Tuesday, December 26, 2006


We had a great Christmas. More pictures will follow.

Being Grandpa

I've been spending a lot of time with Jedi lately, teaching him the ways of the force... Here are some of the latest pictures

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

UP Ice Caves

I found this picture while I was sorting through some old papers. It is from an outing our church in upper MI took out to the ice caves on day after worship in the 1980's.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Grandpa's Birthday

I celebrated my birthday a day early this year with Melia, Micah, Lily, Jedi and Peter. We had a great dinner at the Hickory Pit and then went for a walk in to see Christmas in the Park in downtown San Jose. The displays were corny as usual - but we had a good time being together. Tomorrow Micah and I will be going out to see the new Mel Gibson movie. Many cards have come in from friends, family and folks from church.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

More Birthday photos

Here are some more pictures - I got a great shot of everyone watching the birthday girl.

Lily's Birthday

Lily turned 2 on Nov. 25! In the first picture she is holding up two fingers and telling us that she is two years old. She was very aware that the party was for her. She just glowed when we sang, "Happy Birthday to Lily". Opening presents was a great new adventure for Lily - she tried to very carefully and daintily unwrap each gift as we cheered her on and tried to encourage her just to rip off the wrappings. I was so happy that we could have the party with my parents, Jeff and Veronica and Veronica's mom. Lily says she really likes, "sesents" read presents. I got her a tricycle and she got lots of clothes and a big pink ball - Everything, including the cake, was very Elmo...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Back home

I had an awesome time on my travels and I think I am finally starting to sense some healing in my life. I had a very restful healing time both in Missouri and Florida and spent a day in Georgia. I had a lot of time to read, reflect and pray. I am grieving still and I'm sure that will be part of my life for a long time, but I am feeling more confident that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I am beginning to believe that I can be at peace and enjoy life again. Holidays are still pretty tough. I had a wonderful time with just my sons. We went for a bike ride and had a great dinner.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Dave and Debbie have been so kind and gracious to open their home and let me have space to read and pray. They live in a pretty little town and are right across the street from their church. This is a picture of their backyard. The picture does not do it justice - but will give a sense of the serenity and beauty that surround me. I am feeling very rested. I have a sense of healing and peace that I haven't experienced in a long time.

Great visit with Rich

I had a really great visit with Rich. Here he is out front of the church. Rich is doing a wonderful job as pastor. It was a joy to be with him, see the church and meet some folks from his flock.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Fish Stories in Assville Missouri

I'm in Missouri visiting Rich Williams. We went fishing today or I should say I went fishing while Rich sat on a log and read a book. We drove about 50 miles to a recommended fishing hole only to find out that it was closed to fishing until next week!
We found another spot where I caught 4 very small fish. On the way back we saw this sign that we just had to photograph. We just couldn't believe that there was a town called, "Assville". I had to stop and take a picture. While taking the picture I realized that the sign originally said, "Cassville", but someone crossed out the C.

Later we got back to Neosho and Rich suggested that I try fishing in a little creek near his house. Third cast I caught this wonderful 10 - 12" rainbow trout - I had to throw it because they have to be 15" to keep, but it was a great finish to a fun day. Sometimes the best things are found in your own backyard...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Las Vegas Nights

Of all places to have a church conference! Las Vegas! We had a great time and learned a lot - we learned that you should not hold Church conferences in LV....

A few more Lily pictures -

Lily and Natalie -

Does this remind you of Lily?

When I was at the Transforming Church conference in LV, an artist was painting pictures while the speakers were talking - this one reminded me of Lily -

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Challenging and disturbing poem

Here is challenging and disturbing poem I heard on The Writer's Almanac. I don't know the author - but I can't shake this poem. Check out http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org and get the pod cast!


Poem: "Hard Rain" by Tony Hoagland from Hard Rain: A Chapbook.

Hard Rain

After I heard It's a Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
played softly by an accordion quartet
through the ceiling speakers at the Springdale Shopping Mall,
I understood there's nothing
we can't pluck the stinger from,

nothing we can't turn into a soft drink flavor or a t-shirt.
Even serenity can become something horrible
if you make a commercial about it
using smiling, white-haired people

quoting Thoreau to sell retirement homes
in the Everglades, where the swamp has been
drained and bulldozed into a nineteen-hole golf course
with electrified alligator barriers.

You can't keep beating yourself up, Billy
I heard the therapist say on television
to the teenage murderer,
About all those people you killed—
You just have to be the best person you can be,

one day at a time—

and everybody in the audience claps and weeps a little,
because the level of deep feeling has been touched,
and they want to believe that
the power of Forgiveness is greater
than the power of Consequence, or History.

