Monday, December 29, 2008


Tyler turned 9 today at 3 something pm. He knows exactly when. He will tell you if you ask him. This morning someone asked, "Well, do you feel older yet?" He said, "Nope, I'm not 9 until 3.... "

Today, he was given several choices of what to do and what to eat and what to get on his birthday.

He chose the following:

  • Wii games, orange muffins, and little smokies in the morning.
  • Shooting 22's in the desert in the day.
  • He picked a new blue street bike with 4 pegs and 2 brakes for tricks.
  • Dinner of steak, brocoli, salad, corn on the cob, and grilled mushrooms.
  • A cookies and cream ice cream cake.
Here's the shooting pics. We found a new spot that a friend recommended that meant we didn't have to drive off road really far or drive as deep into the desert as we have done before. It was off a well groomed and border patrolled dirt/sand road on BLM land. They actually moved us twice because they were patrolling the area. But in the end, even the moving wasn't so bad and we had a great day.

Here's the shots of tyler getting his presents and then blowing out his cake with grandma. Since grandma has a birthday in early January, they shared the cake. I offer you these pics to show you my son Tyler's crazy faces (click on the pics and they get bigger). He is a funny kid. He loves to cuddle and lately, he is a clown too.

Oh... and last but not least, here's the new dresser that I built with the grandpas for Tyler. TJ and Tyler and are now sharing a room and we needed a dresser and the only place to put it was under the window so we made it a window seat dresser. My mom built the cushion and pillows. A full, but very helpful day's work for all of us.



I have been a full time youth pastor for almost 15 years.  Yesterday I had a first though.  There are surely lots of things that I have done, and lots more that I have not in that time frame.  This past Sunday was a first I have wondered about how to handle for years.  It is a first that in some ways I feared because if navigated poorly, I've seen horrible results. 

It can be done well.  I've got several examples of it in my life.  But I have several examples that prove it can be really bad too.

So, yesterday, I spoke in our middle school ministry.  Nothing new there, except that it also was the first time ever that I have spoken to a group of students in which my son was part of the intended audience as TJ is now in 6th grade.  Sure my kids have heard me teach in big church and sat through tons of high school services here or there, but never have I been talking up front and in part, was talking to my son too. 

I survived. We survived.

I think it was actually a good thing for both of us, but it still scares me.  I want him to still like me.  I want God to be honored.  I don't want to use my talks to talk to my kids.  I really want to walk with my kids as a Dad through this stage of their life, but I really want more for them to have the space and safety to wrestle with their faith during this stage and come away loving Jesus by their choice and not my calling.  Navigating that road will be the next big hurdle of my parenting and represents a huge shift in my experiences as a youth pastor. 

Pray for me and my kids.  We'll all need it. 


Saturday, December 27, 2008


Well, it's been about a week of the new blog look and so far, all has been positive.

A few constructive critiques from my family:

  • My brother-in-law informed me that lots of people find them through me, so I added a link to them to their blog on the left to keep the link love in the family. 
  • My mother told me she didn't notice any changes.  She does not use a blog reader, so I'm guessing my mom must be reading some other families blog.  I'll send her the correct link. 
  • My mother-in-law however informed me that the text color was too light for the posts.  She had to use her glasses and flew all the way to San Diego to tell me.  So, because I want to bless her, I fixed it. For all you who found the grey text hard to enjoy, I offer you the distinct advantage of black text.   Black is better. 
See, I am a full service blog provider.  Your comments are appreciated and influential- especially when not anonymous :). 



I am not a video game guy and we are not a gaming family.    The last gaming system our family had was when I was a kid- an atari old school system.  It's been gone for decades and we haven't had one since.  The closest thing we have come to is some old school atari sets I bought for youth grop and even one of those cool gaming cubes with all the old games pre-loaded you can now get just for nostalgia's sake.

Part of this was just no desire from Shannon or I to get one.  But as parents of young kids, this has been intentional on our part as well.  We wanted our kids riding bikes, building forts, making stuff with blocks, playing with legos, and working their imaginations.  We felt that video games and tv and computer games and stuff would not help that.  So, we limit the amount of time that electronic stuff is allowed in our kids lives.

But, that doesn't mean our kids have not found ways around it- especially in the gaming world.  They have them at our church.  They have a few games for the computer.  Sometimes they might be gone for hours at a time, we think off playing at the neighbors house.... only for us to discover it was playing hours of video games.  As a result, it was clear to us, we were going to have to make some decisions.

So this year, we decided that it'd be better to regulate it in our home than have them find new ways around it in other places.  So, we bought the most active gaming system we could find, the wii.   In fact, it was all we got for Christmas as a family.  We used some money we got from family towards a pretty sweet- nearly new flat screen TV.  We then asked the grand parents if they would only give them stuff for the wii too this year.  So, as a result, there were all kinds of kid rated games and controllers, Shannon got the wii fit, and I got chargers for the controllers and well..  it was a wii kinda Christmas.

We're still working on what will be the post vacation rules for wii, since they are overly lax right now with rain outside and the "newness factor" on full throttle. 

I will say, I had tons of fun playing with my kids on Christmas day.  Before we bought it, I asked a bunch of my students what we absolutely must get, and they all said, "Mario Kart".  So now we have 4 controllers and 4 wheels and we have been racing like crazy.  I confess that I laughed and crashed and heckled my children size opponents like I was a little kid myself.

At least one thing is for sure though:  the constant parental push back on the flood of pressure from our kids to get a gaming system over the last 5 years resulted in sheer elation with they discovered we had finally let them have their dreams come true.  To say they were elated is an understatement.  I'll let the jig from Jake and the brother dogpile/hug pics below speak for themselves.  It was surely fun to give them something they so desperately wanted and did not need.  At some level, I think that's when a gift, truly is a gift.


Friday, December 26, 2008


Here is the plate our family made during the Campbell Christmas.  We picked up the finished product today.  Don't be jealous. You know we have mad art skilz.


Thursday, December 25, 2008


In our family, the first gift is always on Christmas Eve.  I was told by my wife in our first year of marriage that it was going to be Jammies.  Every time evidently.   This year, TJ caught on and looked at his brothers and said, "Hey, it's jammies."  Kinda takes the surprise away, but my wife says that's not the point.  It's just what you wear on Christmas morning- which is chosen by Mom.

