Thursday, August 27, 2009


Then this stuff might help you.  We had our student ministries small group leader training last night and because I love you, I'm giving you pretty much everything we pass out in a single booklet PDF for free. We had it color printed and then we spiral bound it and our leaders loved it.  Most of it is original material from my team and I.  

It was a great night of bonding and I'm praying a great start to a year of ministry together.

Here's our agenda:
  • 6-9pm.
  • Dinner.
  • Update people's technical data and take pictures during dinner. 
  • Get to know you activity.
  • Interactive teaching and response to the data in this PDF.  (it's 22 MB, so be patient.  Might take a while if you're on a slow connection but it'll be worth the wait :)


Monday, August 24, 2009


That was the question our newest additions had after their "first day" of first grade today: "Do we go back?" You see, we tried putting them in school once shortly after arriving into the States and it didn't work. Truth be told, we were fools for thinking kids brand new to America could dive into "normal kindergarten" anyway, but we're a quick learn and after a few days of experimenting, we pulled them out and Shannon Home Schooled them this last year.

And she did an ACES job. No surprise there. This teacher credentialed mommy jumped right in and brought 2 little African kids to the kitchen table for a crash course in Kindergarten and got them up to speed with the desired standards by today. So props to her.

But Becky and Billy were still wondering if they get to stay this time. Our answer? Yes!!! Mom might be more like YES!!!! YES!!!! YES!!!!! But yes, they are staying and their teacher said they are just like all the other 6 year olds in first grade. I know that's not true, but I'll take her word for it.

So Mom changed the front door chalk board (good thing we read by sounding it out in our family :)

We took a family pic.

And then we started our weekly "Walk to school Monday" routine.

And then we dropped of two twins in first grade,

one in second,

one in fourth,

...and hoofed it to Middle School to drop off one in 7th.
and with that, the 2009-2010 school year is off and running.


Sunday, August 23, 2009


Saturday launched the first day of soccer for Becky and Billy. They play with Jake in a league that is essentially all about skill development and 2 or 3 basics. Jake keeps asking me when I'm going to coach for him, but I told him not until he shows me he wants to play and actually works. I might be in trouble soon.

They play for an hour in a 3 v 3 pickup game on small fields in one place that they are assigned to each saturday morning and Jake is on the field with the most prepared kids. All 3 kids are on separate fields, so that means no sitting for the berrytribe cheer leaders. We just wander around yelling "go go go go to goal" to the tribe. At one point, Billy had a teammate who decided soccer was too much for him to play, so Becky jumped in and played with the boys. And scored.

Anyway.. it's fun. Here's some pics of the troops:

And here's Becky and Billy fighting for the ball. Sibling rivalry is allowed on the field.

And one of my pretty little girl schooling all the boys... just for show. And yes, she scored :)


Wednesday, August 19, 2009


National Youth Workers Convention

Hey friends. I'm stoked to be going to the National Youth Workers Conference again this year for a variety of reasons. I have no idea how many I've been to, but it's a ton. But this year the experience will be totally different than anything in the recent past due to lots of changes in the format and structure. It will be more conversational, more relational, more opportunity for all attendees to shape content.... and therefore more impactful I hope and pray.
I've loved what God has bugged and nudged and taught me about through YS... and more recently, over the last 4 years of being in San Diego... my opportunities to work with YS have reached whole new levels. After 15 years of youth ministry, I finally feel like I have some experience perhaps worth gleaning and I've been give a few chances to share some of that over the last few years.
Along those lines, I have been given the opportunity this year to lead 2 labs in L.A. One will be a lab on "The Big Picture: developing a year-long comprehensive calendar and teaching plan" that I got some great feedback and response on from when I lead it 2 years ago. Here's the content description:
Ministry can be all about the tyranny of the urgent. When 
it is, the result is limited creativity, high stress, and usually
 low volunteer involvement due to the immediacy of needs
 and short-term demands. This lab is all about changing that 
by helping you develop a teaching and events calendar that
 lets you get ahead and get others involved. We’ll show you 
how to create a visual calendar you can use to stay ahead, discuss ways to develop group ownership, as well as talk 
about practical ways to make a calendar year that creates
 momentum instead of a constant drain on you, your ministry, 
and families.
Another will be new for me at the NYWC on student leadership and it's called, "Creating a teenage owned ministry". Here's that content description:
Adolescent leadership is one thing. Adolescent ownership 
is something different. This lab will discuss some practical
 ways to move from merely getting teenagers involved to getting them owning a ministry. We’ll talk about the structural,
 philosophical, and practical systems that must be in place
 to move teens to a high level of ownership. Whether you’re
 trying to get a leadership team started or looking to revamp
 the one you already have, this lab will be a great place to do
 some thinking and dreaming of what could and should be.
So jump on in and join me in L.A. It should be some great learnings together. You can sign up here or just click on any of the NYWC banners on this blog and join me in Los Angeles, CA from September 25-28, 2009.




