Monday, December 25, 2006


Here's our morning in photos. The highlights of gifts for the kids include: Tyler's500 baseball cards and binders to sort them. Jake's Diego play set. TJ's star wars lego set. And the biggie, they all 3 were given a new trampoline to share. Oh good times wrestling and bouncing. We are blessed in many ways.


Sunday, December 24, 2006


Several hours ago I went to the Christmas Eve Church services at our church. My role is basically an attender at this thing now. Back in Fremont, I started an 11pm Christmas Eve service, which was our family tradition as a kid and my most anticipated service all year. It's one of my favorite memories from my years there and one of the few things I started that they still do.

Anyway, for over a decade, my normal Christmas Eve consisted of preparing the final details on our service and showing up at like 9pm and finally leaving around 12:30am on Christmas Day. I loved that service and still miss it.. maybe that's why it's 12:30am on Christmas Day and I'm still up. I still miss being able to end the service by saying ending a prayer and saying, "Welcome to Christmas Day. God is with us." Maybe someday I'll start one here. But for now, our family roles have reversed.

I have the primary job of being Dad on Christmas Eve and have evidently started a new tradition of washing the car and buying the Cinnabon Sweet rolls for the next day. In the meantime, Shannon sings in all the services. This year my boys decided they wanted to go to their respective Sunday School classes for their Christmas shindig there. But, since their mom was singing, we also then all went to the service together to support her and sit as a family.

During the 4pm service, while my boys were in their classes, I read all the Christmas Cards that have been sent to our house. We just put them in a big basket. Shannon reads them as they come when she gets the mail. I wait until the end and read them like a book. It was fun to see old faces and to get caught up on people's stories. I was so inspired by a friend of Shannon's who went around the world on a "teaching ship" where she taught high school biology at sea and from port to port. How cool is that?! I also have some friends who took 6 weeks and went and toured the whole North East of the United States on a "home school teaching journey" where they saw all these sights and lived out of an RV... adventure is in the air. They reminded me of these family vacations I used to do as a kid for 2 weeks camping across the country. Shannon and I talked about it and decided that SUMMER 2009 is our goal for a month off and a HUGE road trip with our boys to go camping and sight seeing all around this side of the country. I'm EXCITED. How fun would that be? Better start planning and saving my pennies.

Anyway... when I got to service, I was blown away by the whole experience. What great music and dancing and video and teaching and celebration on Christmas Eve! I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The message was about at least 2 things that INSPIRE ME. The first is my favorite Bible topic... it's POTENTIAL- the fact that God loves to use the undesirable to do the unthinkable. I love that about God. I love that he loves to use the underdog. I think God is inspiring to me because of that part of the Bible. We see it in stories of Mary, Jesus himself, Abraham, Moses, Paul, Matthew, David, Gideon, so many Bible characters. It's a major theme of the Scripture.

The second is something I've been stewing on for a while. It's the fact that the saddest part about living disconnected from God is not an "eternity without him", it's a present without him. Our pastor talked about it as missing the "wow" of life with God. That's a bummer. That's a bigger bummer than eternity without him. Obviously eternity is longer, but how sad is it to have 80 years on this planet and to spend them without Jesus? That was his message anyway. It was not, "Don't follow me and you'll rot in hell." It was, follow me so you don't miss the WOW of a life lived with me. Yes, there is a post death implication to the present decisions. But it's the present ones that are more compelling to me and was the essence of Jesus' message. Incidentally, for fun, if you're looking for proof of this as a value, do a word study on the word "today" or "this day" (it's the same Hebrew word in both cases) in the book of Deuteronomy. It's used there more than any other book in the entire Bible. If you read all 74 verses in the ESV... you'll see why Jesus quoted Deuteronomy more than any other book. It's all about the call to a nation of Israel to embrace the covenant as a value for them TODAY... not a contract with God and their ancestors... not something for their children. NO, it's for them today, and then and only then does the past have purpose and tomorrow have hope. Today is the day of salvation... because it is about TODAY.

I hope and pray that he uses all those who feel useless and that they embrace him Today..... that is the JOY of the gospel... that is the message of Christmas. That's how I need to live everyday I have... embracing the journey and loving the process of a life lived connected to and enjoying the chasing of the God of all Wonder. That is a life of true adventure that will lead me through amazing times of serving, blessing, trial, and love. That is the life I yearn for and that Jesus embodies.



One thing our family loves during the Christmas time is to go see lights. We drive alternate routes home, we make a special trip to go see them around the area, we try and do our part to contribute to the festivities on our own home, and we go to special light displays we know about. This year we decided to use our annual passes and go try the lights at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. For years we've been going to the one at the Oakland Zoo to see their display, but that's a little far now... so we decided to check this local zoo scene out at night.

We stated the tour by making hot chocolate in the parking lot to save some flow. Then we went straight for the 45 minute train ride around the main wilderness area. It was pitch black except for this spot light they shine around. At night a lot of the animals come up closer to the tracks. It's kinda cool. Also, in case you were wondering... rabbits are evidently nocturnal. I think we saw 7000 of them- just running wild. We also saw lots of deer, some just from the wilderness around and standing in the way on the tracks. I also found out that Rhinos have sensitive feet and won't walk on rocks... something to be aware of if you're trying to get freed of them. Don't climb a tree, just run into the nearest rock field.

The guy they have driving the train thing though is some guy from a country in Asia and he talks with the appropriate accent. Add to that bad humor and jokes with predictable puns and you have a live version of the safari boat ride at Disneyland minus the guaranteed crocodile sighting. I think they give the job to guys who really bad wanted to be stand up comics, but got sent back to the tour gig and couldn't stand the thought of the Safari tour at Disneyland. My kids thought it was funny though.

We then went to go looking at the other sights to see. Kinda low on the light side. Mostly just a few things here an there along the paths and then lots and lots of various crafts to do. Our kids decorated cookies and then got their faces painted.

Here's the photos. If you're going to spend money on the Wild Animal Park though, I'd recommend going in the day instead.


Saturday, December 23, 2006


Well, our middle school pastor, Josh, got me inspired, so I decided to change my blog header into a picture. I had no idea how to do this, so after some searching, my first attempt at a new look to my bloggin world front page is complete. Hope you like it.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I re-read the story of Jesus' birth this year as I've done for many years around this time. I've also listened to a few sermons, read some book exerpts, and seen a few movies on the subject. I was watching "studio 60 on the sunset strip" for the first time with my wife and her sisters earlier this week and they were going off on how so much of the story is a hoax and false. I was wishing I had it recorded. But, much of what they were saying, many scholars don't debate much either. But, it got me thinking again about how much is assumed and "normal" to the story that we are not so sure of today and that many are pretty sure was not "NORMAL" to Jesus' day. Here's my list:

  1. JESUS WAS BORN IN A BARN: Bethlehem barns were caves. Jesus was likely born in what a 21st century American would call a cave. This is not surprising to those who live in Israel. To me.. this was shocking when I was there.

  2. MARY RODE A DONKEY: Maybe. But likely not. Donkeys are expensive. It would be rare for her to be able to afford one. She probably walked. There's no mention of a donkey in the text of Matthew or Luke- which are the the only two of the 4 gospels that even mention the birth details.

  3. MARY WAS LIKE 13-16 YEARS OLD: We don't know this. We are guessing based
    on data that was "normal" for marriage and such during her culture. Many scholars say this is the case. The Bible doesn't tell us.

  4. MARY AND ELIZABETH WERE SISTERS: The text says relatives according to the NIV, NASB, NLT, ESV and a bagillion more. It doesn't say sisters, cousins, aunts, ..... nothing. It says they were relatives. The message paraphrase says "cousin". But I think he's guessing.

  5. JOSEPH WAS 40 or 14 or? I've heard so much variation on this one it's mind boggling. Again, we're guessing here.

  6. THERE WAS NO ROOM IN THE INN: Some say this is true. Others say not so much. One of the most recent English translations- the TNIV- translates the word for "inn" as "guest room". Some say this is more accurate. Like Joseph went door to door, not to the Motel 6 in the small town.


