truth in our own lives in the midst of 300 billion+ people on this planet. my only answer is you need to focus on the community around you and be human to them.

this is a movie that wonderfully displays how connected our planet really is. it involved 4 different cultures. mexican, mideastern, american and asian. it doesn't take a whole lot of further thought to realize how they came up with the name for the movie, "Babel".

the times, they are a changin'

it's still a shock to me how quick time can go. it dawned upon me that it's been a bit since we posted anything here. so, i thought i could at least give an update on what's been going on in the life of Brian & Julie.

one of the biggest fun new developments is we now know where we're living next month. our lease on our current apartment ends August 30. we could have renewed our lease, but we decided we needed a place with more space. it looks like we've found that in a house not too far from where we are now. it's a rental...and in great shape. it has 1600 square feet of joy with a deck, a yard, & all the fixins'. yes, that was a bit a bit southern. but we're definitely excited about this place...especially since it's not too much more than what we're paying now for our 1000 square foot apartment.

right now, though, julie is in her home state of arizona enjoying some time with her family. they're renting a houseboat for a week and cruising along Lake Powell, which is near the border of arizona & utah. it's a much needed escape for her. she's had to deal with a lot of issues at work recently, and my only hope is that she comes back recharged & refreshed. why is brian not there, you may ask? simple. my employer would not grant me the time off to go.

so, as an antidote for missing my wife, i went on a bit of a shopping spree this weekend & purchased a bunch of wonderful new music. i love what i've heard of it so far.

1) R.L. Burnside - "Come On In"
2) The Avalanches - "Since I Left You"
3) Cadence Weapon - "Afterparty Babies"
4) She Wants Revenge - (self-titled)
5) The Appleseed Cast - "Two Conversations"
6) The Forms - "T.B.D."
7) Jimmy Smith - "Root Down (Live)"
8) Over the Rhine - "Ohio"

some of these purchases were steps in expanding my musical horizons. namely Jimmy Smith (jazz), R.L. Burnside (blues) and Over the Rhine (americana/bluegrass).

thanks for tuning in for another episode.

P.S> an imaginary gold star to the 1st person who comments with the name of the artist, album and year for the song referenced in the title. it shouldn't be too difficult.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Today I need silence.  I need space to think, to turn away distraction, to ponder and reflect.  I need silence to help me converse with God.  I need silence to LISTEN to God.  And it's kind of ironic because last night I heard the song by John Mayer titled "Say".  I have heard the song several times prior to hearing it last night but for some reason it seemed to speak to me in a different way, in a deeper way.  The song goes as such:

Take all of your wasted honor.
Every little past frustration.
Take all of your so called problems,
Better put 'em in quotations.

Say what you need to say (x8)

Walkin' like a one man army,
Fightin' with the shadows in your head.
Livin' up the same old moment
Knowin' you'd be better off instead.

If you could only... Say what you need to say (x8)

Have no fear for givin' in.
Have no fear for giving over.
You better know that in the end
It's better to say too much, than never to say what you need to say again.

Even if your hands are shaking,
And your faith is broken.
Even as the eyes are closin',
Do it with a heart wide open.

(Wide Heart)

Say what you need to say (x7)
Say what you need to, say what you need to...
Say what you need to say.

(lyrics found on

So as I sit in the silence, my heart is compelled.  I must say what I need to say.

Friday, July 18, 2008

early morning thoughts

i'm getting into this habit of waking up an hour early 3 days out of the week to exercise. why? because i'm realizing (based mainly on some of our pics from Hawaii) that i really need to lose weight. so that's what i did this morning. i woke up bright & chipper (please include some tongue in cheek in that one) at 5:15 am and headed to the fitness center in our apartment complex.

while i'm on the treadmill, listening to tunes on my iPod, i'm also watching MTV2 (with the sound off). i watched some show that seemed to have a focus of premiering new music videos. this one was for a new song by LL Cool J. after the video was done, they went to 3 people who started commenting about something. presumably the video. i have no idea what they were talking about because, again, the sound was off. 1 of the 3 commentators was The Game. If you don't know who he is, he is a rapper known for his hits like "how we do" and "westside story". during this commentary, he was also wearing this shirt from the demockratees website.

