Saturday, December 29, 2007

CHRISTMAS DAY DOUBLED

The highlights of Christmas Day were double this year. Double the people. Double the food. Double the blessings. Double pretty much everything.

Here's the loot that is not for 3 boys, but for 6 cousins. That's double the joy of giving.



Here's our food and family around dinner that night that is so much of what we thank God for and is well over double what we normally serve. (note the sweet wide angle I got with my new SLR lense my parents gave me. Thanks mom and dad. Thanks a lot)


My cup runneth over- all over everywhere actually. What a great thing it is to pray with family, enjoy my family, laugh and eat with my family, and share a passion for Jesus with my family. I know all too well in my line of "work" how rare that truly is. I am blessed.

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LEGOLAND BONDING

I admit I did not want to go to Legoland. I lobbied for seaworld again, the zoo, the dentist- pretty much anything but Legoland.

I went once before with my boys when Shannon and I first came to SD and it was so boring I wanted to gouge my eye out. The lego city they built was so cool, but it was so sun bleached and nasty looking that I couldn't figure out why the main attraction was so poorly taken care of. Surely they could have at least covered it with a huge shade thingamajig or build it in a gianormous warehouse or something. But my wife insisted that there is a window of age in which Legoland is fun. She said my sister's 3 to 6 year old kids were perfect for it and should be given the privilege of seeing it when it was in their target age, since it would likely be years before they got to go and blah blah blah.

Well, I lost the debate and we went the day after Christmas.

And here's my confession, the old parts of the giant lego city are even more sun-bleached and nasty than I remember, but the new Vegas section is pretty cool. Plus, based on the amount of changes they've made to their ride offerings in the last 2 years, there are several things that we had a lot of fun doing; and yes, my sister's kids loved it and so did mine. My face also gives away some picture proof that I had fun with them.

So.. here's the evidence:




We even now have 13 passes to go back between now and Feb. 28th due to a buy one day, get one day free promotion that was going on. And thanks to Brad's internet research, our tickets were already 50% off as it was. So I'll be making at least one more trip to Legoland soon it seems.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

CAMPBELL CHRISTMAS

Shannon has two sisters who we don't get to see much. Initially it was because they both lived with their mom like an hour away. Now it's cuz they both are working and/or busy with college. But despite some distance and busy schedules, we share a special bond because of blood lines and the role our family has played over the last decade after the death of their dad and the "Campbell" side of our family heritage. For years when they were in kids they would come to our house with their dad. Then there were a few years of us picking them up or getting dropped off to us, and then in high school they would drive themselves across the bay to spend a day or two with us. But those days are gone and now they're in their twenties and the last few years they have come to SD to hang out with us for a day or two.

Scott also had a sister who we see even less. But Becki and her family came to visit us too this year, all the way from Louisiana around the Thanksgiving time when Shannon's mom was in town. It was a great few hours.

The aunties then came in early December, but the month has had me so crazy that it wasn't until this week that I got to put together the pictures from our time together.

So Caitlin, Erica, and Becki... here you go. Here's the long promised picture posts. Thanks for helping us set up the tree and decorate the lights and eat and laugh and keep the Campbell name alive and well. Dad would be proud.


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Thursday, December 27, 2007

MY NAME ON A BILLBOARD

Welp, it's a first. My name is on a billboard!

22 years ago I sat in neighborhood church as a freshman in high school and as a result of my family, the mentoring/teaching of Mark Teyler, the invite of my then girlfriend/now wife, and the Holy Spirit's guidance- I dedicated my life to following Jesus.

So today, I drove to Nor Cal with my family to do Christmas with Shannon's side of the family in our old stomping grounds and to teach at Neighborhood in the main service. I'd be lying to you if I didn't say I wasn't both super excited and scared to death. I have such great memories there and I really don't want to drop the ball and screw that up.

I've taught in contexts like this lots before, but I still feel like returning home to teach at Neighborhood is somehow different. Maybe because I got married on this stage. Or maybe because after 14 years as a youth pastor, my name finally made it to the marquee. HAAAA!!!

If you're in the area this Sunday, Dec. 30th... drop on by one of their two services and we'll bond.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

LA JOLLA WITH THE COUSINS

Day 2 of the cousins visit was riding bikes and then headed to La Jolla for a trip to check out the sea lions and the tidepools. It was so awesome. I love watching kids go crazy with wonder. They love putting their fingers in the sea anemone and having them close up. We had some fun finding hermit crabs too. It was low tide, so there was lots and lots to look at. The sunset alone was worth the trip.



Today, I've been trying to teach my sister how to do a photo collage. We downloaded a free trial version of Photoshop Elements. I was super impressed. It did lots of what I do with photoshop and it was way more affordable for her. It was fun to help her learn to collage her photos so she can share them with friends and family via their blog. Next month they are headed to serve in Uganda for a 2 year stint working with an missions/engineering firm called EMI, so teaching her how to share her photos is a win-win for everyone. Myself included.

Here's my sister's first creation with my tutoring- but a mutual accomplishment none-the-less.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS

Merry Christmas to you. We celebrated Jesus with gifts, food, and family today. 13 of us in all. My mom, dad, and grandma and then my sister's family and mine.

Today was day 5 of a 7 day visit from the Crawford Clan- my sister's family. It's meant there have been 6 boys between the ages of 3 and 10 and at least 4 adults here since last Thursday which turned our house into a very busy place. Over the next several days I'll post some stories and collages. I have some pre-stories to do as well, which I hope to get done in the next week or so. December has been event packed. I have 2 field trips with my boys, a christmas party with our youth ministry, a day with the "aunties", and several activities of the last few days to collage.

Day 2 of their visit here consisted of a trip to see Sea World. So much fun. I will say, that the nighttime Christmas show from Shamu and company was like going to church. Literally. It was amazing. I felt kinda weird, but I cried. Something about watching people interact with these whales in such a crazy friend/amazing swimming and theatrical event combined with Christmas Carols both sung and played by a choir and simple saxophone and even scripture on the big screens just got to me. I was glad we stayed for the closing event, even though we were a little cold. It was so worth it. Thanks Sea World.

Here's the picture set. (click it if you want to get a closer view) Merry Christmas to you all.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

GIFT EXCHANGE LEFT/RIGHT READING

I know these posts are mostly too late for those of you who are doing gift exchanges, but it's proof as to how crazy my Christmas has been. But on the off chance you need another idea or that you want to tuck one away for the future. Here's one I did a few years ago.

Everyone gets a gift and then sits in a circle, with the unopened gift. Then a reader reads this poem and at the obvious points, all gifts are passed around in the circle. There is no stealing, it's just an exchange.