  8. THE WISEMEN SHOWED UP AT THE CAVE/BARN? Maybe.. maybe not. Again, this is debated. Since it says they showed up at their "home" in Matthew 2:11 and because Herod has children 2 years or older killed in an attempt to destroy Jesus, many say they must have come at least a year after the child was born. Others say this is not true, they came to the Cave and the age that Herod used was based on when the star appeared in the sky, not when the Magi arrived. Uh.. who knows?

  9. THEY WERE WISEMEN. We don't know what they were. I've heard kings, scholars, wisemen, magi, astrologers, scholars... and evidently all of those are valid translations of the word used to describe them. So, they were smart, rich, influential travelers of some sort.

  10. THERE WERE 3 WISEMEN: We don't know this either. The text says there were 3 gifts. We therefore assume one per person. But it could have been 3 gifts from 2 people or 3 gifts from 20. We just don't know.

  11. THE WISEMEN CAME FROM EGYPT ON A CAMEL: I'm not sure where I got this one, but this is what I've always thought. But it doesn' t say this in the text. It says they were Wisemen form the another country to the East who arrived in Jerusalem before meeting Jesus in either Bethlehem or Nazareth, depending on how you read the story.

  12. JESUS WAS BORN ON DECEMBER 25TH like in the year Zero AD. Nope. Not likely. Probably born 5 BCish and more like in the Springtime based on the shepherds in the field and the difficulty of a traveling census in December make that month unlikely.

None of this ruins me or makes me feel I've been lied to. It just means that a lot of what is "central" to the story for a lot of church going people like me is not "CENTRAL" to the story. Here's to pondering the story, as Matthew and Luke record it for us- minus my culture read back into it. Following Jesus often gets muddied- not by the text as it's written, so much as how it's re-writen in my modern day messed up mind.


Monday, December 18, 2006


Today, our family went ice skating. Yep, ice skating. In Coronado. On the beach. Under the sun. At the world famous Hotel Del.

Shannon and her sisters, Caitlin and Erica, and TJ and Tyler all went ice skating together.

Jake and I bonded instead with fancy hot chocolate, a cookie, and a walk on the beach. At one point he went off walking really fast and I said, "Jake, where are you going?" He said that he was "making foot prints" as he stomped proudly, I snapped a picture. I love his smile in these pics.

As a side note, my intern coordinated a gift with all our adult and student leaders contributing and gave Shannon and I a gift cerficate to a night at the Del. Oooh laa la. How fun is that. We decided we're going to use it to celebrate 13 years of marriage in June. It's a rough life, but someone has to do it.



So, I was in Kohls the other day looking for a new sweat suit for Christmas. In the process, I overheard a lady telling a story very loudly about being in the store when someone came in and asked the clerk where he could find an ugly Christmas sweater. The clerk looked at him a bit confused. He then proceeded to tell her that he was going to a party where the ugliest Christmas sweater won $100. I thought that was the greatest idea ever.

So I stole it. Not the sweater- just the idea.

We had our student leader Christmas Party last Saturday night at our house and decided to lower the expectations from ugly Christmas Sweater- to just plain ugly sweater. I went to the thrift store in search of mine- which I'm pretty positive I wore in high school while snow skiing. Anyway, others went to grandma's in search of theirs. But, for the prize money of $40... here's our contestants.

It was finally narrowed down by survivor-type vote-off to these two below. Jade (on the right) ended up winning with his grandma's doily or something. Noah took second with his- shoulder pads and all. Oh good times.



Well, on Sunday morning we were talking about what signifies the holidays are here for our students. You know like Christmas trees or a trip to grandma's house or lights on houses or whatever. Then we talked about Mary's song and the things that she would have said would indicate that Christmas time is near. Her list was a little different.

Being the most holy part of Christmas however, at one point, I spoke of how Jesus would have appreciated it if the Wisemen had brought him gold, frankincense, myrrh, and peppermint stick ice cream. Then the angels would have sang another round of the hallelujah chorus dressed in pink.

This brought amazement to the students eyes and a mission to some of their souls which caused a mad hunt after church service by those who love me... which resulted in not one, but two half gallon containers of Dryers peppermint stick ice cream hand delivered to me- and get this- free of charge. Oh I do love youth minstry volunteers.

I can hear the angels singing now. My Christmas is complete and I can now stop making my grocery store dart board. Love is in the air and soon- very soon- my belly will be a nice shade of pink on the inside.


Friday, December 15, 2006


Yesterday I woke up, tried to eat, but felt like junk. I went to the office to do a devotional and tried to study for my Old Testament final. Um, that wasn't working so good so I went home.

Tried to sleep, then decided to do a reverse fast. Instead of not eating, I brought up everything I'd eaten to check for viral activity evidently. I hate puking. I hate having my head that close to my toilet. I have no idea how birds do it. How do you eat puke? Whose idea was that? Anyway, my puking has now stopped I think.

You know what's the worst part though? My puke was brown and not pink. If the stores would start putting peppermint stick ice cream in the freezers I could have a nice creamy tasty puke. Instead. I'm stuck with leftover lunch. I'm getting bitter. Several more trips to the store, I even tried target's freezer section have left me "peppermint stickless". I'm going to go put on sack cloth and sit in ashes as I mourn now.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Calling all managers, baggers, shelf stockers, purchasers, truck drivers, and grocery store owners.


It is Christmas or Holidayland or whatever you want to call it- but regardless of what label you put on this time of year, certain things need to be in ample supply during this season! Yes, evidently you are fine with having a million pumpkins at Halloween. You seem to get that you need to stock the big open freezers with thousands of pounds of dead bird at Thanksgiving time. However, much to my disappointment, you have failed to understand the mandate of stocking ample supplies of "limited edition peppermint stick ice cream" during December.

For whatever reason, the folks at Starbucks think Peppermint should only be allowed in the store at Christmas when they turn their mugs red. Whoever makes the decisions at Dreyers has also wrongly decided that peppermint stick ice cream is not an daily commodity but instead a precious treasure for the holidays. Fine. But if you must only offer it once a year, then you should make enough to cover the nation 12 inches thick in the stuff.

Three trips to three separate grocery stores have yet to produce even one scoop of Peppermint Stick Ice Cream. This is wrong and if it is not fixed soon, if the orders are not placed and the shelves not stocked to the point of overflowing, I will be picketing. I'm also going to assault the blog world with posts to end your failures. The fact that you are always out of stock should be clue enough to you that people buy the stuff- and evidently lots of it.

I went to Lowes on December 2 to buy a single strand of rope light that had gone out on my house.... only to find out that they were "sold out" and would not get anymore in for the remainder of the season. I eventually found the last possible strand on the very top and very back shelf a rival store- Target. This too is wrong. But it is like a childhood misdemeanor and the ice cream is like a federal felony.

For the love of all things good and holy, please, order the peppermint stick ice cream and no one will get hurt.

-One concerned consumer trying to keep the American stock market from crashing and trying to make the world a happy peppermint stick place,

Brian C. Berry


Monday, December 11, 2006


Last Friday night was our high school Christmas Party. We ate a traditional turkey meal cooked by families in our church, had a concert with a band called "This Holiday Life", and laughed a lot in our "late night show" portion of the night. The party is semi-formal and about 90 or so showed up dressed their best. It's a lot of work, but this year we saw a lot of visitors come, students really had a great time. All the planning, late nights, and phone calls seem to pay off.

