Saturday, August 04, 2012

Moving Blog to Tumblr

Welcome back. You belong here.

I'm moving to Tumblr. I will no longer be blogging here. I will now blogging here.  Please go there and follow me. No big reason, just trying something different.


Now get over there!


Friday, June 29, 2012

Another Lesson on Love

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For the past year I've been trying to find myself post leaving the traditional church. That process, now a year plus later, has been downright painful.

Once I got past the less money, no more rock star, no more easy, I got to the real issue which was my lack of love for others.

My friend Kathy Escobar from Denver, CO recently wrote a column on "why the word missional bugs her".  In it she says it's about love and how no one likes to be someone's "mission". I agree.

In my current context, I'm surrounded by people on the margins, people who can't give me what I want, people who instead of being someone's mission want to belong, be respected, to have a place at the table. All these things are directly opposite to things I love - power, control, fame, glory. 

I'm not trying to be altruistic, or to say I'm Mother Teresa or Jesus in the way that I love. In fact, I'm the opposite. But what I do know is that my current context is challenging and teaching me to rethink what missional really means. It deals with love.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Love is the Point

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For the past year I've been trying to figure out what the point was. Was it to start something new, to get rich, to get more education, to go up the ladder, down the ladder, build a ladder. It's been confusing.

The last few weeks, after a lot of ups and downs, I hear a voice saying "It's about love". I may still want all the other things, to accomplish, to get there, to reach a destination. I still love goals and visions.

But what's new is nothing new at all. God is calling me to open my heart wider, to love more deeply, to  invest into people's lives.

Maybe it's that young man who needs help moving this week. Maybe it's setting up that English class, perhaps it's being willing to help when I feel overwhelmed or unsure of myself.

Love is an Action and I need to act better. Help me God.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Project I Think I Want to Do

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I think I need to take the lead on a project at work. Although it has the potential to be a dud, based on the past, and I'm not excited about the event myself, I think I can learn a lot and make it successful. Or I can fail.

But that's okay and in fact, that's a good thing.

I'm 90% sure I will take this on, just need to recruit a team (already started) and go with it. I'll let you know what I decide to do.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I'll Try to Be Like That Guy

I'm gonna try to be like that guy. He blogs and is very good at it. He uses big titles and numbers everything, maybe that's what I'll do. So here we go:

1. Today, I parked in a No Parking Zone. The funny thing is that the sign said "Parking Cafe". I was confused

2. I Was Mean to the Cook. Today, I was mean to the guy who cooks food in the basement. He makes some yummy food, it smells really good. But today I was mean to him. Not sure why. I was trying to be mean to him but I'm not sure it worked. Instead, I was hungry.

3. Dave Who? The guy next to me on the train kept calling someone he thought should know him. He left him 2-3 voice mails, or maybe it was 2-3 different people, I'm not sure. What was sad is he kept repeating his name to everyone "It's Dave, Dave Miller".

At first I thought maybe people were being rude forgeting their friend Dave, but later I thought, I wonder if these people don't know a Dave Miller and he's just acting like he knows them. Either way, I felt sorry for the guy.


I hope that worked for you. It didn't do much for me.

Thanks for reading,


People Get Old Beause They Go To Bed Early

I know I'm old because I go to bed early. That's how people get old, they go to bed at 8:30pm of 9 o' clock. I NEVER used to go to bed early, but now, the clock hits 8pm and I'm looking at my bed like it's cold beer and wings, can't wait! Now my wife is getting old too, she also goes to bed at 9pm. Well, I must admit, I sometimes go to bed at 9:30pm or o a wild night, 10pm. But my wife is asleep by then, usually on the couch next to me. She is so nice. I think the only way to stay young is just to out late at night. Like tonight, I wanted to go to Del Taco and get a burger and coke, forget the diet. But I was too tired to go! So I'm in bed instead thinking about going to sleep. I guess I'm old.

Friday, February 17, 2012

I Made It

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My Soul is officially in Spring. Glad to be here.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Whatever I Touch Turns to Gold and My PhD

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Whatever I touch turns to gold. Often in church circles, you are trained to focus on your weaknesses, or on serving in what the church allows/tells you to do.

But since leaving church about 9 months ago, I've felt a certain freedom to be me. Perhaps it's not the leaving of church but the leaving of my old self. Of what I was supposed to be, what my mentors, job, self told me I was to be. And most of that was limiting.