Twas the night RIGHT before Christmas when RIGHT through the house
Not a creature was LEFT stirring, not even a mouse--
The stockings were hung RIGHT by the chimney with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be RIGHT there.
The children were nestled RIGHT snug in their beds,
while visions of sugarplums danced RIGHT in their heads,
And mama in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled RIGHT down for a long winter's nap,
When RIGHT out on the LEFT lawn there rose such a clatter,
I sprang RIGHT from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the RIGHT window I LEFT like a flash;
tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
LEFT a luster of midday to objects RIGHT below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature sleight and eight tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver RIGHT lively and quick;
I knew RIGHT in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came;
and he whistled and shouted, and called them RIGHT by name:
"Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On Comet, on Cupid, on Donder and Blitzen!
To the RIGHT top of the porch! To the LEFT top of the wall!
Now dash away, dash away, dash RIGHT away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly
when they meet RIGHT with an obstacle, mount RIGHT up to the sky,
So up to the housetop the coursers they LEFT flew,
with a sleighful of toys and St. Nicholas, too.
And then in a twinkling, I heard RIGHT on the roof,
the prancing and pawing of each little RIGHT and LEFT hoof.
As I drew in my head and was turning LEFT around‹
down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, RIGHT from his head to his LEFT foot,
and his clothes were all LEFT tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung RIGHT on his back,
and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His RIGHT and LEFT eyes, how they twinkled! His dimples‹how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was LEFT drawn up like a bow,
and the beard LEFT on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held RIGHT in his teeth,
and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a round little belly,
that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was RIGHT chubby and plump, a RIGHT, RIGHT jolly old elf,
and I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself.
A wink of his LEFT eye and a LEFT twist of his head,
soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went RIGHT straight to his work,
and filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk
And laying his finger to the LEFT of his nose,
and giving a nod, he LEFT‹up the chimney he rose.
He sprang RIGHT to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
and away they all LEFT like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he LEFT--out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!"

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GIFT EXCHANGE DICE GAME

Last Wed. night we had our high school small group guys christmas party. It consisted of pizza, cake, dodgeball, and 40 random gifts we exchanged- but not like it's normally done in my world.

For starters, the gifts were all found by an adult volunteer whose wife works for a company that repossesses homes. Most people leave them pretty much trashed. So they contract with people to go in and fix/clean them up before they can be re-sold. As a result, our adult volunteer found all the gifts at the party left behind in the garages and such. He even found the wrapping paper he needed. This is good, because if you ask a group of 40 high school guys to bring gifts to a party, 5 of them will remember and 35 will forget. Also, of the 5 gifts that were remembered, 3 would have been bought by a mom and are actually worth having. The remaining two are wrapped in newspaper and found under their bed and probably disease infested. The other 35 guys are standing around claiming you never told them to bring anything and looking for junk at church they can wrap in toilet paper so they can play too. So, having an adult bring random stuff is at least as good as what they would have brought anyway.

Regardless, since I was trying not to let the gift exchange go on for forever, I was searched the web and found a sweet new way to play the age old game of gift exchanges. It turned out to be so much fun that I think I'll do it again and surely lobby for it to replace the old drawing numbers and stealing until it's frozen method.

So, here's how it works- with a few changes I added in.
  1. Everyone brings a gift and puts it in the pile.
  2. In exchange for bringing their gift, they pick up a cup of 4 dice- not a number from a cup like I'm used to. (This was no big deal since I have like 200 dice in a bag for playing liars dice in large groups.)
  3. Then, one party leader directs everyone to pick up their cup, shake the dice, and turn them over under the cup on a table at the same time. Anyone who gets 3 of a kind, yells out some pre-determined saying. IE: "I got it" or "Santa is fake" or "Happy Birthday Jesus" or "Fruitcake" or whatever.
  4. Then in the order they were heard, they are allowed to go get a new, unopened gift only.
  5. This continues until like 3 people are left or something, then you just tell them to go pick a gift.
  6. Then, once everyone has a gift, you now go into a pre-designated number of exchange rounds in which you do the same thing. Except now, you change what the dice must read to win. One round might be a round where the winner gets two pairs. Another round might be for dice whose sum total is 11. Another might be 3 of a kind with even numbers only. Etc.
  7. Anyone who wins one of the above exchange rounds and yells out they have it, then can either keep their gift or trade their gift with anyone else. Gifts are only frozen for that round. (IE: if 3 people win, they can only trade with different people who did not also win. This way, winning can be like an immunity shield for your gift too for a round if you'd rather not trade) However, all gifts are active for exchange in every round, no matter how many times they have been stolen- so there is incentive to want to win every time. The trick is you must win a round of dice to be eligible to trade or protect your gift in the event you want to keep it.
This was tons of fun. Even for gifts that were mostly random junk they didn't want and couldn't use for the most part.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

WATER RANT

I laughed at the water bottle I found today at the bagel shop. Then tonight, after I put the boys to bed was reading this weeks Newsweek and found this article about the popularity of drinking water that claims to have some spiritual value to it. Water that does not "just promote good health, it actually makes you good" these companies claim. They are proving my previous post correct. You really can promise all kinds of bull and get people to pay ridiculous amounts of money, even for water.

I stopped laughing.

Here's a few quotes.
"Like a crucifix or a rosary, a bottle of Holy Water is a daily reminder to be kind to others."

"Holy Drinking water, produced by a California based company called Wayne Enterprises, is blessed at the warehouse by an Anglican or Roman Catholic priest."

"The most recent entry in this niche is Spiritual Water. It is purified municipal water, sold with 10 different Christian labels. The Virgin Mary bottle, for example, has the Hail Mary prayer printed on the back in English and Spanish."

The makers of spiritual water, "Calmly refutes the implication that his Spiritual Water is bad for the planet. People put fewer of his bottles in the trash, he says, because they don't want to discard the images of Jesus or Mary."
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

I recently went on a field trip with TJ to discover how to use water and resources more efficiently in San Diego. It was very cool and in the process I discovered that 90% of the water I get comes from the California Aquaduct and the Colorado River. San Diego is a desert and gets less than 10" of rain a year. This year we have had like 3 inches. I sorta knew that, but the details made me think about my shower a little more intentionally this week. Water is not an American Consumer product, it is a privelege. It is a gift. It should not be wasted. And by the way, it does not come from us, but the Creator alone. Maybe men create cars, but God creates water. Period. We should be careful when we jack with anything lent to us by the creator.

Some according to Newsweek agree with me.
"Some religious believers, also convinced of the elemental importance of water, are campaigning against its unbiquitous sale and packing on the grounds that the practice is neither ethical nor good for the environment. 'Water is life' says Sister Mary Zirbes. 'It really should not be a commodity to be bought.'"
And here's two quotes from Richard Cizik- of the National Association of Evangelicals
"In a world where a billion people have no reliable source of drinking water, where 3000 children die every day of waterborne diseases let's be clear: bottled water is not a sin, but it sure is a choice."

"Spending 15 billion dollars a year on bottle dbottled water is a testimony to our own conspicuous consumption, our culture of indulgence."
Richard takes a lot of crap from "Christians" who don't give a crap about the environment, believing it's ours to rule and that since God's going to destroy it eventually anyway, we can do whatever we want to it now. However Richard Cizik believes Romans 8:19-26 and lives it. I'm a big Richard Cizik fan. (You can read what he believes here) He takes a lot of heat for the gospel. He believes that all of God's created order, including the planet, was hurt by the fall and that Christians not only care about the souls of human beings, but of the creation which is also called to declare the Glory of God. David evidently agreed.

If you want to chew on the behind the scenes issues that are really at stake in this water debate and how some cultures around the world abuse it and what a Christian ought to do about it, then you might want to read this covenant commitment to simple living from the Lausanne Commity for World Evangelization- orignally founded by Billy Graham. But be warned, it's long, deep, spiritual, theological, practical... and it will jack with you. Very few documents have impacted my thinking as significantly as the theological conclusions this group came to. I fully agree with them and am trying desperately to figure out what it means for me. I suspect it will take a while, but I'm on the road.

