JUNE 2017


#152 BizX

01 June 2017 // San Diego, California

I love how you never quite know where you’re going to find yourself at any given day. I was at work in the afternoon, when I discovered that I’d be going to a business networking event. I would be going because a chain of five other colleagues couldn’t make it, but I thought, what the heck, I’ll go.

I was a total fish out of water. Most of the people there were from a big money business world, and my first clue should’ve been the fact that the event rented out the Museum of Man and had free cocktails and hoer d’ouerves– shoutout to myself for actually doing more than just standing at the charcuterie board and eating all night long. I could’ve so easily done that.

Instead I got to meet a bunch of people from totally different walks of life, and I had a whole lot of fun doing so. Here are my three big tips for these sorts of networking events.

  • A pretty good tolerance to strong wine is an asset. Not everybody had that, and the pinot gris they were giving out by the door was a lot more potent than it looked.
  • Do everything in your power to not choke on prosciutto while networking. This will kill whatever good vibes you have built up. If you are working on a slice of prosciutto, it is better to hide in the corner and eat it secretly than to choke on it in front of your new connections.
  • Let the other people do most of the talking. This will show that you are interested, and you’ll get to actually eat a lot more charcuterie that way.

#153 Our Common Home

02 June 2017 // San Diego, California

My 9-to-5 job is to literally tell stories that show people how a better world is possible. That we get to build up our common home. To be honest, it often feels like there’s a pretty big gap in between the world we live in and the one I want.

This week was especially bad in that regard.

You probably heard about the terrorist attack in Portland last week. An angry man was threatening two Muslim teenage girls on the train. When a group of men intervened, he killed two of them and badly injured the third. That makes me angry on a number of levels. The Portland MAX consistently brought me joy, and it’s strange to think of something so awful happening on board. Even worse is that I’d like to be the type of person who stands up for others, and it’s terrible knowing this is sometimes the result.

In the Philippines last night, a gunman shot and killed at least 36 people in a Manila Casino. That’s another incident that hits pretty close to home.

There were also recent attacks in Manchester, Baghdad, and Kabul– places a little less close to me, but incidents that were just as tragic.

The last words of one of the Portland victims were “tell everyone on this train I love them.” In a moment so full of hate, ugliness, tragedy, and death, came a string of words so beautiful that we all need to hear. Aren’t we all just passengers towards our own mortality needing a reminder that we are loved?

#154 Carlsbad Coast

03 June 2017 // Carlsbad, California

Enjoying just a little bit of calm before the storm of travel that takes over the rest of this month.

One of my favorite cities in the country (Chicago) and somewhere I’ve never been before (Tanzania)– what a great combo. I’m thankful that my life right now gives me both a home base and a good amount of opportunities to travel. I’m my best self when I get home and away in the right balance.

Lately I’ve been doing so much flashing back to some of the first international trips I took. I can just as strongly remember how fresh and new places like Australia or Turkey felt to me. It wasn’t just the place, but also that constant process of discovery and strong feeling of independence that made those trips so full of life.

You can’t quite recreate that magic, and you can never really take the same trip twice. That said, I’m feeling nice and ready to see somewhere new for the first time and to once again lose myself while exploring. That exhilaration never gets old.

#155 Point Loma Steeple

04 June 2017 // San Diego, California

Defying tradition sort of comes natural to me. I’ve always been drawn to the unconventional. I’m not offended by fusion food. I like music that doesn’t have a genre. I am much more interested about hearing how somebody has created their own career path doing something way out there than someone who excelled and accumulated wealth the tried and true way.

It’s kind of funny that when it comes to my faith, I go in the opposite direction. Maybe it’s cause growth often looks like going against your natural urges. 

When it comes to worship, I’ve come to appreciate church calendars, common prayers, and liturgies that go much further back than I do. It’s the awareness I often need that this whole thing is not about me. That’s not to say that one style of practice is better than another, but this is where my growth has been for the past five or so years.

Sure, there’s a level of taking personal ownership and application of your faith, but I also really need the reminder that God’s narrative doesn’t have me at the center of it. I have a little bit of time left on earth, during which, I need to be a good steward of his story and word for those who come after me.

#156 Deanna Starts Work

05 June 2017 // San Diego, California

Proud of Deanna, happy for Deanna. Today she started her new job with the Community Research Foundation in San Diego, doing pretty similar work to what she did in Eugene, only now with transition age youth.

