Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Monday, December 1, 2008

Secret Life of the Soul - chapters 7-9

The prophet Jeremiah describes the human heart as something that deceives and that is really hard to understand (Jer. 17:9). But we don't just deceive others--intentionally or unintentionally--we also deceive ourselves as we do all kinds of things to get what our souls crave. Miller calls this the building of a "constructed personality." Here are some of the questions we're asking ourselves (thanks Christiana...I pulled most of these from your comments on that last post):

What is a constructed personality?
Why do we build one?
What does building a constructed personality actually lead to? What are some of the things that end up happening in our souls and in our relationships as we go down that path?

In addition to 1) quieting the shaming voices and 2) gaining esteem, the other dominant desire of the constructed personality is finding and keeping intimacy. But it's a self-defeating pathway.

How does a constructed personality actually undermine intimacy?
How have the constructed personalities of our parents or the collective constructed personality of our family affected us?
Are there some characteristics in your personality that you think (or are beginning to suspect) may be constructed in an attempt to find/keep intimacy?

It turns out that constructed personalities fair much better in the prevalent world of "emotional one-night stands" where we can more easily measure, dole out, and maintain our constructed selves than they do in communities that call for an intimacy that comes through honesty. Which means we may need to do some deconstructing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Secret Life of the Soul - chapters 4-6

Miller begins by laying out the 4 core yearnings that develop early on in all our lives. What are they? What have we learned about these longings--from the book and from our own experience? What happens when those yearnings are met or unmet?

It's significant that Miller describes those yearnings as longings for things that are "perfect." Because the reality is that people have responded imperfectly to our perfect desires just as we responded imperfectly to theirs. Some people--maybe even the people who mattered most--may have even gotten in the way. And maybe their voices have even gotten into our heads. We hear things like, "you're not very pretty, or smart, or lovable, or good enough." They are voices that daunt us, shame us, and limit us.

Miller calls these voices, or maybe more accurately the destructive power that begins to animate these voices, "personal evil." What Miller calls personal evil sounds a whole lot like what Paul calls "strongholds."

Read and reflect on these false arguments that can take foothold in our minds and hearts in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

What voices, if any, are we hearing? Is there a script that plays in your head? if not now, was there one that used to play in your head, or one that periodically reoccurs?

Pray together against those voices...against those strongholds.

May we become a people who are graced with truth and who quickly recognizes lies, who call them out and who give no room for them in our community.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Walking Golden Hill

We spend a lot of time walking the streets of Golden Hill. The community is geared that way. There's small markets close by, some great food joints, coffee houses, and friends close by. I can even easily walk to Hamilton's Tavern for a pint and a Charger game. A number of mornings every week, we also prayer walk. Walking and talking, to one another and to God. Listening. Seeing. Those are fast becoming some of my favorite times in our new neighborhood. There's something about getting out and walking. Seeing and hearing, even smelling the neighborhood. I get a feel and a sense of the place that, well, I just can't get any other way. And God seems to use those times in powerful ways, to connect us to Him, to this place, and to one another.

I usually bring along my camera and snap a few photos. The sky. The architecture. And the sidewalks. The sidewalks here are amazing. Many are crumpled and in disrepair. Dates are usually stamped on them, proudly by contractors from past eras. Many go back more than a hundred years, I wonder the stories these sidewalks could tell. The glory says after the turn of the 20th century, when Golden Hill was a neighborhood for affluent businessmen working downtown. The chicano era of the 60's. The gang-run days of the 70's-90's. The people and the families that have lived here and walked these streets.

— Jon

Monday, November 17, 2008

La Linea

Maybe it's just me, but it seems every time I turn around, someone in our neck of the woods is stepping outside the cultural current and bringing the worlds of Mexicans and Americans together in innovative and intriguing ways. Rob and Tim attended the first of many pastors + borders gatherings last Friday, hosted by our friends at Ecclesia Collective. Then Adapta Project has been facilitating a series of very cool art based experiences, bringing together an artist from Tijuana and one from the U.S., in their Adapta vs. Sezio events.

