Friday, May 29, 2009


As you know I am going to be preaching at Idyllwild Bible Church on Father's Day (6/21) which I am very excited about. Tim asked me to "take ownership" of the morning, which encompasses not only the morning's message, but also some creative way of recognizing some of the Father's in the congregation. In the past they have always distributed IBC root beers (Get it? I.B.C.) to some of the fathers. They ask questions like, "Who is the father with the most descendants?" or "Who has the most teenagers?" or "Who came the furthest to be here this morning?" etc... They have also had spouses and children come up and give tesimonials about the father in their lives. I wanted to do something kind of different just to switch things up, but I can't come up with anything. Right now I'm thinking of just asking some different questions, but I am not having any luck.

But I know the calibre of my readership, and so I open up the floor to you to help me brainstorm for some creative pre-message Father recognition plan.

C'mon brain trust! Help a brother out!


In general, which is easier, to make a person laugh or to make a person cry?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Blood flows back and back and back and back
Like a river from a secret source
I feel the wild in me, I pitch my camp
At the fork where knowledge meets remorse
Women singing me that song from the ancient choir
I just open my mouth and what comes out
Gives me the chills
I got my song from a secret place
I got my face from Billy from the Hills

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009


Lately I have been riding my bike into town a lot, and I just know that when passersby see an overweight bearded man huffing and puffing his way along rt. 243 they probably wonder, "DUI?"


My wedding ring quite literally saved my life once. We were executing a high risk search warrant on a mobile home which served as a backwoods pharmacy for heroin, cocaine, marijuana, pills, etc... Our informant had told us that there were lots of guns inside and there was no doubt that the home's occupants would use them if we didn't get inside and subdue them quickly. I knew from previous encounters just how unhinged they were. I believed him. I had a sick feeling in my stomach all day- a dark premonition- but all the while I felt caught up and born along. That is the only way I can describe it. I had a bad feeling about it, but at the same time I knew without a doubt that I was going to go into work, and that I was going to take part in the search warrant.

Shortly after getting into my uniform we all clomped down the hallway to the Sgt's office for the briefing. On a dry erase board they had a drawing of the home based on the informant's information including the location of where they kept guns. They had a lot of guns.

They laid out the game plan and gave us our assignments. Two other officers and I were going to jump a chain link fence and move towards the home's north doorway while the main force went to the south doorway. The plan was to simultaneously enter the home through the two doors and hopefully cut off the occupants from the back bedrooms.

After the briefing everyone was milling around, talking and joking while we waited to head out. I slipped into the bathroom, closed the door behind me, and prayed. Looking back on it now it seems silly, but at the time I firmly believed that somebody was going to die. Through the door I heard the guys laughing in the squad room, and I felt caught up. I was going to go.

I went over to my desk, pulled out a pad of paper, and quickly scrawled a note to Sarah. Then it was time to go. I read the note back to myself and then placed it in the top drawer of my desk. The note sounded stupid, but the guys were heading out and there was no time for revisions. I pushed the drawer closed, and followed them.

As we drove towards the house we reviewed our assignments. I thought about the stupid note with regret. Then suddenly we were there, somebody said "alright lets do it," and the next thing I knew I was running toward the chain link fence. The officer in front of me vaulted the vence and sprinted across the yard towards the door. I followed him over the fence, but when I turned to run, my hand was stuck fast to the fence. I just about pulled my arm out of socket in an adrenaline-fueled attempt to free myself.

"What's wrong, Tate?" asked the officer behind me.

"I'm stuck," was all I could muster.

The chain link fence had somehow worked its way under my ring, and I couldn't get it loose. I pulled on it like a crazy animal trying deperately to get free. People were depending on me. I heard shouting from inside the trailer. I told myself to be calm, and I slid the section of fence out from under my ring. Then just as I became free. I heard gun shots "pop-popping" from inside the trailer. I drew my gun and ran to the north door where the first officer was trying unsuccessfully to force entry. We decided to make our way around to the south door.

Apparently what had happened was when they forced the south door they were met by an unexpectedly large number of people in the first room. They had just received a new delivery of drugs and their faithful clients were there getting high. While they were taking them into custody the drug dealers armed themselves and one of them barricaded himself into his bedroom with a girl who was eight months pregnant and high as a kite. When the officers made it to the bedroom he began to fire through the door at them.

The pregnant girl had the presence of mind to yell out "he's reloading!" and seeing that he had run out of bullets, the officers jumped him. The second drug dealer who had locked himself in his room was furiously attempting to eat all of the drugs before we could find them. he was taken into custody without incident. He looked like he had tried to eat a bag of flour. His goatee and the front of his shirt were powdered.

Nobody died...

...but when I returned to the scene the next day they had placed trajectory dowels through the bullet holes sticking out of the trailer wall. They were right at head and chest level and right where I estimate that either I or the officer behind me would have been running if my ring had not become entangled with the fence. the hair stood up on the back of my neck and along my forearms.

I threw away the note, and decided not to tell Sarah anything about it.