seeing the shirt made me think. partially because the guy who started the demockratees site is a native american who is fighting against all that holds native americans back. that then made me start thinking about the many facets of racism and how it affects so many aspects of our lives.

i remembered my social studies teacher in 9th grade. he was african-american, and i wonder how he felt teaching from a book that was most likely edited & written by caucasians, which then only reflected their viewpoint of history. although maybe i should say "our" viewpoint since i am caucasian as well. i just don't agree with that viewpoint anymore. one example i thought of is the teaching of christopher columbus as a hero. in reality he's closer to jeffrey dahmer than a great discoverer. not only did he never actually touch north america, but when he was in central america he stole from, murdered & raped the indigenous people there for his own selfish gain. i don't think that's someone we should honor with a national holiday. at best, he should be forgotten.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Political Cartoon

I would like to talk a bit about this week's New Yorker.  The image here is obviously a jab at Barack and Michelle Obama.  But instead of sharing some of my thoughts, I'd like to point you in the direction of two former seminary colleagues of mine, Adam and Andy, who seem to have summed up my thoughts in their posts. I invite you to hear their arguments and share your thoughts as to the appropriateness of this cover.

Friday, July 11, 2008


... was GREAT! Brian and I had a fabulous time. Yes, we did some of the tourist-ey stuff but the best part was getting to know many tongan and samoan young adults. They live in a dualistic world; one of ipods and "normal" clothes and another of rich culture and heritage and a completely different language. One experience we had was that we had never been to a luau in a gym and we had never been to a luau where we knew most of the dancers. It was amazing! Such talent and gifts. Many of the young adults are so "on-fire" with God. The young adults in the Hawaii district will remain close to my heart.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

...rather be forgotten...

i'm in the midst of doing my bi-weekly radio show, when "summerholidays vs punkroutine" by refused starts to play. (thanks, spence, for introducing me to it.) it's one of my favorite tunes off their album "the shape of punk to come...", which is why i chose to play it.

the chorus to this song goes "i'd rather be forgotten, than remembered for giving in". and i think to myself, isn't that what real integrity is? truely holding on to your beliefs, your values, what you stand for, what you say, the promises you make. even to the point of preferring to be just another piece of sand on the beach than being known as the one who played benedict arnold to your value system.

it's a tall, tough order. it's something i'm struggling with. after living for 31 years as a bachelor and being able to wait to make decisions until the last minute, i now need to take julie into consideration in those decisions. not just about what we do on a given evening, but things that affect our jobs, meals, chores, how our individual value systems reflect on us as a couple, etc. it comes down to honestly being who you are. it's deeper & more layered than i originally fathomed.

so as julie & i travel through this new journey in our lives, i pray for strength to stand up & be the man God put me on this planet to be.

P.S. > it's awesome when music inpires you
Now playing: Refused - Summerholidays Vs. Punkroutine
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Real friends

Post comments on our blog!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

yes, it's 2008 & it still exists

1st, i just want to say "amen" to julie's "zimbabwe" post. it breaks my heart when i read/hear about events like that. forcing people to choose between voting and eating? how little we americans really understand about the varied cultures around this planet.

on to what i came to write about.

last monday was our friend chad's birthday. so julie & i, along with chad's roommate jonathan, met for ice cream. we arrived just before the store closed, so we sat outside to enjoy our tasty treats. as we chatted about various topics, we noticed people would go to the door, notice the store was closed, and walk away. 2 particular instances of this caught our eyes. the 1st one involved a family of 5 as they walked up, looked in the establishment to confirm it was closed, and walk away. about 10 minutes later, this same situation happened with a high school couple. this time, the employees of the store unlocked the door for them & let them in.

what's the difference between these 2 occurrences? the family of 5 was of Mid-Eastern descent, while the high school couple was Caucasian. this left us nothing shy of shocked at this display of racism. the only consolation that i can think of is at least the family of 5 didn't see this sudden change in ice cream availability due to skin color. it scares me to think that we were tho only ones who noticed what happened. racism is not only a black/white thing, it exists between any 2 ethnicities, and all of it needs to stop. i simply hope that this event opens at least my eyes more to how i treat people who are not like me.