This was the first year that shannon and I did not give each other jammies. We piled all our money into one family gift and wore old jammies.  That'll be the next post.  (Shhh.  I think my wife bought herself some and didn't wrap them though.)  

Anyway, here's our beautiful children in their new pajamas.



Well, we are less than 2 weeks away from going to officially start the process of adopting Becky and Billy. Since my sister, brother in law, and their 3 boys have no family to speak of in Uganda, they drove from Kampala to Jinja to join their soon to be neice and nephew on Christmas. What a great gift of family for both the Crawford Clan and the soon to be additions to the Berrytribe.

They took some crafts and some books and a calendar of us that we gave at Christmas last year to share with them. So fun. Thanks for making the drive Brad and Alisha. We are jealous and anxious for the chance to hug them ourselves. You can read their experience on the Crawford blog here.



While looking for stuff for my wife for Christmas, I found this steal of a deal at Longs 2 days ago. Hurry up.  You better get there. You don't want to miss this.  Check out that mark down!!



Grandma and Grandpa came to town with Santa.  Grandma brought her gingerbread making stuff and I had a house kit, so that made for a night of fun with the boys a few days ago.  Here's our kitchen bakers hard at work.



Shannon has two sisters, Caitlin and Erica, that also share the Campbell name of her dad  They are 12 and 13 years younger than Shannon, so since we started dating in high school, Shannon and I have been dating or married for their entire memory.   During those years, we have spent some time with them every Christmas.  Initially, it was with their Dad too.  But ever since Shannon's dad died about 10 years ago, we have kept the tradition alive.

They now are college graduates with full time jobs and getting together is no longer easy (requiring time off jobs, plane flights, and expenses), but it was super to have them join us this year again.  We so enjoy spending time with them and we have great memories together.

So, last weekend we got together and on Saturday we spent the whole day together for our "Campbell Christmas".  We had planned to go to the new aquarium at Legoland but found out that it was closed, so we made alternate plans.   We had breakfast, caught a movie, grabbed some java, and then made a ceramic art project together on a whim in a shop at the mall.  It turned out to be tons of fun.  We bought a large plate and divided it up into sections and each of us painted part of it.  It's now being fired in a kiln and we will pick it up after Christmas. 

Once we were done, we cruised over to panera for dinner, home to make some hot chocolate, and then headed to cruise some neighborhoods for Christmas light.  Tons of funs.  Here's a collage of some of our day.


Monday, December 22, 2008


2 things got re-sized in my world.  Both of them unwillingly.


The first was my cable bill.  I added an High Def. DVR box to our house.  Long story short, I was told by 3 different cox cable reps that it was going to cost me an extra $1 more per month for the new box.  I decided it was worth it and went in to get my new box.  Just as I was ready to check out, I looked down on the counter and saw an ad that said they were selling my phone/cable/internet package for $20 less per month than what I was paying.  I asked if this was a promo rate and they said, "No.  This has been our main package since January."  So, I said, "the truth is, not only would making the change NOT cost me $1 a month, but it should actually save me $20."  Yeah, I was not happy.  So I sent the manager and e-mail since she was not in.  Today they credited me for 2 months of overpayment.  She said it was all she could do cuz she can't go farther back than 60 days.  Something is better than nothing I guess, but I still don't think "Cox is my friend in the digital age."  A friend who overcharged me $20 a month for a year.  Who needs friends like that?  Ughhh.


I love peppermint stick ice cream.  Read LOVE IT.   I don't know who decided that you can only get it in December or that you should not stock it as if it were a staple like Milk- but I disagree.  I also don't know who decided that they could no longer give it to me 1/2 gallon at a time and charge me the same price for 1.5 quarts instead.  Watch.  Mark my words.  Pretty soon you'll be buying gasoline by the quart instead of the gallon at the same price in the hopes that you won't notice. 

I'm now gonna go eat a bowl and while enjoying my cox HD service, knowing I paid a lot more than I should of without even receiving it for a very long time. 


Sunday, December 21, 2008


Made my first online pizza order through Domino's tonight.

It actually worked.

Funniest thing in the world though, you can custom design a pizza with all kinds of stuff and if you want to have it 1/2 one way and 1/2 another, it lets you pick if you want it on the left or the right side of the pizza. So funny.

Like does the delivery guy hand it to me so that it's on the correct side of the circle per my request? I ordered one 1/2 hawaiian and half cheese and it even puts the stuff on the pizza in picture form as you build it. Oh.. and their new oven baked sandwiches are super grubbin.

I wonder how many pizza's they have to sell on the web to get their money back, I must admit, the website is awesome, easy to navigate, and worked like a charm.



Today we talked about "God through us..."

I was able to celebrate some ways God was working through our high school students based on some sweet examples of this in the last week. To spark some ideas, last Sunday we decided to pass out some twenty dollar bills. (5 per service) to randomly chosen high school students and invited them to use it to change the world around them. We asked them to do it anytime between last Sunday and today.

As a result, during our services for high school I was able to celebrate with those students as they shared their stories of how God used them to change the world this last week with that $20 and then some. Here are some of those stories.

  • ARIEL: I gave $20 to the salvation army bell ringer I see regularly at my favorite walmart store.
  • DAVID: I bought breakfast burritos and took them to some homeless men Saturday morning. I had promised to bring them to on Friday night during the "hope for the homeless" ministry at Journey.
  • DELLA: With my $20, and $5 of my own, I am giving it to world vision.
  • SUMMER: I sent it in to World Vision to help prevent Malaria for a family with nets, and educating them about malaria/prevention.
  • MARK: I bought powdered milk for a family in Myanmar.
  • RYAN: Outside the El Cajon post office there is this poor women that opens the door for people. She rides her bike there every day and lives in a motel. So I came up with a idea that I pay for her room for 4 days with some help from my dad. He pitched in for it to.
    She was very grateful for this.
  • MALIA: With the $20 you gave, I went to Costco and bought some roses and candy canes. Then today, Erica and I went to an old folks home in El Cajon, called Victoria's Special Care, where we just spent the day handing out roses and candy canes to the people living there. They loved receiving them and it was fun just seeing joy on their faces, especially when they heard that they were for FREE! They definitely enjoyed our company and it was cool just to sit and talk with them for awhile. P.S. I got to give a lady her first rose!

