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.



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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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