Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas 08- The Christmas Pictures

Apparently there is some limit to how many photos can go on a single post- so here are the Christmas proper pictures.






Christmas 08


















This holiday season was filled with lots of activity. We spend a long weekend at a cabin in the Sierras. We then traversed the state of California to be with Amy's parents in Lancaster. It was definitely a good Christmas with family, gifts and memories. Below are some pictures from the cabin and from Christmas. Some of the most excitement came as we were leaving the cabin. ON the I80 freeway we encountered whiteout conditions, with heavy snowfall and winds blowing up to 40mph. It took us hours to go a few miles. While it was a little hair raising it was also defintely a heap of fun for the driver! Scott's parents left the following day, on the same route and encountered nothing but clear skies and plowed roads! God knows how to give what is best to each family in time.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A medly of photos











Nothing to write just some family pictures for your enjoyment.

Ho, Ho, oh ouch get off me, merry stampeding!

Wow, I understand the thrill of a great deal. Face to face bartering and trading have been the platform for buying and selling for millennia. I don't mind getting a little heated or doing a little extra homework to get the best deal possible. But man oh man Black Friday is another experience. Consider thousands of cash strap, visa maxed consumers stirred to a frothy frenzy by days and days of circulars, advertisments and TV commercials. Add the desperation to pull off one more 'ideal' Christmas before master card says no more and you have entered the Black Friday zone. Adults become lower than children, greed replaces any vesitage of common love for fellow man, men women and children are litterally trampled, some to the point of death. All to the muzac soundtrack of "have a holly jolly christmas.... it's the best time of the year...." At least this day shows us what we spend the rest of the year trying to hide, our true humanity as expressed through the greed, lust and avarice of the human heart. There will be a little additional irony this Christmas season as I sing "God bless the merry gentlemen let nothing you dismay...." as at least one family will be burying a loved one before the new year.

Am I cynical and cool toward the whole holiday thing? Yes, when it comes to what it has been made into esspecially this year. Do I love the holiday seeason also? YES! Time with family, tradition, good food and friends make it all worth while. And these things cannot be purchased at Walmart or discounted at Sears. The problem many face is there is nothing more to the holiday than the deal and the discount because for many the things that matter, relationships with friends and family are missing or non existent. Your call to action this Christmas is to invite the coworker, neighbor or friend into the blessings that only can be expereience through human relationships blessed by the grace of God. This is a true gift that makes all the rest of this silly sinful nonsense seem like dung in comparison.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bad Timing

Our washing machine broke last Monday. So, today marks the 9th day without the use of a device that is used on a near-daily basis in this household (but who's counting?).

Okay, does anyone remember the assignment in grade school where you had to make a story using the 'fortunately/unfortunately' outline? Here we go...

Fortunately, because it is less than 1 year old, our washing machine is still under warranty.
Unfortunately, because it is under warranty, it has to be serviced by specific repairmen.
Fortunately, the appointment has already been made.
Unfortunately, the soonest they can get here is December 2.

Did I forget to mention that Noah had the stomach flu for 7 days last week (he got sick the day the washing machine broke)....AND....oh yeah, we have a potty training toddler in the house?

That's what I call....bad timing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Small Observation that Led to an Interesting Discovery

Balboa park is a favorite place for our family. Most of the parking on the dirt shoulder of the only road that runs through the park. You parallel park here. These pictures were taken from our car while effecting a perfect parallel parking maneuver.

Yes, it does appear to be nothing more than just another classic valley jalopy.







On closer inspection what is this we see growing so greenly in the back window? Is that a verdant field of green grass? My oh my! That's what it is! I guess in the concrete strewn San Fernando valley the desperate desire to have a patch of green grass for ones self has driven this driver to plant his own yard in the back of his car.

Dog Blog

Today marks the first day in over 28 years that the Bird family has been dog-less. Today the beloved family dog, named "Dog" was put to sleep as age took a greater and greater toll on her health. Its funny that we had a dog for so long but never learned where she came from. One of my Dad's employees brought a puppy into the office one day and left it on my dad's desk. She found it in a box filled with a litter of abandoned puppies. Dad brought the puppy home but warned me that we were not going to keep it so I was not to get attached to it. Instead of naming the puppy, we simply called her 'Dog'. After a couple of weeks deciding what to do with the dog, we had to leave her at home while my dad and I traveled on a week long fishing trip.

