encouragement from my daughter…

img_4924

My sweet Maeven on our “Date!”

If you have been following this blog or just know me in general you know that this has been a crazy year for me and my family.  After much prayer we felt God leading us from a ministry where we had spent the past 11 years into full time ministry with FCA.  That led to not only changing ministries, but selling our house, buying a new house and moving, having to go back out on deputation to raise quite a bit more financial support and countless other changes to our family life.  Then once things were finally starting to feel a bit more settled, my wife Erin was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to have a double mastectomy.

Through all these changes and events I have had to do more thinking and praying than I ever thought possible.  I have truly seen where I really have no control over anything and God has control over everything.  I have seen things that look like huge mistakes turn out to be God’s way of providing for future needs.  It’s been a true time of faith development in my life.

Even though I have seen my faith grow and my dependence on God grow over these past few months there have been times I have definitely struggled with depression and even wondering if have made the right choices.  As the uncertainty of financial support has weighed on me and just the stress of learning a new ministry and making new contacts there have been those times where I have questioned whether or not I should have done the easy thing and stay where I knew what I had to do and knew the finances would be enough.  These particular doubts changed for me last Thursday as I took a cute little 6 year old out on a date.

Last Thursday my son Judah had to go to the eye doctor and so my wife asked me to take our daughter Maeven out on a little date.  It was funny, because Maeven was so excited she got all dressed up for me and even put on a little “makeup” (chapstick lip balm) for the date.  So while Mommy and Judah were at the eye doctor, Maeven and I went to Dunkin Donuts for our breakfast date of frozen hot chocolate and peppermint donuts.  Maeven made sure we got the big comfy leather seats where we could talk comfortably as we munched on our goodies.

I started out asking her how her school year was going and about her new friends that she had made, and of course about what she wanted for Christmas.  Maeven then surprised me and asked me why we had moved to Richmond this year.   I told her that Mom and Dad knew God wanted us to work with FCA and Richmond was where He wanted us to do that.  I then asked her if she was happy with our move or not?

One thing you need to know about my daughter is that when asked a question, she is very high truth and tells you exactly what she is thinking.  With no thought at all, Maeven said, “Yes!”  I then asked her why she was so happy with our move.  Once again without having time to think Maeven said to me, “because you are home more Daddy and I get to spend lots of time with you!”

Right away I told her that I loved that too and did my best to fight back the urge to tear up hearing those words from my sweet girl.  All those worries about whether or not I had made the right decision to transition ministries and move my family really melted away.  While I am so thankful for all the years of ministry I had previously had there was so much time that I was away from my family.  And I always justified it by saying that the ministry was important and that my kids were too little to notice.  However, as Maeven’s moment of truth had shown me, they had noticed.  They knew there dad wasn’t around as much as they would like me to be and I knew that I had missed a lot.

Within my new ministry role, I know there will be lots of ups and downs, lots of stresses and pressures, and lots of time that I am out from my family.  At the same time it does afford me much more time to spend with my family and be there when they need me to be.  Whether that be taking care of my wife as she recovers from here battle with breast cancer or just having that needed quality time with my kids I am truly thankful for all that God has brought us through this year and all that is to come.  I am so thankful that He can use a sweet 6 year old girl to bring encouragement and joy too!

podcast encouragement…

podcastThe commute has started.  For the month of July I am finishing my time with Kentucky Mountain Mission by commuting almost an hour each way from Richmond to Beattyville.  The first week of my commuting has been a little more rough as I get more tired each day due to the fact that I am working at the Rec Center from open to close, since some of our staff are on vacation.  While physically I am pretty worn down and ready to go hibernate after three weeks of camp, moving, and now commuting, emotionally and spiritually I am feeling very refreshed.