There is still a gouge on the inside of my ring from when I tried to pull myself free from the fence. Its lines have softened in the metal, but it is till clearly visible if you know what you are looking for.

Sometimes I see it and shiver.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Before you head out to work in the morning stick a pair of clean socks into the freezer.
Leave them to thoroughly cool throughout the day. If you're like me by the end of the day your feet are sweaty, hot and dying for relief.
When you get home, kick off your shoes and socks, retrieve the socks from the freezer and put them on.
Now that's what I call coolin your heels.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


As usual I failed to take pictures until the very end when they all seemed forced and unnatural. Paul and Cindy Hutchins came up to visit on Friday night and kindly volunteered to take Job and Jamin to LAX tomorrow morning. I'm sorry for this uninspired series of photos. They fail to convey how much fun it was to have Job and Jamin here again. They worked soooooo hard while they were here, and we are all so grateful for the wonderful way God blessed us through Job and Jamin this week. I really don't know what we would have down without them. They never complained once, and I was impressed just as much by what they did as the spirit with which they did it.

I regret not taking more pictures of the kids with Uncle Job. They absolutely adored Uncle Job.

Sarah and I loved having Jamin back at Camp Maranatha. She worked on staff a couple of summers ago and we have missed her. She is truly a fellow pilgrim, and we appreciated all of her hard work this week. Thanks, Jamin!


It was a slow morning at the store. Dust floated lazily through the sunlight slanting in through the windows facing the street, and the only sound in the empty store came from Jenny Post who was absent-mindedly flipping through a magazine as she sat on a stool behind the counter. The quiet, warm, boredom of the place was making her sleepy. She yawned as she glanced up from her magazine and looked across the street towards the Wheel Inn. Billy Tipps had stepped out onto the restaurant’s front porch and was holding the door open for another man who was coming behind him with his arms full of to-go boxes.

Billy waved good bye to the man and started walking towards the store. Jenny groaned audibly. She was tired of Billy’s visits. He visited the store several times a day. Usually he would make a pretense of buying something, and then he would settle in, leaning across the counter and talking to her as she worked. On days when things were busy his visits were mercifully short, but on days like this he might stay for an hour or more talking about a dream he had, or his love for animals, or anything else that he thought might make her think he was interesting or nice. He always talked about the same tired topics, visiting and revisiting them in a tedious loop. Jenny was aware that he might have developed feelings for her, but she also wondered if he targeted her solely because she was the only person in town who couldn’t walk away from him. From 7:00 to 3:00, Tuesday through Saturday, she would be sitting there behind the counter at the store- quite literally his captive audience. Jenny might have said something to him about how she didn’t want to talk right then, but she didn’t for two reasons. First, she just didn’t have it in her. She was too nice and there was something tragic and lonely about Billy. She would have just as soon kicked a stray dog as done anything to abuse such a man. Secondly, as a good employee, she didn’t want to do anything that would make a customer stop coming. After all, he did buy something every time he came in.

Billy opened the door, flashed Jenny a grin, and said, “I thought you might be lonely over here.” Jenny smiled back patiently, but didn’t offer comment. Billy clomped over towards the glass display to the right of the register and made a show of making a selection from the various donuts, cinnamon rolls, and pastries on display there. He finally settled on an apple fritter. Then between bites, and without any preamble, he launched into a one-sided discussion about his French ancestry, which was a favorite topic of his, and one which he had thoroughly exhausted during earlier visits. Just as Billy was explaining again that his family’s name used to be spelled “T-I-E-P-P-E-S,” before it had been mistakenly recorded as “T-I-P-P-S” at Ellis Island, Janice Smith walked into the store.

Janice, and her sister Gloria, owned a collection of cottages along the lake just south of the Lavallee Landing, which they rented out mostly to sportsmen and folks from out of state. Janice was thin with graying hair, an olive complexion and Jenny thought that she dressed exactly as if she had just stepped out of an L.L. Bean catalog. To Jenny it seemed that everything about her was neat and organized. Even her voice had a crisp orderly quality to it. Jenny liked her.

As Janice filled her thermos with coffee, Billy began to question her about a run-in she had with Kick Tomwright down on the Lavallee Road the previous day. This was the first Jenny had heard anything about it even though Billy talked as though everyone in town was aware of it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


We picked up Job and Jamin this morning at LAX without incident and zipped along the So Cal. freeways and up the mountain. Job took in a T-ball game. They both pitched in at dinner even though they must have been exhausted after a long day of traveling, and now they are both asleep and I am going to do some school work. I would have also taken pictures of Jamin sleeping in the guest room if that didn't seem creepy. I'm so glad they're here. I'll post more as the week goes on. I'm off to school.