  • ADAM: I have a friend who is going through a pretty tough time. Well the tough time has basically been his whole life. He's fairly poor so he has to live in a motel, his parents aren't together and his father is more like a brother so he used to do bad stuff like smoking pot, for a little bit he got into neonazi-ism, and his mom moved to santa cruz. so hes pretty bummed about that. But he got this sweet piece of equipment for his guitar but he needed a MIDI cable to use it, but he couldn't afford it, or put money aside because its really tight. So i decided to get one for him. And when i gave it to him he was really happy and super appreciative. it was the most heartfelt moment weve had im pretty sure. I had some left over and I put it with David's money to buy burritos for the homeless.
  • SHANE: I decided to donate the money to a gift on world vision .com. After looking at what options i had to give something that would create an impact in someone's life, I concluded that the three i wanted to give were some ducks, seeds for vegetables and water purification tablets. I also found out that to give all three of those, i would need a lot more than twenty dollars. I called up some family friends who agreed to match my own donation and all total I turned it into 120 dollars to world vision for four ducks, water purification tablets, and seeds to help those in need to get ahead and life healthy around the world.
Great to watch God work through our students. I'm praying the spirit of this continues for months and years to come or at least throughout christmas break :)

I recently read this quote: "random acts of kindness are cool. intentional ones are cooler." I think I agree.


Friday, December 19, 2008


Blog has been silent for a while. Lots of reasons. Perhaps I'll make the time this weekend to post some of the picture proof, but shannon's sisters are spending the weekend with us, so we'll see.

But I can tell you this, I've been playing reindeer games- just some crazy stuff we dreamed up in a student ministry weekend planning meeting with some kinda spiked hot chocolate evidently.

Here's the video proof on this post on our high school blog.

And the clues we gave via twitter here.

This weekend we announce the winners. Was totally fun. Took them 3 days and a full contact hunt for the deer after my final update on Wednesday night.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Last Sunday marked exactly 30 days until we go to Uganda to get 2 more children. My family will grow by almost 50% more kids over night and we'll spend the rest of our lives with 2 children who have never really met us.

This made my heart stop a little on Sunday. I'm guessing it probably freaks two little ones out a little too. If you pray, here's how you can for us:

  • WORK STUFF: details in youth ministry. I have lots to get done and get covered before I leave for a month. pray it all gets done. pray for a great team to fill in the gaps.
  • OUR 3 BOYS: our boys are ready and excited, but it's gonna be hard to be without them for a month while we are 9000 miles away. Please pray that they are healthy, protected, and encouraged in our absence. Pray for strength for the grandparents as they trade off playing the role of mom and dad to 3 crazy kids.
  • OUR HOME: I still have several projects I'm trying to finish up before we leave. Some stuff in Becky's room, a solution Tyler's lack of drawer space, a dinner table scenario that will hold 7 people, a few details outside, etc. These are just a few of the many things we need to figure out in the next 28 days. AHHHH.
  • OUR COURT DATES: we need several smooth court dates in Uganda. Pray that they all come through and that we receive good favor with the judges.
  • MEETING DAD: we will meet the maternal father of our kids while there. Pray for compassion, grace, wisdom, and a sincerely and unmistakably Divine presence in that meeting. Pray that we are encouraging and that God helps us as this will be a BIG piece of our kids legacy and a memory I want to be really really good. Truth is, this meeting both scares and confuses me.
  • FINANCES: praise God we've raised most of our funds. Pray that God will continue to show us what we need to pay for and the wisdom to know what are the right decisions.
  • HEALTH: pray that everyone in this process remains healthy- both our kids here and us as we are in Uganda and Becky and Billy.
  • SCHOOLING: pray that God opens the right doors for the perfect fit for our new kids as they get assimilated into the school system in America.
  • BONDING: a BIG issue in adoption is the issue of bonding or "attachment". You either get it quickly or you fight for it for years. Pray that our bonding with our new Ugandan kids is immediate and intimate and natural and ridiculously blessed. Pray that they feel like we are the parents they've always wanted and that it feels to them as if we have never not been there. Pray the same for them and our boys as we form a new concept of family in the coming months and years here in San Diego too.
  • GRACE: pray for grace. We will surely screw something up in this process. Pray for grace by God and people in the process.
ok.. I could keep typing, but I'll just leave it with that. If you pray, we'd be honored if you'd do some for our family in this transition.



Tyler's U10 boys soccer team is undefeated. UNDEFEATED. They are 16-0-1.

This is the pic of them after we won the season title.

After winning, we were then sent to go to a tournament this last weekend for the region title where they played other teams that won their division from other cities in our area. The tournament works on a points system where you get 6 points for a win, one point for each goal (up to 3 goals), and one point for a shut out. That's a total of 10 points possible per game.

At the end of Saturday, we had played 2 games and scored 29 points. Sunday they had 3 games and THEY WON all three, ending with a FIRST PLACE WIN consisting of 4 shut outs and 49 out of a possible 50 points!

Now, while I'm in Uganda, they go to a section tournament where they play other kids who all won their region. CRAZY times.

My favorite memory though, I will not forget for a long time. Truth is I was really kinda praying for second place since I knew I couldn't coach them in the next tournament and didn't want to miss it. But in the heat of the match, I really did want them to win and was coaching with that goal in mind. So when they won I just shouted for joy for them and started crying and high fiving my players who were all running and screaming towards the side line in victory. Then I looked to the left and my son Tyler, who was in goal came running up with his arms spread wide wanting a hug and screaming, "We did it dad! We did it!" As we hugged he said, "thanks for coaching me dad. you're the best."

He has probably thanked me 4 out of 5 practices and games for coaching him. I'm so thankful for this time together and so excited for these boys. They earned it. I am blessed to be a part of it.



Lots of Sundays, I wonder if what we/I do in youth ministry matters or if anyone is even listening. By way of comparison, if I teach in the main service, in one week I'll get 4x the feedback from adults that I get from 4 months in student ministries.

So, last week, Sarah was teaching and that freed me up so that during the second service, I could move around to observe some stuff I never do from up front. So I was hanging out in the back when I looked out the door to catch this scene I caught on my iphone.

THE FOREGROUND: our worship team, who have already sat through the service once are playing their guitars outside until their role in this service is up. Between and after services they have been collecting donations in Noah's guitar case for the 4 children our ministry sponsors around the world and some for our adoption too. Something they have done on their own initiative for fun. Much to my surprise, they've raised over a hundred dollars in about 4 weeks time.

