MUSIC, LEADERSHIP, CULTURE… and humor (sometimes)

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On Kind Words

Hey Everybody,

It’s been forever and a day since my last post.  This blog is not dead.  It just woke up from hibernation like a bear in winter.  A very long, cold winter.  A very long, cold winter in Antarctica.  Which is pretty much winter all year long.  So now we’re moving out of Antarctica and moving into Southern California.  Which is where I live now. . . shall I go on?

Just a quick thought about kind words.

Funerals are sad, we can all agree on that right?  You know what makes funerals doubly sad?  The fact that the kind words and eulogies given will never be heard by the person who passed away.  The tragedy of “I never got a chance to say . . . ” is an absolute killer.

Going-away parties, last-day-at-work parties, etc are also pretty sad.  A lot of “I have always wanted to tell you this but … ” and “I wish we got to know each other…” or “I think you’re super hot” are kind words that almost sting when you consider the possibility that they might have meant a lot more had they been shared before you ever mentioned leaving!  (Side note: I also feel incredibly awkward when some of the parting words get a little out of hand.  Things like, “You were always my favorite” or “You single-handedly changed my life forever” or “You complete me” are never as much fun to hear when they feel like desperate euphemisms for “Sorry I never gave you the time of day.  Like ever.”  Just for the record, I have never heard these words said to me before so no harm done.  Phew!)

It’s unfortunate that we often save our kindest, best words for when it is almost (or is) too late.  There’s no harm in looking at the people who mean something to you square in the eye once in a while to let them know that they freakin’ rock. I think this is one of many things we could do right away to make this world a better place.

So tell me: What are some “parting words” you heard that made you feel ridiculous?  On the converse, what are some in-the-moment-when-it-matters words you heard that totally breathed new life into you? 


we’re moving again. thank you mexico. getting ready for The OC.

**this post is to inform those of you who have been journeying with us this past year and to avoid confusion going forward!**

we are moving back to Orange County, CA on September 22!

this has come to pass through a series of events and realizations but we couldn’t be happier and we couldn’t be more sad, either!

you see, we spent this past year here in Mexico City wondering if we’d ever love this place like we did our previous homes in different countries.  we have been stretched beyond our normal capacities, been at the brink of giving up (many times), and have had our patience tested more than ever. . . yet, here we are now, preparing to move and feeling unexpectedly grateful for our time here.  we have made new lifelong friendships and have been transformed (for the better) — again.  we have experienced a taste of heaven in a place that once felt like purgatory.

we have witnessed miracles here, especially in our team’s work against Human Trafficking.  we were part of the final renovations in the safe house for young victims of trafficking when we first arrived and have since been doing life with the house’s first 5 girls in the last 5 months.  we have seen life change happen week to week at The Well in conjunction with many painful setbacks and obvious spiritual attacks.

we helped build and develop a cafe in Coyoacan, a key public square in Mexico City where people from all walks of life intersect.

we facilitated the first Justice NOW in Mexico City to mobilize local churches to get involved in the fight against Trafficking.  450 people came out to the inaugural gathering, many made decisions to volunteer and give of their time and resources to make a difference.  an army was raised and darkness was pierced, so much so that the darkness tried to make an audible peep that night in the form of extremely inappropriate noise . . .which we now consider affirmation of our work.  the light was too much to handle and this audible manifestation was a desperate last-second attempt to try to ruin whatever good was taking place.  pretty amazing stuff (ask me about it)!

our view on Church and working in a vocational capacity at church was in some ways renewed and affirmed during our time here.  which leads to why and how we’re coming back to Southern California.

last winter, we made a visit to California during the holiday season and had some important conversations about our calling. i began to think about my calling.  what was it?  i thought at one point it was music and vocational ministry.

and at the end of the day, it still is.

around May of this year, i started to come back around to the thought of my calling, which is very much related to gifting, passion and energy matrix (FLOW, baby).  i realized that i am one of the few (and together, many) people around the world who are actually made to do music within and through a ministerial context.

i am going to rejoin the staff at Newsong Irvine and this time i am doing so with:

  • a greater sense of confidence that this is indeed who i am and where I’m supposed to be
  • a perfect knowledge of the fact that i am also not limited by my vocation.  the sky is the limit.
  • a realization that this is what i want, what gets me excited, and where i’m most effective
  • the conclusion that my time in Mexico was necessary in order to bring me to this place of complete assurance and maturity
  • a determination to grow and get “better” at what I already feel I’m good at
  • the resolve that justice work and “missional” living will always be what we do no matter where we are.  it’s who we are.
  • and more . . .

Another key component of our move this time is this:

for the first time ever in our marriage, we have a sense of peace in putting our roots down and building a home in a place for longer than 2 years!  we are so incredibly excited for what’s to come!

thanks for reading and continually journeying with me and my family!


New Thoughts: Whether You Like it or Not, You’re a Missionary

I don’t like calling myself a missionary because that makes it weird for everyone else. 

I may live in a country that’s foreign to me (Mexico), receive monthly financial support from a generous group of friends and donors, and send out a monthly newsletter update– but that doesn’t make me a missionary.

In fact, I rather hate calling myself a missionary. Some people like it and love including that title in their introductions to strangers.  In my humble opinion, you might as well say “Hi, I am going to convert you.  Want to be my friend?” or imagine an undercover cop who finally reaches the mafia kingpin only to ruin everything by saying “Hi, I’m an undercover cop.  Kill me now.”

I don’t like calling myself a missionary because that makes it weird for everyone else. 