When we returned home we were greeted at the front door by a bounding little puppy and a floor littered with shreds of foam padding. When my dad walked into the living room, there sat his favored leather recliner minus all the leather. While we were away the teething puppy found satisfaction for itchy gums by chewing all the leather off of the recliner! After raising her personal value by consuming $500 worth of leather, my dad could no longer simply give her away. Thus dog gained permanent status in our family.

For more than 13 years Dog was a confused 50 lbs lap dog, beloved by children and one of the best beasts a boy could have grown up with. She was dedicated backyard cat chaser, early warning detection system betraying boys sneaking back home after blowing through curfew and our version of a green, low-energy alternative to the power hungry vacuum cleaner. There was never a green tennis ball that could escape her jaws or an empty bowl of ice cream that couldn't be licked back to shinning cleanliness. She even served to screen potential girlfriends by wriggling herself between my dream dates and me.

First here eyes began to be clouded then her hearing went. A fatty tumor developed on her breast as her once fine short hair was replaced by dull bristly hair. She began to stink like old dog and grunt and groan with every movement. Finally one hip gave out leaving a leg shakily supporting her body. I guess this is what happens to a a dog at the end of thousands of miles of walks and years worth of afternoon napping.

It's silly sentimentalism but there are things in God's creation that we can become quite attached too .

Monday, November 10, 2008

Customer Service


We do not fancy ourselves consumer advocates but this even way just blog worthy by all standards. We get our wireless service through AT&T. For $29.99 a month we get basic service which means on a good night we can watch an episode of the office without too many pauses. Well things being what they are right now we pay our bills on time but tend to wait toward the end of the billing cycle. Lets just say bill A was due on hmmm Friday. So Amy calls and waits on hold for 30 mins before hanging up. We call again on Saturday, same thing. Normally we would pay on line but for some inexplicable reason the message "we are currently NOT accepting payments via the website for your billing zip code." So again on Monday Amy tries but after who knows how long, she Skypes me to vent some frustration. Since may day was filled with menial brain numbing stuff I figured at least this would add some excitement.

I dialed the number at 10am. The follows as I copied the Skype chat I had with Amy during this time:

Scott Bird
11:15 AM
I've now been on hold for over an hour
The Birds
11:16 AM
What the?!#%*@%#
Scott Bird
11:16 AM
I know %(*&^#%&%
The Birds
11:16 AM
I tried finding a place to contact them for feedback online. They are virtually impossible to reach.
11:16 AM

They give a whole crap about customer service, eh?
Scott Bird
11:19 AM
I'm going to stay on the phone while I leave for a lunch meeting matt will make payment if they pick up. If not I'll be back in an hour and a half.
2:44 PM

Back from lunch and two meetings. Still waiting.....
2:44 PM

waiting.....
2:44 PM

waiting.....
2:53 PM

whoa I got through to be told "We've been in business for 100 years apparently we are doing something right" And then was put on hold again.
The Birds
3:00 PM
Wow. Just....wow.

If you didn't catch that I put my phone on speaker and let it sit there from 10am till 3pm. That's 5 hours. I literally had lunch and then two meetings to come back and find that my call still had not been answered.

Now the part you really are reading all this for. WHEN my call was put through to a live person I explained this whole thing to her only to be told that if I wanted to pay through the phone I would be charged a $5 dollar service fee AND be charged a $20 late fee. LATE!!!! We tried for 6 hours over three days to make payment! I was no longer my normal cool self. Just to make sure the operator understood what I had just been through I explained the situation again. Her response "well, sir, AT&T has been in business for 100 years, apparently we are doing something right!"

I was able to be put through to a manger who told me she was sorry for my ordeal and offered to waive the late fees and service fee. Great! I paid my debt and was on my way- to look for a new service provider.