I don't think you should own a really fast car if you don't drive it really fast.  REALLY fast....  Like if you own a ferrari and you just take it to the grocery store nice and slow lookin' for looks... you're are a poser!  At least park it like this kid does:

and for what it's worth.... if you have a stupid fast car and you'd like me to take it somewhere and drive it REALLY fast, I'd be happy to oblige you and have done so with a '65 shelby GT 500, a really fast Jaguar, a BMW 700i, and a Dodge Viper.  The Shelby was the best.

I also don't think you should own a truck if all you do is carpet the bed of it and go get 2 liter bottles of soda with it.  A truck should be used to haul stuff.  Dirty stuff.  Stuff you don't want in your car.  Big Stuff.  Stuff you can't fit in your trunk.


Ok...  that said.  I think I have committed a similar sin however with my computer.  I have Photoshop and Illustrator CS3 and I use them weekly, if not daily in ministry.   But I intuitively know that I'm a poser.  It can do amazing things.... and I use it to tweak stuff.  I wish I was done with seminary so I could go take a class on these programs at the community college.  Truth is,  I use them to do wimpy stuff that I could have done in keynote or something.

So, last Sunday we needed a slide for a stressful game of "hot potato".   I searched the web, hoping to cheat and find one someone else made and borrow it.  Well, instead I found this lovely photoshop tutorial website that showed me exactly how, step by step, to set my own choice of words on FIRE.


5 minutes later I had turned this slide I made with a lovely kid drawing of a potato on fire that I found:

Into this:

I think I might have actually taken my Ferrari for it's first real test drive this weekend!


Saturday, August 15, 2009


Dirty, messy spaces really bug me. I find myself not wanting to be in them, uninspired, even drained by them. This is true at work, at home, at places I shop... anywhere really.

The exact opposite happens when I clean something up or when I find a space that is organized and makes sense. I become inspired, I gain energy, I want to enjoy it.

One of the biggest drains in my life is messy spaces I can't find time to fix. One of my most motivating things is solving that problem. The 2009/2010 school year is going to be my year of removing the junk and making my spaces into the ones I want to actually live in.

As a result of this wild crazy cleaning hair I have crawling up my back side, I went on a cleaning/simplifying spree here lately and fixed tons of stuff that's been bugging me.

  • Fixed the ceiling in our bedroom from a leak which resulted in an entire sheet of sheet rock being removed and left unfinished in our bedroom for 4 years. For some crazy reason, I decided enough was enough and fixed it with a friend. It is now textured and painted and good to go.
  • We rearranged our bedroom, ditched the drapes, and lost some stuff and it's cleaner and neater. I might actually get dressed slowly now before leaving. Maybe I'll even read in bed. Maybe.
  • I helped clean out and organize all of Jake and Billy's clothes.
  • I cleaned out and reorganized our kitchen pantry and cupboards.
  • I sold a bunch of stuff in a garage sale.
  • I sold a bunch more on craig's list I couldn't sell at the garage sale.
  • I gave a bunch of stuff I didn't want to bother selling or couldn't sell either way.
  • Then last night after church, I cleaned out my office/work out space in the single car portion of our garage. This one has been a long time in progress. First I put up the wall and built the cabinets and added sheetrock about 4 years ago. I then painted and added the desk. Last night I added carpet that I scored for free and now all I have left to do is paint one more wall and perhaps put in a door with a window and I'm done with this room.

