Monday, December 31, 2007

Friends and Friends of Friends where it's headed, me thinks. My friend Shok passed on this interesting article to me. I found myself agreeing with much of what is written. It has to do with something we've been thinking a lot about the last few years but haven't been able to put to words quite so well: check out Friends
Let me know what you think.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Our gifts to each other

Here are some shots of what Julie and I got each other for Christmas. We had agreed not to spend a lot of money on each other this year. Julie got very creative and gave me "12 days of Christmas." Starting on Dec. 14 and ending on Christmas day, she gave me a witty little poem and a gift, which related to the famous Christmas song. Usually the gifts were some edible treat, like chocolate or dried pineapple rings ("5 golden rings!") But on two of the days I got dvd's of two of my favorite bands; U2 and Sigur Ros. In the photo are the gifts that I haven't eaten yet... Julie spent a little more money than I did. I decided to go the really cheap gift route, although it took quite a bit of time to make: I drew a picture of my two girls, Julie and Loretta. I'm still not finished, but I had to give her something to open.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Visit to Ohio Thwarted!

We had a depressing change of events occur this Christmas morning. Our flight to Ohio was cancelled due to a mechanical failure in the plane we were scheduled to take. And for some weird reason, SkyBus won't pay for a flight on another airline; all they'll do is refund our money. I'm no expert on airline customer service, but if I wanted to compete in the flying business, I might want to change that little policy if the fault was mine. It seems fishy to me that that's all they'll do, especially on Christmas Day, when it's ultra-important for people to get where they're going. So now I have to look at Julie's sad expression all day.

Anyway, on the bright side, even though we'd have rather gone home to see our family and friends, it's nice that we'll have that money back. We also saved by not having to rent a car for a week, and by not having to pay someone to watch Loretta.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Merry Christmas from CA

I know it's early, but we wanted to wish everyone we know a merry Christmas. Some of you we'll see back in Ohio when we visit next week; others won't be so lucky ;)
The time is getting near, the "most wonderful time of the year." Julie put up our tree and did all the decorating. A humble tree, yet it's full of the yuletide spirit. I sing "Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum," everyday when I walk by it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monterey Bay Trip

This past weekend Julie and I went up to Monterey to meet up with one of her friends from her days at Great Lakes Christian College. We took the scenic route, which goes along the coast for the majority of the trip, and it was spectacular. It's so cool for so long that you almost forget that not all roads are so scenic. The 5 hour trip took us through Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Cambria, San Simeon, Big Sur and Carmel, amongst other towns. A few miles north of San Simeon (which is where the famous Hearst Castle is located) is one of the more common spots for Elephant Seal viewing. This was our favorite part of the trip, seeing these comical and weird creatures. It was amazing how close we could get, and at first we thought they were just really smooth rocks. They look like huge sacks of blubber with eyes, mouths and fins. The main area had barriers, but further down the beach a person could almost touch them if they really wanted to. But we didn't, mostly because we didn't want to mess with their natural habitat, but also out fear. They look funny and somewhat harmless, but they're also huge and have quite formidable-looking teeth. You can't help but laugh when the huge male bulls rear their heads back and let out what sounds like a cross between a gigantic belch and a loud Harley-Davidson. Then they just plop down as if exhausted by the effort.
It was also very good to see Julie's friend, Jen, who drove down to Monterey from Sacramento to meet us. The two women had a good time catching up, and seemed to pick up where they left off about 5 years ago at school back in Michigan. We hope to visit her up where she lives very soon.
And I can't forget to mention a very important person involved in this trip: Tracy Uyematsu, the daughter of a lady Julie works with. Tracy watched Loretta while we were gone. I knew our pup was in good hands when she showed up wearing a stocking hat with cat ears. She also broke out some Japanese anime Christmas songs on her laptop, which was a mind-bending experience. I was thankful that at least Loretta wouldn't be bored...
Here are some photos of our trip:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Church experts, cont'd