THE BACKGROUND: Megan is helping an elderly woman walk to the video cafe to watch the service on a big screen. I wish you were watching a video instead of just seeing a picture because that is 20 minutes of walking for about 25 yard walk. No, I'm not exaggerating. When Megan came back in I asked, "How was that?" She said, "That was the slowest walk I've ever taken in my life." I was so proud of her, she offered her arm to that elderly woman and stopped serving in our program to do so.

I praise God for windows of direct or indirect encouragement. It's what keeps me going back to work each day. Some of our students really do get it.


Friday, December 05, 2008


Are evidently "Stuff" and "Going".

I had a friend send me a link to this site where you can put in a url or group of words and it will create a word cloud for you.

Here's the one it made from this blog. I secretly hoped it would have had "adoption" or "kids" and "God" as the biggest ones, but nope. I'd expand on why I think the program is lame and twitter should not be so big, nor so centered, and why the cloud is not right, but I've got to get going, I have lots of stuff to do.


Thursday, December 04, 2008


Looking for a good Christmas present? Look no further than one that gives to 3 places:

1. you help Ugandan women who work in an orphanage to make a little more of a living to feed their own families.

2. you help us raise the money it will take to adopt 2 kids.

3. you help a friend or loved one have a sweet piece of authentic African jewelry.

You can see how they are made in this post here. Click on the pictures below to increase their size for better viewing.


Lots are gone now, because we have sold a grip of them in the last 2 days! What a blessing to so many people! But we have 2 styles left as they are going fast:

We have really long ones, they are meant to be wrapped two or 3 times around your neck. They are about 50 inches long and sell for $25 each.

We also have some more standard length ones. They are 22-24ish inches long and sell for $14 each or two for $25.

These are the bracelets, though we are all out of them, we can make you some out of the necklaces by re-stringing them smaller for you if that's the bigger need. We sell them for $8 each or two for $15.

If you want one, here's how we can do this.

1. Email Shannon to tell her what type and color you are interested in. We'll then confirm and set aside what you want. Finally, we'll figure out a shipping cost that will suit your needs.

2. Then you can use the newly created pay pal donate button on the right of this blog to make a donation or send us a check. Once we have that stuff, we'll shoot it off to you and Christmas wishes will be flowin.



Last night in our small groups we talked about persecution. I was sharing some learnings from my seminary class, trying to put some feet on the ground from all my reading and around our table at dinner before our discussino, monty python skits of all things came up in discussion.

This launched into a great bit of random comedy as we repeated pointless lines. Always a good time there.

Then this morning I found 3 these two nuggets:

1. Monty Python has created a youtube channel. This promo video they made for it is hilarious.

2. They have almost 30 clips up, of which, this scene on stoning I could have used last night. I will definitely be using some of this in a service soon. Good funny stuff.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008


D is for December. It is also for Decisions. Here's some small d and some BIG D decisions I've recently come to:


  • TWITTER is getting the minor axe. It can be consuming- too consuming for me. People in my world twitter in meetings, twitter in church, and I have been known to twitter- even while driving. I've decided I'm only going to use it once or twice a day. I'm no longer going to look at it throughout my day. It frankly takes up too much of my day and too many people on my following list use it as a public texting service back and forth to one another, twittering 15x a day, and yatta yatta. No big deal, but I'm cutting back. I'll twitter as I start my day and likely closer to when I end it.
  • BLOGS: I stopped reading blogs from people I don't know. I just didn't have the time- nor the interest and as bloglines kept piliing them up, I felt guilty for not reading them.
  • STUFF: I'm going through stuff and getting rid of stuff. Stuff sucks. I hate stuff. I also love nice stuff. Regardless, I'm working hard to say peace out to stuff. Garage sale coming soon. I have too much stuff.
  • LIGHTS: I'm sadly not putting up my christmas house lights this year. It's costs me too much. Somewhere in the $200 range in electricity for the month. Can't swing it. Maybe next year.

  • WORK OUT: Excercise: 4x a week. I have been lazy on this in november. I'm kicking it in to overdrive before I leave in January.
  • SCHOOL: I'm not going back to Seminary until I decide for sure what I'm going for and if this school fits my needs. I'm going to meet with a few professors before I leave for Uganda. I'm praying for wisdom.
  • MINISTRY: I'm seriously evaluating what and why I do what I do. I think we're doing some stuff right. Some stuff wrong. But not a lot of GREAT stuff. I don't like that feeling. I'm asking God to show up in some "only God coulda done that" ways in our ministry.
  • WRITING: I have several writing projects I've been unable to get to. School is done, soccer is almost done, adoption paperwork is almost done so I'm going to add them into my life in the next month.
  • READING: I'm making a reading list. I'm not buying any books. I have like 50 sitting around. I've got at least a 4 month break in school, so I'm gonna read a grip of them.



this is post #650. If you're counting. I'm not, but blogger does. So I'm going to list 650 things I love here in honor of post #650.

Or not.

Happy 650 to me and you.



I could say a lot about seminary. I think it's a system in need of some major reform. I have some time to think about what I'm going to do about that as I have completed my last class for a while last night. Our adoption process keeps me out of seminary for next quarter, so I'll have to evaluate what to do next Spring.

Anyway, this seminary class was on the first 1600 years of church history. Here's what I’ve been reminded of in my History Class- primarily in the 500 pages I read for the class:

  1. Christianity has a long history, not all of it good. Not all of it I want to claim, but I can’t change the past, I can only influence the future.

  2. Sin really screws things up in the church, society, government, and people.

  3. “Christians” have killed a lot of people in defense of heresy. In fact, it seems as though to kill those who don’t believe in the orthodox way was pretty much universally accepted for centuries… and in some of the most horrific and ungodly ways imaginable. This is ridiculous in light of the fact that Christians were at one time the ones persecuted in this way before governments accepted it as part of the social fabric.

  4. The Monastic movement was actually birthed out of the lack of persecution and people getting lazy with their convictions when it was no longer illegal to be a believer in Jesus.

  5. People are willing to die for their religious convictions. Millions and millions of people have died for their faith beliefs throughout time.

Buy way of a so what clause, 5 questions I’m stewing on as a result:
  1. Who would not want to claim my faith actions as part of their Christian History and would I be glad they did not?