You don’t need to know Deanna as well as I do to know that she’s gonna totally rock this new job. And by rock it, I mean she’ll be changing and probably even saving more lives than anyone will realize, because that’s what she does.

#157 Turkey Ciabatta Sandwich

06 June 2017 // San Diego, California

Mission 22: Keep it simple, but make a really good sandwich.

The Results: Start with ciabatta bread- and it doesn’t take much to take it off from there. A bit of japanese mayo and pesto, some lettuce, sliced turkey breast, tomato and muenster. It took only a quick couple minutes to put together and it totally satisfied.

#158 Universal Harvester

07 June 2017 // San Diego, California

“Not everybody wants to get out and see the world. Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes you just want to figure out how to fit yourself into the world you already know.” 

–John Darnielle

Book No. 20 of 2017

It shouldn’t be the biggest surprise but John Darnielle’s novel actually has a lot of the same vibe as a Mountain Goats song. I do think he is one of the most crafty songwriters, and so when his novels started getting heavy acclaim, I decided I needed to pick up one of them.

Overall, I liked it. This book had a really fascinating premise of VHS Tapes accidentally being partially written over with cryptic and creepy pieces of footage. This random mystery works its way into the lives of the video store employees and other related characters who are all missing something in their life.

As bold as that premise is, this is also a really subtle book, and it gives you a pretty long leash to make inferences about the direction the story takes. I’m glad I read it.

⭐️ ⭐️⭐️

#159 Anniversary 5

08 June 2017 // San Diego, California

Well— today took me pretty much everywhere, from the office to an amazing dinner at Bo + Beaux to a serene gondola ride in East Asia via virtual reality to where I am now, which is on board my flight to Chicago.

As exciting as all that is, it's all overshadowed by a certain milestone: Deanna and I have been dating for five years.

Of course we've since upgraded our status to married, but I never want to stop celebrating this anniversary as well. It profoundly made my life better and it's been growing me and inspiring me ever since.

Happy five years, hun. Thanks for filling them up with so many happy thoughts and moments.

#160 The Justice Conference: Day One

09 June 2017 // South Barrington, Illinois

Day One of the Justice Conference in the books.

I've mostly been posted up at the Plant With Purpose table, saying hi to people, and only got the chance to see bits and pieces of the speakers, and this.

Mariela Shaker is a fantastic violinist from Aleppo, who has survived unthinkable things. Knowing that added more music to the music, and her song was what resonated most in a room full of words. Hearing her play was incredible.

#161 The Justice Conference: Day Two

10 June 2017 // South Barrington, Illinois

“When we seek to love our neighbors, we cannot separate it from the systems in which they reside.”

“Our idolization of comfort and security will stop us from entering into other communities unlike our own.”

–Jenny Yang

The second day of the Justice Conference totally rocked. There were a lot of people who were only able to make one day of the conference, and we got to see a lot of new faces at the Plant With Purpose table and start some great conversations about environmental justice.

I also had a chance to run in to hear some speakers for a bit, and I think I did so at just the right time.

I caught the trifecta of Jeremy Courtney, Sandra Van Opstal, and Jenny Yang. Each of them had such compelling, challenging talks, and powerful reminders about standing alongside the marginalized.

Interestingly, in a conference of speakers two of the most powerful moments of the conference happened without many words. There was Mariela Shaker’s moving violin performance the previous day. Then there was Ann Voskamp literally giving up her seat at a panel citing "too much talking from people of privilege."

#162 Chicago Heat

11 June 2017 // Chicago, Illinois

Yeahhh- I’m not really one for these really hot days. My last day in Chicago kind of disagreed. I had to cope by trying to spend the night one foot away from a fan and by chasing down an order of Italian beef. The latter didn’t do much to help with the heat, but I love these sandwiches.

Despite being temperature challenged, I’m loving the summertime overall. My bigger travels have already happened, I think, but late nights with sours, taking advantage of the ocean next door, cookout recipes, road trip playlists, weekend camping trips, and early evening hangouts are still on deck. I’m loving this.

#163 Planes in Phoenix

12 June 2017 // Phoenix, Arizona

Another day, another layover. And apparently I’m crossing paths with John McCain at the Phoenix airport too. Ha.