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XXX WATER

This morning I went to go get a bagel and while waiting for them to make it into an egg thing-a-majig, I was checking out the beverages they sell in the fridge.


While examining them, I was thinking how stupid it is that America has like a thousand ways to buy bottle water when lots of the world has no water at all and we treat it like a fad with different shaped bottles that probably cost more than the water inside and that I promise you, I could come up with a new fandangled way to pitch water to you with some silly promise. One of them they sell is "smart water" which I'm positive is just water and it makes you dumb if you buy it thinking it will make you smart.

But then I saw the multi-colored vitamin water and thought, well at least those people might have legitimately jacked with their water and added food coloring and called it vitamins. In the process, I saw that they sell one called "XXX" water and so I walked over to read about it, assuming the bottle would claim it was some kind of aphrodisiac.

However I found this paragraph instead:
c-mon, get your mind out of the gutter, we only named this drink xxx because it has the power of triple antioxidants to help keep you healthy and fight the radicals so in case you’re wondering, this does not cost $1.99 a minute or contain explicit adult content or anything considered “uncensored”, it has not “gone wild!!!!” during spring break nor will clips of it be passed around the internet like a certain hotel heiress and it has never been seen nude, but it is definitely au naturale.
I laughed out loud.

I think that if you're going to jack with people's water and sell it to them with some amazing promise, you should at least have fun doing it. I now want to take a second job working for vitamin water. I want to write the silly smack talk they put on the side of the bottles. Somewhere in the world, someone right now is sitting in a cubicle in vitamin water land saying to themselves, "I can't believe they pay me to do this." I take that back, they're probably on the ski slopes of Utah texting their latest paragraph to their boss while riding the lifts and laughing all the way to the bank as people buy colored water in the name of healthy living.

I'm jealous.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

CASH FROM THE TRASH

TJ's trash into cash project has meant that every Friday we've been bringing home cans and plastic bottles to be recycled. We've been stock piling them on the side yard and last week we took them in and....

Word on the street is the school has no idea what to do with the money since they never get money like this. This Friday everyone at school is getting ice cream... from money from the trash. Go figure.

There's a lot of cash in the trash evidently.

Every week I do a pastor on call day at our church.... and this last week a guy needed to put his family up in a hotel for 2 nights. He said he just needed a place for them to get out of the rain and to get ahead. So we paid for 2 nights in a motel since he had recently lost his job... long story but his job currently, is digging the recycling out of the trash every night. He says that he makes $80 every night doing it.

I was so surprised how fast the CRV added up that I've stopped giving my bottles to my curbside recycling program. I'd rather give it to the school.

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FINISHED

Another class at seminary is now officially over. I just finished my ethics class final. Now I think I can actually get a little normal back in my life. This class had me slammed ever since the fires and then having my computer stolen. That and soccer made this schedule quite the doozy. My apologies to those of you who were looking forward to reading my promised once a week journal entries. I managed to post only 2 of them for you in the time crunch. Sorry.

I was surprised to discover that this was class number 10 since I've been down here in SD. Man time flies and sometimes, I think school does not. I think I still have like 20 classes to go.

Next class starts Jan 10. - The writings of Paul.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

ONE MONTH, ONE K, AND BEAT UP

Well, as of yesterday, a little over one month from the day I called USAA, I finally got my payment. They charged me for two incidents for the "two" break ins- told me there was nothing I could do about it, it's how the contract is written. So my two break ins turned my weekend getaway with my wife into a $7 grand loss in stolen property that cost me a grand in freakin deductible payments to recover.

Merry Christmas from the thieves.

Last year around this time, I made this vow that I didn't want to pay any money towards extra fees in 2008. No late fees on credit cards, no extra money spent that was unneeded. I just wanted to use the money I had for advancing the ship. Maybe even save some.

Well, in the first week of January I got a red light ticket by a red light picture thingy on my way home from Nor Cal that slapped me with like a $400 bill. Then our dishwasher broke. Then my clutch went out in my truck. Then the fuel pump went out in the Yukon and so did the tires. Now the gas guage is broken. My car got broken into and my computer stolen and well, if you ask me, financially I'd just assume 2007 go away.

Money and the stuff it buys are stupid.

I wish I didn't like either of them.

I feel like they constantly beat me up and yet I'm attached to them and can't leave. I think I need to go to a support group for battered and beaten husbands. I'm getting a divorce from money.

Crap. I think that costs money too.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

SLAMMED AND SICK

That's the reason for no posts in 10 days.  


Slammmmed with 2 papers due the last 2 mondays and a final due this monday for Seminary.

Sick with a cold.

Slammmmmmed with prep for christmas, a hiring process, the weekend, and missions preps.

Sick with a sore throat.

Slammmmmmmed with family coming preparations, 2 field trips, end of the season soccer parties, and...

well... I gotta go.  Pictures will come eventually.  My posting will be sparse for another week. 

don't get sick and don't get slammed... or at the very least, don't do them at the same time. 

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

HAPPY 61ST DAD

My dad turned 61 today. We went to church together and then home for leftovers for lunch. Gotta love that leftover turkey! Anyway, then this afternoon we all went to go see How the Grinch Stole Christmas- a play in Balboa Park at the Old Globe Theatre. Evidently this is some kinda famous tradition that's been around for a decade here, but it was our first trip to the theatre here for this play or any other. It's a really nice place and was fun and the play is 77 minutes straight- right up my alley. I really loved the storyline. It's been a while since I read the book, but it was great way to kick off the Christmas season with my Dad and family and being reminded yet again, that Christmas is something way deeper than the consumer culture that worships it too.



Then afterwards our play tickets also came with a free pass to the official tree lighting ceremony, so we hung around for that. Then we capped off the night with dinner at a famous seafood place here in San Diego on the waterfront- Anthony's. Dad was excited to know that both my dad and Anthony's Fish Grotto were birthed in the same year. Happy 61st to both of you. Maybe he should have drank a 61 year old glass of wine with the owner.

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FREE SATURDAY = TRIP TO THE DESERT

Soccer is over. TJ's team lost their last game which meant we got second place overall. Very cool. I loved spending the past several months playing soccer with my boys, but I must say, I was very ready for a free Saturday.


Several months ago, I promised my boys I'd take them to the desert to go off-roading and learn how to shoot a gun. So, we capitalized on this soccer-free-saturday to do just that. The women went shopping and the men went shooting. Seems like a fair trade. We had tons of fun in the desert. I love taking my "big kids" to the desert every year on our spring break man trip. It's so much fun to watch high school men become boys again. I think it's the big rocks and barren wilderness that brings out the little man inside. No TV. No electricity. Just adventure all around.

So, true to my experience, as soon as I opened the truck doors, the boys were climbing.


Then after climbing, out came the guns and up went the targets. We shot it up all day. Here's my favorite quotes:

TJ: "Mom, I shot a 22 rifle and a 20 guage shot gun!!"

Tyler: "I'm a lean mean shooting machine. You can call me dead eye Ty now mom."

Jake: "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for taking us to go shooting Dad."

