Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Fun Day

This was a great weekend and we had a wonderful Thanksgiving out at my Mom's house. It was great to have Carolyn's parents and some friends join in the day of thanks and great food. I am so thankful for our family and I especially love watching my kids play and enjoy their grandparents. Yesterday we made the most of the break from the rain and had multiple trips to the park. It has just been great to not be working and spending time together. I know it isn't over yet, but Sunday is generally a pretty busy day with all our various church activities. So, today we made the most of our relaxation and fun together.


We started today off by heading over to the Children's Museum.  Carolyn usually takes the kids there while I'm at work, so it was nice to be there with them. Elisa loved playing in the clay room and Jonathan loved hitting the piles with the little hammer they had. After lunch, there were naps for everybody. Then we headed downtown.


The kids loved the tree in Pioneer Square.


After playing around the Christmas tree, we met up with our friend Becca and finished the night off with some delicious pizza at the Mellow Mushroom

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Summer Reading List

Unlike some people, I didn't enter the summer with a reading plan. I sort of go with the flow and when the library says things show up from being on reserve, I read it.


Bossypants by Tina Fey

This book was everything I hoped it would be. I'm a huge Tina Fey fan and if you enjoy her style (eg. 30 Rock) you'll love this book.


Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Carolyn read this one a long time ago and one of my old RAs recommended it to me. I did enjoy this book while reading it, but it is so unique that it leaves me a little unsure of whether I really enjoyed it or not. Either way, very well written.


Live From New York by Shales & Miller

I didn't read all 650 pages, but I loved how it was written. The story of SNL's history is told through interviews and is simply a collection of quotes from the stars and writers of the show. It's a fascinating way to tell a history and I really enjoyed learning about the early days as well as history that I was aware of. I think it's hard to find any franchise that has produced so many big names in the entertainment industry.


Those Guys Have All the Fun by Shales & Miller

This recent release by the same guys who wrote about SNL is written in the same way. It was so fascinating. I never intended to read all 780 pages, but each chapter lead me on to the next and I read it all. From very humble beginnings  to now being worth more than the NBA, NHL, and MLB combined, this book explains how a little cable network changed the world of sports into entertainment.



Love Wins by Rob Bell

When Rob Bell speaks, people listen. This book is too huge to ignore. It's really popular among the college students I work with. My favorite seminary prof said many times, you shouldn't talk about who you haven't read. I'm glad I got to read it and there were many things I appreciated about what Bell said.


Erasing Hell by Chan & Sprinkle

I think very highly of Francis Chan and I was frankly surprised he wrote a response book. This would represent the other side of the discussion Bell brought to the forefront. A couple critiques are that I got the distinct impression that this book was written with haste. It's fairly choppy and lacks a logical ark because I think they were just trying to refute things Bell brought forward. There were also a few times that I thought Chan was going too far in trying to dictate what emotion the reader should be having, but overall it was worth the time to read. The thing I most appreciate, whether I agreed with all of his conclusions or not, is that he was trying to find what scripture taught even if it was hard to hear. For more on Chan and his motivation, check out this video.

Although I didn't have a list entering the summer, here are a couple of books that I'm looking forward to:


The Voice of Matthew by Lauren Winner

Lauren Winner is easily one of my favorite authors. I want to read everything she writes and when I realized she wrote this a while ago, I got a copy right away.


The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons

This one's been out for a while and since the NBA is on lock-out, this 750 page beauty might help to ease the sadness of not being able to watch my favorite team during those long winter months.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Great Experience


It was a great two weeks in Seattle and a real pleasure to connect with these 23 amazing students and 10 outstanding staff. I'm so thankful for everyone who supported Carolyn & me to make this happen. Going into the Transition Seminar I knew that I cared a lot about MKs and their "Third Culture" nature. I also have always known that I thoroughly enjoy being with college students. What I didn't realize that this seminar is a great fit for my collective passions.

My impression of how important this seminar is has been blown out of the water. I thought it was super important, now I know it's in a higher echelon of impact. It really was a privilege to invest in the lives of some great people and support the body of Christ in this way.

To all those who prayed and supported financially, thank you. Thank you so much! I wish I could articulate better exactly how strongly I believe in this ministry and how much you've helped, but for now I want you to know I'm grateful.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Week One Highlights


It's been a very busy week here at the transition seminar and it's going very well. The map above is full of post-it tags showing where in the world everyone at the seminar have lived. It's truly amazing how these students have come from so many different cultures, but have been able to connect together so well. Yesterday morning I helped guide the students through their Myers-Briggs personality types. It was a great discussion and they seemed to enjoy understanding themselves better. We've also started our small groups, which gives the students a chance to talk about their own stories with peers and talk through the main issues they'll be facing in the midst of this transition.