On my to do list:
  • find a way to get rid of the carpet in our house- the whole house.
  • shelves for becky's room.
  • make a new hall cabinet
  • make a new cabinet for our play room.
  • 2 bathrooms
  • 1 kitchen
  • a few interior doors
  • shade sails for the backyard.
  • paint our house trim
  • finish the front planter project I started 2 years ago.
Wish me luck. Might have to be the 2009/2012 plan... but I'm gonna keep cleaning and pray when I'm done, God doesn't move me again :)



I NEED AN HTML class. I tried to tweak the blog html of our encounter blog script for a new one I found that I liked online and after 3 hours of screw ups... I gave up and went generic. Oh well. I can't figure it out.

THIS VIDEO. Yeah. I have watched it maybe 50 times. If it's real, he is either "A" totally nuts or "B" very lucky or "C" a math/physics magician or "D" all of the above. Totally crazy I tell you.

THIS VIDEO TOO: Super old, but can't figure out if it's real either. But if you pause it. His shadow stays in the right place in each frame. This is crazy too.


Friday, August 07, 2009


I've been attending the leadership summit from Willow Creek via satellite for 8 years in a row now I think.  It always moves me to tears.  It always inspires me.  It always challenges me.  It always has waaaaay more information than I can assimilate effectively into my life in the 360ish days in between.    This year was no different in that regard.

Great content. Great challenges.  Great stories of men and women around the world doing great things for God. Great hope in me that I might be that kind of Kingdom leader.

So in an effort to not merely attend another seminar, I've developed a habit over the years of taking extensive notes and then trying to weed through those notes and speakers to hear the one or two things that God might be saying to me (usually coming through as a theme through multiple voices).

So, this year, I was reminded of several things I wanted to re-up and commit myself to again and then two that I want to try to implement. Here they are:


  • SELF-AWARENESS AND SELF-DISCIPLINE:  both are mandatory for good leadership.  Self-awareness is my personal "one word" definition of maturity.  In order to increase it, I need to make intentional time for self-evaluation, submit my life to the discernment of the Holy Spirit, and invite trusted friends to offer honest observations.  I am the hardest person I will ever lead. Self discipline and Self awareness are two inseparable character traits to all great leaders.  I re-uped my commitment to pursuing both.
  • DO SOMETHING.... something small is fine.  But do something.  All big challenges are overcome by people who do something- maybe not the biggest thing, but small things that make a big difference.  I know this.  I agree with this.  But I re-uped my commitment to being an activist for Jesus- a doer of my faith, one step at a time.
  • LEADERS ARE READERS...  I need to continue to up my commitment to reading good, challenging, life altering material.  Biblical, christian, and counter faith readings.  I want to read that which strengthens my current beliefs and that which stretches me into new paradigms I might never have pondered otherwise. 
  • LEADERS SEE FAILURE DIFFERENTLY...  places that fear failure will never be the trail blazers of success.  I yearn to be that kind of leader.  I re-uped my commitment to accept failure as part of my leadership process and to re-defining it in my own life, family, and ministry. 
  • EARN THE RIGHT TO BE HEARD:  good leaders don't demand leadership from position, they earn it through integrity, example, and experience.  I re-uped my commitment to personally demanding that my life speak louder than my mouth. 
  • OPEN SHARE MINISTRY:  I want to work hard this year to earn not just unity, but collaboration.  I don't want merely understanding or compliance towards a common goal in our ministry, I want ownership and investment.  I'm going to work extensively and creatively to try and increase the points where students and staff have a voice into our ministry.  I'm going to add sermon prep ideas to our weekly production meeting, seek insights from leaders more regularly, and strive to open new ways for students, parents, volunteers, and staff to invest in our ministry.
  • RELATIONSHIPS. RELATIONSHIPS.  RELATIONSHIPS.   The last 3 months of my life, I have noticed an increase in my prayer life and and increase in my notice and awareness towards students and even my family's needs based on conversations I have had with them.  I've been to lunches, stayed late after youth group, made intentional conversations in "normal" meetings or meals, and been more purposeful about using facebook, texting, e-mail, face to face meetings, and even old fashion note sending to maintain and advance relationships.  I'm praying that this year is a watershed year for me and a marked increase in the depth and influence of my relationships with students and even my family.  


Tuesday, August 04, 2009


I need mentors.  I value mentors. I want to be a mentor.  I just met with our middle school pastor and we need more mentors in our middle school department.  I'm constantly in need of more mentors in our high school department. 