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FROM THE CITY TO THE SEA

The day after thanksgiving was a day of family bonding. We decided to ditch the crowds of shopping and go for a walk. We were initially thinking along the lines of hike Cowles Mountain again to burn off some calories with the family. But one of the grandpa's wasn't feeling so good and we opted for a new leisurely stroll I found on line called the La Jolla City to Sea walk. You drive to La Jolla and then walk a mile from the city's upscale shopping district down to the sea. You can stop and watch the sea lions (and get wet on the sea wall we found out). Right before the trail heads back to the city, we ended up at the Goldfish Cafe, this sweet little breakfast spot. The weather was awesome. I felt guilty that I live in San Diego. What a beautiful place this is. Shannon and I enjoyed it so much that I think we'll have to make it a date experience and go for a stroll when kids are at school. Great family bonding.




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Friday, November 23, 2007

THANKSGIVING RECAP

This year the crew came to us: both sets of parents, Shannon's sister and her boyfriend, and two family friends of Shannon's mom- 13 in all. We had a very full table. I put the turkey on the BBQ for third year now. I think that tradition is here to stay. It keeps the oven open for other creations and it's lots of fun outside. Here's the pic of the whole crew. Jake graduated from scraps to a turkey leg this year. The table was set with china I inherited. It's orange and brown so we affectionately call it the Thanksgiving China. For years it was "mine" (mostly cuz everyone but me secretly thought the color scheme made it ugly) but kept at my parent's house and we've eaten on it for years now. When we moved to SD... we brought it with us. This was also the first time in 13 years of marriage that we used all our crystal cups. I actually had to remove the price tags off some of them from wedding presents. HA!!


Also, we do a tradition that was started by TJ when he was 2 or 3 was something we now call the "Blessing Pot". It's where we pass out paper to everyone earlier in the day and then they write down what they're thankful for. Then one of the kids collects them all and we put them in a kitchen pot. Then after dinner, one person pics one at random (only rule is that it can't be there own) and reads it. Then whoever just had their blessing read gets to go next and they pull one and read it. This continues until they are done. Here's a pic of Tyler holding the pot and my mom reading one of the blessings on her turn.


And for fun, I wrote down what we each of the 13 pieces of paper said that we were blessed by this year. Welcome to our table. Mine is the last one listed.
  • My wife
  • I am thankful for my extended family, and always feeling loved and supported.
  • I’m thankful for a loving wife, good health, a great family and God’s provision for all of us.
  • God has blessed me with sharing this special day of giving thanks with this wonderful family around this table.
  • My biggest blessing this year was to watch my own son baptize his own son T.J. to watch my children all four of them and our grand children grow in their faith is pure joy and a huge blessing.

  • I am blessed to have a “full house” and a “full table” this Thanksgiving. Loving Husband, healthy, handsome boys, supportive parents, a part time job I am passionate about. My heart and life are very full. Praise God for his precious provisions for me.
  • I am thankful for my awesome room.
  • I am thankful for the blessing of love in my life that comes from my husband, my daughter, son in law, my grandsons, my sister and her family, so many dear dear friends and God’s love is so sweet and I am so thankful.
  • I am very thankful for my grandmas and my papas. I’m thankful for my toys. I’m very thankful for my Dad and Mom and my house.
  • Having been blessed with an amazing woman.
  • I have been blessed with God’s hand Guiding and Directing my steps this last year. Blessed with a small group, music ministry, and divorce care ministry. Praise God.
  • I’m thankful for my brothers.
  • A Job. Healthy Family. A Caribbean Cruise with my wife. A new clutch. New tires. Soccer with my boys. A house. Water. Fire Fighters. Blogging. God’s huge grace and blessings all around.

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HOOFING IT

We have started a tradition of sorts I guess. Shannon and I for 2 years now have hiked Cowles Mountain here in San Diego. Lots and lots of people do this on Thanksgiving. But we joined the masses this year again and hoofed it with Zeus up like 1300 feet or so from the trailhead. Trying to earn the right to eat too much later I suppose.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

HEY SANTA

BRING ME THIS.  With java and some peppermint stick ice cream.  Maybe some rain, a warm fire, and a nice chair and a 3 day block of doing nothing but reading and sleeping.  Will that fit in your sleigh?  

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QUOTEABLE

"That's the big difference between us.  You westerners make love in public and pray in private.  We Muslims do exactly the reverse."  

Hmmm.  You can read the entire Time magazine article here.  

When I was in Israel in 2000, I walked away very clearly with a picture that the Middle East is a religious society with political overtones.   But the Western World is a political society with religious overtones.   The Middle East is also very clearly a place where no one would ever say that "all religions are the same".  That is a distinctly American idea. 

Reading this article resonated with that observation again.   I don't think Muslims society is more Godly, but it certainly has it's belief about God more central to it's decisions.    I think one of the greatest cross-culture things a Christian can do today is to live a God centered life in a Western Culture.    It is absolutely upstream from the way our capitalist society operates.

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YOUTUBE AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

Just got an e-mail from the ONE campaign saying that CNN is teaming up with Youtube so that you can ask a presidential candidate a question in an upcoming Republican debate.  You record your question via video then upload it to youtube.  Details are here.  How cool is that.  


I wonder if there's a way to use this technology in church.  Our main service does a "chat room" a few times a year where the congregation  can text in questions live.  I think it would be cool to have people ask a few in advance via video.  That would be sweet.

Anyway.... now's your big day. If your question is chosen, the winners can get flown to the debate to see it live.  If you dig politics, you should chime in.

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AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

I just needed to YELL!!!!   Here's why:

  • 2 check books stolen.
  • 2 accounts canceled over the phone.  45 minutes later.
  • 2 new accounts opened.
  • Check card linked to wrong account.
  • Wife says account has no money.
  • Trip to Wells Fargo Branch- 1 1/2 hours later, problem "fixed."
  • Trip to Wells Fargo Branch to re-fix problem that was not "fixed."  1 1/2 hours later problem "fixed".
  • 3 letters come in the mail telling me stuff's not fixed.
  • Trip to Wells Fargo Branch to figure out what's wrong.  Find out they've charged me $262 in fees due to their clerical error.  1 hour later.  Fees removed and problem "fixed".
  • Go online to try and reconcile check book.  Find out all old data from previous 7 years of checking is gone from my access.
  • Call wells fargo to get it fixed.
  • Find out it can't be fixed and that all closed accounts are no longer viewable online.
  • Ask them to send me transactions then, because the account has been "paperless" for a while now so I can balance my checkbook.  They say they can't and I have to go to a branch office to "fix it."
  • AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
MORAL OF THE STORY:  If someone ever jacks with your check book.  Don't tell anyone.  Just buy the $29 identity theft package from your local bank and go about your day.   Trust me, it'll save you like 15 hours of headache and a blog post.  


PS:  If I find the guy who jacked my checkbook,  I'm gonna punch him.    I just might punch someone at Wells Fargo too.  I think I'll wait a day or so before I go to the branch office.  They have video cameras there ya know.  


PSS: They have video cameras in the parking lot where my stuff was jacked in the first place.  Video cameras are lame.


peace out.  AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!  


oh yeah.... and USAA- the ones I bragged about in an earlier post.... yeah well they haven't returned my last 3 calls.   AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! all over again!  

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES

When your kid's 5th grade class performs the emperor's new clothes, the emperor ends up just in his red long johns.  Not just his birthday suit.  Thank God for modesty.  All the kids in his class had a role.  They've been practicing for the last 6 weeks.  TJ played the role of one of the guys who fools the Emperor into buying his "new clothes" from them.   