Technology IS great 99% of the time but I feel as though we have crossed some sort of digital divide where we can slip into the mindset that disgruntled customers are to be dealt with in no more or less a way that we do with any other technological problem- with disgust, apathy and baseless frustration. I guess what I want to remind everyone is that a simple acknowledgement of another persons experience followed by nothing less than some modicum of honesty when the words "I'm sorry" are spoken, is still the right and necessary thing.

My message to AT&T? After 100 years of business you might start to think you could never fail and it could be argued you have good reason. I would remind you that the Titanic was never supposed to sink either.

Well that was cathartic I feel....better!

Friday, November 07, 2008

No Posting Slacker Notice


Ok. I get the message. So in a concerted effort to jump start the postings on this blog I will offer some family picture posts, current events posts and a book review. After all that you should be busy reading for a while and I'll take another break! What a total slacker I am. I might be excused some if I explained that I'm also working on memorizing themes, outlines, key chapters, key passages and peolpe of every biblical book.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Thoughts on the Election

A black man as the President of the United States. Wow! Now joy and elation on one side and fear and suspicion on the other. I am always and advocate of the third way. The third way I define as the Christian way of looking at things. Rather than joy or fear I argue for hope and faith. Let me explain....

God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Kings and rulers come and go but God's throne will never be abdicated or vacated by term limits of voter disapproval. Furthermore, while we vote because we have a civic responsibility to do so the election came down to only one vote. The bible clearly teaches that God raises up leaders and brings down rulers. It is clear now that Obama is God's man for this day and for His purposes. Obama is president because and only because God permitted it.

What ought our response be? Steadfastness. Wake up tomorrow, do what is at hand and continue as you always have. Pray for your new president and his administration and beg God to be merciful to us and our nation for we truly are a people of unclean lips. I argue that optimism ought to mark our Christianity and we must always remember that none is evil wholly except Satan and none is totally good except God. So my forecast for the political future of the nation? More corrupt human worldviews and ideologies devoid of the wisdom of God. What is my desire for the church? Bolder witness and stronger faith, more compassionate love and tender mercies. Jesus in all we do and say must identify us and our response no matter who wins or loses. Our response must be steadfastness in God and his Word.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Facebook


We are now available on Facebook. Learn more of what you never thought you wanted to know about us, well specifically Scott since it's his Facebook page.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What in the World?

OK, ok, here's the deal. Youthful impetuousness (meaning: acting without thinking) led me to post the two opportunities on the blog. In so doing I failed to respect the fact that the opportunities were written up with me in mind and for sharing among like minded people. These were not intended to be 'public' documents for any and all to see. A personal blog, while conceived as a private environment is still a blog and is thus 'public'. To avoid any misunderstandings and to safe guard the ministries I am in contact with the two opportunities have been removed from the blog. If you wish to obtain copies of the ministry opportunities please email me and I will forward them for your review.

Blessings

PS you can contact me at birdchirp@gmail.com

Friday, July 11, 2008

5-Year-Old Wants To Be A Tractor When She Grows Up
JULY 11, 2008 | ISSUE 44•28 The Onion


AKRON, OH—In a statement delivered to friends, family members, and household pets, Kendall Garretson announced Monday that she would like to become a 13-ton, 275-horsepower John Deere row-crop tractor when she grows up.


Five-year-old Garretson as she will appear as an adult if her career plans shape out.


Garretson, who turned 5 in May, developed an interest in becoming the powerful motor-driven vehicle during a recent trip to her grandfather's farm. According to sources, the young kindergarten student made her decision based on a number of key factors, including her desire to have "big wheels," make holes in the ground with "a digger," and chase birds and butterflies through fields of sunflowers.

"I'm gonna be a tractor," Garretson said. "Tractors are fun."

Although Garretson does not have a six-cylinder diesel engine, independent-link suspension, or a comfort command seat with air-suspension swivel, the 5-year-old said she was excited to be both red and shiny someday. Garretson added that as a tractor she would sleep in the barn with the cows and the chickens, but not with the pigs, because the pigs make too much of a
mess.