I'm not going to blast church as a structure. Although it mostly limits leaders, creative types, innovators, I'm mostly thankful for it.

Most of my reflections the last nine months, have been on my own growth, becoming more comfortable in my own skin. Wherever I go, I succeed.

I also make mistakes.

The same ones, but continue to grow and try to make less mistakes, to be less selfish, justice oriented, and other things. To say "everything I touch turns to gold" is not being arrogant or full of pride, it's acknowledging that this cracked vessel also has life that touches people's lives.

But everything I touch turns to gold, that is just how God made me. He made me to succeed, to love, to help people far from God, young and old.

I also love school and education. I've often thought of getting my PhD (I'm still finishing my Masters), but I've wondered if perhaps I jump into a PhD in Religious Studies or get a 2nd Masters in Public Administration.

The past nine months have been a time of a lot of change, change of location, careers, I've stressed, been anxious, lacked faith, been terrified, felt fearful, and more.

But I've learned to be strong, to fight, to be courageous, to hang onto God by the skin of my teeth, and He  has been faithful.

You can do the same if you believe.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Soul Care

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Every day feels long/
Every moment is the start of a song/
It's a call to be true/
It's a call to be true

Be true inside and out
Change the things in me that need out
I've never felt so naked
I've never felt so empty
I'm in need of you.
I'm in need of you.

All around me is uncertainty

What Does a Man Do?

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So what does a man do the day after Christmas?
1. You Tube his son (4) on drums
2. Laundry
3. R' to Target at 7am (me, home arbitrating new stuff and who gets it when)
4. Did I mention the drums, LOUD! In our Living Room! Can you say sound paneling?
5. Water backyard
6. Work day on Saturday, things seem to break (and not get fixed) during the holidays right?

Hope your Christmas was great. Probably one of the best moments was adopting a family on 7th and Lime Ave in the LBC. We brought over $500.00 of new toys, clothes, ham I baked myself, a Christmas tree and carols. 10 of our family members went to their one bedroom apartment, to visit Carinna, an immigrant single parent coming out of gangs and her 5 children ages 9 to 6 months. Her niece, teenager, is also staying with her during Christmas (here from Mexico). They both spoke of being abused as young girls by their parents and how they struggle forgiving them.

I spoke to them from John 6 of Jesus being the Bread of Life, of Him being our forgiveness, of the grace and mercy of our God. I told them that we hope the gifts would remind them of the love of God, that God knows exactly everything and yet loves them no matter what. She kept saying how tough it is to forgive. We can't even imagine. She had tears in her eyes.

We listened to them, loved them, prayed together, our children playing with theirs as one family. They spoke mostly Spanish, but the language didn't matter, we were there in the Spirit of God and love.

I learned so much that night, that even beyond "giving" to a family in need, that the message of forgiveness and grace is so important. The pain in Carinna's life is evident, and no church or pastor can heal her heart, only the grace of God can.

And those gifts in her house, now opened, her children playing, perhaps on to the next thing, represent to her more than stuff. They represent the grace of God and the forgiveness of God offered to her.

I don't think Carinna has yet experienced this forgiveness, but in a way she experienced it in those moments when we were one, our families in Christ, offering love and acceptance to each other. The rest is up to God.

Seeing With Your Eyes Closed

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They say you should always have a focus when you write. Well, I'm not sure I have a focus for this entry, but I guess if I did, it'd be blindness.

I'm not blind, nor going blind, but sometimes it feels like I can't see the road ahead.

There have been many great things in our lives lately - jobs, opportunities, amazing people. For example yesterday I was coming home from a meeting with the leadership of our church, and felt inspired, filled with dreams and possibilities, thankful because even though we're small, our dreams and hopes are huge.

But then I got home and have felt sick all day, headaches, tired, exhausted, just weary. I've been pushing pretty hard the last two months and I'm hitting a bit of a wall.

Sometimes I push for fear of not being accepted or liked. Other times it's just my personality, I'm a doer and an achiever and I don't like sitting still when important things need to get done. But the reality is that my tank is mostly filled by people, music, by meditating, resting and doing things I love such as being alone or playing music. That fuels me to do great things.

But blindness comes when I don't do those things. And when I lose my vision, it gets me down, it makes me focus on the hard things in life, versus how those hard things are actually a path towards something great.