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BODY ART

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KEEPING THE COOKIES ON THE LOWER SHELF

My blog might be rated PG-13, but after marko posted on his intelligence level of high school, I got curious.  I don't answer the survey crowd.  But for some reason, these blog rating deals woo me over everytime.  Anyway, I figured out that I'm elementary school dumb.  I suck at big words.  Doesn't surprise me a bit. 


cash advance


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Saturday, November 10, 2007

SCHOOL PICS

This post is for the grandmas.


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Friday, November 09, 2007

BRITNEY, CRAIG, JESUS, ME, TOM AND WARREN

This post might make about as much sense as the title... but oh well. It's my blog and my brain is a crazy web of stuff sometimes... so here goes:


regarding.... BRITNEY:

I don't want to jump on the Britney bashing bandwagon. In fact, I think this monologue by Craig Ferguson is better than most testimonies I've ever heard in church and I found a soul connection with him in how he responded to the news media surrounding her. It's worth the 12 minutes it takes to listen if you never have.


so now I dish to CRAIG:



which leads me back to BRITNEY:

But, that being said, I found myself shocked at these statistics that came out last week in her custody battle as she tries to decide how much money her ex really needs. In the process, she reportedly brings in a lot of flow. From where, I'm not sure. But from somewhere evidently HUGE...

Spears’ monthly income is approximately 737,000 dollars.

... which includes Britney's Expenses:

• 102,000 dollars on entertainment, gifts and vacation

• 49,267 dollars on mortgage payments

• 16,000 dollars on clothes

• 4,758 dollars on eating out

• 2,500 dollars on phone bills

• -500 dollars on charitable giving


which makes me ponder JESUS AND ME:


Do the math, that still leaves like half a mil a month unaccounted for. And this my friends, is at least one thing that's wrong with the world. Poverty is simply a subject of sin. Period. Those who make the money, get the money and keep the money, on the backs of those who made the money for them. Man I don't want to be part of this problem and yet I'm sure I am in more ways than I want to admit. I don't want money to be my God. I don't want to be the rich man at the table ignoring Lazarus and throwing him a bone here and there.


and last but not least, my brain wandered to TOM AND WARREN

Interesting enough, the second richest man in the world, Warren Buffet, said in the past few weeks that at least the American tax system is broken and he should pay more taxes. I loved this interview. Here's a bite size piece that made me really like the guy and made me wonder if maybe this rich guy might not have Lazarus at his gate.

Warren: I'll-- I'll bet-- I'll bet a million dollars against any member of the Forbes 400 who challenges-- me that the average for the Forbes 400 will be less than the average of their receptionists. So, I'm-- I'm-- I'm-- I'll give 'em an 800 number. They can call me. And the million will go to whichever charity the winner-- designates.

Tom: How much are you hearing from your fellow rich fellows, as you describe them?

Warren: I don't hear anything. They're happy. They are not paying the tax rate their receptionists are.


Be happy you only had to visit my brain waves in this post. I have to live in this crazy maze.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

UNBELIEVEABLE BIRTHDAY

Shannon and I tried to get away for a vacation to Idaho and it got jacked up by the fires. Then this past Monday was her 30 something birthday. We're evidently no longer saying 30 what exactly.... it's just over 30. So anyway, for the history of our marriage, Shannon and I have traditionally gone away for two weekends a year. One over her birthday, the other over our anniversary. And in keeping with that tradition, we had the kids taken care of with friends and hired help and we were off for 2 days of relaxing and enjoying each other's company. Or so we thought.

Rather than me telling you the story the old fashioned way. I put it together in comic book picture form. Seemed appropriate. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did :). Oh.. and before you ask... it's all 100% true and unaltered.





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Sunday, November 04, 2007

BERRYTRIBE SOCCER 2007

Yesterday marked the last of the berrytribe soccer games in regular season. We now have 2 weeks of post season/playoffs and then it's over for another year. It's been a lot of fun. It's been a lot of work. But it's been worth it.

Here's the latest pic.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

PERSPECTIVE

If you thought the largest evacuation in california history was bad with close to a million people evacuated and some 2000+ homes lost, then try pondering 900,000 people displaced last wed. in Mexico due to flooding where no one has a home that will be inhabitable and mold will win the day.



On Thursday I'm leading a team of volunteers to go do fire clean up in North County. Man, it's a small world we live in and tragedy doesn't seem to care what your political, social, financial, or theological position might be.... we all suffer. We all need hope in something outside of this crazy rotating celestial ball.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

WAIST DEEP

I've been meeting with a new friend/volunteer youth pastor weekly in my area for about the past month or so. He is at a small church in our community and yesterday he told me his pastor wouldn't let him bring in a friend to lead worship this last week because his friend leads worship at a Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa and his boss said that the Calvary Chapel is not Spirit Filled.

I said, "Tell me you're kidding." He said, "Nope." I said, "Dude, I could not work at your church. I'd have said that's b.s. You smell that? It's what we're stepping in and it's waist deep... and then been fired." We both laughed. It's just ridiculous.

To that end... in some random way, I read this awesome post. Loved it.

3 cheers for humility and heresy.

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IT AIN'T THE BRADY BUNCH

Here's a video our team put together via video using some of these comments in I posted earlier this week. Daniel, a gifted graphic artist/web/video guy who works part time at our church did the filming/editing. Sarah, my partner in crime, made the cards and directed it with our students. All I did was make the cards they put the initial statements on. Not much credit goes to me on this...

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CHECKIN' IN

Last week. I had friends and family call and e-mail to see if I was ok during the wildfires. Those who didn't call or e-mail may have not thought it was needed or were busy or just assumed we were fine or talked to their friends who did talk to us or yatta yatta yatta. I didn't keep a list or anything, but there were quite a few.

Perhaps some just read my blog which got 800+ hits last week and gave daily updates of our family situation. I normally have about 250 visitors. However, it really wasn't cuz all my long lost friends and family were checking it. It was because Marko linked to me twice. Here and Here. And Marko gets like a 8 bagillion more people who care about what he says than I do, so their curiosity landed them on my blog.

But anyway, today I got a call from USAA, the company I pay for my home owners insurance. They called my cell phone to make sure I was alright and that neither my family nor my home sustained any damage that I needed to report. It was from a gal who was very sincere in asking how we were and making sure there was nothing they should be doing to help.

It was my INSURANCE COMPANY!!!! If there aren't enough claims at the end of the year, they also send you a refund check so they don't make more money than is reasonable. Go figure. I think I'll stay with USAA.

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OVERHEARD

We had an 80's night in youth group tonight for Halloween. While setting up, I overheard this comment from one of my guys in my ministry. It made me laugh out loud and I blew my cover.

"Dude, Halloween is just an excuse for girls at my school to dress like hookers. If I saw one bumble bee today, I saw 50. I'm thinking bumble bee.., Yeah right... maybe if a it's a hooker bumble bee."

Life is hard to be a teenage guy. Even the insects are sexually distracting.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

From two army men and Harry Potter himself on their way to school.


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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

IT AIN'T THE BRADY BUNCH... BUT IT IS MY FAMILY

We asked students to make a list of statements about their family. They could be fun, tragic, positive, negative, anything. We passed out cards and gave them just take a few minutes in the service last week to describe their family.