It's very sad to me to see the political violence that is occurring in the country of Zimbabwe as they are facing a political election.  When people fear their lives and when food is with-held as manipulation for votes, it's injust.  It only multiplies the hardship that the country already faces. Many children and those with HIV/AIDS are impacted most.  It makes me wonder what, if anything, I  - living in this north american democratic society - can impact transformation and healing for their country.  It annoys me that we don't hear about this much on our biased, tunnel-vision news stations.  Please pray for the strife to end.

Monday, June 9, 2008

some hope for corporatedom

I was at work today, doing one of my normal duties of calling insurance companies. This afternoon I called Blue Cross in Indiana. I was then put on hold, and I braced myself to be forced to listen to Michael Bolton, muzak or some other similar form of music that makes my ears bleed. What did I hear instead? None other than Sufjan Stevens' song "Chicago". What a wonderful surprise. Thank you, Blue Cross of Indiana, for having decent taste in music, and for making my ears smile.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Summer, summer, summer time. Summertime.

This is my favorite time of year.  Partly because Arizona summers are in my blood.  I love them.

I love that they chase away all of the snowbirds.

I love that it's a dry heat. (I miss Arizona.)

I love summer because it means wearing tank tops and fun dresses and flip flops.

I love summer because things like watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, and sweet corn are in season.

I love summer because I like saying "summer solstice".

I love summer because it brings fond memories of swimming in Grandma and Grandpa O's pool and eating frozen grapes and frozen strawberries sprinkled with sugar.

I love swimming (but I hate the way sunscreen feels on my skin.)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

ASU Baseball

And... the ASU Sun Devils baseball team is playing Fresno State this weekend in the Super Regionals. Wouldn't it be cool if ASU swept this series too???

a wonderful moment in sports

This week has been a great one for Julie & I, at least in the world of sports and the teams we follow. Julie's beloved alma mater, Arizona State University, won the National Championship in the College Softball World Series! This is the 1st time they've won that trophy in their history. The men's baseball team at ASU is playing for their respective championship title tomorrow. Go Sun Devils! And, as I'm sure some of you witnessed, the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup last night when they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. This was the 4th time in 11 seasons they've accomplished this. In the words of Bill & Ted, "Most triumphant!"

Friday, May 30, 2008

Fragility of Life

I got an email from my younger brother Jason today.  In it, he shared about an accident that occurred in Phoenix, on one of the major interstates (I-10), on Thursday May 29th.  My brother Matt, his ex-girlfriend is the one mentioned in the article.  Her name is Che Laughing.  The young man who was killed was her roommate.  Read about it here and here.

How fragile life is...

Home and Sick

Not to be confused with homesick... I'm finally home again after being gone for about 10 days.  I was in Las Vegas for The 'Source and then in DC for Student Forum and the National Gathering for the Young Adult Seminarians Network.  They were great trips.  I'll post some pics soon.  I also stayed in Vegas for a few days after the event, to spend some quality time with my best friend Kristyn.  It was a very belated 30th birthday celebration for the both of us.  It was fabulous!

I sometimes tend to get physically tired after traveling and it was especially apparent after this trip because I have had a cold/allergies for the past 4 days.  It's finally in the "on-it's-way-out" stage and I've been quite friendly with the kleenex box.

One especially cool thing happened while I was in DC... I was able to hear God's call for me to stay an extra day (thank you Brian!) in order to help the group process a situation that happened that involved race and racism.  I won't go into much detail out of respect for those involved, but I felt particularly called to change my travel plans in order to facilitate a discussion on the tricky subject.  By no means am I or do I claim to be an "expert" in the issue, just one that has had some experience with it.  It felt like some of the things that had happened prior to this trip with co-workers, friends, and family had sort of prepared me for being present in this discussion and allowing myself to share what I've learned about race.  Again, I certainly don't assume that I've learned all I need to know about the issue, as I am in constant learning of the topic.  I do strongly believe that situations can help teach you and even prepare you for things in the future.  If I hadn't had some of the conversations and experiences I've had in the last 3 months, I would have had a very different perspective and may not have felt equipped to lead a group of my peers through tough conversations.