It’s no secret I love to travel. And no matter how physically tiring a trip might be, I usually come back emotionally recharged and happy to take on my ordinary life again all the more thankful for it.

I’m thankful that I get to have a life where home-and-away can be in pretty good balance. I get to go to some interesting places and meet incredible people, to collect stories I’ll tell for forever, and to scratch the itch for adventure. Then I get to come back home to a life I love surrounded by people I’m thankful I always get to return to. I used to wonder if I’d ever hit a point where I’d have to compromise my need for a home base or my need for a long leash. I don’t take it for granted that not everybody has that, and I’m so grateful that I do.

#164 The Classy Skies

13 June 2017 // San Diego, California

Pretty much halfway through the year.

At the beginning of 2017, it was pretty tough to set goals or make plans. I was a free agent- looking for work and expecting to move cities, except I didn’t even know what city to really anticipate planning my life around.

I basically started with one goal– find a job. I wasn’t even necessarily thinking along the lines of a dream job- just something to help pay the bills, that could hold things together while I started to work on chasing a dream.

That goal was accomplished, and then some. Months later, I’d be standing on Mt. Kilimanjaro at a job that could not be a better fit for my skills, my interests, and what I want to do long term. I also wound up in San Diego, which has been a good fit as a new-but-old home.

I’m thankful- and we’ve still got half a year left- and as my goal for the remainder of the year, I’m ready to push even harder into making this place home. It’s been a long time since I’ve lived in a place without also knowing the day I’d move out, and I’m ready to make this place more of a home than I’ve ever had.

#165 Bicol Express

14 June 2017 // San Diego, California

Mission 24: Bicol Express is a coconut pork dish from the region of Bicol, and it’s got one of my favorite names for a Filipino dish–probably because it sounds more like a hipster café that serves the dish than the food itself. Yasmin Newman had a pretty simple looking recipe for it, so I decided to give it a shot.

The Results: I like what came out- I had to be really careful with these chili peppers since they were strong, but I like the way they went with the pork and the coconut. I’ll likely give this another shot in the near future- using pork shoulder rather than pork belly to cut out some of the fat.

#166 The Enneagram Advantage

15 June 2017 // San Diego, California

“Most of us wouldn’t ordinarily think of going to work every day as a spiritual exercise, yet our patters are constantly triggered by the job and the people around us. Once you know your type, you may become increasingly aware of times when your habit engages.”

–Helen Palmer

Book No. 21 of 2017

I greet most personality tests and profiles with a fair amount of skepticism, and the same was initially true with the enneagram, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it’s been one of the most helpful tools for allowing me to better understand my strengths and weaknesses and all that.

I’m pretty much the epitome of a type seven, and one thing stood out in this book that I hadn’t really heard from other enneagram resources before– to me, things change very quickly. You blink and suddenly everything’s different. Perceiving everything as fleeting guides me to make most decisions from a 30,000 foot view, wanting to squeeze in as much significant experiences as possible, wanting to have everything in order so I can take a deeper breath and take in a moment slower.

Thanks for the self-discovery, Helen Palmer.


#167 IAD Layover

16 June 2017 // Washington, District of Columbia

I was pretty thrilled to see that my D.C. layover was a full 15 hours- 8pm until 11am the next day.

That's not a sleep-in-the-airport kinda layover. It's the get-out, take-a-shower, sleep-properly, get-stuff-at-Target-you-forgot kind.

Huge thanks to Evan and Jesse for letting me crash a night. Deanna and I will have to visit you two soon and stay longer than a handful of hours.

#168 Addis Layover

14 June 2017 // Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Made it to some African soil. Yes! Fourth trip to Africa over the past five years, and I'm pretty happy with that rate.

Flying into the Addis Ababa airport made me pretty interested in going to see Ethiopia someday. The surprisingly familiar looking cityscape, the dusty haze over the city, the really good coffee. But that's another adventure for some other time- not this one.

Instead, it was a good chance to people-watch all the teams of volunteers and missionaries on their layovers in all their matching shirts- "Love Alive Malawi" or "Tanzania 2017." Between that and long, multi-part customs lines, African airports and Disneyland have way more in common than you'd expect.

