We the jury..

With the reading of the verdict today, and everyone giving their two cents, here’s my two cents.. or at least a penny for my thought. It was hard not to watch the trial, with every news station carrying some of it every time i flipped the channel it was hard to avoid. I didn’t know all of the facts but i had seen enough to see what was going on. The verdict didn’t come as a surprise. What did surprise me was the reaction of everyone else. Having gone through my own civl duty experience, I had an understanding of what it’s like to sit in a deliberation room for hours, knowing in your heart that someone was guilty, but according to the law, there just isn’t enough evidence to remove all doubt. Is it a flawed legal system, perhaps. Is it perfect, no. But it sure is alot better than some countries where you have to prove your inocense- not guilt. At least it’s a trial at all. Last night my wife and I found TNG on Netflix. We started with the first episode, “Farpoint Station”  The basic plot was.. Picard and his crew were put on trial for the crimes that humanity has committed.  The stage of the trial was deemed as a fair method of passing judgment.

With all of the unanswered questions, the holes in the stories, the fact that after all of the dirty laundry has been put on the table, everyone has something to be guilty for.  But were they able to find, as the law had written, that guilt?  I don’t see how they could. “Beyond a reasonable doubt. ”  Seams like a simple enough term.  That is until your forced to put it into context.  I find myself full of self-doubt all the time.  There isn’t many things that i don’t doubt.  I don’t envy those 12 who had to sit through all those days in court for their $36 dollars a day.  Next time my name is pulled for jury duty.. i think i’m wearing a confederate t-shirt with the words “fry ’em” on it.

4 years ago today…


Four years ago today I married my best friend.  I stood up in front of my family, friends, co-workers and future family.  I made a promise to do anything for her.  To willingly give her all of my time, efforts, thoughts, talents, trust and prayers.  I want to protect her, care for her, guide her, hold her, comfort her, listen to her, and cry to her and with her. I vowed to share all of my dreams, goals, fears, hopes, and worries.  I promised to be the best for her, to pray for her success and to hope for the fulfillment of all of her endeavors.  I pledged my loyalty and faithfulness to her. I stood up there and promised to cherish her friendship, adore her personality, respect her values and see her for the wonderfull and loving person that she is.  I miss her incredibly when we are apart, no matter what length of time it’s for; and regardless of the distance.  I believe in our relationship and will stand by it through the worst of times; I have faith in our strength as a family together with God and will never ever give up on us.  In front of everyone I promised to love her children as my own.

Those vows are just as much relevant today as they were four years ago.

I know you’ve heard me say these words before
But every time I say I love you the words mean something more

I spoke them as a promise right from the start
I said death would be the only thing that could tear us apart
And now that you are standing on the edge of the unknown
I love you means I’ll be with you wherever you must go

I will take a heart whose nature is to beat for me alone
And fill it up with you – make all your joy and pain my own
No matter how deep a valley you go through

I will go there with you
And I will give myself to love the way Love gave itself for me
And climb with you to mountaintops or swim a raging sea
To the place where one heart is made from two
I will go there with you

I see it in your tears – you wonder where you are
The wind is growing colder and the sky is growing dark
Though it’s something neither of us understands

We can walk through this together if we hold each other’s hand
I said for better or worse I’d be with you
So no matter where you’re going I will go there too

I known sometimes I let you down
But I won’t let you go – we’ll always be together

Oh Death where is your sting?

It seams the past few months have been a period of time where i’ve had more encounters with illnesses, deaths and the time spent in-between.  I guess this all started originally with John Keller.  He was hit by a motorcycle, stuck in a coma for 3 months, learned to walk, talk and just live all over again.  The Keller’s are close family friends and so we kept close tabs on John’s progress and even made a website for him and all the hundreds of others who followed him.  After that, people began using his site as a place to find help and prayer for others who were going through things.  People such as Ashley, Diego, Sean, Joseph.. hundreds literally.  The one that still sticks out in my mind the most though is still LouLou.  This 11 year old girl was diagnosed about this time last year with leukemia.

Continue reading Oh Death where is your sting?

Exclusive Mortality?

Malachi 2
7For the priest’s lips should guard and keep pure the knowledge [of My law], and the people should seek (inquire for and require) instruction at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.

10Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then do we deal faithlessly and treacherously each against his brother, profaning the covenant of [God with] our fathers?