Dear Abby:
My father is a businessman who travels.
Each time he returns from one of his trips,
his shoes and trousers
are covered with blood-
but he never forgets to bring me a nice present;
Should I say something?
Signed, America.

I used to think I was not part of this,
that I could mind my own business and get along,

but that was just another song
that had been taught to me since birth—

whose words I was humming under my breath,
as I was walking through the Springdale Mall.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

PandA Party

Peter and Amber both have birthdays in October, so we have a joint birthday party every year. Peter has gotten into country western music this last year, so I bought him a cowboy hat for his 32nd birthday.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Blogs are really for Grandparents

I just decided that Blogs are really all about Grandparents bragging about their wonderful grandchildren. Here are some pictures of Lily in her Elmo suit - that was too small and we had to return. Jedi in his bear suit (he came with his own bare suit). And Lily in the new toy I bought myself, so I can pull Lily and Jedi (when he is older) behind my bike.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Great New/Old Puppet Show

Micah Mann performed the debut of the rebuilt version of the old National Puppet Theatre version of Hansel and Gretel at the Arts and Olive Festival in Redwood City - He did and awesome job - the crowd cheered! It was too windy for the masking and we could watch Micah work the puppets. I was quite impressed when he used his foot to swing over a hook off that was facing the wrong direction - Imagine a puppet in each hand and a foot rising to relocate a hook off - only a veteran puppeteer would appreciate the beauty of that move and envy the guy who could do it with grace.

check out their new web site with new videos at www.nationalpuppets.com

Friday, September 29, 2006

News Letter Article

Dear Church,

I have really been enjoying preaching on the Six Great Purposes of the Church. The Great Purposes, also known as the Great Ends of the Church, are a six mission statements for the Presbyterian Church USA. They were adopted around 1908 and even though the language is a bit old fashioned the direction they point us to is still valid and relevant to the church in today's world.

Preaching on the Six Great Purposes reminded me that the church is not the building and that worship is not about the people up front on Sundays like the pastor, choir or worship team. The church is made up of people who are called to follow Jesus. The worship service is about God and for God. One of the goals of the 2006 vision is increased involvement in worship and prayer. My prayer during my sabbatical is that WPC worship attendance is better than ever and that the ministry of Westminster continues to forward and grow in serving God and reaching out to our community as we equip believers to answer the call of God on their lives. I 'm so thankful for the great leadership of our session and support staff and their willingness to help make my sabbatical a reality. Please pray for them and support them in my absence. I will miss you all and look forward to returning renewed and refreshed in February.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Lily Movie

I received this video in my email today and thought you might enjoy it. Click on the title of this entry


Monday, August 28, 2006

Radical Sabbatical Oct. 23, 2006 - Feb. 4, 2007

Westminster has a policy that pastors be entitled to a sabbatical their eighth year of employment. I find it hard to believe that eight years have past since I made the move from Los Angeles to San Jose. On June 7, 1998, I signed the terms of call and officially began as pastor of Westminster on August 1st, 1998. These last eight years have been wonderfully full of energy, enthusiasm, love, and joy. I have found Jesus to be very present in our common life together at WPC. I feel so blessed and privileged to serve, to follow, to laugh and to weep with the part of the Body of Christ that meets on the corner of Shasta and the Alameda. When my life was hit with tragedy, I was so thankful to be part of such a strong loving church.

The sabbatical is not in the nature of vacation, but rather is intended for career development and personal growth and is considered to be part of a Pastoral Staff member's job duties. I am looking forward to a time of rest and renewal, study and growth.

Rev. Nancy Schell and Rev. Judy Joy have graciously agreed to serve as co-pastors during the sabbatical. They are currently working with the personnel committee toward a division of responsibilities. They will work as a team, but will provide care and leadership for different areas of the church. Rev. Judy Joy will be returning to Westminster in October.

I encouraged the church to support and pray for Nancy and Judy as they take on extra duties during these months. I'm so glad to have such a great staff and I know the church will be in good hands. I have every confidence the church will continue to move forward in the vision God has given us. There is a momentum at Westminster that has little to do with me and everything to do with members catching the vision and moving forward in the things of God.

Sunday, October will be my last Sunday in worship before the sabbatical. My sabbatical will begin October 23, when I return from the 2006 Transforming Church Conference. I will return on February 4, 2007. I'm hoping and believing that the sabbatical will a time of rest and renewal to prepare me to enjoy many more good years of ministry at WPC.