There have been many highlights. There has been tradition of having silly challenges each morning and we've done things like making balloon animals, had a dance off, paper airplanes, and everyone even tried learning how to juggle. We've also had some free time each day to play at least one game of basketball, soccer, or ultimate. It's a little hard to believe that we're already half way through our time, but there is a lot more good things we're going to work through and I think next week is going to be great.

Monday, July 11, 2011

It has begun...


Well, we're off an running. The transition seminar is in full speed ahead with 23 students and 10 staff members. The students arrived yesterday afternoon and we've been engaged in a lot of activity today. We headed down to 7-11 for free slurpees this afternoon and we also had  a great game of ultimate during free time. This is a great bunch of people I'm working with. I feel really great about the staff and all the different strengths they bring. I'm really amazed how complimentary our strengths are. The picture above is the whole staff together the night before the seminar began. Thank you all for your support and for praying, this is going to be a great two weeks with some amazing students.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Here's what's happening:

I head up to Seattle on Friday to help out with something I'm pretty excited about. Here is a copy of a letter explaining what I'm going to be doing there for the next two weeks:

Dear Friends,

Happy Summer to you! I hope things are going well in your life. I'm writing this letter not only to briefly catch you up on life in the Brock family, but also to tell you about a ministry opportunity Im participating in this summer.

Carolyn and I have just completed our first year back in Portland. Elisa is now 3 1/2 years old and Jonathan is 20 months. It's amazing how much they've changed in the last year. We're still working with college students and are serving at Warner Pacific College in SE Portland. We live on campus where I work in residence life. We have stepped back into community at First Covenant Church and have really enjoyed connecting with  our home group there. This summer, Carolyn & I celebrated our tenth year of marriage and took time to celebrate and rejuvenate after the busy academic year.

I have recently been asked to be a counseling staff member for a Missionary Kid Transition Seminar this summer from July 10 - 22. This opportunity will allow me to invest in the lives of students who are coming to North America to enter college that have grown up overseas as Missionary Kids (MKs). Many of you may remember how Carolyn and I spent time in Eastern Europe working with MKs several years ago by helping start a summer camp for them. It is amazing that once again I have the opportunity to invest in the lives of students who have grown up in a different culture. The first year of college is difficult for any student and is filled with major transitions. Add onto that the fact that most of these students have never attended school in the states and are coming from a completely different high school experience. The seminar provides tools to prepare students for the transition into college life in the North American context. In addition, students can find a safe place to understand, share, and live out their story as they embrace their past, understand the present, and build toward their future. During the seminar I will serve as a member of the counseling staff, teach, facilitate a small group, and be available to listen.

I would like to invite you to prayerfully consider how you could assist this ministry. There are two meaningful ways you can help:

  • First, you can pray for me before, during, and after the seminar. Please pray for stamina for the long days and nights. Pray for wisdom, discernment, and flexibility as I communicate and form relationships with the other staff and transitioning MKs. If you would like to receive updates from me, check this blog. Also, pray for Carolyn as she will be acting as a single parent for the two weeks while I'm gone.
  • Secondly, you can invest monetarily in this ministry to MKs by contributing to help cover the living expenses of the seminar. I have been asked to raise $1,000 which will cover room & board, and programing expenses. Please email me (brockemail @ gmail . com or through blogger) if you'd like info on how to give a tax-deductible gift.
I hope you are doing well and I appreciate you taking the time to read this letter. If you'd like to stay in touch email me above or check for updates on this blog.

In Him,

Greg

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

10 YEARS!


Does 10 years of marriage make us old? Maybe two kids does it? Either way, I couldn't be more happy to be spending life together with Carolyn. She's great, fantastic, and amazing. We had a great anniversary trip and I'm so thankful that we be partners in parenting, life and everything else.


These are all pictures from our trip to San Diego for our anniversary. And yes, that burger was amazing.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Black Jack

There is a movie coming out at the Seattle International Film Festival about a group of Christian black jack players called Holly Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians. Click here to watch the trailer. I'm really looking forward to watching this movie. I don't know when the opportunity will arise, but I'm definitely interested. One reason is I went to college with a few of these guys and it also looks like a good documentary.

Friday, May 13, 2011

11 Rings


One thing I love about watching NBA basketball is that it is an emotional game. The best team doesn't always win (see Dallas sweeping LA). Props to Dallas, they are way better than I gave them credit for, but the Lakers simply are a better team. There are so many x-factors like team chemistry, coaching, and preparation that affect the outcome of the game. Sheer athleticism and talent will get you a long ways, but that isn't enough (see Lakers being swept by Dallas).