#169 Tanzania Arrived

15 June 2017 // Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

After I landed at the Kilimanjaro Intl Airport, I hopped in the van waiting for me and set out for the hour and a half drive to our lodge.

I wish I could say I was amazed by the sights along the way. The scenes. The nature. The people. I wasn't. I mean, I'm sure they were lovely, but I knocked out within minutes of hopping in the van.

By the time I got to the lodge, I was pretty out of it, but the staff immediately greeted me with a hot towel and cherry juice.

For some reason I'd been telling myself that my arrival time was in the evening, like 7. I actually was way off and got in around noon. That left more time in the day to slog through before sleep, but I got to spend it hanging out with Corbyn and Katrina before the rest of the team got here.

#170 Kilimanjaro Day Hike

16 June 2017 // Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

One big bucket list item for me has been climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. I got to partially cross it off with a day hike.

The mountain was beautiful- for several parts of the hike, it reminded me of Oregon with its lush soil and rich greens. Then the landscape would change drastically. Yosemite-like meadows with tall grass and open patches. Then monkeys. Red dirt.

I’d love to come back someday and do the whole mountain. This and/or Fuji are climbs I’d love to have accomplished someday. But they’re super expensive and take a good amount of time, so I’m happy with a partially crossed off bucket list item for the time being.

#171 A Very Warm Welcome

17 June 2017 // Moshi-Marungi, Tanzania

We were driving from the Tanzania office to the Farmer Field School, where for the first time, I would get to meet and see our participants in the setting where they learn farming skills.

I was mid-conversation and just stopped. I literally said wow. On both sides of the minibus were farmers, mostly women, in bright orange shirts waving leaf fronds in the air, shouting and yodeling and singing loudly.

We turned and drove up the road they were flanking, they followed behind and continued to serenade us loudly, returning our smiles and increasing in energy.

The bus stopped and dropped us off at the middle of a party. It wasn't long before we went from buckled up to holding hands with them in a dance circle and trying to pick up on the Swalhili tunes.

The warmth of the welcome only grew when I learned that they skipped a Market Day to be with us- that's where they sell their goods to bring in an income and a much harder sacrifice than just a little PTO. But I would never know if I wasn't told.

I don't think I've ever been welcomed anywhere this enthusiastically.

#172 Homestay

18 June 2017 // Rombo, Tanzania

A real big thank you to this family for hosting us for a night. Christina, Cornelius, Cornelius Jr, Eve, Precious, and Mary- this was a home stay I won't forget! You all have such generous hearts.

Also, thanks for letting us help with dinner. Definitely a new experience.

#173 Tanzanian Karibu

19 June 2017 // Siha, Tanzania

Andddd it happened again. We drove into the community of Rombo and were greeted with another wave of shouts and cheers and singing in one joyful, unified voice. I’d never experienced any greeting like it, except the day before.

There are no words, really, to describe what it feels like when you are welcomed and received and celebrated like this. At least not in English.

Karibu is one of the first words a visitor will learn, and it’s Swahili for welcome. But it means so much more than that. It’s reflected in the attitudes and warmth and hospitality of the locals towards a total newcomer. It means welcome, but it also says something more along the lines of– HEY! We are thrilled out of our minds that you’re here!

My new goal is to be a karibu sort of person to people I’m around. If I can make them feel half as happy as this village made me feel, then yeah, life would be amazing.

#174 Lionness

20 June 2017 // Ngorongoro, Tanzania

I feel like we beat the odds on this safari and scored some unusually up-close lion encounters. So very Planet Earth.

First, there was the one resting right by the side of the road after a kill. She decided to recoup right in the shade of our jeep, while we stared 100 meters away to see if she would notice the gazelle about to cross her path.

Then, there were the two lions we got to watch… mate. I don’t know what the likelihood was of us running into that when we entered the park, but I imagine it was pretty narrow.

#175 A Parting Shot

21 June 2017 // Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Our whole trip we struggled to get a good view of Mt. Kilimanjaro. I mean, we spent a whole day on the mountain, but it was a total forest-for-the-trees situation. When we were far enough away to see it, it was usually obscured by thick clouds.

I wanted to get a proper shot before I left, so I had to make do with my limited resources– a Kilimanjaro Lager beer can.

Now I’m writing these words from the airplane (probably posting after I’ve already touched down).