This year we did a tradition I've done for the last 12 or 13 years. Whenever I do this semi-formal Christmas party, we assign a table number to all the tables: 1-12. Then we do the 12 days of Christmas- but we customize them. Everyone in the room sings the "on the ___ day of Christmas, my true love gave to me" part. Then the corresponding table group stands up and sings/yells their gift. Here's this year's 12 gifts list. Sing them to the tune as you read them and it'll be more fun. I put them in reverse order so you can sing it to yourself just once... :)

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
twelve molding fruitcakes
eleven chargers charging
ten hybrids driving
nine pants eemoing
eight ipods shuffling
seven mothers nagging
six blenders blending
five useless things
four lovely togas
three PS3’s
two myspace comments
and a monkey in a palm tree
We also did something new this year. For fun we did a contest of who could make the best "gingerbread" rendition of Mary and Joseph riding on a donkey on their way to the inn out of the supplies we provided in 5 minutes or less. They did it as a table group and it was tons of fun. They still amaze me when we do this kind of stuff with their creativity. (click on the picture above and it'll get bigger and you can see one of the creations) The supplies were:
  • 4 graham crackers
  • 10ish toothpicks
  • a hand full of skittles and runts candies
  • two small bins of colored frosting
  • 4 large marshmallows
  • a small bin of small marshmallows
  • candie sprinkle
All in all, it was fun, encouraging, and worth it. One of my values as a youth pastor is to see high school students enjoy themselves. I think they live in such a high pressure (and often pain filled) world, where everyone wants them to grow up and act 30 that I just want to preserve some of the joy of being in high school. I love it when they laugh, eat, and just seem to let the worries of life slip away for a few hours. I think that is one time when I feel God's presence most clearly.



Well, last weekend we went on the annual family Christmas light viewing. We piled in the car, hot chocolate and cookies in tow, even the dog in the back, put on our coats, and headed for Pepper Drive. We drove slow with the windows down and soaked it in. Shannon's favorite I think is one where this family has a wooden nativity out front and everyone is bowing down worshipping Jesus- even Santa who is on his knees and has his hat in his hand. I think that's kinda funny. I also like the guy who has this ridiculously huge display and then he has a "mailbox" out front asking for donations to the power company.

For what it's worth... here's a photo of our outdoor display. I added poinsettias to our annuals pots and Shannon found a new wreath this year. She said she couldn't handle the one with fake snow in the heat, this one looks more "tropical" she said. I just smiled and paid for it. We also added another lighted deer and an angel. I was told these were also needs, which upon purchase caused my wife to gather the children together, have them gaze up at me from under her arm, and then listen to their mother proclaim that when they grow up, she wants them to be just like me. Evidently the perfect husband buys too many freakin Christmas decorations.

Next year our landscaping project will be done and my boys are already plotting as to how we're going to light up all the new fence. I guess I better start saving for lights now. Maybe I should get ready for a power company donation box too :)


Sunday, December 10, 2006


I was talking with Shannon last night and we've been praying for a situation in the town where we grew up. We met in high school and attended one of two churches that had large youth ministries in our community. The two churches always had a good working relationship. But recently, one of them went through a big senior pastor change and they made a bad hire. The end result of the "search-hire-ask pastor to leave-search again process" was devastating on this one church and it's pastoral team- causing it to go from several thousand in weekend attendance- down to around 500 I heard. Here's some history.

  • Shannon and I attend in high school, our families serve there still.
  • We attended under Mark, our youth pastor who is still on staff, but in a different role.
  • I did 3 summers worth of internship in the high school ministry under Mark.
  • Current Senior Pastor, Larry, is our college pastor and also the youth pastor before Shannon and I's time.
  • Both Mark and Larry are good personal friends and mentors to me.

  • Church is across the street from Shannon's parent's house and right next door to our old high school.
  • We have lots of friendships with people who were on staff here at one time- one of whom was Doug Tegner, who ended up being the high school pastor colleague across town from me when I served in Fremont. He eventually left that church to serve as the National Network of Youth Ministries' president and I was invited to join him on a 3 year term of their Ministry Council.
  • Several years ago, Redwood made a bad senior pastor hire that caused the church to implode.
  • Doug went back to help serve in a role there with his wife, Leisa, on their team to help.
  • In the transition, lots of people leave, many find their way to Neighborhood.
  • Redwood decided a few weeks ago to hire their former youth pastor, Doug and his wife Leisa (who served at Redwood as a youth pastor colleague when Larry was youth pastor at Neighborhood) to be their new senior pastors.
  • Doug is also a friend and mentor to me.
  • Larry calls Doug and Leisa to come to Neighborhood on their weekend service before they officially start in their new position at Redwood in a few weeks.
  • Larry prays over Doug and Leisa a prayer of support, commissioning them as brothers and sisters in the faith to do the work of being Jesus to this community together with them.
  • Larry then speaks to the congregation. He encourages those who have transferred to Neighborhood from Redwood during this tough time to go back and support Doug and Leisa in the process of healing that community. They have found rest at Neighborhood, now they are encouraged to go back and rebuild across town at Redwood.
That's beautiful. That took guts and a Kingdom of God oriented heart. I've never been more proud of my mentors than today. What an amazingly clear Word from God and embrace of the Kingdom work in a community. These stories need more press. This is what Jesus came to create in us. I believe God smiled last weekend. I sure did.



I just paid $3.17 per gallon for diesel. When I bought my truck almost 7 years ago, I paid more to get a diesel engine because it would last longer, get better gas mileage than it's gasoline counterpart, would tow anything I needed to for youth group or family, and because diesel was the cheapest fuel available. Now, for some reason unknown to me, the gods of the fuel industry and decided it should cost me $.67 more than the cheapest fuel and a full $.20 more than premium. I think I'm going to go stab myself with a blunt object. It would be less painful than my fuel hell I'm living in. If I didn't use it so much for the purposes of a real truck and hauling stuff and yatta yatta... I'd get rid of it tommorrow. Ugh.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006


There are two- well actually three- billboards in my community that I pass up fairly regularly on my way to class. I risked my life on the freeway to photograph them for you.

One is creative, fun, and comically out of place. It's two billboards having a snowball fight. Click the picture below and it'll get bigger and you can see for yourself. But anyway, I dig it. It makes me smile. Party because in some strange way it's about coffee and partly because it's in a place where last year on Christmas Eve my kids had a water fight while I washed the car because it was 94 degrees. Notice their throwball fight is over a palm tree :)

The second is someone's idea of outreach I guess. I'm not sure what they are hoping for or why, but someone saw it fit to put some big sign up asking people if they are thinking about where they are driving theologically. This is moderately weird to me. It also presents God as a destination instead of a guide or a partner in life. I'd rather it said, "Choose wisely. No road is worth traveling without God." But I'd really rather it said, "Merry Christmas. -Jesus".


Monday, December 04, 2006


After 34 years, my Dad retired from serving the government. His job had some "secrecy" to it, so I never got to really be that close or that informed on the specifics of his work. I know generally what he did as an Engineer, but specifically- not so much. So when my mom asked me if I wanted to fly up last minute and surprise my Dad by going to his office retirement party at John's Grill in San Francisco, I jumped at the opportunity to meet his peer group. It was great to hear people say what he was like in the office and to hear his reputation for doing his job well. I was so glad I went. Now both Shannon and I have one parent "free of a boss". I'm looking forward to seeing God use my Dad as he wishes with no strings attached. How fun is that.



Just in case you were wondering, while taking pictures of my kids waiting to give their wish list to Santa, I was reminded who their mom is. Check out this picture of TJ and Shannon. Guess that seals it- we're going to have to invent a new excuse for when they behave badly. "They aren't ours- bet they were switched at birth" just ain't believeable.



This year my wife wanted to buy a pre-lit tree in a box for our family. She has her reasons. No more dead trees. No having to take it down immediately after Christmas. Yatta Yatta...

But alas.. I protest. If I had my way, I'd pile the family in the car, drive to the woods,and Paul Bunyan hack the thing down myself. I've done this several times. It's something we started doing when I was a kid. Then we stopped for a while and did it again once with my kids and my sister and her family in the snow covered mountains of Oregon. However, somewhere in there, Home Depot was invented.