I think this:

  • If I don't have a mentor, my learning curve is inhibited.  It's foolish trail-blazing.
  • If I'm not being a mentor, I'm inhibiting someone else's learning.  It's selfish.
Mentoring is how discipleship happens. It's how learning happens.  It's how we are trained by the experience of those who have been there and done that and can help us do it better.

Today, I was sharing a passion for students and photography with one of our small group leaders.  He is a photographer by trade and today we were meeting in my office and I was bragging about the face of my son in this photo and how much I loved taking pictures and then.... then... then the mentoring moment was seized.

He asked, "what do you edit your pictures in?" 

I said, "Iphoto or photoshop.  But I feel like photoshop is a ferrari that I use to go get groceries with.  It has so much untapped potential, but I'm not sure how to use it.  I really need to take a photoshop class."

He said, "Open that picture in photoshop."

I said, "Ok."... and we were off to the most helpful 15 minutes of training I've received in a long time.



Mentoring Rocks!!!  Jake was always cute, but now you can see him clearer and the colors are awesome.  I so appreciate people who mentor. 



Our friends the Hammonds had a wood fence to burn, so they said, "Hey, wanna go have a bonfire on Coronado?"  We said, "Sounds good". 

So we played in the water on a BEAUTIFUL night in Coronado, ate dinner, watched the sun go down while God painted the sky and polished it off with a bonfire and smores.  The whole time I kept thinking the same thing I always do on nights like this... "Man, I can't believe God lets me live here".    The coast can be so beautiful.  Add that to some great weather, great friends, and a lightly clouded Sunset and you have the perfect mixture for an "Pinch me so I know I'm not dreaming moment".

I posted a bunch of pics on facebook, but here's some for a taste.  I haven't done a collage in a while.  So here's two quick ones.  Click them to get a bigger view.

One of the people:

And one of the beautiful surroundings: 


Monday, August 03, 2009


TJ AND TYLER: "Dad, can we have a sleep over with Wyatt and Garrett in the fort?"

ME: "Sure."

30 seconds later....

BILLY: "Dad, we are going to sleep outside?"

ME:  "TJ and Tyler are sleeping outside.  You can sleep in their loft with Jake though".

BILLY: "OK. (takes off running)"

30 seconds later....

BECKY: "Dad, can I sleep outside?"

ME: "No, but you can ask Molly if she wants to come sleep with you in your bed."

BECKY: "OK... takes off running."

30 seconds later....

JAKE: "Dad, TJ and Tyler are having friends over and Becky is having a friend over and we don't get to... all Billy and I get to do is sleep in TJ's and Tyler's bed.  I don't want to sleep in their bed. Why can't we have a friend?"

ME: "Um, ok... let me call Ricky and Joey and see if they want to come"

30 seconds later....

ME: "Jake, their mom said yes.  Go out in the street and wait for them to come up."

5 minutes later after I come to my senses....

ME:  "What did I just do?  We now have EVERY kid from our street spending the night in our house and our 5 kids just literally doubled.  I must be crazy!"

So 10 kids played Wii while I popped popcorn, then 6 little ones stayed inside and watched a movie and eat popcorn and popsicles while the 4 older ones went into the fort to watch a movie on the portable dvd player, eat popcorn, and plot how to take over the world.



Saturday, August 01, 2009


6 months ago, my wife had no daughter and no hair to deal with but her own.  Now we have the joy of Becky in our life and the joyful challenge of little brown girl hair.   It must be specially washed, covered at night, and it takes all day to prepare and then stays in for about 2 weeks. 

When we brought becky home, due to time constraints and hygene concerns, Becky, along with the other kids at the orphanage had virtually no hair.  When we started raising funds for her, they started letting it grow, so we had about 4 months of growth to play with upon arrival.  But she was basically buzz cut and the most we could do would be have the mommies at welcome home roll it into cute little balls for us. 

Well, we've come along way since then.  Scratch that.  My wife has come a long way since then.  She is a full on pro.  It takes all day and crazy patience for both Becky and Shannon, but she has continued to create little masterpieces with Becky's hair.

I call her "Daddy's pretty little girl" all the time.  The cool things mommy does with her hair only prove my point. 

Here's the one she did for our camping trip with beads.

Here's the one she spent all day doing with twists in her hair and a part down the middle and just finished like 4 hours later.  She is super mommy!  Two pretty girls I got.  I'm one lucky husband and dad.



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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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