  2. How has sin influenced me?

  3. What do I do as a Christian that is acceptable by Christendom today, but counter the teachings of Jesus?

  4. How has the legality of my faith resulted in an unhealthy friendship with the world in me?

  5. What convictions do I hold deeply enough to die for?


Wednesday, November 26, 2008


If you work with high school or college students, well Twilight is part of their world. I have a bunch o thoughts about this, but here's 5:

  1. WHERE IN THE WORLD DID THIS CRAZE COME FROM? with other movies, especially ones that are part of a series of books, I've at least heard of this ground swell, but it's like a tidal wave that came out of nowhere- at least for me- and the books are 4 volumes deep already.

  2. CHRISTIANS LOVE POP CULTURE AS MUCH AS ANYONE: I saw like 10 girls from our college group go see it Sunday after I taught at church.

  3. THIS MOVIE GENRE IS WEIRD TO ME. Since when do students flock to a vampire love story? I'm fine with lots of genre's of movies and books and I am fine with fantasy. My son TJ read the entire Harry Potter series in like 3 months straight. I have had a few Christians tell me this Vampire movie is from hell and has no redeeming qualities. I was also told some Mormon lady wrote it. I'm not sure where it is from really, but I'm highly doubting any of our students are like looking out for vampires at school now as a result of this movie or book. But I honestly don't know enough to say what it's impact will be. I'm gonna have to ask more questions I guess.

  4. I MIGHT NOT CARE, BUT I ALSO CAN'T IGNORE THIS THING. I love students, but one part of my job that I'm not naturally good at is staying up on pop culture. In fact, I suck at it. The only way I make up for it to ask lots of questions of my students. I don't watch enough TV, see enough movies, or listen to enough radio stations to get the scoop myself. So I just quiz people out of pure ignorance and genuine curiosity until I feel like I'm in the know. For example: I asked the college girls (several of which are on my leadership team) all kinds of questions about this movie and books and their appeal while they were waiting to get in line for this movie while I ate lunch with my kids in the mall. One question I asked was: what would the book be rated if the movie was true to it? I was told this: "It's not like a Danielle Steele Novel. I'd say PG13 for the first 3 and R for the last one."

  5. MY RANDOM PREDICTION: Twilight or some tweaking there of will the be theme for a lot of summer camps this year.

ok.... I have no idea what this means just yet. But Twilight just found it's way into my student world. Now what?


Monday, November 24, 2008


My grandma Delma would be turning 86 this next month on December 3rd. Her birthday is still in my calendar and her friendship still missed.

But while I cannot have coffee and ice cream with her at my house over thanksgiving, I did get a little piece of her world sent to me in the mail today.

It was my grandma's paring knife!

It's so cool to have this piece of history in my life. I've seen my grandma peel thousands of pieces of fruit and make countless meals with this knife in her hand. I spoke about it here in my tribute about her last September.

Here's what I said about this knife in specific:

I once even remade the wooden handle for her on a kitchen paring kife she had sharpened and used so many times that the wooden handle was all but gone and the blade was nothing but a piece of tin. I offered to buy her a new one but she insisted on keeping that one, so I made her a new handle for it. I really wish I still had that knife, but I'm sure it was tossed by someone at some point in the past decade.

The knife on the top of this picture is one that she held onto that had a handle falling apart that my Uncle also sent me. However the one below is the one I replaced the handle for. It started with a blade like the one above, but after decades of peeling and sharpening, it has all but disappeared.



You can go over here and read how to BUY COFFEE for your house or your office or your friends and family or total strangers this holiday season. Regardless it will actually produce funds that will go towards our adoption expenses.

You can thank Amy Taylor for us by visiting her post here and then buy some JAVA!!!



If you wanna help us with our adoption funding and find a piece of art for your home. Search no further. Just check out the picture below and then go bid on it here. It's made by a friend of mine, Randy Lipsey and is hosted on another friends site, Amy Taylor. Yeah for talented and creative friends.


Sunday, November 23, 2008


Today was the first time in over a year that I taught in what some affectionately call, "Big Church."

I call it teaching in "Main"- short for the "Main Service." I mentioned I was teaching in "Main" to one our adult volunteers and he asked me if he should be praying for my flight. Guess I need to give a little clarification between "Main" and "Maine".

Anyway, if you want to give it a listen, click here and download it or whatever.

Embedded in it is a testimony or story from a gal in our church, Susan. It's about how Jesus met her in a really tough spot. It's worth the listen just for that story alone if you ask me.


Thursday, November 20, 2008


I love Cosmos. Love it. They had just opened shortly after my arrival here in San Diego about 4 years ago and I literally just drove down this street and said, "I need a local coffee shop, there has to be one around here." And walla, there it was. Right under a beautiful tree. From Jesus.

I've been frequenting it ever since.

We've hosted 2 or 3 christmas parties here for our student ministries staff. I come weekly. I have most meetings with students or staff or my anyone I can talk into it here. I love their java and their breakfast bowls and their tuna melts. I would move to La Mesa, just so I could walk to Cosmos and work. It would be worth it, except that we like my kids school. Minus that. I'd do it. I just saw that cosmos opened up a "satelite" site. They need one in Rancho.

Mostly cuz I bond with kid #1- TJ- on Wednesday morning and my lovely wife on Mondays. I wanted a local coffee shop to frequent. But cosmos can't be found in Rancho. I have tried 2 different places, and I'm now stuck with something well, less than Cosmos. The one bagel place only lasted about 3 weeks before I cried foul. Now we're at another coffee grounds place. Here's what I would tell my local coffee grounds place if they cared to listen:

  1. MUGS: Have "here" cups. What's the point of staying and drinking your coffee if I can't enjoy it in a nice mug.

  2. REAL PLATES AND UTENSILS: um, please don't serve me breakfast or lunch on styrofoam and plastic ware. Even starbucks has here cups and plates and they are as big as McDonalds or something. I want to feel at home. Styrofoam is lame.

  3. PERSONAL SERVICE: yeah, you don't have to know my name, or even my drink (though most do since I'm so predictable), but at least be personable, like my business makes yours possible. Smiling is good.

  4. PROVIDE A JAVA REFILL. Like fill a cup of coffee for a reduced rate or a free refill. Just don't charge me full price for the second cup.