"I'll drive around in the dirt, but I won't get stuck," Garretson said. "Because I'll spin my tires lots and lots."

Since making her intentions known, Garretson has set about preparing for her career as the hauling vehicle by talking about tractors, coloring in drawings of tractors, asking her parents where tractors come from, and walking around her house making "VROOOOM, VROOOOM" sounds.

In addition to performing her regular tractor duties, such as "mowing all the corn," Garretson said she plans to give rides to every one of her friends, even Brian Waldie, even though he is sometimes mean.

Although Garretson clearly stated her future goal of becoming a tractor, the unexpected announcement left a large number of adults feeling confused, with some assuming that the 5-year-old meant she wanted to be a farmer instead of a piece of agricultural equipment. In response to the off-base remarks, Garretson accused the adults of not paying attention, jumped up and down while shaking her head violently, and called everyone a "bunch of sillies."

"A tractor," Garretson continued. "Trrraaaaaccctooooor!"

Before settling on tractor, Garretson is said to have contemplated a variety of possible career paths, including a professional great white shark, a bouncy trampoline, "a doctor nurse just like Mommy," and the pink ballerina inside of her music box. Garretson went on to say that she would like to someday eat cookies for breakfast and be a mother to 17 infants, all of them girls.
When asked how she envisioned a typical workday as a tractor, the 5-year-old claimed it would begin with her mother waking her up early in the morning with a kiss. After driving into the farmhouse for breakfast, Garretson would rouse the horses, ducks, and flowers, and play with them until lunchtime. The rest of her schedule would reportedly consist of driving up and down the fields and skipping rope.

Despite having chosen tractor as a career, Garretson has shown little interest in soil cultivation or, at the very least, the hydraulic requirements for maintaining a properly functioning front-end loader. Instead, the 5-year-old has spent most of her time deciding which of her toys she will bring along to the farm. "When I'm a tractor, I'm gonna pull a wagon, and then I'm gonna put all of my stuffed animals inside the wagon," Garretson said. "And my dollhouse. And a bunny. And maybe a Halloween pumpkin. But I won't let spiders on it unless they promise not to bite anyone."

During several other statements about her future, Garretson maintained that upon reaching adulthood she would cross the street by herself and marry the family's English bulldog, Rutherford. Garretson also stated that her cousin Madison could not come to her wedding if she kept chewing on her crayons.

Representatives from the John Deere Corporation told reporters that Garretson was a "promising candidate" for the company's annual $25,000 scholarship aimed at helping young people become tractors.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Typical Night at Home

video

Alright, here are a couple things to keep your eyes open to

First, look at those hips shake, he gets that from Daddy
Secondly, we are taking baby steps towards crawling. Noah seems to think it is easier to scoot on his head instead of using his hands.
Thirdly, toward the end you can literally watch him fall asleep WHILE JUMPING in his jumper.

These are three of the little gracious gifts that were delivered to us the other night, that define who are little Noah is to us. A little different, yes. But all in ways that a parent can really appreciate.

Keep on gyrating those hips little guy. Some day the ladies will dig that!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Theft

We see shattered glass next to vandalized cars every now and again. Heck we even see the police helicopter circle overhead searching for a home burglary suspect on occasion. But until sometime last week this has always been something that's happened "to them" and never to us. Lulled into a false sense of security in our otherwise safe neighborhood Amy and I sometimes failed to lock the door to our garage below the condo we live in. I used to think "whats there to steal down there except an old Camry and a bunch of books about the bible!" Well that and the ipod I use when studying in my make shift office in the garage, oh and the 500 gigabyte external hard drive filled to the rim with precious family memories and photos, not to mention the 350 gigabyte 'digital' library I was building to take oversees that included among other things all of my 5 years worth of seminary work! That's what there was to take. Who ever it was that took advantage of our laziness did not appear to be interested in my library but the hard drive and the ipod were taken. The guy even left the ipod cover, just so I have something to reminisce about.

Moral: don't ever assume in a sin cursed world full of the living dead (Ephesians 2:1-2) that you or your belongings are EVER safe. The wickedness of men never sleeps and neither must our vigilance concerning both the things in this world and the truth that has been entrusted to ever slumber for a moment.