I sense that this will always be a part of my life, race that is, and I anticipate that I will be called into places and situations to help bring a different perspective.  I hope that I can always bring a voice that needs to be heard, a voice that God is calling me to bring.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

i think i've found the coolest watch ever

check it out at it's a thing of beauty. i love the way the face looks like a cassette.

3 sad results

yesterday was a sad day in the wide world of sports for me. 3 teams that i follow played, and all 3 lost. the detroit red wings played game 3 of their best-of-7 series in the stanley cup finals against the pittsburgh penguins, and lost 3-2 in pittsburgh. then, the detroit pistons lost in a heartbreaker to the boston celtics 106-102 in boston. they are now down 3-2 in that best-of-7 series in the eastern conference finals. and finally, in probably a result i should have expected, the US men's national football team lost 2-0 to England. please note that when i say "football", i'm referring to the sport known here in the states as "soccer". american "football" should be called "throwball". the only real consolation is that this game was only a friendly, but it would have been nice to beat (or at least tie) one of the world's historical football superpowers.

next the Netherlands play Denmark in another international friendly. hup holland!


am i a nerd? yes i am. final score in the Netherlands vs Denmark match, 1-1. goals came from Ruud van Nistelrooij (NL) and Christian Poulsen.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

the never-ending saga (seemingly)

as i'm sure a lot of you know, i am in the midst of a rather lengthy job search. in some ways, it seems like this process has lasted years, and i'm not sure when (if ever) it will end.

i had a new development this week. but first, a bit of background. for the past 6 months or so, i've been attending a career networking group that has helped me learn new & more effective ways to find a job/career. at one of these meetings within the past few weeks, i met a recruiter. long story short, she found a potential new job for me. on paper, it seems promising. the pay & benefits would be better than what i have now, and they are willing to promise me a management position by the end of the year. it's still within the administrative side of healthcare, which is where all of my job experience comes from over the past few years. it's not my "dream job" of something within the music industry (although i wonder about that too...but that's a whole other blog).

the problem? i have this gut feeling that i shouldn't take it. and it's a feeling that i simply cannot shake. i feel it in my heart and my stomach, if that makes sense to you. i can't rationalize it away, and i can't ignore it. has this ever happened to you? it's frustrating, because logically i should take it. but my emotions are screaming "NO!" how do you handle this? do my emotions know something my conscious brain hasn't noticed?

i've been struggling with this since Tuesday, and I've tried telling the recruiter I won't take it, but she keeps selling me on it. side note: she will make a rather nice chunk of change if i accept the job. and, due to my 1) innate desire to be accepted & friendly to everyone and 2) struggles with saying "no" in those situations, i have told the recruiter i will ponder this until next Tuesday (just after Memorial Day). i am slowly realizing that it's more important for me to pay attention to my gut feeling rather than what has been laid before me in black & white.

in the meantime, i do have a decent, steady job that helps us pay the bills. thankfully, julie is not the type of person who is willing to let me settle for whatever decent offer pops up first for me. i'm grateful she is willing to bear with me through this process, and help me learn how to deal/process/think through these types of situations in general.

for those who are curious, i did (officially) turn the job down. your continued prayers, support etc as i continue to search are greatly appreciated. mucho thanks!

Monday, May 19, 2008

amnesia...or whatever that word is that means "i can't fall asleep"

have you ever had one of those nights when you just can't slip off into dreamyville, even though you are definitely tired? that's me, right now, and why i'm posting a blog at 12:30 -ish in the a.m. on a school night. so, i'll take advantage of this time to share a few things.

1) friday night my friend Ted & i saw the founders of coolpeoplecare speak a bit about their new book "New Day Revolution". it's essentially about basic, simple ways you can change your life on a daily basis to make a difference. it covers everything from recycling, to getting involved with charities, to effective ways to develop better community. the website focuses on stuff like that, too. side note: i'm discovering i love seeing authors speak about their books.

2) i recently discovered a new favorite band. they're from (of all places) france. M83 is that band, and they have that lush layered sound that i just fall in love with every time. their song "Graveyard Girl" caught my ears on Left of Center (the indie/college station on Sirius satellite radio) last week. and lo and behold, they have 5 albums out...and i was completely unaware of their existence until now.