Love it.

deeper into colossians

As we read through Paul's letter to the Colossians, here are a few commentaries I'd highly recommend if you want to dig in...

a little deeper:
N.T. Wright's very short, very readable, and very practical commentary on Paul's letters: http://www.amazon.com/Paul-Everyone-Ephesians-Philippians-Colossians/dp/0664227880/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1226946677&sr=8-9

N.T. Wright's classic and more thorough commentary on just Colossians and Philemon: http://www.amazon.com/Epistles-Colossians-Philemon-Testament-Commentaries/dp/0830829911/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_b

real deep:

Walsh and Keesmaat's intriguing look at Colossians from a unique and insightful counter-cultural perspective: http://www.amazon.com/Colossians-Remixed-Subverting-Brian-Walsh/dp/0830827382/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1226947234&sr=8-1

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Psm 19 - from Christiana

This morning Naomi (who's 8 months now!) woke up at 6:00am. I fed her and rocked her and she fell back asleep..... but I stayed awake, lit a candle and decided to spend some time in the Psalms, listening to God. Psalm 19 is where I landed. It refreshed my soul today with its beautiful, poetic word pictures that stretched me outside of my small world. Not only does this chapter paint a picture of God's glory in creation but it speaks of His intimacy with the deepest part of our being - our SOUL, which is often hidden from others but known by God. It ends with, "May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."

I hope this brings you encouragement as it did for me this morning. As we read through Miller's "Secret Life of the Soul", may we come to know more of the beauty of God in His creation, His word and His intimate redemption of our souls. And may we begin to experience freedom as we learn to trust each other with our souls.

PSM 19
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.

4 Yet their voice [b] goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

5 which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.

7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.

8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.

9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure,
and all of them are righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.

11 By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

12 But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.

13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

(By the way, Derek recently wrote a song based on psm 19 that we've been singing in our church!)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Secret Life of the Soul - chapters 1-3

Most of us were raised to keep the deepest part of us private. It's that secret secluded place we've learned to slink into whenever we're scared, hurt, confused, or just plain embarrassed. We do it so instinctively in western culture that we usually don't even see it happening. But here we are packing up our bags (or unpacking them) and moving towards a shared life. And that means we're probably bringing our private, vulnerable, but well-guarded souls into a community. That could be scary, and it might even tempt us to begin constructing even more sophisticated retreat routes into our private souls.

I wanted to begin the formation of our community by reading Keith Miller's The Secret Life of the Soul together in hopes that we would not only understand our own souls better, (and the stuff we've surrounded them with), but so that we would understand each other's souls better. Not just so that we would know and be known, but so that we might learn how to fight for each other's souls so that we never have to retreat or fight alone. So as you read, read with that ultimate aim in mind. Here are some other questions we're asking ourselves from the 1st 3 chapters:

What has been your understanding of the soul?

What works against your soul?

What does the broken, disillusioned soul of a child instinctively begin to do very early on in life?

How does that instinct play out in your life?

How could that instinct play out in our community?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


"You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body."
—C.S. Lewis

I read this quote today, which I thought was particularly fitting given the book we're now reading through, The Secret Life of the Soul, by J. Keith Miller.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I touched the fence ...

Last Saturday I went to Friendship Park aka Border Field State Park right at the border of Mexico and the U.S. Quite literally, I was able to touch the fence. This will soon end with the new impenetrable fence coming in. Right now families are able to visit with each other to a certain degree. But soon, even this will be gone. The picture above is one that I took while standing at the fence.

The event was called God's Kingdom and Immigration, and was with a group called U40, you can find them on Facebook.

Some of the questions discussed were;

Is the border fence a good or bad thing? Is this an issue between two cities, two countries, or perhaps two kingdoms? Where should we stand on the issue?

One of the guest speakers, Marcos Mujica helped us navigate this conversation. Marcos is a graduate of Pt. Loma Nazarene University and is an insightful authority on the immigration issue from a kingdom perspective.

Throughout the day I heard about what God is doing in the city and the big highlight for me, is that we celebrated communion together. There was something powerful about having communion right there on "the land of in between" - the line that separates us in so many ways. I felt that God was there and pleased that we were discussing His kingdom and how all of us, no matter what side of the line we live on, are a part of it.

It was a good day.

Friday, October 24, 2008

border fence

Sophia came across this short but powerful 2.5 minute clip on the border fence right where we celebrated World Communion Sunday. It's definitely worth watching and offers a counter-intuitive response to dealing with long term immigration issues:


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

a picture of what's ahead

Jon Hall just put together a cool little new video of Project Mexico, a ministry he has nurtured and led for years and one we hope to help build on and advance through our new little community in San Diego. Check it out...

Project Mexico_Margaret from Jon Hall on Vimeo.

You can read the complete post on Jon's blog here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

terranova heads to the border

The Russian Novelist Leo Tolstoy once wrote, “Everybody wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Maybe we're a little over ambitious, but we want it all. We want to change our world and become a changed people.