Monday, May 18, 2009


God willing, this time tomorrow Uncle Job and our friend Jamin Peck will be here at Camp Maranatha to help us through a trying week. My heart swells with love and gratitude for such as these and the common bond is Christ.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I don't know about you, but I can't bring out any candy in my house without my kids circling around and harassing me like so many vultures and hyenas around a downed wildebeast. They do not have the same reaction when I walk through the room with a mug of coffee though. They have no interest in coffee whatsoever. I must give credit where credit is due. I learned this brilliant trick from my own Mother when, as a wee lad, I caught her smuggling M&M's into our very midst. She got greedy. I smelled it on her breath as we sat on the couch together. "What's in there, Mom?" The gig was up, and this little hyena came a-cacklin'.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I’m one of those guys who hates reading the rules to a new board game. “Let’s just play. We’ll pick it up as we go along.” I tend to have a similar attitude towards my calling. Here I am sleepy and watery eyed after one in the morning. I procrastinated on getting started tonight, and then pushed myself to stay up and finish what I had set out to do. Another late night spent working my way through God’s rules, and my tired body and lazy brain wants to say, “Let me just play. I’ll pick it up as I go along.”


Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Yesterday afternoon, the Tates took an unscheduled trip to the Emergency Room in Palm Springs because I was concerned that Sarah had broken her ankle. She was stepping out of the van and landed very wrong, rolling her ankle, and she heard two snaps. Sarah is a tough cookie with a high tolerance for pain who doesn't tend to complain much so I was pretty concerned. She was really hurting.
The kids and I are not strangers to the grassy hill outside of the hospital because it is where our last baby doctor was. We played out in the 100+ degree heat while we were waiting for Mommy to be seen.
It seemed like the incident with Mommy's ankle really troubled Jack. He was bereft and pitifully kept asking for Mommy. He loves his Mommy.
Bowden was mostly glad to be reunited with the grassy hill.
This was a picture of the sky- no clouds and lots of sun- it was hot, hot, hot! My kids started to look a little wilted so I reluctantly took them back into the waiting room where they laid their hands on many unwholesome surfaces and where Jack absconded with an Arizona Iced Tea which had been abandoned in a corner, no doubt by a carrier of horrific communicable diseases. They all learned how to work the hand sanitizer mounted on the wall.
They didn't seem to mind that the TV was muted. We typically don't let them watch Spongebob Squarepants, but I made an exception because Mr. Squarepants kept the raccoons centrally located and away from the aforementioned Arizona Iced Tea, discarded band-aids, and other sundry surfaces of questionable sanitation. Take note of the discarded surgical mask on the floor to the right of Lucy.

The X-ray showed that nothing was broken. Thank you, Lord! Sarah is still in a bad way though. She can't put any weight on her right foot, and walking is completely out of the question. It looks pretty swollen, and nasty, and it hurts a lot. She isn't one to complain though, but a couple of times I have walked in on her and found her crying from the pain. That is very unusual for Sarah who has a higher tolerance for pain than most (and way higher than mine). I think she also feels bad for me having to do all the stuff she typically does. I tell her that's ridiculous, but she still feels bad. Poor, Sarah.


Do you see that little mouse peeking around the corner? Bowden came and found me after dinner and breathlessly explained that Lucy was stuck behind my desk and needed my help.
"How'd ya get back there, goose?"

"Don't worry, Lucy, I'll get you out."


Incidentally, the last time I preached was also on Father's day at Northpark Community Church in San Diego.


...I would buy a pick-up truck, put a bed in the back of it, and hire somebody to drive along desert roads all night while I slept in the back with the air whistling past me.

Monday, May 11, 2009


This was Target's last chance. I purchased my last two pair of sneakers from there and they were both dismal failures. So why give them a third chance? I didn't exactly. Last week, Sarah surprised me with these "boat shoes," as we call them, when she returned from a shopping sortie to Hemet. With very little depth in my footwear line up (I'm basically down to my flip-flops and a pair of old boots) I have been planning to purchase a new pair of sneakers sometime soon, but Sarah thoguht I should have these to to complement the sneakers.
I was disheartened to discover today that my new pair of boat shoes are separating from their sole in typical target fashion. It's a shame. I was starting to like them. I think it's time to drop some coin on a new pair of kicks- the kind that will last more than a week. I'm done with Target!!!

In other shoe news, the State Street Shoes were unceremoniously discarded today as a crack in their faux leather widened. I am having an unprecedented streak of bad luck with my footwear.


Leo Carillo is a beachside camping spot in Malibu just a short walk down the beach from where Sarah's Grandparents used to own a beach house.

Somebody swallowed a watermelon seed!!!

This is the old beach house where Sarah came as a little girl before the State took it away.

I don't think my pictures do it justice, but the driveway up out of the old beach house was an engineering feat on par with the great wall of china.

Sarah's Grandfather, Umpa, bought the spot when it was just a hillside going down to the beach, and over the years built the houses and driveway. It's a sad story that the State took a place with so many memories attached to it and where they had invested so much time and energy down through the years.

Part of the reason, as I understand it, to seize the house was to deprivatize the beach, but now the state rents the houses to state employees and bars the public from going down there. Doesn't that burn your biscuits?

The kids were excited to see this! The man was reeling it in just as we came back down to the beach.
Here he is giving it a push back into the ocean.
A sandy crab.

Bowden found a couple of ratty looking seagull feathers, which he used to try and fly with.

It didn't work.