Some people have been wanting to know more of what I'm talking about in reference to my last post. I realize it's kind of vague, but to write about church and all the weird politics and issues that go along with it is very difficult. And I surely don't claim to have it all figured out. It wasn't until the last 3 or 4 years that I even had a clue about what goes on at a church outside of a Sunday morning service. And I still feel like an outsider much of the time, even though my wife is a pastor and I've seen and heard what goes on in the running of a church.
I wanted to include actual quotes that we've heard, but to do that wouldn't have been very discreet, even if I'd have left out the names. I'm not out to hurt someone's feelings. Well, I can put one in... We mentioned in a recent conversation that we have a lot of friends that we know are Christians but don't attend a church regularly, for whatever reason. The person we were talking to said, "If they aren't going to church, maybe they're not really Christians." This is another thing I don't get: how some people seem to think they know, by someone's actions, if that person is saved or not. I believe you can sometimes have a good idea, or suspicion, but how can anyone know? It seems like that's something only God and the individual knows for sure.
Some have also commented on the Johnny Cash lyrics. One person said, "what's wrong with being heavenly minded?" To that I say nothing is wrong with being heavenly minded, but if all you do is think about when this life is over and spending eternity in heaven, but you do nothing on earth to make it a better place, then that's no earthly good. I feel the song was written for busy-bodies and know-it-alls who gripe and complain about everyone else, but they themselves are no better.
The main thing is, I'm just frustrated that the church seems to be a lot like the world, in that it too has it's share of people who are self-centered, greedy, attention-seeking, petty, overly critical and full of selfish ambition. I've always thought that "church people" would be some kind of different. I never expected perfection, just a noticeable difference.
To be fair, I've met a lot of awesome and godly people at church too. But they are the exception. Maybe that goes along with what Jesus said about the road being narrow, and many being called but few being chosen.
I don't know, maybe I'll figure it all out someday. Maybe it's not for me to worry about...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Church: Everyone's an expert

This post was gonna be about some thoughts we've had lately - really over the last two years or so. It has to do with people; "church" people specifically. To be honest - they drive me crazy. I don't mean all Christians, I just mean "church" people. There's a distinction. They can be some of the most hurtful, manipulative and critical people you'd never suspect would be at a church. I'd written about a page worth of thoughts, but as I re-read it, it seemed disjointed and too long. Too long for this blog anyway. Basically, and without getting personal, here's what it was - in the short time I've been married to a pastor, and been a volunteer at a couple churches, and been around "church" people, I've seen and heard a few things that just make me scratch my head. So consider this a form of venting.
And Johnny Cash said it better than I could have, and in fewer words... Check out the lyrics to this song - "No Earthly Good."

Come hear me good brothers come hear one and all
Don't brag about standing or you'll surely fall
You're shinin' your light yes and shine it you should
You're so heavenly minded you're no earthly good

No earthly good you are no earthly good
You're so heavenly minded you're no earthly good
You're shinin' your light yes and shine it you should
You're so heavenly minded you're no earthly good

Come here me good sisters, you're salt of the earth
If your salt isn't salted then what is it's worth
You could give someone a cool drink if you would
But you're so heavenly minded you're no earthly good


If you're holdin' heaven then spread it around
There are hungry hands reaching up here from the ground
Move over and share the high ground where you stood
So heavenly minded and you're no earthly good


No earthly good...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ash Everywhere, Pool Ruined!