So much happened this week in Tanzania. More photos and stories remain. It feels like I spent two months here. It feels like I spent two days here. It was that kind of trip. I am so thankful for my job and where I get to work and the people I get to work with. Here’s what has me inspired to go back.

Knowing that what I do at my day job has such a profound impact for so many people will give me even more motivation to show up to work excited.

Having seen my Tanzanian friends be so industrious and creative inspires me to try to make the most of what I have, and to work to be fruitful and to have more to give.

The warm welcome I’ve received inspires me to be the kind of person who always lets people know I’m happy they’re around.

#176 The Aunts Who Feed

25 June 2017 // Carson, California

One of the biggest motivating factors for moving back to SoCal was to be closer to my aunts again.

We finally got to pay them a visit right after I got back from Tanzania, and it was just like old times. AKA lots of good food.

#177 The Packing District

26 June 2017 // Anaheim, California

As one part of our week of anniversary celebrating, we went to the Anaheim Packing District to find good things to eat. Sawleaf FTW.

Then, to celebrate Harry Potter’s 20th anniversary, we contemplated going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter but balked at the price. Instead, we found a Hogwarts themed escape room and killed it.

#178 Two Year Anniversary

27 June 2017 // San Diego, California

I made it home in time to celebrate TWO YEARS of us being married!

Year two was a crazy one, but I'll be surprised if I'm not ultimately able to say that about all the years of our marriage. Finishing grad school, moving, both of us starting new jobs, it's been a lot of change. Mostly good changes but still big changes.

What doesn't change? We have so much fun together. And we eat good food.

Thank you for being the one who I get to live this life with, Deanna - we're still learning a lot too, but I'm glad we get to do that together.

#179 Homesick for Another World

28 June 2017 // San Diego, California

“You could hear your own heart beating if you listened. I loved it, or at least I thought I ought to love it - I've never been very clear on that distinction.”

–Ottessa Moshfegh

Book No. 22 of 2017

I don’t read a whole lot of short story collections, but I’d heard good things about Homesick for Another World, and from what I’ve heard about Moshfegh, she seemed like the sort of writer I might get into.

The way the stories were written were very good. Unfortunately, the stories themselves for the most part didn’t quite capture my interest. A few too many of them were extremely similar, and while disgust is meant to be a major emotional theme, there either wasn’t much beyond that or it was a bit too obscured.


#180 The Best We Could Do

29 June 2017 // San Diego, California

“How much of ME is my own, and how much is stamped into my blood and bone, predestined? I used to imagine that history had infused my parents’ lives with the dust of a cataclysmic explosion. That it had seeped through their skin and become part of their blood. That being my father’s child, I, too, was a product of war… and being my mother’s child could never measure up to her. But maybe being their child simply means that I will always feel the weight of their past. Nothing that happened makes me special. But my life is a gift that is too great-a debt I can never repay.”

–Thi Bui

Book No. 23 of 2017

A reading goal of mine this year was to pick up more graphic novels. Thi Bui’s illustrated memoir helps show how wide-ranging that medium is.

Her story, really her family’s story of coming to the U.S. was both epic, but extremely relatable. Her immigrant upbringing was even set in San Diego, making it very easy to identify with. It wasn’t embellished, simply really well told, on the cusp of her own children being born.  

⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️

#181 The Next Worship

30 June 2017 // San Diego, California

“Worship should be expressive and formative. The aim of corporate worship is not individual expression but communal formation of faith. We should practice authenticity and desire transformative worship experiences. Worship should stretch us to rehearse truths while our feelings catch up with us.”

–Sandra Maria Van Opstal

Book No. 24 of 2017

I picked up this book at The Justice Conference after hearing Van Opstal speak- actually she was probably my favorite speaker. While this book primarily focuses on corporate musical worship, something that I don’t interact with a whole lot beyond as a participant, I still found this book to be extremely helpful.

Van Opstal really does a good job refuting ethnocentrism- no matter what your background or worship style, it’s an ethnic style. There is no “normal” and we need to always check our assumptions about how everyone is “different” in relation to us. PB&J is ethnic food, after all.

For anyone involved in church worship or leadership, I would heavily recommend this as a resource full of ideas on how to help a church grow in the area of diversity. It’s not just a good thing to have, it’s impossible to be a church that reflects a God of all cultures without it.

⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️

Philippe Lazaro365