So we don't even go to a "tree lot" anymore. We go to Home Depot and pick one out that's leaning up against a mountain of other trees. We settled early on in marriage on a compromise: I get my Noble Fir and shannon gets colored lights on the tree.

Anyway... last Saturday we made our trek to the land of all things pre-cut. Upon arrival, much to my surprise, we found that on the first Saturday of the month, Home Depot has a kid craft day in the parking lot. It's free from 9-11am. My kids got a workman's apron, a project pin, and a kit to make a box. They then lent us the tools and we had building and bonding time. All of a sudden- just like that- I'm a Home Depot fan. My kids loved it. I had fun. They had fun- and it was something we would not have done had I got to yell "timber!!!" in Oregon... though that would still trump this. Anyway, I put it on my calendar and now you know where I'll be the first Saturday of the month. Bonding, Building, and toasting to the land of bulk home products and evidently- family crafts.

Good times and Merry Christmas. Here's the HD project and the finished product of a decorated tree.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Here's some stuff I've heard people say, or wrote on a blog this week that I wish I could say, but I can't:

  • "So, what day do you want me to bring my Motorhome by?"

  • "Here's a review of a book I read today."

  • "I got to sit in on a meeting with the 250 leading American pastors."

  • "Band I'm currently listing to is [now fill in here some band that sounds cool, someone you've never heard of, and inherently makes you feel like you, the reader, are on a pop culture idiot who only listens to trendy crap]"

  • "25 Christmas movies in 25 days. 3 down. 22 to go."

In an effort to redeem myself though, here's some stuff I've said, that might make you wish you were me.

  • I'd love to go to lunch, but I have to write a paper for class.

  • Honey, I fixed the shower.

  • Wow. $3 for gas. This fill up is gonna be fun.

  • Do you know where my ipod is?

  • I'd love to go to bed, but I have to write a paper for class.

Now I need to stop blogging and write a paper for class.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I'm taking a seminary class on preaching because it is required for my degree and because it is something I enjoy... or at least I thought I enjoyed. The professor allowed me to use my previous seminary course to take the place of preaching 101 so I didn't have to retake it- though I had to read his 100 page teaching manuscript and take notes on it. I did this.

The next course is 102, in which you give two teachings to a group of seminary students as the main focus of the course. He is allowing me to do this in an independent study format with him instead. So, I gave him a DVD of my last 2 teachings at Journey in the main service and we've been meeting to review them. 2 weeks ago we met and he told me all the things I did wrong in my summer teaching. He was unhappy with my speed, my volume, my hand in my pocket... etc. He said a lot of stuff I've had others say in the past... I thought I'd made major moves in the right direction. But evidently I had a lot of work to do still. I believed most of his concerns would be different in my next message.

Today I met with him about my teaching 6 weeks ago. (Side bar: at our church, I got more positive remarks from that teaching than any other I have given in recent years in any context. Our teaching pastor listened to the CD of the service and then gave me the most encouraging one sentence e-mail evaluation I've ever received in ministry. In the hallway, he then told me to tuck it away if I ever needed to use one in the future for a guest teaching. He loved it.) I secretly hoped my professor would be more encouraging and affirm it as quality work. Well... not so much. He started our meeting with the words, "I don't want to discourage you." He then ripped it apart. Didn't like my observations in the text. Didn't see the point in some of my illustrations. Rewrote my outline. Didn't like how I read my Bible. Pretty much 1 page of "atta boys" and 3 pages of cutting.

I'm trying hard to be a learner. I'm trying hard not to be too defensive and to live my previous blog post in real time. I really want the constructive criticism. I want to be coached and go from an average communicator (or whatever I am) to a master at the craft. I'd love that. I'll admit that correcting my teaching is complicated emotionally cuz it's like coaching my parenting... I really want help but most of it extends from who I am. So, any correction also has large teeth by default and I'm pretty vulnerable as my own worst critic anyway. But we disagree on a lot- philosophically and otherwise and this coaching is hard and I evidently don't get to pick my coach.

Next week I'm supposed to prepare my weekend teaching to high school students with him so he can see how I put a talk together. I feel like I'm 15 again. I also feel like maybe I should have been a contractor instead of a youth pastor. I'd have a reason to buy new tools and write them off. I might be richer. I'd work from 7am to 4pm. I would not feel like dirt right now.

Ok.. pity party now over. I'm going to go lick my wounds. Take a shower. Ask God if there's any truth in these statements. I'll also put my contractor application down and step up to the preaching plate again 5 days from now in front of some high school students. Maybe I'll sacrifice bunt :)


Monday, November 27, 2006


I recently bought a Ben Harper CD on an "itunes original". It has commentary between the songs that, I assume, are not on store bought CD's. I'm kinda surprised at how much I enjoy the content of the songs so much more, hearing what Ben was thinking (we're on a first name basis... me and Ben ya know). Anyway, in my humble opinion, the first one on the CD is worth the money by itself. (there's another right before a song called "My Kisses" that's money too) But, because I love you- "the never to comment on my blog but faithful anonymous blog reader nonetheless"- I took the time to transcribe his first comments for you. Here you go:
"The process for me in recording, in bringing out a sound, or the sound, is to be true to the song, be true to myself, to surpass my expectations of myself. Well, there’s 3 ways that I have to push myself musically.
  1. I am tireless in the studio. No one can keep up with me in the studio. No engineer. No producer. No musician. No one. I get there first. I leave last. And you basically have to sort of peel me off the walls when it’s time to say goodnight.

  2. I listen to music. Consistently- all the time. I’m always searching out new music and listening to music. Everyday.

  3. I’m going to see live shows. I go to see groups. I see 3 or 4 shows a month. Cuz whenever you go to a show, you see how they do it and you go ok- I’ve never been to a show that I didn’t learn something about- that didn’t inform my own way of presenting the music on stage. And listening to a record- I’ve never listened to a record and not heard something that you know the way something sounded that I wanted to learn from."
There are thousands of applications to this, but in my world as a youth pastor and follower of Jesus.. I thought in my context it reaffirmed 3 things in me today.
  1. GREAT THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WORK HARD. The myth that greatness is something that falls on some and avoids others is a myth. Great athletes. Great musicians. Great writers. Great builders. Great painters. All of them work hard at being great. They are disciplined and devoted to their craft. I can expect nothing less. What I want to be great at, I must work at. Theologically... I believe God can step outside of this if he wants. However, I don't want to mistake the blessing of God as some kind of lottery ticket I win. I believe God has called me and commanded me to do my part and let God do His part as He wishes.

  2. READ AND LISTEN TO LEARN. Whatever I read and listen to- I need to do so with a learners mindset. Take notes. Think. Don't just soak it up, soak it in. Make time to read and observe and when I do... do it intentionally, keeping an ear for how God wants to use it to shape me.

  3. OBSERVE OTHERS. Don't reinvent the wheel. I can never think I'm at the top of my game and I can now be the teacher. All great teachers are great learners. I must never stop learning from the achievements of those around me. Their achievements can and should be my learning moments.


Friday, November 24, 2006


Well, something in the neighborhood of 10 years ago, Shannon and I made a decision to do the Santa thing with our kids. I think it was automatic parenting decision for both our parent's generation, but somehow by the time we had kids, there was a rethinking going on among some of our peers- mostly the "Christian" ones. A small but vocal contingent started deciding that to teach one's children the Santa Story was to do two things that went against the grain of all things good and holy.
  1. feed the consumerism machine that is taking over Christmas
  2. introduce lies to your children that they will later hate you for
We however, at the risk of being viewed as a pagan-pastor-family by some, decided we did not agree with those assumptions and that a little childhood fable was good for the soul and just plain fun. So, we started the Santa story with our kids and have taken them to see his helper in the mall and the whole bit ever since. (We also do the tooth fairy... but no Easter bunny.- not sure why- just what we do)

Well, today, that story came to a close for my oldest. Shannon and I had been talking about it and TJ (age 9 1/2) was starting to ask a lot of questions. We decided we were now beginning to cross a line that went from sincere story telling and into lying to our curious kid who was, in our estimation, old enough to keep the secret for his little brothers and ready to know the truth for himself.