Check out our apt. complex pool and hot tub. Looks more like a pond, as a result of the winds and nearby fires. Julie is considering taking a swim now, if only for the exfoliating factor on her skin...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Santa Ana Winds & Malibu Fires

You've probably heard the news about the fires today in Malibu, which is about 20-25 min. away from Camarillo. The Santa Ana winds come every year from the desert to the So Cal area, and the fires were most likely started by electrical wires that had been blown down. A friend told us that arsonists or pyromaniacs will sometimes start the fires when the winds come so that they're harder to contain. They say the winds have been between 50-80 mph in some areas. The smoke has drifted our way, darkening the sky and dropping ash like a very light snowfall (see the pic of Julie's thumb). Right now I can smell smoke here in our apartment. We drove around a bit today, trying to see what we could see. Most of these shots are of the northern outskirts of Camarillo, and it was only about 2 in the afternoon and sunny when we took them.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

There's Some Weird Trees In Californy, Pt. 1

California has a lot of different kinds of trees. Some are huge and majestic, others are pretty gnarly and just plain weird. Before we moved out here, I didn't know I liked trees so much. Maybe I was influenced by Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings books, in which trees play a big part. Here's a few that Loretta and I saw on a walk tonight at dusk, hence the slightly dim lighting. What the...?! This tree looks like it fell down or was cut down. It's actually fully alive and only laying down...
Weird roots! If you believe that God created and designed everything, as I do, then you may look at something like this and conclude, "God is weird." I mean that in a good way. For another example of His weirdness (or, His Weirdness...) check out Loretta's long ear.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Some more pics of where we live

Here's an outside view of our wing of the complex. That's our balcony with the guard dog peeking through the bars. ;)
This is the exercise room, which we used last night for the first time and nearly died.
The pool and hot tub, neither of which have we used, but it's nice to know they're there.

Community grill area, available to all Rosewood renters for individual use. We use it quite a bit.This is the lounge area in the rental office where you can go watch TV or play pool or use the computers. They also have little get-togethers or movie nights for all the renters.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My job

Here's where I work, Coastal Embroidery, for those who were wondering. These are the machines we use and in one you can see a letter jacket being sewn. The guy in the picture is one of my bosses, Don Tillquist. He and his son Brian run the business, although Brian is the actual owner.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Beware of Dog...

Here's a shot of Loretta "guarding" the place from the balcony...

A view from on high

The other night at sunset we took a drive up into the hills to the north of us to try and get a panoramic view of Camarillo. This shot is actually two put together. It was a pretty steep drive but our trusty Pontiac Sunfire was up to the task. I only smelled something burning coming from the engine for a few seconds or so... In the far distance somewhere is the ocean.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Treebeard relative

At night we frequently sit out on our balcony and talk under the watchful eye of an old man. He was carved by my friend Paul Nafziger.

Our first visitor from home

This past Sunday, our friend Travis Sands was here for a visit. He was in So Cal on business, and he swung over to Camarillo to see us. Travis and his wife Elizabeth are the people who graciously gave us Loretta, and then they became part of our small group with the Schoch's(Jim & Tammy and Jesse & Jeni, and sometimes Aaron Schoch ;). 'Twas good to see him.

1st day at the beach

It's unbelievable, but we've been here about 6 weeks, and this is the first time we went to the beach. There's gotta be something wrong with us. I guess in life we're more like turtles than hares... Needless to say, it was great. Being from Ohio, it's still a bit shocking, when you're at the beach, to scan the horizon and think about how big that body of water is. Brings to mind all things eternal and profound.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Julie's at a children's ministry conference all day today, so me and the pup are on our own. I love my wife immensely, but I also love a little time to do only what I want. Selfish? Maybe, but if it is, hopefully I'll work through it as the years go by. But for now I'm gonna mindlessly surf the web and email friends for a bit and then watch the Lord of the Rings "Two Towers" and "Return of the King," the extended versions. Here's a shot of our apt. where I'm writing all this, along with some other shots of our place here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The first entry from CA, or The Last Wild Guinea Pig Ever