We selected a bunch of them to use in a video piece which I'll post later, but here's the list of stuff they said in no particular order. It certainly proves family is a roller coaster and students need a safe place to be themselves. Godly mentors are desperately needed to safely navigate this world we live in today. Oh do they need that!!!!!.

(PS... if you're reading this and on the off chance, your son or daughter goes to our youth ministry- try to avoid assuming that whatever is true of your family was written by your student. There were 110 students who could have turned in cards and lots of their stories overlap. I share them here purely as a reminder of a the varying family situations and feelings represented in a simple weekend youth group meeting.)

1. My mom laughs like a stupid bird
2. I’ve never met my dad.
3. My dad is Australian
4. My sisters and I fight a lot…so when we’re not fighting we feel funny
5. My mom and sister disowned our family. They don’t love me
6. My mom doesn’t believe in God
7. I wished my mom would have died
8. My mom thinks I’m fat
9. My parents are divorced
10. My family fights every Sunday morning on the way to church
11. My mom cheated on my dad
12. My grandma races in NASCAR
13. My brother is my best friend
14. My cousin is in jail for running down the street nude
15. I try to like my brother but lately I just don’t
16. My family is inter-racial
17. I feel like my dad needs to try to parent more
18. My uncle is a pimp/drug dealer/bartender in Costa Rica
19. Both of my parents are illegal immigrants
20. My cousins are prettier than me and my grandma isn’t afraid to tell me
21. (sad face) ☹
22. My mom collects Santas. She has 100s. Its one of the few things I claim as inheritance.
23. My cousin, aunt, and grandma all got pregnant at 17
24. My brother and I don’t have a relationship--at all. I think he hates me.
25. I have 9 brother and sisters
26. My family plays an intense game of spoons every Christmas
27. My mom lives with the pain of a disease
28. My mom always yells so I never know when she is mad or happy
29. My family is very quiet
30. (drew a family picture) Dad (Satan horns), Mom (Satan horns), Me (angel halo), brother (Satan horns)
31. My sister puts me down. Everyday.
32. My sister calls me a mistake.
33. My mom is one of my best friends
34. My grandma writes death threats to the president at least once a week
35. My parents are divorced but best friends
36. There’s 8 people living in my 2 bedroom, 1 loft condo.
37. My best friends have become my family
38. I am best friends with my brother
39. My aunt gets extremely drunk at every family reunion
40. My parents are OLD
41. My grandparents are racist
42. My grandma died when I was 4 and my dad never told me
43. My stepmom thinks she is psychic
44. My aunts think that they are actual, real angels
45. My dad has been in prison since the day I was born
46. My sisters raised me
47. My dad’s a redneck and likes to go bow-hunting for deer
48. My grandpa is a drunk. I haven’t heard from him in a while.
49. My dad speaks in outline format
50. My mom sings really ugly songs all the time
51. I used to not like my mom, but now we’re really close
52. My family is big on talking while the TV is on. I’m the only one who HATES it.
53. My parents can’t stand each other most of the time
54. My dad trusts no one. He thinks my friends steal from us.
55. We eat dinner at the TV
56. My dad is a pastor and my uncle grows marijuana
57. My parents broke up before I was born
58. My family is always on a computer
59. We can’t sing at the dinner table…but we can base on each other
60. I love my family because we all get along
61. My dad and I get in fights everyday
62. My mom and I both snort when we laugh
63. My sister is a recovering alcoholic and drug user
64. My brother enjoys farting on people
65. My cousin is in a psych ward in Chicago
66. The only reason my brother and I get along is because he cooks for me.

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IT AIN'T THE BRADY BUNCH

We're in a new series in our high school ministry called, "It Ain't the Brady Bunch" and it's all about family. Here's the series breakdown of the 4 week series:

  1. It Ain't the Brady Bunch.... but it is my family.
  2. It Ain't the Brady Bunch... but they are my parents.
  3. It Ain't the Brady Bunch.... but these are my wounds.
  4. It Ain't the Brady Bunch.... but I can shape my future.

We decided it'd be fun to play our version of the Family Feud on week one. So, we made each table into it's own family and did some "survey says" contests. You know, where they survey 100 people and then list the top "x" number on the board. Well, I didn't feel like looking around for the top 100 lists on the internet, so I just poled my kids instead. I asked them each to come up with 3 answers and it then became, guess the top 9 things the Berry Boys said.

My favorite category was "Name Stuff Mom Needs."

Here's the list. They make me laugh.


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MOURNING AND REJOICING

Romans 12 calls us to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. This fire thing we went through in San Diego county as brought fresh perspective to that verse in my life in recent days.

Here's a church family in Rancho Bernardo or RB that was damaged by the fire. You may want to follow their blog in the coming days to know how to pray and maybe even how to help some fellow followers of Jesus who got their world turned upside down recently.

If there ever was a time in Southern California where people are looking for help and seeking find the hands of Jesus in true community... today is that day.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

I HOPE THIS IS A SIGN FROM GOD


Driving out of my neighborhood about an hour ago, it started to sprinkle and then God gave us a rainbow. There's thousands of people in San Diego County that need a rainbow of hope today. I'm praying it comes from God and through God's people. On Sunday I'm going to join my high school students as we commission ourselves to do just that.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

PRAYER OR SOMETHING.....


Only once in my life has anyone ever confronted me on my prayer life.

No, not like if I pray or when do I pray, but actually on how I pray. It came from Ron Ritchie, a trusted 70 year old mentor. I was 32ish when he looked me in the eye over lunch and in a way only a man who looks like Moses/Grizzly Adams could have said, "Brian, you use God's name like a comma when you pray. God I pray that (comma God) you would help me do blah blah blah (comma God).... " I think it was the first time in my life I'd actually truly thought about how I spoke to God and what words I chose.

He also introduced me for the first time to the PRAYER TOAST. We did it every night after bible study with Ron and our clan of disciples over dinner for a year of Tuesday's. I use it all the time in restaurants now. Rather than bowing your head and wondering if you're going to get the prayer done before the waiter returns to interrupt you awkwardly, you just ditch the head bowed deal, grab your beverage, raise it to the sky, and thank Jesus for the fellowship, the food you're about to eat, the amazing chance to enjoy breath in your lungs, and invite God's presence to be at the table with you. It's really refreshing. You should try it sometime. Inviting God to join your table and thanking him for the blessings of food and friends is always sincere and very rare today.