So, today on a car ride, I broke the news to him. This was kinda weird for me, cuz it was a car ride in my Dad's truck that I had my first "birds and the bees" talk. I have no idea when my parents told me about Santa (my wife remembers vividly this conversation with her Mom), but I remember my Dad telling me about sex on my way to soccer camp. This was a little too weird for me in a strange deja vu moment, but maybe this is where all men do their man to man talking. Not really sure on that- but we had a heart to heart in my truck on the way to home depot and RCP block and brick anyway. Future post on the "birds and the bees" talk with TJ is a little ways away I think- probably on a long drive somewhere evidently.

Anyway, it started out as a discussion on the difference between telling stories and telling lies. We talked about the stories told at Christmas and how some things told are truth, and some are make believe. We talked about parables and flying reindeer and keeping secrets and surprises and miracles and magic, etc... and then I broke the news to him. He didn't cry. He didn't fuss. He did get quiet and think for a moment. Here's a few memorable quotes after I told him:
Me: "So, what do you think this means?"
TJ: "Um, I can't tell my brothers."
Me: "Yes, you can't ruin the fun for them. Anything else?"
TJ: "You guys spent a lot of money."

Me: "So, was it fun to do Santa, even if it's not true?"
TJ: "Yeah Dad. I had lots of fun."

3 HOURS LATER: I'm in the front yard working on lights for our landscaping project.
TJ comes running out to me and says, "So, Dad.. if you and Mom are Santa, then who eats the cookies?"
Me: "Your mom and I."
TJ: "Oh... but what about the letter. I know that's not your hand writing?"
Me: "Um, your mom and I fake it so you can't tell we wrote it."
TJ: "Oh." (smiles a sneaky grin at me and runs back to playing basketball with his brothers)
Well, so far so good. Kinda sad too though. This chapter was fun while it lasted. It's 1/3 over now and for what it's worth, I'd do it again.


Thursday, November 23, 2006


This year we had the smallest guest list of recent years. Several friends I invited had other plans and even some of my regular family, like my parents, who are normally at the table could not make it this year. But while they were all missed, we surely ate like they were all there nonetheless. I BBQ'd the bird for my third year in a row. I did try one thing new this year: an edible fruit center basket. It wasn't perfect, but not bad for my first try. They wanted over a hundred bucks to get it from a professional fruit basket bouquet company I found on the web... but I made if for more like $20. Grandma made the stuffing and the pies and a new addition she brought to the table: twice baked yams you got to "dress" as you pleased before she baked them the second time as you desired. I put mini-marshmallows, raisins, cranberries, walnuts, and brown sugar on mine before they went back in for a re-heating. Shannon did the green beans and mashed potatoes. The kids helped set the table and eat it all up.

We have a few other family traditions. We have some red and gold china that I inherited from family in Santa Fe that we have dubbed the "thanksgiving dishes". Because of their color scheme, they are all we've ever eaten thanksgiving dinner on for as long as I can remember- this year was no different. Also, I think it was somewhere around the time TJ learned to talk, someone started a tradition called the "blessing pot". Before the meal is served, everyone writes what they are thankful for, or a "blessing" on a sheet of paper, and then after the meal, we read them. Only rule is you can't read your own. It always good, and this year was kinda fun cuz Tyler is learning to read and write, so he made his own and read his own for the first year all by himself.

Here's what I wrote:
"I am thankful for my family. Zeus going to dog school. The house we live in becoming our home. The chance to coach soccer with my boys. Our health. All that God is and does."
Here's what TJ wrote, cuz I thought it was a little funny and sweet at the same time:
"I am thankful for my family, relatives, friend, Zeus, turkey, oxygen, H20, and plates. I am thankful for a lot of things, but I am most thankful for God and that He gave everything to me."

Here's some photos I melted into one shot to commemorate the day:




No school on Wednesday. Grandma and Grandpa in town. We have Sea World passes.... So, I canceled some meetings and spent the day watching whales fly through the air. They have more control over a 5000 pound beast in the water than I do with my dog or my kids. That's just a little depressing. Here's my photo collage of the day. Enjoy your Thanksgiving with friends and family.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006


A few weeks back, Time had a cover article with the best inventions of the year. Having been asked to make my wish list by a few family who might want to pass on gifts for me during this time of year, I saw this a sign from God. So, if you're sitting on mountains of cash and have no idea what to do with it, let me inspire you:

  • iKARAOKE: The fine folks at Griffin Technology have invented a cord that turns your nifty ipod instantly into a Karaoke machine. Breakfast time with my kids and high school ministry on Sundays will never be the same again.. oh, and all for $50. Rock on.
  • A TABLESAW THAT WON'T CUT OFF YOUR FINGER. Don't ask me how, but the fine folks at sawstop managed to develop a saw that will cut wood while turning the blade at 120mph all day long. But as soon as you get your finger near it, in a few milliseconds, it comes to a screeching halt and drops below the surface of the table, saving your finger and your future typing skills. My grandpa could have used this in the 60's. He would have kept his thumb. Only question now is, "Is my thumb worth $3000?" (one downside, due to this technology, evidently you cannot use it to cut hotdogs either.)
  • FRESH ICE CREAM VENDING MACHINE. I think this would be awesome to have in my high school ministry cafe. Fresh Ice Cream in a bowl from a vending machine. You get your choice of any combination of 12 flavors and you can actually choose several "mix-ins" like it's from Cold Stone. I definitely would have to buy bigger pants with this machine in my life.. and evidently.. I'd also have to move to Boston, cuz that's the only place they have these so far. I have decided that I need to be the first one to bring it to California- I think I'll put it outside Starbucks in Mission Valley Mall- surely it will pay for my new table saw and maybe my kids college fund.
  1. Give your wife or any loved one this shirt.
  2. Call their cell phone.
  3. Their cell phone then notifies their shirt via bluetooth that a loved one has called.
  4. The shirt then contracts around your loved one, squeezing them like a hug.
  5. Enjoy the fun times. This takes blowing kisses to a whole new level. I need this so that I can give it to my wife.. but then again, ... good news would be, if you have no friends, you can now officially hug yourself too. On second thought, maybe I need this shirt.
  • MIRROR MIRROR ON THE WALL: I just think this would be awesome. It's a mirror that you put in your home and it integrates with your security/entertainment system (incidentally, I would need one of those too by the way). Then, in the voice of a very scary looking "shrekesk" type english butler, it announces to you various information you might want to know. Ie: a show is coming up on the TV you may want to see, a car has pulled into the driveway, the jacuzzi is ready... oh what fun. When not in use, it acts and looks like a normal mirror. Hip Hip Horray for Hollywood special effects people. It surely is worth the 20G price tag to impress your friends and family and to scare the poopy out of kids on Halloween.
  • NEW 4 DOOR JEEP: I have decided that I now need this car. It has 4 doors and seats 5. I have 5 people in my family. It's a sign from God. It is convertible and the doors come off. You can get it with a removable 3 piece hard top if ya want. It comes in blue. Um, I've never been much of a jeep guy... but now I decided I live too close to the desert and the weather in SD is too nice and now I must get me one. Anybody got $30G on their Christmas list with my name on it?
There ya have it. Shop at will.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I was just informed that tonight is another episode of crazy TV night. This means that my wife is recording two shows on our DVR while watching a third somewhere else in the house. Whatever the gods of the television programming world have decided, they have made Tuesdays with just too many must sees all at the same time evidently. I have no idea what shows they are. I think it's the loose the fat contest show and gilmore girls and something else.. but who knows. The result. After 8pm you're allowed to watch TV in minimal locations in the Berry household or on one of 3 shows. Those are your options and the queen of the casa (who just bought a leopard print fuzzy blanket which caused Tyler to now dubbed her the jungle queen of the casa) has spoken and there is no deviation. Hence... I shall blog instead.