--ALSO--

Back up everything on your computer to an external hard drive and then quarterly or so burn all that stuff to a couple of DVDs. I thought I was smart following step one of my advice but quickly learned as I looked at the dust free patch on my desk where my hard drive used to be that it was not enough. Don't end up like me instead be smarter. There's no going back and undoing what was done but there is still time for the rest of you- act now!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dr.'s, Dr.'s, Dr.s!

Most of you who read this will already be familiar with all the appointments our Noah has had and will continue to have with various doctors, but I thought I'd put a post up anyway.

Noah saw the pediatric GI doctor on May 30. He was referred to this dr. because of the problems he was having with tolerating certain foods. After taking a thorough medical history and examining Noah in his office, the doctor concluded that he was most likely dealing with an allergy problem and not a physiological problem. His reasoning was that if it was something physiological, Noah would not discriminate with the food--he would be sick with everything he ate. This conclusion was despite the fact that his blood allergy test came back negative. The doctor recommended that we see an allergist, so our pediatrician made the referral and Noah's appointment is on July 10th.

Noah had his regular 12 month check-up with his pediatrician on Monday, the 16th. We were obviously already aware of his motor development delays, but the doctor thinks Noah has some other delays as well, particularly in the areas of speech and growth. His main concern for this visit was that Noah's weight remained exactly the same since his 9 month appointment. Zero ounces gained. Some good news since the appointment: Noah is doing better in the eating department, and will now accept yogurt (good source of protein and contains more calories than regular baby food) and he is doing better drinking his liquids (though it is a very tedious process which involves a 1 mL medicine dropper. Thankfully Daddy is more than patient and happy to help in this department)!

We also got to see the pediatric neurologist at UCLA on Monday. It ended up to be an all-day event, but he evaluated Noah and ordered a myriad of lab work for possible diagnoses. He is trying to see if the problem is related to Noah's brain, muscles, genetics, or a combination of these things. He also said many times these things go undiagnosed as just a benign muscle issue and that would be the best. So, that is what we are hoping for. We had to return the next day to do all the lab work. Ten vials of blood and a urinalysis later, Noah decided that was not how he wanted to spend a Tuesday morning ever again! The poor little guy. But he did great in spite of the poking and prodding. One of the tests has to be sent out, so we will have to wait 2-3 weeks for the results. In the meantime, we wait and trust the Lord (though I am tempted to be anxious) and it is a good reminder that Noah is ultimately His child that He has entrusted to us. We will have a follow-up appointment with him in 2 months.

The pediatric GI, pediatrician, and neurologist all recommended that I contact the regional center on Noah's behalf. I don't know a whole lot about it, but it is a county-run program that provides early intervention with physical and occupational therapists. Hopefully they can set Noah on a program that will point him in the right direction for using those legs. It will most likely be about 45 days before he can actually be seen. Until then, we are continuing his exercises at home and just enjoying him for who he is.

It really does seem like Noah has taken leaps and bounds in the last couple of weeks. In the last couple of days, he learned how to click his tongue, make a 'kissing' noise with his mouth, and clap his hands with some amount of coordination. Last night he demonstrated his first recognizable 'sign'--he signed he wanted 'more' food by scratching his leg. I did it for him a couple of times, and then he did it on his own every time I asked him if he wanted more (probably 20 times in a row). He clapped his hands every time I said, "Good boy!" and smiled soooo big. He was quite proud of himself. While we continue to pray for his development and well-being, we are so encouraged to see little steps of progress along the way and we praise the Lord that our little Noah is fearfully and wonderfully made--whatever that may entail.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

1

Wow, it has been a year. In some ways it seems like it has gone by so quickly...but in other ways--mainly because so much has happened--it feels like a very long time. But, either way, Noah turned 1 today! Praise the Lord!
Right now, some of his favorite things are:
--"chasing" his big brother Jonah (which consists of me chasing Jonah while holding Noah...but he laughs and laughs and the way he kicks his legs when I'm running, you'd think he was the one doing all the work!)
--scooting. Backwards. But hey, he'll take mobility in any form he can get it!
--spinning around in my arms
--swinging
--being tickled
Happy Birthday, Kiddo!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New Zealand Again