I had always heard stories about Rev Jose Rene Angel at the San Isidro Catholic Church but never really met the guy before. My church in Edinburg went out to my home church in San Isidro once to put on an outdoor event and I remember the drive way being lined up with cars of those watching from afar.  Good thing we took the projection, i should have brought a fm transmitter too.  Come to find out later, these were visitors from the Catholic Church who felt they were not allowed to come down and visit but still wanted to see what was going on.  Small town for you.  I shrugged it off at first but it always seamed to bother me.  The other day on a popular social site, I came across a photo from a former classmate.  The text of the photo read “Visiting Protestant Places is a Mortal Sin”  I think the only words that could come to mind were “wow”  The next day another image came up, this time taken during the day…

Visiting Protestant Places Is a Mortal Sin
Photo: Jennifer Margo Livingston

After letting this bug me all day, I began questioning the validity of this statement.  A RFC (request for comment) was made to the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville.  They responded but only to indicate that they were still waiting on an official response.

So I resorted to the next best thing:

Wikipedia defines a Mortal Sin by Roman Catholic moral theology  which must meet all of the following conditions at the same time:

  1. Its subject must be a grave (or serious) matter.
  2. It must be committed with full knowledge, both of the sin and of the gravity of the offense (no one is considered ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are inborn as part of human knowledge, but these principles can be misunderstood in a particular context).
  3. It must be committed with deliberate and complete consent, enough for it to have been a personal decision to commit the sin.

Continue reading Exclusive Mortality?

Merry Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is December 25th, what most think of as the end of the season.  But me, I see it as the “middle child” in our trilogy of American holidays.  We started back on Thanksgiving, preparing for the renewal that comes at the start of the New Year.  The thing is, January 1st can often be a disappointment. Not because your goals or resolutions were unrealistic, but because you didn’t properly prepare yourself spiritually.  That’s the process I’m going through.  So now that you cleared away the unnecessary distractions in your life on Thanksgiving (both material and otherwise) Christmas is the time to stop and think about what you really have and what it is you are truly grateful for.  This Christmas, I say that instead of spending the day saying, “Merry Christmas,” maybe it’s time we started to instead say, “Thank you.”

Christmas is a time for gratitude.  Think about just how blessed you are, and not just for your friends and family and whatever may be under the tree.  Think bigger. Think deeper.  Think of the Christ child and what he grew up to do.  What did he give up for you?  What are you willing to give up for others?  This is a time for service. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  Be a shelter for someone else.  Help shoulder a burden and lighten someone’s load.  You, me…we all deserve a second chance, and that clean slate comes in the form of God’s redemption.  It’s the one gift we can all receive whenever we’re ready to accept it.  His redemption is always there for you, and not just on December 25th.

Be humble, get down on your knees and help your family rise up by getting down on their knees with you.  Christmas is a glorious time of year and perhaps the best time to remember the saying that goes, “All that is not given is lost.”  Show your gratitude through deeds and not just words.  Reflect on who you really are and what you really have. And through it all, be grateful that you’re here to experience it and know that the path towards redeeming your own life runs through the lives of others who also need help.  Then and only then can you be ready for what lies ahead in the New Year.  What a year it’s going to be!

May God bless you always, and I wish for you and yours a very Merry Christmas.