What about the person who wants to make movies but can’t because of a major lack of resources?  What about the girl who has a dream to become a dancer and train under one of the best instructors in Europe, but needs a little communal boost to get there?  What about the dude with a great, game-changing business idea that could really benefit from seed money?  What about you?  Could you use some help right now?

I don’t like calling myself a missionary because somehow that implies that what I am doing and what I want to do is more important and more “sacred” than what you are doing or pursuing.

Well, the truth is that whether you like it or not, you’re a missionary. 

It’s because you have a purpose in life and you have dreams.  You’re supposed to do all that you can to fulfill that very thing on your heart and contribute your version of beauty to this broken world.

You have a mission.

You’re a missionary.

Entonces . . . You should be supported in the ways that I am right now.  You should be validated and affirmed in ways that only a dedicated community of believers (in you) can.  The church missionary budget should allocate some funds to you.  You should have access to a list of supporters who have committed themselves to journey with you on your mission and ensure that you reach your God-given pursuit.

“But aren’t missionaries supposed to evangelize and win souls for Jesus?”

I think Jesus was a better friend than he was an “evangelist”.  That was His mission. “Winning souls” has very little to do with talk and more to do with being the best, most honest version of you intersecting with that person who simply wants to be whole.

“Missionaries are also the ones who are supposed to be compassionate and help people and villages in need. . . “

. . . and so is every one else.  Don’t be dumping the burden (and privilege) of simple care on someone who moves to a different country.

At the end of the day, the term “missionary” is just a label.  Maybe it helps some to carry that label to feel distinguished or focused.  For others, it helps them to give generously since their money is going towards “holy” work.  Still others out there enjoy the fact that they don’t carry such a title since it lets them off the hook.

Well, everything we do is holy and sacred.  Every one of us has a responsibility to our fellow man.  We all have dreams in and for the world.  We’re all “missionaries” because we all have something that we’re supposed to carry out with all our mind, heart, and soul.

Whether you like it or not, you’re a missionary. . . and you need to be supported like one. 

What’s in a Name?

When I was a freshman at the what is widely considered to be the Harvard of the West Coast I checked out this campus organization and got into a rather lengthy conversation with one of the leaders.  He was a cool enough guy and I thought that if I were to return to the group, I’d have a friend who could help me ease into the cliques and feel at home . . . so that I could eventually form my own clique.  You know how that works right?

The following week, I went back and was happy to see my new buddy.  I said, “Hey ——!  What’s up?”

His response: “Oh… hey!  Oh man, what was your name again?”

Me: “I thought we were friends!  We talked for a while last week.  Remember that?  I practically poured out my heart in those 10 minutes.  OK, maybe I didn’t but at least I cared enough to remember your name.  Forget this, I’m outta here, fool!”

I really said that to him.  In my mind.  In any case, I never returned to that group.

I don’t know why it’s such a big deal to me but it drives a stake in my heart whenever a person forgets my name, especially after we have any sort of meaningful conversation or interaction.

Let me be the first to say, however, that I’m not much better myself.  I have introduced myself to people in the past who have politely (and sometimes angrily) informed me that this is the 3rd time I’m meeting them.  Ouch.

There’s this somewhat influential leader that I have met about 5 times (no exaggeration).  Each time he smiles and tells me “nice to meet you, DK.”  Well, obviously it’s not nice enough since it’s about the millionth time we’re meeting, jerk.  (Just kidding. I would never say this.  I would only think it.)  Seriously though, he has no recollection of our meeting, ever.  50 first dates style.  Maybe it’s because all Asian DK’s look the same. 

I’ve been thinking about this lately and I’m sharing this with you now because I realized that a friendship doesn’t really start until you know (and remember) a person’s name.  Why?  It’s because everything and everyone we value has a name.

We choose to remember a person’s name because we see or choose to see value in that person. .  . or sometimes they have a name like Gunther and it’s pretty dang hard to forget.

When was the last time you cared to know the name of a person who had nothing to offer you except their friendship?

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m a horrible listener.  How horrible you ask?

Well, for starters, I slept my way through college.  One minute I’d be wide awake in lecture, excited that my determination to stay awake is proving to be powerful and effec— whaa??  When did I leave this drool puddle on my desk?  Where did everybody go?  Who’s that teacher up in front?

Story of my life. 

A few years later I married the love of my life.  We lay in bed on certain nights to talk, sharing stories and reviewing our day when all of a sudden, I’m being asked something like, “do you know what I mean?”– only to realize that I have absolutely NO idea what she means.  I missed the last 5 minutes of a heart being poured out and I’m horrified to know that my mind, ears, and body decided to shut it down when they were needed most.  Cue the first in a series of late night talks that end up in dumb fights because I failed to listen.  I suck.

Fast forward a couple more years to the time I got into a conflict with a friend.  Instead of really listening to her (yes, as you can tell, I am an all-star with the ladies) and dealing with the issue, I decided to inform her how simple our current problem was and in so many words, told her to “get over it.”  I didn’t see the need to linger on a problem that had such a “simple” solution.  As a result, our conflict lasted a few months and it wasn’t until about month 8 when our friendship finally started getting back to normal.

The key to this one?  I finally listened.  I listened and I gave validity to a pain that I didn’t understand.  This created the bridge to change and healing.

I think we’d all be more effective as leaders, husbands, wives, parents, friends, teachers, pastors, musicians, and human beings if we chose to listen better instead of being






black and white

Because each person is different and the answers aren’t always what follow questions.

My commitment to journey with my friend in processing through our conflict on her timeline instead of just mine changed everything.  Sure it took a great deal of pride-swallowing and just a bit of sacrifice but I’m glad it happened.

Sometimes you just gotta shut up and do nothing else but listen.  Either that or be better at staying awake and engage with the person who needs your ear.