But other times I see and it makes me glad. Again, after yesterday's leadership meeting, I came home filled with perspective, connecting things in my life, in awe of how God is weaving together things, guiding me, being with me amidst so much change.

Do you see the signs? Can you see things clearly right now? Are you able to see with your eyes closed?

Sickness is often a sign to slow down, to rest, to take time for yourself, all things I don't like to do. I also think that sickness can be a time to see things better. To realize how "fragile we are", that we "are but dust", to be loved by others, to not always give, but to receive. Again, all things I don't do very well.

Sometimes when I close me eyes, I see the reflection of the sun outside my window, I hear the sounds of our son playing Legos on the floor, I feel my body letting down, I hear my heart beating.

Not seeing is normally seen as a bad thing, after all, who would want to be blind for even an hour? But I thank God that during those times when my eyes are blind, the reflections, sounds and people around me remind me that to be blind can actually be a time to see things even more clearly.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Blog Post: Everything Must Change, Starting With Me: Location

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This is going to be a series of posts on the topic: Everything Must Change, Starting With Me.

Today's focus: Location.

For the past three years, we've lived in Denver, CO (Arvada, CO to be exact, a suburb in the NW Denver metro area). Two weeks ago we moved back to Long Beach, CA the city where my grandmother raised me since about age 9.

We are here to start a simple faith community called Neighbors Abbey, a community of  neighbors committed to sacred space, inclusive community and city and global transformation.

We want to be involved in our community, schools, parks, education, city council, non-profits, social justice and immigration. We want to teach music and help children and youth reach their musical dreams.

People often ask us "are you going back to X, Y, Z?". Our quick answer is no, we're not going back, we're moving forward.

Forward but in reality it's also back. Back to the area near 7th and Cherry where I grew up, near Broadway and Junipero where my wife and I had our 1st apartment as a young married couple, to 7th and Obispo (near Redondo), where my grandmother and I went to church.

To the Safeway on 7th and Junipero that became a Pic N Save and is now a Big Lots. To 3rd and Junipero and Grace UMC the church I used to run by praying God would one day open a door.

Why? Simply, because God has called us back. Why did we leave Colorado? Didn't like it? It was great, loved the blue skies and open space, but again, we moved back because God called us to the area where I grew up. To Burbank Elementary (where my good friend Hugo and I used to play basketball), to Franklin Middle School and the 91 bus we used to take every day.

A friend recently called this a "Theology of Location", I think there's a lot of truth in that, but for me it's also a Theology of Abuelita. My abuelita (gradmother) raised me since I was a little boy and she brought us to Long Beach, to 8th and Raymond, into the duplex behind Francis and her husband "el antiguo" while her mother (original owners) lived in the house in front, an original California bungalow.

That same friend told me that at a recent conference he was challenged to call people to "stay in their cities for a life time until they see the Kingdom of God become tangible". He said, "that's what you're doing" and it's true. We're back in Long Beach for good, forever, for a life time. And not just anywhere in Long Beach, but in the area where I grew up, an area of high density, high diversity and great need. But also a place of hope and life.

People have all kinds of bad nick names for this area, the one I recently heard was the Gay Getto, I'm sure there are worst. For us, it's home, it's a combination of old Long Beach (people now in their 70's, 80's and 90's who still live in their homes and have survived the change), Latinos, Samoans, Philippinos, African Americans, and gay people. It's Belmont Heights, Rose Park, Carroll Park, District 1 and 2, it's where I grew up.

Earlier today, I was listening to Jay Bakker talk about Dr. MLK jr. and his decision to teach at Montgomery College instead of other White-only, non-segregated schools. Dr. King chose Montgomery because it was the getto of his time, a place where racial tension was high and others were afraid to go. It would have been easier for Mr. King to teach at a better, safer college to raise a family and live a good life. But he chose tension instead of ease.

In a way, although our circumstances today are nothing like Dr. King's (although immigrant and homosexual tensions seem like the racism of our day), we are doing the same. We are choosing tension instead of ease. We are choosing the place of "greatest devotion, versus the place of greatest opportunity".

We have friends back in CO who hear of our move back to CA and squint. They hear the stories of CA being near bankrupt, the ruin of its education system and it's horrible debt and budget shortfalls. We also hear that from people who are leaving CA to AZ, Texas and Colorado, and they badmouth the state for it's poor leadership, horrible debt and lack of control with its spending. We know, it's tough.