  5. LOCAL ART. It's nice to have a local place feel local.

  6. MUSIC. Put on some tunes that don't make me wonder if I accidentally stepped into the java filled elevator.

  7. SHADE. Places to sit outside in the shade are nice. My coffee will keep me warm.

  8. TAB: Um... I wanna billable tab. How stinkin cool would that be?! Hardware store meets bar meets cafe. "Put it on my tab." I pretty much would never drink another cup of coffee anywhere if I had a tab. Nope, Cosmos doesn't have one. But yep, that'd be sweet.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Well, it's been way too long since I've blogged. I got slammed with school and a bunch of other stuff. A slew of blog posts are coming soon I think. We'll see. But at least this one for starters.

SHANNON IS AN ADDICT: yes, my wife is a blog reading addict. Warning to the adoptive families of the world: If you speak english, have a blog, and are adopting a child from a foreign country... then my wife is stalking you and taking notes. This is her chosen method of meeting with people to learn from their experiences. We don't talk to people, we just peer in their public windows. :)

HOME STUDY INTERVIEWS ARE DONE: Well, we filled out some papers and wrote this really big check and then this lady named Darcy came to our house twice. She looked around a little, asked some questions of us and our kids, and now is going to type up some report. Her biggest concern is that we are too poor on paper to have 5 kids and she thought immigration might flag our report. HAAA! Welcome to pastor/substitute teacher pay. We're not rich enough to adopt. :) Somebody better tell God- he doesn't seem to believe it. Anyway, once the report is typed up, then it goes through a series of "tag you're it" people and then they use it in Uganda to say we can parent kids.

KIDS ARE MERGING ROOMS. Tyler and TJ have officially moved in together. TJ's old bunk has now become a double bunk with the world's longest mattress. It's two twin beds that by the grace of God, fit in just perfect. But if you want to change the sheets, better get a crane and a bowl of wheaties cuz they are crammed in there. Now I need to build Tyler a dresser and find a solution for Becky, Billy, and Jake for desks. Here's a pic of my kids in the monster bed, the now expanded and messy desk below, and tyler experimenting with gang signs evidently.

MONEY IS COMING IN. We have started receiving some checks. Last week someone donated the largest check we have ever received from a non-direct family member. Lots of people have given sacrificially and the stories and e-mails of how this has happened are such an encouragement and have brought us to tears more than once. Thank you to all of you. If you're praying, spreading the word, using your talents, or cutting checks of any size- you are with us in this journey we call adoption. THANK YOU!!!

SPEAKING OF TEARS, HERE'S OUR KIDS READING OUR BOOK: We've been told that Becky wants a pink bike. Billy.. get this... Billy's biggest point of excitement is that his bed in the picture has a pillow. Kid wants a pillow. I swear, it's taking every bone in my body not to just fill his bed with pillows so when he comes home he can't even find the mattress. I might just buy him a new one every month. I love new pillows. We're going to get along just fine- especially if he loves new cushy socks too. (notice them praying over my kids here too. So thankful for a God-fearing orphanage)

GOOGLE EARTH SAYS IT IS 9427 MILES: That's how far it is from my front door to the orphanage. I need like Mrs. Incredible stretchy arms. It was fun to show our kids at dinner last night though. What a crazy satelite world we live in! Bet the peeps who dreamed up satelites never dreamed I could access data from it at my kitchen table or on my iphone.


Friday, November 14, 2008


I saw some pictures on the news that the fires were threatening some very big houses.

Evidently it also took out 14 staff homes, a dorm, a science building, an a few others at Westmont College too.

Check out the pics and captions here as you pray for the students and staff and resources that have been pretty jacked up. Stuff is temporary and life is fragile. Fire season is a hard way to remember.



Ever wondered... what goes through the brain of a high school teenager?

Well, we've done a few things to try and give the students I work with a chance to express themselves and give us some insight into that very question in our high school weekend services lately.

We started out our weekend series this fall with one called, "everyone matters".

We asked students to write down their "stories" about how these messages were changing their thinking on cards during the third message in the series. We then re-wrote them anonymously and taped them to the wall the following Sunday. We talked about how our stories are all different, but our uniqueness also reinforces how "everyone matters".

Here's some of what they said: (click them and they should get large enough to read)

This weekend we're starting a new series called, "Dear God".

We stole the name from Saddleback (a series they did last school year) and then we added an iphone/texting theme to it.

Anyway, we had students turn in cards and ask questions about God and life and faith. They asked some great questions. I love the fact that high school students are embarking on the process of becoming true faith thinkers. I try and tell students as often as I can that, "I have no desire to teach you what to think, but rather how to think." I hope our ministry is producing intelligent and thoughtful followers of Jesus.

You can read their questions here on our high school ministry blog.

Pray for us as we seek to live relevantly and help students find hope and faith in the truth of God's word this series.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Don't even try and tell me you don't either personally want this purse or think someone you know NEEDS this purse. It's will bring you way more prestige and oohs and ahhhs than GUCCI.

I promise. Your friends will like it so much they will try to steal it- but don't worry, it comes with a guardian angel to protect you and your purse.

GO HERE NOW TO BID ON IT. Hurry. You only have 24 hours to share the love.

Becky says you'll like it. She already owes Amy a kiss for making it.


Saturday, November 08, 2008


Here's some stuff from the world of the berrytribe family soccer season. From oldest to youngest.


TJ's team is called the "scorepions", but um yeah.... we didn't do much SCOREing. However, today was different! We played a man down and made as many goals today as we have made all season- go figure. Crazy I tell you. Crazy! It was fun to coach today- not because the won so much as because the didn't stand around acting like they forgot they were playing soccer. I love soccer, but this team made me think sometimes that I might suck at coaching. Here's the crew.


Tyler's team is currently in first place- undefeated with one tie. "The Storm" has been raging all year with some very gifted and talented athletes. Today Tyler scored again, a great shot where he beat his opponent, then waited for the goalie to make a wrong move and perfectly shot it in goal. I was so fired up for him. We have the semi-finals next weekend and then the final match for first place on the weekend before Thanksgiving. Pretty cool. Here's that crew:


Finally, there's Jake. We decided to pull Jake this year from our AYSO league and put him in a league where they only train in ball skills, don't have a "real team" and show up on saturday for a mini-field game that is 4 v 4 with small goals. The kids then try and get control of the ball and "go to goal". It's perfect for his age bracket- though lots of injuries on the coaching staff kept this from being all that it could have been. I still like the concept better for his age bracket though. Here's Jake with the crew on the last day (last weekend) and another with his buddies from our neighborhood.