Finally, the blog is started! Some of you have been waiting patiently to hear what's been going on with us. Well, unfortunately I'm of the procrastinating sort, so please accept my apologies. Actually, we don't even have our own internet connection yet. Our neighbor is graciously allowing us to tap into his wireless connection until we get our own, which will hopefully be soon. So that's been a factor in the slow start-up also.
Anyways, to begin with the saga of the Webers...
To those who don't know, my wife took a job as the Children's Pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Camarillo, CA., . So we packed up everything, including our Bassett Hound, Loretta Lynn, headed west. We arrived at our humble house on the night of Aug. 18, 2007, and found that it was in utter disarray. We'd only seen it in pictures that some people from the church sent us, and we knew that it was not going to be the swankiest of California bungalows, but we needed a place, and it was cheap and had a month-to-month lease. So if it was terrible, we'd stick it out for a month, then find something better. To our complete disappointment, the place was worse than we'd been prepared to handle. There was garbage littering the front yard, which was really just dirt anyway. The backyard had 3 large trash cans overflowing with garbage. The heating vents had several layers of dirt on them. Several windows wouldn't shut completely, or wouldn't open at all, and some had cracks in the glass. From under the stove there was a dried-up puddle of something rusty-brown in color. The furnace closet was full of cobwebs and dust and had an old toilet seat cover on top of it, I guess in case we needed another one. When the toilet flushed, it sounded like a jet taking off. The window in the bathroom had goldfish stickers all over it. Cute, but not really us. They told us that there were washer/dryer hookups in the garage. All that was in there was an old filthy sink and a possible hookup for a gas dryer. The garage itself looked like it might have been a torture chamber or a meth lab. I swear there was an old chicken carcass in the corner too... To top it all off, we were greeted by a wild guinea pig prowling the yard. Apparently, the previous owners had it as a pet, but just threw it outside when they moved out. That was at the beginning of July! How it survived for a month and a half outside on its own is a testament to the guinea's underestimated hunting skills and its incredible will to live. We saw it for ourselves as it easily eluded Loretta as she tried to chase it down. You might even say it was toying with our Bassett.
Speaking of Loretta, I forgot to mention that she'd been puking for two days prior to our arrival - in the moving truck, in the hotels... AND, she had picked up fleas at some point on the trip. I felt like Job (I know, what an exaggeration...)
It didn't take us long to decide that we were absolutely NOT going to live there, if for no other reason than we wanted to guarantee that we'd get our security deposit back at least, and we left to find a pet-friendly hotel. It was not a peaceful and easygoing night. There was much weeping, possibly even some gnashing of teeth, and questioning our decision to move so far from family and friends.
For the next three nights we stayed in a hotel, and during the day we'd check out other houses and apartments. On Monday the 20th, we met with our landlords to tell them we weren't moving in to their place and to tell them our reasons. They were very receptive and agreed to charge us only for however long the place remained vacant. They didn't have to do that because after all, we did sign the lease. So that made us happier. Oh, I forgot to mention that before we left to go to the meeting, Julie's car died - needed a new alternator. That was $406 that we didn't plan on spending. After that happened, there was some more questioning and doubting. On the 4th and 5th nights, a couple from church, David and Glenda Rea, allowed us to stay in their guest house, which was awesome. The place was very nice, and the Rea's were even nicer. They had us over to grill out, and we met another great couple from church, the Brunner's. After 3 days and nights of chaos and uncertainty, they were a true reminder that the Almighty is indeed on our side, and that things weren't really that bad. On the 5th day, we signed the lease to live Rosewood Apts., where we will be for 6 months at least. Soon after that, I got a part time job at an embroidery shop,
Some other hurdles came up which made us continue to question everything, but the only one worth mentioning is what happened with Julie's grandfather, affectionately known as "Papaw." One of the things she struggled with the most was leaving her Papaw, who had emphysema and was not doing good, even before we left. She didn't want to be so far away from him if something happened. Well, it wasn't even a week after we left that he went into the hospital. His condition had gotten very bad. Nothing else could be done for him so he was released into Hospice care at home. They originally said he might live another 6 months or so. We made the decision to come home to see him after we'd been told that he'd gotten even worse and might not live another few days. So we got there on the morning of Sept 15, and he died about 30 minutes later. Julie got to see him and hold his hand before he passed away.