Sabbatical Main Focus:
A time for personal and spiritual retreat and renewal. Oct. 23, 2006 - Feb. 4, 2007

Sabbatical Plan:
• Meeting weekly with a spiritual director for direction and reflection.
• Journaling and writing.
• Reading books about preaching, personal spirituality.
• Planning 12 months of preaching
Ecclesiastes 3

There is an appointed time for everything.
And there is a time for every event under heaven-

A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

One more camping picture

Just a few moments before we caught the trout!

required reading material for all SFTS grads

Church Camping Trip

I had a great time on the church camping trip. One day I caught two really nice trout.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Could this be Sunday?

Here is a poem from the Writer's Almanac. It is a very cool PBS show that you can subscribe to as a podcast. I have a link to it on my sidebar. Any way - it is about a poetry reading gone bad. But I wondered if it might not also apply to some Sunday morning sermons....

Poem: "A Reading" by Wendy Cope from If I Don't Know. © Faber and Faber.

A Reading

Everybody in this room is bored.
The poems drag, the voice and gestures irk.
He can't be interrupted or ignored.

Poor fools, we came here of our own accord
And some of us have paid to hear this jerk.
Everybody in the room is bored.

The silent cry goes up, 'How long, O Lord?'
But nobody will scream or go berserk.
He won't be interrupted or ignored.

Or hit by eggs, or savaged by a horde
Of desperate people maddened by his work.
Everybody in the room is bored,

Except the poet. We are his reward,
Pretending to indulge in his every quirk.
He won't be interrupted or ignored.

At last it's over. How we all applaud!
The poet thanks us with a modest smirk.
Everybody in the room was bored.
He wasn't interrupted or ignored.

Monday, July 24, 2006

What Every Jedi Needs

Right after Jedi came home, Micah ran out to Toys"R"Us to be sure that he had some basic Jedi equipment and supplies on hand. You know, light sabers, Darth Vader Helmut - the important things that every Jedi needs.

Return of the Jedi

Here are a couple of Jedi pictures. They are from July 4th - I'll post some new ones soon

My Life Chart

Friday, July 21, 2006

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I've been told that there is a certain prayer that God loves to hear and answer. I know that prayer well and I think you might know it too. But, for a long time, that has been my only prayer- "God, please, help me". There are times when life hurts so bad that we can't seem to find words for our prayers. Sometimes we are not even sure what to pray for, but we know that we must pray. So we pray, "Help me."

A few days ago, in a moment of grief, I prayed my all too familiar prayer.

"God, please, help me".

In my heart I sensed God reply, "How would you like me to help you?"

This stopped me cold. I seriously pondered, just what am I asking God to do when I pray, "God, help me." What answer or miracle action am I expecting? Do I simply want the pain to go away? Do I want a miracle cure? Do I want a lightening bolt from heaven to direct my path? None of the above were quite right. It came down one thing and only one thing. My help me prayer was really asking, "God, please make it as if these things never happened." So I adjusted my prayer. I made it more specific. I told God what I meant and what I truly wanted.

"God, Please make it as if these things never happened."

This became my new prayer.

I didn't hear a voice. I didn’t need to hear a word. I heard the impossibility of my request as the plea left my lips. I pictured God sadly explaining that He doesn't usually do that sort of thing and I shouldn't get my hopes up.

That wasn't the answer I wanted. I was hoping for some cure, some eternal sunshine of the spotless mind. I wanted to find a company or service where a trained technician could carefully erase all memories of this hurt and disappointment from my mind and heart. So, it would seem as if these things had never happened. Or better yet, I wanted time turned back and history changed. Where were the experts who could make things better? Where is the all-powerful God who can do all things? Is there any help for me? How can I ever get over this and live my life as if this never happened? Reality Check: I can't and no one else can do it for me.

I am coming to accept that what I want is not possible. It is not possible for me to change the course of events that have brought me here. It is not possible to erase these memories from my heart and mind. It is not possible for the most enlightened doctor or therapist. Whether God can or could turn back time or erase memories, I don't know. But, I'm pretty sure that God doesn't to do this sort of thing.

Acceptance of the unacceptable is where I dwell. I can't keeping asking God to turn back time and make things as if this tragedy never happened. No matter how many more times I ask, it will never happen. God has great patience, but I'm fairly sure that after awhile my request to change history would become annoying- even for God.

Enter a new way of thinking: Could I search my heart and see if there are other things for which I could pray? Things I would want, even if I couldn't have what I really wanted. So I decided to try and make a list. I didn't think I would have much on my list. Really, was there anything else I would want if I couldn't reroute the course of history? When I finally sat down and started the list I was amazed at the things that poured out on the paper. I keep the list in my wallet and pull it out often when I can't find the words beyond, "God, help me".