NieuCommunities are unique missional communities scattered around the world that are developing a new generation of leaders to follow God in the way of Jesus. Each year we invite a bunch of young, emerging leaders to come and spend time with us as we pursue our God and engage our world. Some come for a few weeks, some for a few months, and others for a few years. But no one leaves unchanged.

Through an integrated mentoring and missional experience our apprentices and staff are challenged to make God the center of their lives. They are shaped in the crucible of community, and they are formed for mission through real-time ministry in the neighborhoods around us. The trajectories of our lives are changed as we reimagine what it means to follow a missionary God, and along the way, so is our world.

Since the birth of NieuCommunities in 2002, our approach to missional formation has been both holistic and rigorous. We meet almost daily for training, coaching, worship, prayer, common meals and shared ministry in our neighborhoods and beyond. We’ve met in barns, homes, B&Bs, church buildings, and coffee shops. We’ve lived under one roof and we’ve been scattered across town. Through these diverse experiences we’ve learned how powerful it is to be submerged in a place that will help stimulate an environment of discovery and transformation, and to create a hub that serves as a place of hospitality for our neighbors. And this month we are setting out to establish NieuCommunities in another new city.

Many of us know San Diego as “America’s Finest City” with its great beaches, the zoo, the Gaslamp District, and Balboa Park. But there’s another side to the city that we sometimes miss. San Diego is a border city. Its economy, its social structure, and its politics are inextricably linked with its sister city—Tijuana—just to the south. These two diverse mega cities straddling the most trafficked border in the world create a very complex, and unique metropolis.

The city’s majority population is non-white, non-middle class. They often work 2 to 3 jobs a day to survive, and rarely visit the places that tourists enjoy every day. San Diego is also one of the United States’ designated “sanctuary” cities. There are significant refugee populations from Africa and Southeast Asia sprinkled throughout the city’s downtown neighborhoods, and these groups all face significant challenges.

The legal border between the United States and Mexico lies 15 miles south of the city center, but the real border lies about 1500 yards south of downtown where cultures from around the world collide. These are the neighborhoods we believe God is calling us to move into, to serve, and from within to develop young missional leaders to send all over the world.

And this month both the Halls and Yackleys are packing up and moving south to help create and form the leadership team of this new missional community and extend the global reach of Terranova Church.

Monday, September 8, 2008

farmers markets

It's good to be home! Saturday morning I was unwinding at Krakatoa after a long week of moving and I got into a conversation with a couple of locals who were on their way to one of the farmers' markets in the area. They said there were 3 markets worth visiting: 1) Every Saturday morning from 9a-1p in East Village; 2) Every Thursday after 3p in Northpark; and 3) "the biggest and by far the best" is every Sunday morning from 9a-1p in the DMV parking lot in Hillcrest. I can think of at least a couple folks in our community who will be eager to check them out!

Monday, September 1, 2008

A residents view of Golden Hill

Seen on the Reader website
by Subliminelle

Traffic. Sirens. Police. Firetrucks. Ambulances. Jet Planes. These are the noises of my neighborhood. It is no wonder the wealthy families who first settled in Golden Hill during the late 1880's eventually got tired of the racket and headed east, leaving behind large, elegant homes and wide open boulevards. Sadly, over time, the neighborhood fell into despair. A century later, Golden Hill had become a haven for street gangs, junkies, and transients- people who had bigger problems to worry about than decibel levels.

Today, the neighborhood is as noisy as ever. Although the gangs have been replaced by musicians and artists, a criminal element still exists, and the sirens of police cars never let you forget it. Although the homeless have been pushed to the outskirts of town, the clatter of shopping carts still echoes from the alleys.

The trendy East Village at the bottom of the slope is exploding with new sounds as well. Construction. Sports bars. Night clubs. Bowling alleys. The noise climbs further up the hill every day, creating a non-stop symphony of sounds...a chorus of commotion. Airplanes scream by, one after another, and conversations must pause for them to pass, like pedestrians waiting for the light to change. Freeways rush through town like rivers. Traffic ebbs and flows, not unlike the tides of the ocean.

Local residents know that if you live here long enough, you'll stop noticing the noise after a while. What you will begin to notice, however, are the more subtle sounds of life on the hill, sounds that can only be heard by those who are really listening.

Golden Hill is a musical place. Its southern boundary is a bridge which crosses over the 94 freeway. Built by a local artist, the bridge plays a tune if its rungs are struck while crossing. On the north side of the bridge is Golden Hill's bustling commercial district, which consists of a handful of food markets, restaurants, liquor stores, and one very stylish fire station.