So, why am I feeling so refreshed.  The hour long car rides have allowed me time to listen to some great podcasts and sermons over the course of moving and now commuting.  Yes, I have enjoyed some fun sports and entertainment podcasts like the Bill Simmons podcast and The Watch.  However the opportunity to hear some great sermons and podcasts from Andy Stanley, Southland Christian Church, Alistair Begg, and others have been a great encouragement and blessing to me.  What better way than to start each day than by diving deep into God’s Word and hearing Biblical truths being taught and explained by some great Biblical teachers.  In a season of high stress with moving, house selling and purchasing, and transitioning to a new ministry with FCA, having that teaching in my life has blessed me and kept me focused on my relationship with Christ.

There are so many radio stations that you can listen to out there, but if you have the ability I highly encourage finding some good podcasts to help you enjoy your commute!

choosing our words…

This morning at our weekly FCA Huddle at the local high school, I had the opportunity to share with our students about choosing our words wisely.  Over the years, Erin and I have had some great kids in our Huddles.  Kids that we think the world of, but we have noticed a major issue.  Quite often these great kids who love the Lord, when put in a group, just aren’t nice to one another.  Whether it be biting sarcasm, name calling, or just picking at each other they don’t always treat each other well.  Don’t get me wrong, we know they like and care for each other, but still there words don’t often reflect a Christ-like love for each other.

So, this morning I shared with the kids about how we need to be encouragers.  Encouraging literally means to put courage into.  Too often we as Christians are discouragers at our biting words and bitter sarcasm take courage from our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Instead of lifting them up to be bold for Christ or to make it through struggles of self-doubt and low self-esteem we, often unintentionally, add to the negative feelings that are holding them back.  I challenged our students this morning to speak words of Life and encouragement to their brothers and sisters in Christ this year.  To go out of their way to make others feel loved and encouraged to do great things for Christ.  This is how I want my life to be lived, my students to be lived and I pray yours too!

busy but exciting times

Another whirlwind week has begun here in Beattyville.  I really do feel like I am going 100 mph in multiple multiple directions, but God has blessed in letting me participate in some new and exciting ministry opportunities.

On Monday I was back at the Rec Center getting things ready for the week ahead.  I tried to update the Rec Center website and get some  orders taken care of for the Rec.  Afterwards I headed the middle school for basketball practice.  I have really enjoyed the opportunity to get to basically help teach the game and the most basic of fundamentals.  Too often kids want to imitate And1 streetball moves and they can’t even dribble left handed or make a left handed lay up.  So one of my duties as an assistant has been to lead drills to help get these basic fundamentals down.  Teaching the basics and teaching hard work also leads into great opportunities to give life advice and build relationships  with the boys that will hopefully lead to opportunities to share the Gospel.

Today, we had our FCA Huddle at Lee County High school and we talked about how God can heal our hurts.  Just like physical hurts can hinder and discourage an athlete, as Christians we can have hurts and discouragement too.  People may say things that can hurt us, friends can let us down, sickness and discouragement come.  However, we have a great God who can and will heal those hurts and help us through any struggles we may face.  He has promised us that he will never leave us nor forsake us.  I know when I was in high school and even now this has been a huge encouragement for me and I pray that it will be for our students as well with all they face.

For the most part today, I was back in the KMM office relearning how to help with the KMM finances.  From processing incoming support to paying bills.  I admit by the time that I got done this afternoon my head was in a fog from doing more math than I usually have to do.  However, in ministry so often we see results way in the future or not even at all, so having this one little piece of ministry with KMM in my life where at the end of the day I see instant results is great.

This afternoon it was back to basketball practice working with our middle school boys.  Seeing them run and slowly pick up the things we are teaching them was great.

Tonight, I got to spend some quality time with my family.  At different times throughout the night I found myself on the floor bouncing the kids around and eating belly buttons.  This did result in my son dropping spit bubbles on me and my daughter kicking me in various painful places.  However, hearing their laughter made it totally worth while.

So, tonight while I sit here worn out, I can’t be help but be excited to see what God is going to do this school year of ministry!