With the Lakers early exit this year, Phil Jackson is planning on walking away from coaching. He is one of the greatest coaches of all time. He's won 11 rings. That's simply amazing. Bill Simmons wrote a great article that summarizes what made him a good coach, it was managing relationships.Granted Phil coached some of the greatest players to ever play the game, but that isn't a guaranty of winning and doesn't limit how impressive his resume is. Simmons points out that balancing MJ's ego with just the right about of pushing him towards teamwork is what made Jackson so successful with the Bulls. I'm the first to admit that I hate the Lakers and I couldn't stand Chicago during MJ's reign. However, I do respect what Phil did and I don't think his success will soon be replicated. If you are a basketball fan I highly recommend this article, check it out here.

Monday, May 02, 2011

A Look Back

It's been a little while since my spring break trip to San Francisco, but I wanted to put this video up about our trip. One of our outstanding students made it and I think it does a great job capturing the spirit of our trip and some of the lessons learned. Even a month later, I'm still really grateful for that week of ministry with a group of fantastic students.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Once in a Lifetime

I've been wanting to write a post about the Blazers all year. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. At the beginning of the year I couldn't openly admit what I thought this season could bring fear of being disappointed. I thought about writing halfway through the season that it was inconceivable that this team was going through this many injuries, again. I also thought about writing that the championship window has been officially slammed shut with the loss of Brandon Roy to double knee surgery. I may get back to some of those thoughts another time, but for now the video below captures an unbelievable performance at the Rose Garden that is worth watching. I'm so thankful I was able to be there with my best friend Greg.

It was game four, with Portland down to the Mavs 2-1 in the first round series. It will stand as one of my greatest memories as a Blazer fan, even though they lost the series. When the Blazers were at their lowest, down 23 points in the third quarter I said, "Wouldn't it be amazing if they came back to win? It would be something we could tell our kids about, but it'll never happen." It did. The Rose Garden was dizzyingly loud (It took two days for my voice to recover from so much yelling). The range of emotions experienced in this game were ridiculous; they went from total disappointment to complete amazement and shock at the final result. It happened so fast it was unbelievable. Everyone stayed in their seats for well over 5 minutes after the game cheering. Both teams were off the court and still everyone stood and cheered. On the concourse leaving the arena someone would yell and everyone started cheering and chanting, "Let's go Blazers!" Strangers were hugging and I don't think I've ever high-five'd so many people in my life. 45 minutes after the game and a mile from the arena people continued yelling on the streets and honking their horns. It makes me excited for the day when a championship finally is won again. For all that Roy went through this season, to lead this team in the biggest comeback in Blazers history (second largest in NBA playoff history) is a very compelling story and the video below does a great job highlighting this amazing performance.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

San Francisco Update 2

Yesterday our team vetured out to explore the city during the first half of the day. It turned out being a day of paradox. One strange occurance was half our team had Thai food in little Italy and the other half had pizza in Chinatown. The other thing students wrestled through was the polarized incongruence of affluence and great need in such close neighborhoods. Having spent the majority of our time in the neediest parts of the city, it was hard to reconcile the excess of the tourist traps to the hungry kids we had dinner with later that night.

Today we spent the morning helping the Salvation Army deliver meals to home bound people. All the deliveries were to single room occupancy hotels in the Tenderloin district. It was sobering to realize that our breif interaction dropping off food was the only personal contact most of these people would have today. In the afternoon we helped do some organizing and cleaning in the basement of the Outpost and some went to a local high school track meet. In the evening our group split in two once again. One group served food at the next door residential transitional housing program and soup kitchen for men while the rest of us stayed at the Outpost for the youth game night.

It was another long day and we have seen great need and are humbled by the opportunity to serve.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

San Francisco Update

It's been a good couple days so far in San Francisco. We're working with a ministry called Mission Outpost that is based in the SOMA (south of market) district.
We arrived Saturday night after a long and partly snowy drive from Portland. The team from Concordia University also has 12 people and arrived just after we did. On Sunday we started the morning with a prayer walk around the neighborhood and we participated in two church services. One was held here at the Outpost and the other was a called the Homeless Church. It is an outdoor church that meets in a plaza on Mission street. Both services were very different from church back home and we helped serve food and talked with people for a few hours.  In order to experience some different culture on Sunday night ate dinner at an Indian restaurant that was fantastic. For many of our students it was their first experience with Indian food, so it was a great cultural encounter.
Today we spent time working at the San Francisco food bank and helped prep over 4,500 pounds of food. In the evening half of our group stayed at the Outpost to help with the youth drop in night. They played games with the neighborhood kids, basketball, had dinner together, and even got in some break-drancing. The other half of the group helped put on a Bingo night at a low-income housing building for families down the street.
Our team is definitely starting to feel the physical strain from the constant activity. There are about 3 students who have some degree of sickness, but they are all starting to feel. It's great seeing the students wrestle with the issues they are being faced with and how this experience is stretching and challenging them. The insights being shared during our nightly debriefs are really impactful and it's easy to see they're getting a lot out of it.
Tomorrow will be our day to be tourists and explore the city. In the evening we'll start two nights of lessons and games with another group of neighborhood youth. I'll try to get a few more updates in throughout week so check in later.