Walking down 25th Street, you'll hear street merchants selling flowers. You'll hear a cacophony of birds and people perched on the patio of Krakatoa, our local coffee shop. You'll hear the sound of pizza dough being tossed and pounded over at Luigi's Pizzeria, and you'll hear rowdy laughter escaping the infamous Turf Club anytime its heavy wooden door swings open.

After dark, you'll hear the comforting hum of neon lights, the crackle of electricity, and the hoots of the night owls, awake and alive. When traffic dies down at dusk, you'll hear the whisper of the wind down the wide, empty streets, the seductive songs of the crickets, and the rustle of the palm trees swaying high above. These are the sounds that I listen for. These are the sounds of life on the hill.

Summer brings new noises to town as well. The ka-boom! of fireworks and the subsequent barking of dogs. The bittersweet wail of mariachi bands singing songs of amor! off in the distance. The angry hiss of sprinklers watering freshly mowed lawns. The ting-a-ling of the ice cream man's silver bell as he pushes his frozen goods across the street makes my mouth water in a Pavlovian sort of way.

During baseball season, I can hear the thrill and excitement of a home run. Just listening to the roar of the crowds gives me a craving for peanuts and crackerjacks. I can always tell whether the Padres won or lost simply by following the soundtrack of the game.

From my bedroom, I hear the approaching rattle of skateboard wheels, the whiz of a ten-speed bike flying past my house, or the slap of sneakers on the sidewalk as little kids run home from school. On Sunday mornings, I am awakened by church bells resonating from down the street.

On Wednesday afternoons, I hear the chip! chip! chip! of my father, carving marble sculptures in the backyard. On Friday evenings I hear the crash! boom! bang! of the rock band that practices in our garage. And on Saturday nights, I fall asleep to the steady thump! of hip hop bass coming from the people upstairs. We are musicians and artists, and we are people in motion.

When the air is thick and heavy, I can hear the voices of transportation- the far-off moan of a foghorn blowing in from the bay, or the last call of a cruise ship before it sets off on another bon voyage. I can hear the clang! clang! of a passing trolley or the whistle of a train pulling into the station, as if to announce, “I'm home!”. Whenever I hear these familiar sounds, I know that I'm home, too. For some folks, the noise of the city is too much to bear. But to me, the sound of the hill is “golden”.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cross border art and culture event

Looks like there's an interesting event going on in TJ on Sat, Sept 26th. It's an art exhibition in the “Colonia Federal” area of Tijuana, where artists have congregated to live and work. It's called the La Casa del Tunel: Art Center, and is decribed as "an international community center dedicated to promoting and facilitating borderless arts, culture and environmental investigation and awareness."

More info on it here. Anyone up for going?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Say it ain't so

Could the Turf Club be closing?

Two posts about it, here and here.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

odd list of stuff to do in san diego

I stumbled onto this list of the 260 best things to do in San Diego. You know it's an unusual list when the Zoo comes in at #9! Okay, some of it is just weird, but lots of it is stuff I've never heard of, but they sure sound fun to do together over the years ahead.


Sunday, August 3, 2008


Pats, originally uploaded by hallywood.

Sophia and the girls stumbled upon Pat's in Northpark a few weeks back, after some locals turned them onto it. They took me there yesterday. A very cool place, with crazy junk, discards and some great finds. Inside you might find a killer piece of old furniture, a Santa hat, a vintage clock or a cool set of books.Think Sanford and Son.

Natalie had the killer find of the day. She has a series of books on her reading list for next year from the charter school we're part of. They had the entire set there, in pristine condition. Retails for $75. She got them, along with a small stuffed animal, for three bucks.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Silent Comedy

We were producing a video for one of my clients this week, shooting at a studio in Carlsbad. A friend of one of our guys came to do sound for us, Josh Zimmerman (that's him holding the boom mic). It turns out Josh lives in Grant Hill (right next to GH), and is part of a local SD band called The Silent Comedy. I love their genre-busting music. They've played a number of sizable local and western states gigs. They were playing tonight in Lake Forest at the Gypsy Lounge, but we couldn't line-up a sitter, so we missed it. Hope to catch them at a gig in SD soon.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Came across this today at 26th and B in GH.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ritual Tavern

Last week I had a beer and a burger at Ritual Tavern in Northpark. It's on 30th, quite a ways up from Golden Hill. Ritual is a great locals joint, with a wide variety of local beers (San Diego has an amazing array of local breweries!) and great, home-made food. They even proudly make their own ketchup and mustard!