But with all that, we feel called back to CA and to East Long Beach, to 7th and Cherry, to 3rd and Junipero and Bixby Park. The area where campus ministries send their young missionaries to do "urban work". For us, it's more than urban work, it's home, it's where we are willing to be for the rest of our lives.

A few months ago on Easter Sunday, I was at my friend's church  in this area. While at his church, I went up to take communion. I had just come from my other friend's church, a church of 500+ filled with life, hope and many opportunities.

As I took communion, together with maybe 50 other people, I thought, "what a difference, one place is hopping with people, this one, not so much". But as I took the bread and the cup, the very essence of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, I heard a voice say to me "Trig, if I'm willing to give my life for you, will you not do the same for this church?" I remember telling God, "yes Lord, I am."

And so it has begun.

We still don't have a place to live, still don't have jobs, we're still making things work one day at a time. But one thing is clear, we are home. Yes home to family, and home to the ocean and SoCal lifestyle. But more than that, we are back to where God has called us to be, to Long Beach, CA, to a Theology of Location and Abuelita, to the city of my youth and to some degree of my ancestors (via Managua, Nicaragua).

And although the path is not yet clear, we are confident that we have finally found our tribe, our people and we know soon enough we will find the rhythms of God, with all it's ups and downs. We look forward to that.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

I'm Retiring

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The other day a friend of mine said I was retiring. I guess I am, I am retiring from church as I've known it. I didn't say I'm retiring from God, in fact, I will forever love the ways of God and people not connected to God, but I'm retiring from my previous role.

Maybe I'm like a character in a play. He is no longer Character #1, he's now Character #2, but really it goes beyond that. I'm not another character in the same play, or am I? Is the play the work of God or is it life? Is the play a job, a company or church, or is that just a portion of the play?

Either way, change is here. I am changing. Does a doctor change? Does she become a different kind of doctor? Paging Dr. Ross. Or are doctors always the same? Police officers? Nurses? Teachers?

We're all changing. A mother changes, a coach changes, children are certainly changing. Politicians? Yeah, they change too often! Change is inevitable (Who moved my Cheese?).

It's all a mystery to me, after all, how do you retire? Traditionally when people retire, it means they no longer do what they used to do. So in a way, I am retiring, I no longer want to do what I've been doing.

But never say never right? I have a passion for people, for music, for the things of the spirit, I always have and I always will. My uniqueness is being in relationship with people not in traditional church, that's always been my uptake.

I'm retiring, but I'm not sure what from and what into. I'm moving on, I'm changing hats, there is no doubt change has happened. I no longer imagine myself doing what I've been doing for the past 10 years.

But how much change is there really? I still like rice better than pasta, I still sleep on the right side of the bed not the left and I still don't like jazz. A lot of me remains the same, in fact, some would say I'm becoming stubborn in "my old age".

But whatever you call this, retiring, moving on, changing, evolving, pause and reset, something is happening. A season and chapter in my life (a long chapter) has ended, and a new one in starting.

(Btw, I've never really liked "chapter" analogies, I don't relate well to books and chapters. I like more the idea of evolution or metamorphosis, like a butterfly. Just don't call me one!)

Will I fail at this new chapter of my life? Maybe. Will I want to return to my previous role? I might be tempted to, but I doubt it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

It's Been A Struggle Just to Get This Far and There's Still a Long Way to Go But We're Making Progress

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The previous post was all the good stuff, the wonderful ideas, the great plans. But getting this far has been a struggle and there's still a long way to go.

Where will we live? Jobs? Housing? etc...

But through this process, we've been led by a few truths that have not only challenged and tested us, but have really begun to change the way "we do business". This is what's most exciting to me.

1. Which voice am I listening to?

My own voice often tells me "Danger, Danger! Go Back!" I'm addicted to comfort and security, if it was up to me, I'd never go anywhere, change anything, I would be the type to work at Ford Co. for 50 years back when that was possible, even if I hated it. But I'm beginning to trust the voice of God inside of me (thank you Oprah) and to realize that's the voice I need to listen to the most, even if that voice makes no practical sense whatsoever!

2. I need to grow and change.

I need to grow in grace, in forgiveness, there are people I have yet to forgive for past hurts, I need to figure that out someday. There are things in my character that are off when it comes to forgiveness and resentment. Just today, I bit off a friend's head even though he was just stopping by to say hello.