Well anyway, ever since that year of prayer challenges by Ron, I've been particularly sensitive to my own prayers and annoyed by some of the traditional habits of the church today in prayer. A couple of things that have happened this week made me think of it, so I decided to blog them. Here you go, here's my list:

  • THE ANNOUNCEMENT PRAYER: This is not really a prayer at all. It's not really talking to God, it's just talking to people while they are in the hypnotic state of eyes closed and heads bowed. It often involves transition hints like, "as the band comes up" or reminders like, "we know that this week is the big blah blah blah".
  • THE HOUDINI PRAYER: This may or may not be sincere prayer, but it is strategically placed so that we magically whip people on and off stage while your eyes are closed. While you're supposedly talking to God, the band can magically disappear and the speaker appear or visa versa- as if the angel of the Lord himself whisked them off the stage like Houdini.
  • THE NO ONE'S LOOKING PRAYER: This is the prayer where we begin by talking to God, then pause to talk to you, asking no one to look around, cuz evidently that screws up the sincerity of someone really talking to God. Now, while "no one's looking, please raise your hand or look at me or whatever..." cuz now we're pausing in prayer to talk to you all.
  • THE GOD IS A COMMA/MUST LOVE TO HEAR HIS OWN NAME PRAYER: This prayer is one I was very good at and have tried to ditch. It's the prayer that uses God more times in one sentence than is humanly possible. It is common, but evidently only something we do in prayer. Can you imagine saying to me at dinner, "Dear Brian, thanks so much Brian for having us over for dinner Brian. I just love you Brian. Brian you have blessed us so much Brian that we wanted to tell you Brian that we are here to serve you Brian with our whole lives Brian. Amen Brian. Amen." Yeah, it sounds stupid, but if you insert God in there for me, well, you have the classic comma/name prayer.
  • THE END THE MEETING PRAYER: This prayer is just a prayer we do cuz the meeting is over and evidently, no two Christians are allowed to talk and then leave without praying to sorta close the book on this deal. Most of the world just says, see you later. Christians feel the need to make sure God knows we're done talking now.
  • THE IN CASE GOD WASN'T LISTENING PRAYER: This is where we go around the room and have everyone share prayer requests. Then, after we have talked to one another for a while about them, we then repeat exactly what we've all been talking about but now, we do it with sentences that begin with "Dear God" and end with "Amen" since evidently when we were saying them before, we were talking to ourselves and God was busy somewhere else.
  • THE GOSSIP PRAYER: This is a classic one. This often never makes it to prayer. But under the umbrella of protection of a prayer request, we gossip about others so that the person who is receiving the juicy facts can take them back and pray about them.
  • THE SUPER SPIRITUAL PRAYER: This one is where the person praying uses words that only God can understand and that are only used when praying. It's often with hands held up, sounds really super theological, and usually gets them asked to pray a lot, cuz it sounds like something God himself might say in 1850.
  • THE IT'S TIME TO SHUT UP PRAYER: This prayer is not really prayer. It's just a reality that the one at the mic is being ignored, so instead of waiting for the crowd to get quiet, they just start praying and inevitably, a shhh and side slap hitting fest goes across the audience that tells people to shut up, somebody up front is pretending to pray so you all will stop talking.

ok... I could go on... but it's getting depressing since I've been guilty of almost all of these a time or two.

I think I'm going to stop blogging and go pray. I surely need it.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

STOP SMOKING. SERIOUSLY.

For the love of all things holy. Please. Get a clue and stop smoking in our natural park.

Not only are they telling us everywhere in San Diego that smoke and ash is horrible for you to breathe, but on top of that, people come to my court to smoke and drink all the time. I didn't realize I was in weed central when I bought the house, but I have come to consider this just part of my local context. Normally, this is just annoying, a slight danger to my kids safety while playing outside, and an occasional chance for student ministry on my block. But occasionally it becomes idiotic.

This week qualifies as idiotic. We have no school which means that there are bored high school students all over the place. They have nothing to do. So my court becomes like some kind of get drunk and high smokers magnet.

Problem is, half the freakin' county is on fire, over a billion dollars in damage, 14 people have died, and these kids are smokin' in the biggest unburned fire tinder box my community has. It's literally 50 yards from my house. Dry and highly flamable. Here's what I'm talking about.



So, once a day for the past 3 days I've walked outside to find cars in the court I live on. All 3 times I've walked over to talk with a group of high school students who drove them. Here's what happened:

CONVERSATION 1:
  • Met 2 high school guys before they got out of the car. Said, "I know that a lot of people like to come to this park to smoke and get high. If you're planning on smoking in the park today, that would be a really really bad choice. The world is on fire, and I'd appreciate it if you didn't risk ours." They agreed and left.

CONVERSATION 2:
  • I walked into the park to find 3 girls. They weren't hard to find. Weed is easy to follow. I found 3 girls sitting in a circle tokin' up. I said, "Not only is it illegal to smoke weed in this park, but today there are hundreds of thousands of people out of their homes because of fires. And you're smoking in the midst of a huge pile of dry leaves and sticks. Could you please stop and leave." They said, "We have an ash tray." I said, "Great, but could you stop anyway." They said, "yes, we'll leave."

CONVERSATION 3:
  • I walked into the park to find 15 students who had parked 3 cars in my court. As they were walking out with beer in hand. They said to me, "What's up?" (while trying to hide beer behind their back and 2 made a sprint for the creek to go around to their car behind my back.) I said, "Um, the world is on fire and you're smoking and drinkin' in a grove of eucalyptus trees that will go up in flames in a second." They said, "Yeah, I told so and so not to do that." I said, "If you catch this place on fire, we're all in a world of hurt. Not to mention the fact that you're underage, drinking, and then driving your car past my kids on your way out of here." One guy with a beer got smart and said "But I like this forest." I said, "So do I. Find somewhere else to get drunk and high." I left and ignored them since they were leaving. One part of me really wished I could hand them an invite to youth group (the cards are at the printers right now). A second part of me really wished I was a cop. A third, really big part of me wanted to punch the kid with the smart mouth and the half drank beer bottle in his back pocket. The other part of me decided to ignore parts 1 through 3 and take my kids to dinner instead. Next time maybe I'll let part 3 win.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, MY FAMILY, KOALA BEARS, AND THE EUCALYPTUS TREES THEY LOVE.... STOP SMOKIN' IN MY PARK.

I think I'm gonna make that into a sign and put it over the entrance.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

FIRE STATISTICS

Here's the latest overall statistics on the fires in our burnt state.


Here's the latest info I can find on the California wildfire overall statistics:

- Acreage: 431,377

- Homes Destroyed: At least 1,447, according to individual county reports.

- Evacuation: Over 1 million people have been evacuated.

- Damage: Over 1 billion dollars in damages

- Deaths: One fire death, five fire-related deaths.

- Injuries: 30 to civilians, 39 to firefighters.

- At least 12 major fires still burning


Here's the latest on the Harris Fire- the one that is still burning in some places, with the active part about 5ish miles from my house:

- About 73,000 acres north of the border town of Tecate.

- 10 percent contained- Containment expected Oct. 31.

- 200 homes destroyed, 2,000 homes and 500 commercial properties threatened.

- One civilian killed, 25 injured civilians and seven injured firefighters.




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HOW NOT TO SEDUCE YOUR WIFE

Um... this would not have worked in my world. My wife is currently gone. If I was Tim Stevens, I think she'd probably just stay away.

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SMOKEY UPDATE

I awoke this morning to no fire. Just smoke. Like the thickest campfire smell I've experienced in a while. I think if you spend 5 minutes outside it will smell like you've been bonding with the firemen with marshmallows and hot dogs for a week.

I had to ditch my trip to Idaho. Sucky fire. Guess I don't have much to complain about. I still have a house full of crap I don't need. Unlike the 500 homes in Rancho Bernardo where people were left with smoke and a slab of concrete.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

FIRE DRILL UPDATE #3

The time has come to start Fighting Fire with Fire.

I know a few firemen. Well, more than a few. And I know a few more cops. And I'll tell you this. The cops don't want anyone to get hurt, but they love a dangerous call. They can't wait to get chase a dumb criminal down and send in the dogs. Oh they love to send in the dogs.