i really hate you sometimes

shortly after the miracle of John Keller, my wife and I got asked to work on the video for that. We put together a dvd which ended up taking on a life of it’s own. That then progressed to the book that Patti put together. She also took over his blog witch eventually migrated into a full blown website. That produced an avenue for her to get in contact with other people needing miracles. I can’t even name off all of the people she’s worked with since then. I think the one that will stand out the most in my mind, now and probably for the rest of my life is Loulou. She came into my life one day after Patti had been in contact with her family for some time. Someone in Loulou’s family was having a birthday party and Patti was going to surprise her by showing up at this party. I tagged along to try and capture some video footage of her.
You see, Lou Lou was 10 at the time and suffering from two forms of leukemia. On the day I met her she was riding her bike along the street with other family members. She had a head scarf on since she had already been through some chemo-therpy After the interview i shot some b-roll in her bed room. For the most part, it was a typical little girls’ bedroom. stuff animals, pictures from magazines, her stuff from her elementary school, but alongside the hello kitty dolls and homework were syringes, medicine bottles and hand sanitizers.
She was first diagnosed this past February. Just recently have things been getting really rough for her. Her 11th birthday was a few weeks ago. Patti and i helped to coordinate a webcast/birthday party for her and her class back at school. This past friday night there was a prayer service for her at one of her relatives house that i got to go to. We had just received a piece of good news and it was a bit of celebration. Her situation was still dire, but at this point, anything bit of hope to stand on was something to make a big deal of. Around 9 this evening patti got a call from Loulou’s mom that they were going to the hospital. Another call later on confirmed that family was being called in by the hospital. Her mom asked patti to join them.
Ever since yesterday that video has been on my heart and i just have been feeling a strong urgency to finish it So while patti was gone this evening, i began working on it.
At first the project took on the same basic framework as any other project, but once it got to the point of giving it a personality and emotion, things started getting hard. I found myself in tears at one point. Going through this footage and family pictures of this perfect little girl with her whole life ahead of her going through struggles i can’t even imagine. and her parents.. how do you plan for the funeral of your 11 year old daughter? how do yo console someone like that. what do you even say? It seams bleak, I’m not saying that i don’t have faith for her healing, but this is the 11th hour. This is the time when things are probably at the worst they have ever been. It’s hard to keep up the hope.
I’m reminded of the day cancer took my mom. we got the “family” call early one morning. I was young and didn’t really know what was going on. I know people were saying things like.. your mom is real sick. she may be in the hospital a for a long time. but one conversation that still sticks with me was from my uncle who was driving me up to the hospital that morning. “you know.. don’t be surprised if she dies” I’m sure he said it much gentler than that.. but this many years later that was the point he got across and that’s what i remember.
It’s 1:30am and patti is still out there at the hospital. when i wake up it will probably be to news of what’s happened. she may make it through another night, another week, another year… I won’t give up the hope that she has a life and a purpose, but at this point every moment is a moment worth counting.

cancer.. i really hate you.

  • watch her progress on her website
  • where were you this day 9 years ago?

    I was doing some video editing at church when patti called me and told me to turn on the news. “what channel?” i asked. “any channel” was her reply. I don’t quiet remember me feelings from that day. i saw the first plane stuck inside one of the twin towers on tv and kept thinking to myself man that’s going to be tough to fix up. it was almost disbelief when i saw them fall.
    a while later i went up to NYC and while walking around the business district, came up to a part of town that was strangely quiet. now, there is always noise around the city. traffic, people, cars, construction. but this construction area (which were everywhere). All of a sudden it struck me where we were. right in the middle of ground zero. the huge draping flag covering a hole in a building, the wreaths and memorials setup on the iron fence of a near by church.
    as vivid as the day this first happened still sticks in my mind, a day that comes through even clearer was 9-12-01. The days afterwards. people donating blood, putting flags up everywhere. a common sense of patriotism and respect for each other and a new respect for human life. it gave us a new hope that we are not going to be taken by fear. that those who wish to spread terror are not going to win. as much as our world has changed post 9-11, hopefully we can remember that the greatest change is not in the hole in the middle of ny, but the change made in ourselves. as we learned about what we can accomplish just by being americans.

    Taking to much for granted

    A few weeks ago, i joined Patti visiting one of her friends that she’s been keeping in touch with. LouLou first came into patti’s life around june of this year. She had already worked on the book for John Keller as well as the website and videos. She then went on to work on Ashley’s website, then came in contact with Diego and that family. LouLou has acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL ) acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Not only is she fighting these two rare forms of leukemia, but she’s only 10 years old. Patti got in contact with her and her family. She created a website for her and would visit her regularly.

    So fast forward to a few weeks ago.  Someone in LouLou’s family was having a birthday so Patti decided to surprise loulou and going to visit her at her home during the party.  She wanted to get some video footage to work on a video for her so i joined along.  When we pulled up to her home, there was several kids riding around on bikes.  LouLou was easy to pick out of the crowd with her head scarf.  The family was a typical hispanic family with lots of food and plenty of hospitality.  Even though we were obvious out-siders, we were welcomed warmly.  We did the interview in her bedroom.  No different any other 10 year olds bedroom.  Colorful walls, stuffed animals, pictures of friends and family, stuff from school but as i took footage of b-roll, among the silly bands and hello kitty were also syringes, medicine and other medical supplies.  As normal and lively as she appeared, it was hard to forget that his was one very sick child.