3. Fear v Love

Much of my adult life, I've lived out of Fear not Love. Why? Many reasons, childhood stuff, life as an immigrant, growing up without my parents, but really it's just who I am. I began the process of being led by Love not Fear a few months ago, being led by the things that I'm passionate about, that really drive me, regardless of money, success or opinion.

In my gut I believe I was created to be a:
a. Musician
b. Pastor

4. Letting Go of My Control and Security

Wow, this is a rough one. I struggle with it every day but I'm finally in the game. It used to be that I would succumb to fear every time, giving up on my dreams to change the world for Jesus due to fear. But now I'm trying to let go of control every day.

House for Sale. Sell right away? Nope, it took 6-7 weeks. Did we get good money for it? Hah! Are we going to CA to sweet paying jobs and security and safety? No, we have none of those things.

I am an idol worshipper. I worship the idol of security and safety. Just like Israel built a golden pig as a god because waiting on Moses' God "took too long", I too have made an idol of a job, a house, a comfortable life and always knowing what I was going to do next.

All those are now gone, gone. I know nothing. And whereas the first few months I fought it like a mad, the more I surrender, the stronger I get. God wants to be my only God, "you shall have no other gods before me", not security, not a job, not safety, but God himself. Tough.

5. Letting Go of our children.
I've had to let God be the God of our children, and even though I'd do anything for them, I'm being challenged every day to trust them to God. I love them, care for them, can't live without them, but I also need to realize that they are God's children first then ours. And that one day they will leave and will have to follow God themselves. Again, tough.

6. One with my wife.
I don't know how it happened, but I've never felt more united with my wife than the last three months. Just today we were sitting on the porch talking as a strong June CO rain hit. We talked for 30-40 mns, being one, it was almost like we were listening to the same song, humming the same melody, the lyrics, the high and low parts together, it was amazing.

7. Fearlessness
I'm trying to stop being such a chicken and instead confront my fears, be free, be led by love. And when I reach my end (like this morning in the garage), to call out to God. And even though I heard nothing, I took a nap, felt stronger and kept going.

That's being fearless.

Fearlessness is also looking for donors for our music company, it's admitting when I'm wrong, it's challenging the system, it's speaking up for my dreams, it's explaining myself better, it's packing, it's calling people to help us move.

It's been a struggle to get this far and there's still a long way to go, but what's exciting is that I'm becoming the Fearless person I'm meant to be.

Our Next Steps

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Well, we're moving back to Long Beach, CA next week. We've lived here in Denver, CO for three years and although it's been good, we feel we're supposed to be in CA.

Our theology of location says Long Beach, CA. It's the city where I grew up and much of our ministry lives have been spent. The city continues (as many others) to grow both in need and in opportunities. Most of all, we have many connections there and God is leading us back. We also love our families and are thankful to be close to them again.

We have no jobs, no long term place to stay, we have some options, but nothing solid. Teaching jobs (my wife teaches) are non-existent and for me, I'm not sure where I'll work or when. Home Depot? Outreach director? Engineering? Not a clue...

My passions are two:
1. Start our own church which we will call a Neighbors Abbey, which will be committed to neighborhood development, formation and simple community
2. Music - to play my own music around town, form a band and keep recording. I also love mentoring young artists. We've thought about opening a music production business similar to this one and this one somewhere in downtown Long Beach for children and youth not just inner city but for all youth.

My wife's passion is teaching and to do outreach to the children during after school programs. We are a great team, and we value the same things from different angles but ending in the same place. Did I mention we are a great team and madly in love with each other? Our children will attend a dual language school in Long Beach. Canela (12) wants to study writing at UCLA and be an author.

My ideal job would be to do outreach at a small local faith community, serve neighborhood schools, the poor, the immigrant, while developing relationships with people not connected to God and eventually developing a simple faith community around them called Neighbors Abbey.

There are many faith communities with this vision in mind, including the original Neighbors Abbey in Atlanta with my friend Troy. See more of Troy's work here.

My wife would love to teach 1st-5th grade in a neighborhood school near where we live, where she can teach inner city children and help them through after school programs both academically and spiritually.

We want to live in the neighborhood where we will serve.

All of these things, we've been doing and preparing for intentionally for the past 3 years and in many ways for the past 10.

Want to join us?