Oh.. and I started playing indoor again on Sunday nights with the "has beens". That's good for my soul and my health. I love playing indoor. Last Sunday I scored twice. Rock on. No pic of me and my team. Sorry. I'm too fast for the camera :)


Friday, November 07, 2008


Today I heard president-elect Obama say that our auto industry is failing and needs our help.

Great. Let's help. Um... I have an opinion on how per my experience today.

  • Car breaks.
  • Car towed per AAA service I pay for.
  • Car serviced.
  • Parts $101
  • Labor $188 or $94 per hr. for 2 hours.
  • Actual time it took to do the job including the paperwork per my bill: 50 minutes.
Auto industry explanation: "The guy is fast. He gets paid the allotted book time regardless of how long it takes, under or over the book time. Sometimes it works in the techs favor. Sometimes it works in your favor."

Reality: My wife works as a substitute teacher. She has to work 16 hours to make what it took the car dealership 50 minutes to make.

Are you kidding me? 2 days of work to teach our kids verses less than an hour to fix my ignition? Can your cool new financial policy solve that discrepancy please?



This is a test. It is only a test. If this event were an actual emergency, I would follow this blog post with some important information. however... nope. I am only testing the possibility of blogging from my iphone with my cool new app if I wanna. So wish me luck.

remote blogging shall now commence.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008


I don't agree with John Piper's view of women. I don't think it is Biblically accurate. I'm not going to write a dissertation on it here in this post. (you can download a copy of a paper I wrote in review of a book on this issue for a seminary class I took last year here if it interests you. Don't plagiarize it:)

However, I don't think commander-in-chief of the army or government is anywhere on the pages of the limitations the Bible gives to women. He says it in the video below. He defends it here.

However, this does not mean that other things he says are not both true and good.

This video, which I saw on another blog, is not unlike how I felt about the speeches and positions of presidential candidates for this election. Some of what is said I found myself saying Amen in agreement. Others of it I found myself scratching my head and wondering why we were so disconnected. I both agreed and disagreed with this 7 minute assessment of the decisions I faced yesterday.

Which leaves me wondering.....

  • am I to believe that no one could honestly fear God, love Jesus, and be faithful to the Scriptures and not agree with John Piper?
  • Is it possible for two people to vote differently yesterday and still do so in obedience to God's call?
  • Was there really a Godly and an unGodly candidate to choose between?
  • What is the issue that God gives the most weight to in the world?
  • Which poor, orphan, voiceless, or widowed individual matters most to God around the world and in the womb?
  • What do you do if all decisions lead to partial joy and regret?
  • Are humility and wonder really the opposite of conviction and truth the way some want to make them out to be?



If you like the banner above, then go here and buy it. All the proceeds go to our adoption courtesy of a VERY generous and kind friend who is using her talents to advance global causes she believes in.

Her blog has a new address due to the fact that her "old blog" was accidentally deleted when she tried to dump her gmail account. Woops. Anyway, if you know any google guru's who can resurrect stuff out of the might electronic trash can, shoot me a comment or better yet, shoot her one on her blog.



I voted for Obama yesterday. Here's a few reasons why:

  • because he told me that while he was a Democrat, he didn't care to lead by that banner, but by the banner of the United States. I didn't get that same sense from McCain.
  • because I sensed a humility that I think is lacking in our leadership. I pray he keeps it.
  • because I believed that the President of the United States is no longer responsible for just our portion of the North American continent, but to be a responsible Global Leader. I believed that Obama would bring a combination of humility and conviction to the table of world leadership discussion and debate.
  • because in the end, I thought he made a wiser choice in a proven running mate. It was not as good for Saturday Night Live, but I'll just watch the re-runs of Tina Fey if I need a good laugh.

In order to do so though, I had to come to 3 conclusions- each of which were a hurdle large enough to cause me to vote for McCain if I could not cross them:

  • I was not voting for him because I desperately wanted to see a black man in the oval office. He got 95% of the black vote, pollsters tell us. I understand why, but I think some of that is unhealthy and unwise as a standard for our future. I hope that does not continue anymore than I hope any white guy wins 95% of the white vote or a woman wins 95% of the female vote. I'm excited at the historical landmark this is today- even brings me to tears at the significance of this and what it will mean for me and my children and for generations to come-, but there are lots of black, white, asian, hispanic, what have you- men and women who should not be in office. I had to believe that Obama was someone who could do the job, regardless of color or gender. The historical landmark was a bonus, not the point for me.
  • The economy was going to be a mess for a while, and neither party has the right solution. I don't believe that the Republicans or the Democrats hold the solution to the way we mismanage our money on a government level. But I was ready to try something else. Hopefully this will be the "something else" that will bring solution and not greater divide to our economy and it's influence around the world.
  • I had to believe the studies that said that the abortion and rights of an unborn child are not ultimately tied to a President. They go up and down regardless of the political persuassion of that person. If it were this issue alone, I would not have voted for Obama. I cannot fathom for the life of me, why a dentist cannot take out a wisdom tooth without parental permission but a doctor can perform an abortion without one or why a man of Obama's influence/wisdom/etc. would see this as good. He makes me doubt the wisdom piece with this position. I also cannot see why one can- on a purely humanitarian level- support a partial birth abortion. We voted as a state of CA to treat chickens with greater dignity today than we give a human fetus just minutes from birth. I believe that pains the heart of God. I ultimately had to believe that this issue goes way deeper and must be solved by someone other than the man with the chair in the oval office.

Lastly, I completely and wholly agreed with this post from my friend and pastor- Ed. I prayed this today along with him and will continue to pray this for Obama and for myself for that matter.



My birthday card to her read, "happy birthday to a wife who has great patience, love, and devotion.... from the man who tests them all." or something like that. Thanks for putting up with me oh most amazing friend and partner in this crazy adventure we call our life.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY WIFE and the MOM of our 3 boys. We took her to dinner last night ala Discover Card point redemption for Applebees card. Yeah for gift cards.

Here's the pic I snapped. Cute wife. Cute kids. She's gonna have to get Mrs. Incredible stretchy arms though, I'm not sure how she's gonna fit 2 more kids in those.


Monday, November 03, 2008


I'm up late. I'm praying about my voting decisions.

Here's a few things I'm concerned about, if you happen to be up late too.