As many of you may know I, Scott took the 12 hour flight to New Zealand again. I arrived in NZ on Wens, 28th and mucked around Auckland for about 8 hours. I spent my first night in NZ with Peter Somerville and his family. They were warm and gracious hosts and their many kids made me miss my own mightily. Thursday I drove down from Howick (a suburb of Auckland) to Hastings (in the Hawkes Bay region of the North Island). During this 6 hour drive Peter and I spoke about a lot of ministry ideas. We arrived in Hastings in the evening and I met up with my conference hosts from last year, Denys and his wife.

The next 5 days were spend at the 'Impact Bible Conference'. Scott Ardivanis, the pastor of Placerita Baptist Church in Santa Clarita, and Dr. Michael Grisanti from TMS were the key note speakers. Their two respective series delivered powerful sermons on the grace of God and the Holiness of God.

The Wednesday following the conference I spent the day taking a tour of the cities of Hastings and Napier. This region of the North Island is well known for wine making and its Art Deco flair. This whole region was created in 1931 when a magnitude 7.9 earthquake tore the region. Uplift in the area reached as much as 9 feet creating 48 square miles of brand new land. If you have ever seen Agatha Christie's Poirot the Art Deco imagery of the movies can be experienced in real life in Napier.

I met that evening with a number a couple of ministry leaders to discuss possible future ministry opportunities. We had a warm and engaging conversation that resulted in the opening of a more serious dialogue about where I might fit in at the Shepherds' Bible College and the Riverbend Bible Church .

I left the Hawkes Bay region on Thursday afternoon by flying back to Auckland on a little Bombardier 400. The views from the air were spectacular, es specially when we punched through a layer of clouds at 10,000 feet. The only thing above the cloud layer besides us were a couple of volcanic peaks, the biggest being Mount Ruapehu. It was beautifully other-worldly to see.

Back in Auckland I spent two nights with Jonathan McFarland at his parents house. 'Jono' as he is known by will be attending the Masters' Seminary soon. I could do a whole blog post about this guy but let it be sufficient to say here that TMS has been well forewarned! He was a great host and guide, taking me around to many of Auckland's beautiful parks and vistas. He also took me a 'Primal' meeting which is a church movement in NZ geared toward the 16-28 year old crowd. Again another blog post for this topic alone might be worth it but lets just say mix seeker sensitive with Charismatic spirit anointing with a Saturday night DJ dance club and you might approximate what the experience was like. The 21 minute sermon delivered by a 21 year old girl exhorted us to 'leave room for God' when facing life. I was crying by the end, though I'm not sure if was because I was laughing so hard at the lunacy of it all or whether it was because what I saw made my heart break. (Enough on that for now :) )
I next participated in Friday night youth night at Howick Baptist Church were Jono leads the youth program. We played a rousing game of dodge ball where I nearly knocked a guy out but had the favor returned a few games later. After adjusting my smashed up glasses off of my bashed in face, we all moved into a class room for the evenings lesson. Isn't Christian fellowship just fun sometimes!

The following Sunday I worshiped at Howick and the 200 some odd saints who call that church home. It is an amazing story, what is unfolding there (again another blog post sometime). But the Lord is working and bringing life back into that church. I had lunch that afternoon with an associate pastor named Calvyn Jonker and his family. As we consumed the world renowned South African borovos (sp?) sausage and steak, we talked about ministry in NZ and life in the States. I left lunch to meet with Peter and we worked out some ministry options if I were to come to Howick. In 4 weeks I will have an offer from the Shepherds' Bible college as well. When I do I will post some of the details on the this here blog and ask for your comments and feedback.

Whew! Then after that I flew home to Los Angeles. And here I am now typing the regaling story of my latest NZ adventure. We'll I feel that that's a good start for now. I'll post some more stuff later such as my now infamous photos of me herding sheep and what the sheep thought of that.