Wow... what a few weeks I've had. Life has been blitzed and I feel like I'm just now coming up for air. I have no idea how people blog all the time. I suck at this and the daily blog thing is 20 minutes I can't force myself to find. Oh well. Anywayz, as I come up to breathe... here's what life has been like the past 2 weeks and some lessons from it.

RETREAT SPEAKING: I spoke at a college retreat for my old college group at UC. Davis... I spoke on the comparison game in a series I've created called "compareanoia". It was well received and something that I realize I need to continue to work on myself. So much of how I feel about myself is subtly dependent on others opinions or how it looks to someone outside of myself and God. That's draining and Godless I believe. The statement I repeated in every message was this, "Compareanoia cannot co-exist with a God centered life." I have a ways to go to keeping my life God centered and not comparison centered. I still want the approval of students, peers, friends, family, co-workers... even neighbors and strangers sometimes are people I want to like me or what I've done. It's a daily job for me. I've done these retreats about once every other year something like 6ish times since I graduated. It's always fun and usually Shannon and I would go together, but being so far from Davis now and with no family in the area to bond with the kids when we bounce out... so instead of spending the flow they were throwing my way on baby sitting and plane rides, we decided to put it away... Which in essence amounted to dog training money.

DOG TRAINING: My new dog who has lived in our house since August was a happy member of our home for like 3 weeks. Maybe a month. Then things went bad. He ate several hundred bucks worth of stuff... A planter bed I worked hard to finish, a cover on my mustang, and a chase lounge chair in our yard among a few other things. After that, I said to Shannon, "Either we spend the money to train the dog or the dog has to go." So, instead of dumping money into fixing stuff he destroyed, I dumped it into dog training. Last night we just finished our third private session with our dog. He has a new collar that we use to train him. It's like a muscle stimulator that bugs him when we push a button on command. So, 3 weeks into it... he's about 85% of the way there. He comes- even when other dogs are around and without the collar even. He stays on his rug when I take him to the coffee shop with me- even when people walk past him on the sidewalk. He stopped biting at my kids and grabbing toys and running all around the house with him. He now lives in a kennel in our home when we're gone to the store or church or whatever. Happy happy day. Lesson is this: "sometimes you have to spend money to save money." By all evaluations so far, I should have spent the flow 2 months earlier and I'd be richer today.

SICK: I had to pull a few really late nights getting ready for some youth ministry stuff and getting ready to get out of town and I had this little cold that was eeking around that finally decided to throw down. So I tried to tell my body to deal with it and then it slapped me and threw me on the couch. I slept for like a whole day and drugged up my world and 30 hours later... my body let me get up again. I need to get better at delegation. My body would spend less time yelling at me if I did.

MID TERM: I had a seminary mid term in OT 101. I was reminded that if the Bible was a lie, then whoever wrote it was not very good at writing lies. Cuz they recorded a lot of stuff in it no sayne person would record if you were trying to claim that these are God's chosen people. A lot of the time people today say that they like Jesus, just not Christians. Well that's nothing new. God has always been hard to find in the life of His followers- from the very start in Genesis. Oh... and we do a lot of stuff our parents and our society does.. just cuz. We're officially all idiots. Praise God for grace.

BIRTHDAY: Shannon turned 34. We went to see the WIZ at the La Jolla Playhouse- something my wife lives to do. If she could work and be at the theatre all day, she would. It was an amazing show. I think they must have put a million bucks into the set. It's theatre played in the round (no behind stage- all the sets come up from the floor or down from the ceiling) and some people sat on the stage in stands even. It's like an inner city version of the Wizard of Oz muscial... For example- the lion is a "tough guy" gangster type with a fur coat and listens to rap and has big gold chains and talks a tough game but is a woose who is scared of heights and wants courage. The Wizard is really a charismatic televangelist that deceives people with lies to get power. That part kinda sucked... but oh well. The music was amazing but the craziest part was Toto. Toto was played by some college guy who when they get thrown into OZ, Toto becomes a man/dog. It was this guy who did the whole show in almost every scene with his tongue out and acting like a dog. He wore heelies and ran/rolled around the stage and through this "yellow brick road" that ends up winding through the audience. He was crazy gifted at dance and such. They also put some legit technology into him. He had a "Toto cam" in his head that they used to project what he was seeing on these screens on the side from time to time. They also put a "bark collar" on him so that whenever he made a bark noise (which was his only talking line) that it activated instantly some dog bark that came blasting through the sound system on his cue. It was crazy. Anyway, we had fun and then the following night the boys and I took her to claim jumper and did presents and had the hugest ice cream cookie ever created.

BIBLE STUDY RETREAT: We did a retreat with our Bible Study groups. Friday we did a progressive dinner. Pat and Oscars at one house for bread sticks and salads and a game of steal the bacon in the round on this huge yard of grass. The winners got chucky cheese game tokens. Then we gave everyone a base number of game tokens and sent them into Chucky's house to play games and collectively get the biggest and best prize they could. Then we went to Costco for pizza and then took the Chucky prize and used it as the starting point to play "bigger and better." We met back at the church for ice cream and a girls group won the bigger and better challenge with a Foosball table. My masonry friend Diego got a free lawn mower out of it. My kids got a huge 25 foot flag pole added to their fort. The dumpster was given a broken ping pong table one group returned. I'm not sure whose going to get the wind surfer we now have no idea what to do with. Bigger and better has some down sides I guess... :) Anyway, the Guys spent the night at the church and reinvented the art of playing dodge ball till the wee hours of the morning. The girls spent the night at their group members homes. Then we all reconvened on Saturday at church for a day of grub and training on how to embrace the idea of reaching out to our friends who are disconnected from God on purpose. It was was great and I'm praying we see some real change in the intentionality with which we each, leaders and students, seek to build God into the center of all our friendships.

SOCCER: Yesterday was my last soccer practice. Ever since mid August I've been at the soccer field with my two kids from 4pm to 7pm twice a week for practice and then 2x every Saturday I was in town. It was tons of fun and I realized that I really enjoyed it. I think it energized me a little. I enjoyed spending time with my kids, and as I try to live a more balanced life, I've decided that even though soccer is done, I'm going to come home early on those days anyway to be with my kids. TJ and I have a Thursday afternoon bonding time set now and Tyler I think I'll put on Mondays. I love my kids and the time to play together was a great blessing. After this Saturday, I can breathe on the weekend again. Two games every Saturday has been draining- even though it's fun. My whole prayer during this time was time with my boys in something they loved and asking God to use me as an example of what a coach who follows Jesus should look like to my soccer kids and their families. God has answered both of those prayers and one of the families from TJ's team is now coming weekly to our church. Very cool. Thank you Jesus for that answer to prayer. While his team has only won two games, those boys have improved immensely in their level of play. I also co-coached the team with one of my high school students which turned out to be a great mentoring thing for us too, I would coach with a student again in a heart beat. When we started, the two of us could beat the entire team of 12 in soccer without even thinking about it. Now, they can beat us if they think and play smart. Very fun. I love loosing to kids we trained to be better players.

BEN HARPER: As a thank you from Tyler's team who had their team party at Peter Piper Pizza last night, they gave me a $15 itunes card. I used it to buy the latest Ben Harper CD from itunes that also has his exclusive commentary in it. I've already enjoyed it so much. I highly recommend buying it with the extras. Ben Harper's insight into his own musical development and the behind the scenes info about the songs and such has been cool.

..and now I'm going to get back to living my life.. as this blog session is now officially over and if you're still reading. Congrats. You now need to get back to life too. That was a historically long post marathon. Maybe I should try and find 20 minutes a day instead.