  • I'm not in favor of telling Americans to vote to show their freedom. Too many do so out of ignorance. I don't want to do this either.
  • I have come to really value and appreciate the words and wisdom from Patrick Lencioni. He lives in Nor Cal and one of these days, when I'm back visiting family, I just might have to try and schedule a long shot coffee with him. I've read several of his books and I subscribe to his monthly newsletter, which never disappoints. The October newsletter started like this:
  • "I always find it interesting—or maybe troubling—when people encourage everyone to go out and vote on election day. Don’t get me wrong; I’m an ardent fan of democracy. I just don’t think it’s a good idea for people to vote unless they’ve taken the time to understand the issues and make informed decisions. It would be far better, in my opinion, if those who are too busy or disinterested to stay abreast of the issues exercised restraint on election day. I think that makes perfect sense, and yet is often viewed as politically or socially incorrect."
  • I couldn't agree more.

  • campaign ads are full of partisian bullcrap.
  • law makers write long bills and then stuff pet projects in the small print between the lines, making my distrust for law makers and politicians mountains high. No other industry would tolerate this junk.
  • what they send me in the mail is either ridiculously simplified to the point that it is of little or no use, or so complicated, I need like 20 hours and a poli-sci degree to comprehend it.
  • many media sources tend to be one sided in their criticism.

  • I read this blog post and the comment streams and then chased that stuff all over the place.
  • I enjoyed this site and spent several hours reading about stuff I cared about. It's seems to at least attack both sides equally.
  • I have a friend who has thoughtfully posted a bunch of stuff on his blog. I don't agree with everything, but I did appreciate the process and found it immensely helpful in my own decision making, confident I had someone helping me sort out truth from lies.


  • COMPLEXITY: Hardest part of my decisions is that I agree and disagree with parts of like everything. Whether it be I agree with the policy, but not the methodology a proposition employs or visa-versa, I'm finding a lot of decisions hard for me this year.
  • DOUBT ABOUT THE SOLUTION: I think politics and government can be tools by which the Kingdom of God can be seen, but it's rarely the first goal of either of them. I have trouble believing that voting changes the human condition that I believe is in desperate need of grace and truth and love and redemption. That is so much more than any vote or ballot can accomplish. I go the poles a bit skeptical that much of it will really deal with core level issues and not just be bandaids on much bigger problems.
  • I'M NOT A REPUBLICAN: I'm registered as one, but I'm not one. I'm also not a Democrat. I'm a follower of Jesus, and there is no such thing as the "Jesus political party" and I pray no one tries to create it either. But regardless, I'm no longer willing to walk into the polling station and simply pick someone based on party allegiance. I've done it in the past. I'm not doing it tomorrow. I'll vote for some on both sides of the isle.
  • MONEY IS LAME: only thing lamer, is how government spends and raises and borrows it. The whole tax deal, wall street buy out, and yatta yatta makes me wonder who is in charge or what it is I must be missing.

  1. I'm praying for our country and our world. This is literally a global decision these days.
  2. I'm proud and honored to be a country where I can have a voice. So I'm voting as informed as I know how.
  3. A bit random, but I'm still a little weirded out by the fact that Rachel Maddow has become a TV personality. I sat in Calculus, English, and several other classes with her in high school- she is part of my graduating class. She now has her own TV show, is a regular on the Today Show, will be a big part of tomorrows coverage on MSNBC, and interviewed Barack Obama last week. Someday I'm gonna get my picture on a box of Wheaties and then she'll be calling me for an interview.


Saturday, November 01, 2008


Today after 3 soccer games, we went shopping for a new mattress for Tyler, cuz he is moving into TJ's room and Tyler's bunk is gonna become Billy's.

Anyway, we were at JC Penny and buying a mattress from our 72 year old salesman (he told us that earlier in our sales process) when at the end, he tries to be funny and says:

"Hey, it was nice of you to come in. But you appear to have only brought in part of your family. Where did you put the sister?"

To which Jake says all loud and proud, "Oh, she's in Africa!"

Salesman, smiles and looks at Jake and says, "Oh, that's cute. Africa." and rubs Jake's head and laughs a little.

To which Shannon says, "No really, we're adopting and that's why we need another mattress."

I then bust out the phone to show the "family picture."

Salesman then looks at us and smiles and says, "Well, that's great. God bless you."



I've been doing a lot of thinking. Here's some of the random things in my head:

GAS TV: Who decided I needed to watch TV when I pump gas?

OIL SCHMOIL: Why can the oil industry post 14 billion in profits and this not be a social sin when people had to buy gas to go to work but can't afford the milk they need at home? I'm sure there's a reason why we don't regulate this industry like we do natural gas/electricity- but I can't figure out for the life of me what it is except ego and power.

FEAR MONGERING: Why is fear such a popular voting motive? I should probably give this a whole post- cuz I have HUGE concerns about how Christians interact with a secular society... but I don't understand the ones who say I should vote Yes on 8 for fear that my kids might learn at my public school that there are people who think homosexuality is a lifestyle one can raise a family under. There are tons of things my kids learn at school I don't support. But I also have not deligated their learning away. If it's taught as THE way, then that's a problem. But A way? Well, I'm not sure not teaching that is changing much these days. They learn condoms can protect pre-marital sex, abortion is ok, the absense of God, a view of religions I don't agree with, and a bunch of other stuff. I took Tyler to a museum this week with his class where they subtly told him again that he has evolved from nothing... which all of my kids are taught at one stage or another in the public school realm. But I use it as a teaching moment, not a fear moment. I didn't tell Tyler he can't go to the museum because they'll say he evolved from a soup of nothingness. Anyway- I don't fear the society I live in, I want to influence it- which is why our kids are in the public school environment in the first place. Voting is one of many ways I can continue to spread my influence. But at the core, I want to engage this society and teach my kids and students to think about what America does or does not teach and learn to agree and disagree sensibly and Biblically. I don't fear it. I don't think Jesus did or does either.

HEY YOU: The guy in the mirror. Self-awareness seems to be a daily pursuit these days. I wish I was more of this and less of that and well, thank God he loves me, cuz I'm a distinct work in progress.

TEXTING: When did texting take over the world? This thing is virtually the only way I can track my student leaders down these days. For a few years I fought it. It seems now, I either use it or lose IT.

FACEBOOK: Facebook might be the best thing that has ever happened to some of my friendships. Maybe?



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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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