    The drive home that night was silent.  i was overwhelmed with the fact that we were blessed with children who were healthy.   I myself have taken so much for granted.  We got to speak with LouLou’s parents for a bit and they were full of faith and hope.  Proud of the strength and courage of their daughter and inspired by her faith.  I couldn’t help but realize that i couldn’t be that strong.  Working at the radio station, i did about 5 or 6 radiothon’s for st. jude and always heard stories about sick kids and what they were going thru but they were always about someone else.  No body that i ever really knew.  There was never a real connection.  This time this was someone who i visited with and actually got to see face to face.

    Patti got a text today from LouLou’s dad that she had been admitted to the ICU in critical condition.  Please keep her in your prayers.  And remember her mom and dad, David and Veronica too.


    How Does Your Tech Team Measure Success?

    In most technology-savvy churches, a great deal of time and effort goes into creating the visual presentations that the congregation sees on Sunday.  The question is:  how do we know when all that effort has been worth it?  Is success based on receiving comments such as ‘I love that video you showed today’ or ‘those were cool graphics’ or ‘that background went well with that song’?

    The short answer is ‘NO!’  Success is achieved when what we do has helped the church reach one or more of its corporate goals.  These are goals such as leading people into true worship of Father God, imparting spiritual (Biblical) truth in a way that it is received at the heart level, and seeing people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

    There are two components that factor into our success:  the positive elements we add to the service (meaning what we put on the screen) and the negative distractions that we are able to minimize.  Obviously, defining success this way has implications for what we choose to put on the screen. We focus not on what necessarily looks the best, but rather what is the most effective; not on what has the highest ‘phat’ factor, but what images help to move the congregation into a deeper worship and understanding of God.  This is not to say that we should not be concerned with the quality of what we are presenting (poor quality distracts), but rather that our concentration is on reaching our goals that gain ground for the kingdom of God.

    We also want to minimize distractions that would take away from a person’s focused worship or detract from what God was wanting to communicate through His Word.  Distractions can take the form of unnecessary time delays, jarring appearances or disappearances of projected images, text that is hard to read, and motion of graphics that is beyond what is appropriate or helpful.  Many of these can be avoided by taking the time to rehearse the presentation prior to the service and make any necessary adjustments.

    We are part of a body that has a defined mission, and the bottom line is that we keep a kingdom focus, not a self-centered (‘can’t I do cool stuff’) focus.  Comments like:

    ‘When that sunset came up behind the lyrics, I thought my heart was going to burst with worship’


    ‘The guy in that video – that was my story, and I knew God was speaking to me that it was time’

    are the kind that mean we are having true success.  Be encouraged to pursue effectiveness in this important ministry to which God has called you.

    Fathers Day 2k10

    While Patti was out of town this weekend, i had asked if they would pick up the obligatory father’s day card for me to deliver today to my dad. They came home last night and showed me the card. It read

    -Dad’s help you reach your goals one “you can do it” at a time

    Didn’t seam like a huge revelation at first, but the more i thought about it, that card pretty much hit the dog nail on the head.  I can honestly attest a lot of my best qualities from my dad.  Things that i notice about those who i find myself trying to work with who have different work ethics.  My father taught me about truly working hard.  He would spend countless hours working from sun rise to dusk out in the heat outdoors supporting his family.  He always put his best effort in everything he did.  He didn’t quit just because it was 5 o-clock.  It wasn’t done until it was completed.  Looking in hindsight i can see how these attributes have passed on.  He always would strive for excellence.

    He also taught me about the importance of supporting your family not just in providing but in being there for them.  One of my most profound memories was during high school different organizations would have BBQ’s.  Being in a handful of organizations myself, there must have been one at least once a month that i was involved with.  Dad faithfully would be awake and out of the house before the sun was up making hundreds of chickens with the other dads.  Now i find myself finding ways to help with patti’s kids school activities.

    Going back to card though, what i probably owe my dad the most for would be for his constant encouragement.  He would always encourage us and never put us down.  He always let us join as many after-school activities as we wanted (even though it probably just meant another bbq he would have to help)  When i asked for my first computer he supported me.  It was a Tandy TRS-100 512k ram, 80MB hard-drive (yes MB!)

    I can only aspire to follow in his footsteps in my own household.  I want to be an encourager, i want to be a hard worker and i want to be supportive of everything these kids chose to take part of.

    Thank you dad for everything you taught me.