3) saturday night involved me meeting up with my friend Chad to see Paramore, a band from here in the nashvegas area that is making waves on the rock scene. it was part of the Nashville Crawfish Broil Festival. i know. that title just sounds hick. but as they played, just after New Found Glory and T-Pain, all was right with the world for about an hour.  they have an incredible stage presence.   see pics above.

4) julie is in las vegas and washington dc this week, and i miss her

5) our cats, panini and kitty, like to wake me up around 5a.m. so i can feed them. that does not work well for one who isn't a morning person. when julie's home, she will get up and feed them too. but....i wake up easier.
may all your days be merry and bright.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Source

I'm off again tomorrow to do prep for The 'Source, an adult worker training, in Las Vegas.  I'm looking forward to it as well because afterward my best friend Kristyn and I will spend some time celebrating her birthday and enjoying the hot desert sun!


This was the name of a young adult event that I spoke at last weekend in the Western North Carolina annual conference.  The event was good and they are trying to do some good stuff with the ministries that are either currently existing or wanting to get started.  The leadership team was great to work with and I hope that their event in October goes well!  Another highlight of the trip was that I got to share a meal with two friends, Dayna and Noel and their adorable girl Maggie.  Noel and Dayna moved to Valdese, NC last year and seem to be doing wonderful.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Julie's Travels-General Conference

So from April 21-May 3, I spent my life living out several things I'd been working on for what's called General Conference.  It's the top legislative body of The United Methodist Church.  It meets every 4 years and it's a pretty big deal.  One of my responsibilities was the Young People's Address, where 6 youth and young adults addressed the church with their views and hopes for the church.  Here are some links to the awesome address...  There were many ups and downs, legislation passed and failed, it was exhausting, I'm glad it happened and it gives us hope for the next 4 years.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

white education

i've learned a lot in the past 6 months of being married to julie. some of it has been hard, and some a bit easier. one thing that i'm learning more and more about each day is white privilege. i'm going to be completely honest here and say that before i met julie, i was ignorant/naive/uninformed as to the existence of white privilege.

white privilege is defined this way on : "a right, advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by white persons beyond the common advantage of all others; an exemption in many particular cases from certain burdens or liabilities". this happens in everyday life. the fact that many times, in the course of looking through résumés, an employer will ignore those from people whose name "sounds" black. or that salespeople are more willing to help a white person in a store, while a black person may be watched suspiciously. how often have you passed a black person on a dark empty street or alley & the thought "i hope he doesn't try to steal my wallet" has crossed your mind? i'm sure this doesn't happen in the same scenario when the other person in the street is white.

this can happen consciously or subconsciously, but it does happen. all of this is the result of white privilege, and it's roots stretch back to the beginning of before the founding of the united states, when europeans came over committed genocide (some even call it a holocaust) over the native americans, killing an estimated 90-95% of them. why? 1 obvious reason is the selfish reason of having more land. Another reason comes from a quote by the father of our country and our 1st president, george washington, who
"preferred buying indian's land rather than driving them off it because that was like driving "wild beasts" from the forest. he compared indians to wolves, "both being beasts of prey, tho' they differ in shape"" (taken from Robert Jensen's book "The Heart of Whiteness").
this mentality toward nonwhite people continued into the era of slavery in the states, and still happens today.

i know this is a lot to wrap your head around, and this is only the beginning of all that white privilege entails. i'll write more in the future about it as i learn more about it. and don't think it's limited to just blacks & whites. it stretches into hispanics & whites, asians & whites, etc. the biggest step forward is realizing that it is there and doing your part to erase it in your own life...which can take a lifetime to occur.
thanks for reading this.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Welcome! Bienvenue! Het Welkom!

Welcome to Julie & Brian's blog. This is our way of keeping family and friends informed of our lives as newlyweds and two people on a journey together. We hope you enjoy reading as much as we enjoy sharing. We will share about our important moments as well as our mundane moments as well, for all of those are what make up our "PJ" life. We invite you to share your comments and thoughts.