And firemen don't want anyone hurt, but every one of them is a pyromaniac. They don't want you or your stuff to burn (well definitely not you, but secretly, they might be okay with some of your stuff burning, especially if it means they get to go in and try and save the rest of your stuff) but they lie awake at night dreaming of setting stuff on fire. I tell you they dream of it. That's why they drive all over the state for a fire. It's a RUSH for them.

Tonight, the winds died down and the fire was coming down the mountain near my house. Since the wind was not ripping across the flames, this gave the firemen the window to fight the fire with fire that they had been waiting for.... so they set fires at the bottom of the hill which will naturally chase itself uphill and meet the fire coming down the hill. So, I promise you this... there are some firemen from all over this fine state having the time of their life setting a forest of grass and trees not far from my home on fire. Make no mistake about it. They are laughing right now and breaking out the marshmallows since there was nothing but vegetation between Steele Canyon High School and the approaching fire... so GAME ON.

here's the photo from my kid's fort as best I could get it at night. Most of the fire pictured was just set by the firemen.

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FIRE DRILL UPDATE #2

Got a minor scare today on the news when they said my area was being evacuated. We actually packed our car with my critical stuff. Made me realize how much crap I have. If my house burns to the ground, honest to God, I only care about my family and less than one trunk load of stuff. Amazing. I have a house full of junk that on the grander scale of life, doesn't matter at all. I need to have a major ditch the crap sale and give it all to the poor or something evidently. I guess I can be more nomadic than I thought if need be.

According to this map on google, my house is actually in an evacuation area, though none of my neighbors or I have officially been asked to leave. Here's the map and my house in relationship to it. The yellow is the proposed, but not adhered to, evacuation area. The red is the actual burn area on Mt. Miguel a few miles from my house.

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FIRE DRILL UPDATE

Well, no school again today. This is the view out my front door as of 6am. It's the "harris fire" that started in Potrero near the Tecate border crossing. I'm guessing it's traveled a good 30 miles on the other side of this hill and this is the far north edge of it pictured below. It looks a little closer than it is. But 3-5 miles is realistic.


here it is as of 6:30 am:


The president declared our communities to the North and this hill to the South of me a federal state of emergency. Hopefully the planes will start dropping stuff today as the sun comes up and the winds will die down. This is crazy. We're talking over 300,000 people displaced from their homes and evacuations all over the place. The one death I am aware of is 2 degrees from me with a family in our church coaching wrestling at Valhalla with he and his son who is also badly burned.

Life can sure take a turn on the dime. Guess I'll have to keep learning to spin on my knees.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

REALLY REALLY BIG FIRE DRILL

I got a call this morning from the boys school district at 6am. Due to the fact that there are like 8 fires burning in the SD area, they have caused the air quality to get bad and one fire to the south east could make it close enough to evacuate us if it continues to be blown our way today. As a result, our school district to be closed today so our kids are home. It's like an area wide fire drill. We had to delay a trip to Idaho to visit some friends by at least a day since I didn't think it would be wise parenting to tell my dad, "See ya. We're out. If the fire gets close enough... go ahead and evacuate ok. See you later."

We're still waiting to see if the fire will come over several ridges and miles to make it to us. I sure do hope not. So we're praying it up and waiting and doing what we can to be prepared and help those in need around us.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

WHY I'LL PROBABLY GET AN F IN ETHICS CLASS

Today we were given this case study to read in the last 15 minutes of class. We were supposed to read it and then discuss what we'd do in this scenario... if you want a taste of ethics class at the graduate seminary level :) , you can read on:


Keith Loewen is nearing the end of his seminary education- just weeks away. It has been a long haul, but God has been faithful and the end appears in sight. Norma, his wife, has been incredibly suppportive through the years, and has not complained about their tight finances and the debt load they've acquired. This final year Keith quit the software company he had been working for, and has been working various weekend odd-jobs so that he can go to seminary full-time and finish everything up in a final push to the finish line. One down-side of this strategy is that they have no medical insurance. Their eight-year old daughter Natasha is overdue for some expensive corrective surgery on her legs. It breaks their hearts to see her in such discomfort.

Keith has already interviewed for an associate pastor position at a well-established church in an adjacent state, and has been offered a surprisingly well-paying full-time job, with medical benefits, as soon as he graduates from seminary. "There are a lot of needy people in crisis in this congregation, Keith," the chairman of the church board had confided. "They've already come to love you and Norma, and can't wait for you to come." Completing the Master of Divinity was the only unfulfilled requirement of the position. As soon as Keith gets it, they'll move and, of course, schedule Natasha's surgery.

Keith's last required course had a take-home exam that had to be handed in electronically before Monday morning at 9am. The professor, who has a reputation for being a real stickler, warned the class all term that there would be no grace for late exams. Either get it in on time or take an "F".

With everything going on in their hectic lives, Keith forgot about the deadline. He remembered around noon on Monday while he was stuck in traffic. It was a horrible moment. He called the professor immediately to see if there were any exceptions. But the professor simply reiterated his policy. Keith's only hope was to report that he had sent the exam in on time, but somehow it hadn't gone through on the internet. The professor said he would simply need a witness (someone like Norma, for example) who would support her husband's account of what actually happened.

Keith and Norma were on the couch in their small apartment, discussing their options, and pondering the catastrophic consequences if he failed to graduate. "Maybe this is the time for a little white lie," Keith speculated with his head in his hands. Just then the phone rang, and little Natasha, who'd been listening to their conversation, ran to get it. "It's for you, Mommy," she called. Norma was at the end of her emotional energy. "Tell them I've stepped out," she shouted back. She had bigger problems to deal with.

If you were Keith, what would you do? If you were Norma, what would you do? And what would be your advice to little Natasha? Give reasons for your answers that reflect engagement with categories and concepts discussed in this course.

Here's my answers that I said to my discussion group table:

  1. SLAP KEITH: I'd get my buddies together and have a slap-a-thon with Keith until he gets a clue. What kind of dad watches his kid walk around in pain all day in the name of school? Get a job at Starbucks part time and get some freakin' benefits. Or drop out of school and quit paying thousands of dollars for class and put it towards health insurance instead. What a dork.

  2. SMACK THE PROF: Forget lying to the professor. Let's slash his tires. What kind of jerk can't have compassion for a graduate student who has thousands and thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours invested in this guys salary and is one class away from a degree just so he can hold to his stupid rules. Give the dude another day and knock his grade on the test down a notch or whatever, but wake up and smell the coffee! The world doesn't revolve around seminary.

  3. DRIVE A TRUCK THROUGH THE CHURCH: What is up with this congregation's leaders? I'd drive my truck through the front door in protest as a wake up call to this idiocy. What kind of well established rich church watches the daughter of a future pastor on their team go through delays for surgery under the auspice that he is highly qualified to do the job, minus one small issue of a piece of paper the dude is one class from getting? Someone on this board needs a good fish smack to the face.

  4. WHERE DID THIS GUY FIND THIS WIFE? Did he buy her online? My wife would have left me at the corner and told me not to come home until I figured out how to get a job and help our daughter. It would have sounded something like, "If you love that stupid seminary so much, you can marry it. While you're at it, why don't you just go ahead and sleep there. I'm going to sell all your tools on craig's list to pay for our daughter's surgery. When you wake up and pull your head out of the hole you've got it buried in, maybe I'll let you sleep in the backyard for a while."
I think the issue was supposed to be about lying. Yep, I'm gonna fail this class.

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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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