Things I can pray for:

God, help me:

• To know you will and do your will.
• To get better rather than remain bitter.
• To heal my broken heart/life.
• To pray that Teri might be well and connected to God.
• To help me feel the pain and let it pass rather than get stuck obsessing about the past.
• To accept that the unacceptable has happened and no one can change it.
• To be a good and loving father and grandfather.
• To be a good pastor and preacher.
• To be close to God and have a hunger for God's word.
• To learn how to be alone without being lonely.
• To love and be loved.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Melia Summer Tour Updates

For the latest news on Melia's summer tour check out her Tour Blog at http://www.xanga.com/mannsmission or click on the title of this article.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Jeanne Fernandez

Jeanne Fernandez was found dead in her room last Saturday. Jeanne was the woman that Teri took care of for many months. I spoke with Jeanne a day or so before she died. We had a very deep and meaningful conversation. Jeanne had been ill for quite some time and her whole life revolved around doctors, medications and hospitals. There was little joy in her life. She called and told me that she had decided that she didn't have to be a victim to cancer. She realized that she could start getting out of her room, finding positive activities and live a meaningful life and give something back in spite of her physical problems. This was amazing for Jeanne because so much of her life revovled around being ill.

This is a picture of a small plant growing out of a crack in the sidewalk by the downtown bus station in San Jose. Jeanne saw this plant and asked me to take a picture of it for her. She said seeing the plant grow out of such a hard place was God's way of telling her that she could make it after she got out of jail a few years ago.

For Jeanne pain is over, sorrow has ended and she is rejoicing in the arms of Jesus.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Video chat with the Mann's

I got to talk with Melia, Micah and Lily via iChat. It was very cool. I even got to hear and see part of Melia's concert. Here are some snapshots:

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Melia Mann Show is On The Road

After two days of packing their trust VW van, Micah, Melia and Lily took off on Melia's US Summer Tour 2006. We prayed that God would use them as they make the pilgrimage to Cornerstone. Melia has some great gigs set up and who knows where God will lead them to play and share along the way. I bought at special camera for my computer so I can video chat with them as they travel. I needed to be sure that my granddaughter doesn't forget me while she is a way.

Clicking the title of this post and will take you to Melia's web site where you can click on 'calendar" to find her itinerary.

New Jedi video coming soon -

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Fishing Trip

Here are some pictures from the camping trip. We had a great time, but it was very very hot. We played cards and we all caught fish - and isn't that what camping is all about? Due to the heat we ended up at the movies everyday - which is not what camping is all about - but I was very happy that we could head off to the matinee when the temperature reached 100 plus every afternoon.

Aric and Abel will be off to Hawaii to visit their dad for the summer. They were a lot of fun this last week.

Even Peter caught a few fish. Peter had been feeling like he was under a curse because he hadn't caught any fish for the past few years - but he broke the spell this week!

We had a bit of excitement when the rangers came through and told the campers about a new rule that declared it was cruelty to trees to tie a clothesline on them. People started yelling at the rangers saying they had been camping at Clear Lake for over 15 years and never heard of such a thing. The rangers were very apologetic and said they were only carrying out orders from the new superintendent. You could tell the rangers were not happy and there were not many happy campers. We figured out that we could rig a clothesline around our cook tent and survived but it was sort of strange to ban clothes lines on trees at a lakeside campground. I don't think the trees really mind all that much

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

New Baby video

This a short quicktime video of Jediah - click to play
Jediah Video

Jediah Norman arrived last night

It has been a crazy couple of days around the Norman house. Sunday night Kimberly and Micah came over to visit and Kimberly was not feeling well. They were thinking of going to the hospital the next day, but ended up going in at about 10:30 PM that night. Kimberly had severe swelling and was eventual diagnosed with preeclampsia. The doctors decided to induce labor. Kimberly was very brave and wonderful and Micah was a great coach and took good care of Kimberly. By Tuesday at around 7 PM Kimberly was having strong contractions but Jediah's heart rate was slowing. The doctors felt that it was becoming to hard for Jediah, so they opted for a C-section. Micah went along and stayed with Kimberly during the operation. Sometime soon after 8 PM Jediah entered the world four weeks premature weighing 3 lbs and 10 oz. Praise God for a wonderfully beautiful baby boy. Kimberly was doing well afterwards and her family all gathered around to see her and Jediah. Micah, Melia and Lily Mann were there to welcome Jediah.