We sat at the bar and talked a bit with the barkeep, and a couple of locals having a beer. One of the guys was a Mexican who's had run-in both with police in San Diego, and in Mexico. Sounds dicey, I know, but he was really a cool cat, and his perspective was enlightening.

I'm gonna like this place.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Garden

There's a blog I've been following by a resident of Golden Hill, that discusses some local goings in the community. For $30 a year, residents get a plot of dirt in the garden to grow their own produce. While this post seems to indicate not all is well, I love the fact that people in the community do stuff like this.

The post is here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Golden Hill, Feb 2008

Spent the day yesterday in San Diego with the family, doing some exploring. Looked at some potential properties in Golden Hill. Had lunch at Luigi's. Walked around the neighborhood a bit. Had some coffee and goodies at Krakatoa (the cinnamon blueberry cake was incredible). Caught some street art here and there. Golden Hill seems filled with it, when you look for it. A chicken-wire sculpture hanging outside in front of a purple office building. Sidewalk stencils. Art hanging from a tree at Krakatoa, or high on a bathroom wall. The place seems full of surprises, and creativity.

Had our first encounters with some questionable locals during this day trip, which was a little unsettling for Sophia and I (the girls were oblivious, for the most part). Reminded me that I'm not in Kansas anymore. This is an urban area, not South Orange County, and requires an adjusted sense of awareness as I walk its streets.

Found out that much of GH has free wifi. Seems to have been started by a grass roots effort by some locals who put up powerful wifi repeaters on top of their homes and buildings. It's not clear to me how much of GH gets this free wifi, but definitely something I want to find out more about.

Visited the local Goodwill and Salvation Army thrift stores, just across the freeway from GH (within walking distance). Sophia is the thrift store queen, and gets a lot of our clothes at "segundas," as they are called in SPanish. I scored a very cool sweater/shirt (wearing it now, as a matter of fact), and Natalie got some stretchy-pants she's been wanting (the kid is all about comfort, less about style). The Salvation Army is a bit further into downtown than Goodwill, and the shoppers reflected that. Had a buff-looking transvestite in a short pink dress shopping the furniture section (whoa!), a couple of homeless-looking dudes, and a bicycle riding guy that could have been the poster man for eco-friendly living (do I read too much into appearances?). The people working there seemed to know most everyone. When one shaky guy—who looked to have just exited rehab—walked in, the lady working the register seemed to know him and asked "how ya doin'?" He replied, "feeling spiritual." Cool.

The girls had never driven across the Coronado bridge, so we did that. I've been across it a few times, but it was different for me this time, thinking back to our conversation with Jason Evans at Barrio Logan, in the park underneath this behemoth of a bridge. The large, unmistakable suicide-prevention signs were sobering as well. Once on Coronado, we stopped at a park along the bay for the girls to play at, then took them to the Hotel del Coronado for a look at that amazing, historical place. Only, my kids didn't really give a rip about the hotel. They saw some small dunes on the beach and rocks to climb on, so that's what captured their attention. For dinner, we decided to head back to downtown, and found a great little Mexican place at 5th and E street called El Panchos. Food was terrific, and the prices were real reasonable.

Made what seemed like a dozen potty-stops during the 90 miles home (in truth, I think it was only twice though). It was a good day.

— Jon

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Photos from downtown

I had a video shoot for a client in downtown San Diego earlier this month. Stayed at a hotel there, just a few blocks from Golden Hill. Getting to love this area.

The Wrong Trousers

So on one of our first excursions to the Golden Hill area, we spent some time in Balboa Park. If you've never been there, it's a really spectacular place. So we're walking down the main promenade (or whatever they call it) in Balboa Park, and there's this live music gig going, this trio of teenage kids playing called The Wrong Trousers. A guy on a mandolin, and kid on a stand-up bass and this girl on harp. As we walked up they went into this killer rendition of "Video killed the radio star," a big hit (and dig at MTV) from the 80's. I loved it!

Seems to say something about this area, and its funky and eclectic bent (which I love). I just know you'd never see a group like this playing in the town I now live in, and I think that's a bummer.

So here's the goofy sidenote... I shoot video of them playing, and YouTube it. I'd never YouTubed anything before (it shows, the quality is really bad). That was about a year ago, and to date, the video has over 46,000 views and a five-star rating. Go figure.