Friday, November 03, 2006


Everyone is bloggin and posting about u tube stuff. I've never done this. I'm now hip and trendy, something that is very out of the box I know. Here's four commercials that made me pee. Yep. I peed my pants and am recording it on my blog. They are that funny.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006


This blog is starting to be a family picture site. Maybe it should be an internet news site like so many other blogs I read, but I guess right now one of my key learnings and values I'm trying to hold hard and fast to is the value of my family. I don't think I'm naturally good at this and I'm trying hard to fix it. Coaching soccer. Hanging with my kids. Trying to make time for the memories that will last a lifetime. These pictures help me remember what's most important in life and make me smile. Hopefully when I post them they encourage you too.

Anyway, the boys had a halloween party at school and they all picked a star wars theme this year for costumes. TJ is OB1 Canobe, Jake is Yoda and Tyler a Storm Trooper. Then on Sunday after lunch with some friends, we made our annual trek to the pumpkin patch. We usually let them play on whatever extra junk there is there, like hay bails and stuff, and then they can pick any pumpkin they want with one parameter. The only rule is, no matter who you are, you have to be able to pick it up and carry it to the car yourself. Guess that might get interesting when they're 17, 14, and 11- though maybe by then we'll just be blowing up pumpkins instead of carving them.

May the force be with you.



For everyone of us, I guess there is some definition of what hell on earth is and in jokes or whatever, it becomes the thing that Satan would do to you as torment should you go to hell... cuz it annoys you to no end.

Well, mine would be CRUNCHING. Specifically people crunching food. I won't even give my kids gum because it drives me nuts to listen to someone pop it and slop it around in their mouth. I don't even chew it myself... cuz it annoys me. I have no idea why or what happened to me in my childhood or while in my mother's womb or whatever, but I HATE crunching and listening to people chew. Now that I've posted this.. I'll probably now be given a CD of crunching and crunchy food to all my children to enjoy in my presence for Christmas by all my good friends who think tormenting me sounds fun.

But anyway, in my seminary class, there is this Marine type guy who eats his way through every class. At every break he finds more food. Not sure where he digs it up, though he has a very large bag he brings with him. But two weeks ago, he sat across the room and crunched like crazy. I think I heard every chew in the middle of my spine. Last week he sat right next to me and I thought I was going to dunk his head in my coffee- but the Marine look caused me to hesitate, plus I need my coffee in seminary and even drowning a cruncher might not be worth it. This week the guy is all the stinkin way across the class and crunching like crazy. Not like open mouth, like a cow crunching.... just like chewing an entire box of snap crackle pop that has been in the freezer to enhance the crunch factor.... and now we just got back from a break and some lady just brought in a freakin freshly popped bag of popcorn and the whole place stinks like it... I can hardly wait for some old lady to come in with her freshly nuked tuna caserole- which likely won't crunch, just stink up the place.

This only seems to reinforce another opinion I've been trying not to entertain, but that my hell might be having to sit in seminary class- which I guess is why I'm bloggin in the middel of it... plus, I'm trying to occupy myself so that I don't throw anything at the cruncher.


Sunday, October 22, 2006


Well, as my Disneyland Day 1 post would imply, we stayed a second day at Disneyland and California Adventure park for "Disneyland Day 2". It was tons of good ol family fun. Lots of memories. Here's the photo set from day 2. My personal favorite memory... pic on top row.. second from the left, "oh yeah baby"... the words from Tyler after we zipped passed the upside down loop of the rollercoaster at California Adventure- which we had too many fast passes for our group to go on... so Tyler and I went twice, back to back. He laughed most of the time and gave me the biggest hug when it was over.


Thursday, October 19, 2006


Took the kids out of school and went to Disneyland with my sister, my brother in law, my wife's parents, my parents, and my family today. Good times. Cool thing is this is the first time my entire family is tall enough so everyone gets to go on all the rides and we don't have to toss a coin to see who's going to wait with the munchkin. Jake even went on space mountain. What a trooper.

Here's a photo collage from today. I'll let them say the thousand words.


Monday, October 16, 2006


We have collumns now. Looks like fort knox says the wife. Me and the boys say we need to add automated potatoe launching cannons soon to defend the house from the neighbors.

Stucco will be nice. Maybe then the neighbors will think we are just trying to change our yard instead of fortify it. One weekend at a time.


Saturday, October 14, 2006


Yesterday, I pulled the Dad card and a gal at church got me free tickets to go sit in the Patriot Chalet at the Miramar Air Show. Me, my 3 boys, and Aaron from my high school small group went to the show to eat, laugh, meet the pilots, climb around on machinery from all the armed forces,and be amazed by the crazy things America's pilots can do. We had tons of fun. Here's my observations on the day.

DAD DUTY: As a dad, I need to take my kids out of school to stuff like this again... it was tons of fun and a great memory.

FACTS OF LIFE: No matter how cool the tricks you can do in the air in a plane, it can't expand the attention span of a 4 year old. Also there is a law when parenting young children I have discovered: if there is something good about to happen you don't want to miss, someone will have to pee.

HERITAGE: There are men there who flew fighter planes in WWII and every war/military event since then. It's pretty amazing to see how much mutual respect they have and how much they support one another.

PERSPECTIVE: You get a very different feel there on freedom in America than you get in most of the news today. It is good to spend some time pondering all sides of the coin. I wondered how I'd feel if my 3 boys followed these men and women in their careers with the military. I think I'd be proud. I'm not sure how you can walk around that base and not be.

CONCRETE: there is a lot of concrete on those runways. I didn't know there was that much concrete in the world. I think I noticed cuz I put like a thousand bucks worth of concrete in my front yard recently.. and I think there is like 10 million bucks worth on the ground there. Not in the buildings, just the stinkin flight path.

TECHNOLOGY: we have fighter jets that can take off, fly a route, hit a target, return and land all by computer with the pilot there as an accessory and while breaking the sound barrier if they want to. Craziness.


Thursday, October 05, 2006


If you have 8 minutes and need a good laugh... then enjoy the crib video one of our high school students made of my casa for a series on defeating the comparison game we all get stuck playing called "compareanoia".'s good times.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006


If I was God, I'd smite some people. I know that sounds judgemental but God is our judge and judgemental is part of his job and maybe I should have been smited a long time ago... but here's my top two lowly suggestions for today.

1. Smite the entire Westboro Baptist Church who plan to protest the funerals of the little girls killed in Amish Country and who claim that they brought it on themselves by denying God and living Amish. I really want to start cussing now. Instead, I think God should smite those who, in my humble opinion, falsely represent him. I mean these are the poeple who sponsor AHHHHHHH!

2. The clowns that decided to market a statue of St. Joseph as a means to sell homes. Yes, believe it or not, you can pay 10 bucks and buy a 4" figurine, complete with burying bag and then when you claim your property by the spirit of the saints, your house will sell... and lots and lots of people do this! Yippee for free market, the web, and stupidity.


Monday, October 02, 2006


I'm stuck in a room in downtown El Cajon waiting for my name to be called. Believe it or not, they have wireless in this small room with a plug and a wobbly table we can sit at. I'm supposed to feel honored that I'm keeping our freedoms strong and doing my part to uphold the greatest justice system in the world... I think I'd rather be a cop.


Sunday, October 01, 2006



We started landscaping our front yard last week. Something I've been wanting to do since we moved in. The front of our property has looked kinda nasty for a while and we began the process of moving our fence out to the front and building some retaining walls and planters and such. Diego and his friend Samuel have been doing most of the concrete. I do the sprinklers and electrical and whatever else Diego tells me to... He's the man. I'm enjoying working with him and practicing my Spanish.

Here's some photos of the work so far... I'll keep you posted as progress continues.. but it's a side job for Diego so he only works weekends on it. Looks like it will be another month or so before we're "done".


Tuesday, September 26, 2006


This morning Jake and I washed my truck. In the process, he got to thinking and asked…

“Dad, who is stronger? God or Jesus?”

I said, “Neither. Jesus is God. They are both the same.”