Friday, March 18, 2011

San Francisco

At 7:00 AM I'll be leaving Carolyn and the kids for the week and heading to San Francisco on a spring break missions trip with Warner students. We'll being doing Urban missions and outreach. I'm not sure exactly what will be included, but there are 12 of us going and we'll be joined by a team of students from Concordia. It should be a great week and I'm excited about the opportunity to serve with students and get to know them better.

I'm pretty bummed to be leaving the family though. Leaving Carolyn for a week take care of everything on her own is hard and I just miss being with my family. They're my most favorite people in the whole world. The drive starts tomorrow and I should be back sometime late Friday night. I'll let you know how it goes next weekend.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Reading


Tonight we went to Chipotle for dinner because they gave out a coupon this week that was buy one get one (click here if you'd like one for yourself). It was good, but I realized my expectations are never met with Chipotle. It's good and all, they just aren't as good as Qdoba, they overload on rice, and don't give you chips and salsa like Baja Fresh. The depth of flavor just isn't there, but it is good and we had fun. Anyway, the picture above is Elisa having a great time in Barnes & Noble. I had to return a book and even though we hung around for a while, in the end she still didn't want to leave. The girl just loves books.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Playing Outside




This morning we barely made it outside in time to play in the snow before it melted. Fortunately, it snowed again this afternoon so Carolyn got them all ready again for their second dose of snow play today. I'm still hopeful that we'll have more by tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sonicsgate

I came across this interesting documentary about the team formerly known as the Seattle Supersonics, the only Seattle pro sports team to win a championship. Sonicsgate tells the tumultuous end of the NBA in Washington state. The team is now the Thunder and went to a couple games in Oklahoma city. I am happy for OKC, they are great fans and they are super thankful for their team. It's just a lame situation how the franchise left town. In the end, I think the salt on the wound is that the Thunder own the history of the Sonics. So, if Seattle does get a basketball team again, they'll never be able to retire Gary Payton's number or display the championship trophy because OKC has the rights to the team history.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Heart Warmed

In what will go down as one of the greatest moments of my life, Jonathan called me "Dada" for the first time ever last week. In a rare role reversal, I was at home while Carolyn and the kids were away. I heard them return from the grocery store and coming down our back stairs. I opened the door to see Carolyn holding Jonathan's hand as they walked down. Jonathan looked up from staring at his feet (walking downstairs can be tricky you know), pointed with his free hand and said, "Dada." It was perfect.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Very Cool

I had read that Panera had nonprofit stores in other parts of the country, but I'm super excited to hear that they now have one in Portland. Click here to read the story on it.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Celebration of Creativity

I just wanted to take a moment to show some of the ways Carolyn brings creativity into our house. She has also done an amazing job facilitating Elisa & Jonathan's creativity giving them a wide variety of craft projects and activities. So, here are just a handful of things that she's done in the last couple months, somehow all done while doing a great job of taking care of our kids and being an amazing wife.


Carolyn helped Elisa make this cool sign for her Grammy. Each letter is a different painting that Elisa made.


These cupcakes were totally from scratch and delicious for Jonathan's birthday.


Elisa's cake, also delicious.


She made Elisa this really cool place mat that has a cool feature on the flip side.


It's a chalk board!


I was so happy to come home from work on my birthday to find this.


Have you not heard tell of my wife's amazing snowflake cutting ability.
She even got honorable mention for best flake at the Rice's Christmas party this year.


These fascinating boxes were filled with amazingly delicious spiced nuts for friends and coworkers.


Allowing a 3 year old to paint in her own gifts can be challenging when you want something to look good, but Carolyn has had amazing patience and allowed Elisa to actually participate. 


Elisa picked out the shapes for each person and painted these salt dough ornaments all by herself.


She found this old calendar frame and turned it into a chalkboard for out kitchen.


Even as I wrote this post she's fast at work making our family new Christmas stockings for us. All in all, I'm sure a lot of husbands are proud of their wives, but I think Carolyn is quite exceptional.