Long pause.

Jake: “Oh, so some people just call him Jesus and some people call him God.”

Dad: “Yes.”

If only the incarnation was so simple, then I wouldn’t be feeling so stupid after trying to explain it to my 4 year old.

I wonder how my son is going to feel when he is old enough to understand that Jesus prayed to God (or Himself) and it is not considered schizophrenic.

I wonder if Jesus ever asked God Jake’s question? Like do the Holy Spirit and Jesus and God ever talk about who could take who in a fight? Here’s the conversation:

  • Holy Spirit- I move like the wind. I’ll take you out when you can’t see me.
  • Jesus- the waves obey me, no matter how powerful your wind is.
  • God- they don’t call me God for nothing. Sit down before I make a universe without you in it.

Ok… maybe I need to go back to Theology class again. I think I missed something. Or maybe they missed it.


Monday, September 18, 2006

100 U.S. Dollars VS 349,000 Zambian Kwacha

This last Saturday, while unloading a weeks worth of groceries (several hundred dollars worth), we got a letter from a family in Zambia we send some money to each month through world vision. Recently I posted that one of the brothers that we used to support passed away from viral meningitis. Anyway, we sent them $100 through World Vision. It was the least we could do. Here's what the letter read:

Dear Brian Berry

Greetings to you and your family. I am fine here with everybody. I hope you the same. I am very happy with the money I received from you. Which was 100 dollars. This was 349,000 Zambian Kwacha. I bought the following items. A suit, shoes, bread, sugar, geisha, salt, blanket, maize, chitenge material, Vaseline, and trousers. I bought these items from the money you sent to me. Some were for my family members. My family and I are all very happy and appreciate for this. I was able to go to town after a long time. I had been there when I was born. This was a second time to be there. I saw a lot of things in Choma. Thank you once more.

God bless you.

Yours child.
Mapila George

As I sat at my kitchen table crying, I realized that we were about to place a picture on our fridge of a family who would never own a fridge. I felt very rich. I wondered why I was born in the US and not there and why it should not make a world of difference and how sad it is that it does. I felt very selfish. I felt blessed to be able to support them. I recommitted to the task and to the responsibility of writing more and sending more at christmas and birthdays and stuff.

I can't believe how far $100 goes in their world and how it wouldn't even feed my family for a week, but from the looks of the pictures, I guess it will feed them for months. I think I've decided that we need to go visit this family. I'm not sure when. But for now, I'm sending money for food and clothing and medicine and we'll keep praying as a family for them and then... one day. We're going to visit. I know it. Maybe we can even take George to town for the 3rd time in his little life.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006


If the usher gives you this at our church. DANGER!! Don't drop it. Count it. 13 separate sheets of paper and 16 announcements in each of the 1500 programs we passed out this weekend.

That's crazy. We're giving the sunday times a run for it's money. But, what do I know?... I'm just the youth guy. The bar has been set. I'm now going to try and beat them and put 14 in my student program this weekend.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I was recently referred to this blog/ad for a sold out conference coming up that John Piper is leading called the Supremacy of Christ: above all earthly powers in a postmodern world. On the blog/ad, he has the following quote:

"Our aim is to call the church to a radical and very old vision of the Man, Jesus Christ- —fully God, fully sovereign, fully redeeming by his substitutionary, wrath-absorbing death, fully alive and reigning, fully revealed for our salvation in the inerrant Holy Bible, and fully committed to being preached with human words and beautifully described with doctrinal propositions based on biblical paragraphs. We love Dorothy Sayers old saying, The Dogma is the Drama. We think the post-propositional, post-dogmatic, post-authoritative conversation is post-relevant and post-saving."

If you understood what he said and are even the slightest bit read on the "emergent conversation" then you know that these are clearly fighting words and on purpose. He is claiming that a group of people who believe that some things we're "certain" of should be held more lightly and maybe a little less "certain" makes their theology, in the words of John Piper, both irrelevant and pagan.

Honestly, I read this and got annoyed. But I've listened to a few "emergent conversation" podcasts and a read quite a few blog posts to make me just as annoyed. I think the "American Church" in specific is returning to a new level of division not seen since the age old days of denominational battles where we planted 5 brands of church in 3 city blocks. Today our division is going back to the battles of Luther's day and prior to the age old fighting over "dogma and creeds." There are two groups in the fight. GROUP 1 is the sold out conference of Piper's world. GROUP 2 has an issue with sold out conferences and prefers small "conversational" gatherings aournd the country with beverages and free-flowing musings.

GROUP 1 are going to look at the creeds and theological view points that were written by the church and its representatives in the 1500 years that followed its birth, decide which ones they are certain were right, and then say that anything outside of those is wrong and heretical.

GROUP 2 are going to read the same set of beliefs, do the same analysis, and decide some of what GROUP 1 concluded is certainly or might be wrong. So, in an effort to not state with certainty, anything they are uncertain of, everything moves to vague non-propositional statements that are stated as hypothesis only with lots of subjective language.

This, on both sides, seems to be to be throwing the baby out with the bath water. For GROUP 1 to claim that we know everything about GOD or have read the Scriptures with such clarity that our view (and only our view) on the mode or model of Jesus sacrifice, the events surrounding the return of Jesus, and the eternal destination of a soul is correct is either the only possible conclusion and the sole representative of truth or presumptuous and pious at best and grossly arrogant at worst.

However, for GROUP 2 to see how with great certainty GROUP 1 tends to overstate propositional truths and to remove the mystery from the Christian faith is one thing. But to respond by doing the absolute opposite and state every truth as subjective and to be certain of virtually nothing is to presume all of those in history before us to be ignorant and arrogant while assuming that you can avoid those labels by being wishy washy and abstract.

I wish somehow we could spend less time being afraid of being wrong or defending our little piece of "certainty" that we could actually have a "conversation" that didn't have to be on thin ice. If people would put down the sword and take the other guys neck off the table, maybe we could decide there's some stuff we know for certain and some stuff we're pretty certain we won't ever know or that we're making our best educated guess on... and exercise this thing called unity, trust, and faith in the God of all creation.

Maybe that would truly change the conversation on both groups.


Friday, September 08, 2006


I went to the doctor for my DMV physical for my drivers license this week because I have a class B for driving buses and my medical card was past due. Anyway, I went to Kaiser and got this crazy doctor in his 60's who talked really fast and was tons of fun and made fun of me because I never go to the doctor and am healthy and therefore am paying for everyone to use the system. I told him I had 3 kids, one by emergency C-section in a non-Kaiser facility and that I'd pretty much got my money's worth.

But he still pressed me and asked me my medical history and said that since I've been in Kaiser for over a decade and never had much done to me that I should get some shots. I said, "shots". He said yeah... have you ever had a hepatitus A or B vaccine, we give it to your kids but you were born after we started giving it. I said, I don't think so. He said they were giving it to my kids and that I should get it. He said Hep A is common in border communities and that I should get it if I ever plan on eating tacos in Mexico. I said for real? I've eaten more than I can count with a lot of people and no one's ever had a problem of Hepatitus. He said, yep, I see it all the time here at Kaiser. It makes you turn kinda orange for about 6 weeks and be in the hospital for a week or so. I said, wow. Sounds fun. He said it's not.

So, he said the shots were free since I already paid for this visit co-pay and then he talked me into getting my tetnus updated. So they shot me hep A in one arm. Hep B in the other. And Tetnus in my "hip" she said, but it really was my butt. Which is still a little sore from the darn shot. But good news.. now they put whooping cough vaccine in the tetnus shot so I'm good on that too.

Bad news... I have 3 more shots to go over the next 6 months to keep the Hep virus from turning me orange. Guess I'm "getting my money's worth".



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San Diego, CA
Husband. Dad. Jesus Follower. Friend. Learner. Athlete. Soccer coach. Reader. Builder. Dreamer. Pastor. Communicator. Knucklehead.

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