encouragement from my daughter…

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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!

2014 FCA Leadership Camp – Day 3 Update

IMG_2848I want to start off with an apology.  Due to the late hour I got back to our room from chapel service this update will be a bit more brief than my last two.  That being said, I will try to be more thorough when I write my final camp updated tomorrow!

Today was a busy but blessed day.  Our students were challenged in chapel this morning to not only listen for the call of God, but to go and make disciples.  The speaker challenged them to be leaders that were causing others to follow Christ.

The big event of today was the Faith Building Trip. All week long the students have been receiving training on sharing their faith and being All In for Christ.  Today they were able to put that training into action as they went into the streets of Campbellsville and went door to door sharing their faith.  As soon as they returned to campus we met them for a time of sharing about all they had experienced.  All 8 of our students really enjoyed their time sharing and definitely had to step out of their comfort zones.  I challenged them to go back home and to their schools and not wait for opportunities to share Jesus, but to use today’s experience to realize they need to make their own opportunities to share Him.

In this evening’s chapel service the students heard another great message from our speaker Ken Watson.  He challenged the students again on what an All In Leader needs to be. Using I Timothy he challenged them that an all leader needs to be willing to flee from certain things, needs to be willing to follow those who will lead them towards Christ, needs to be willing to fight when Satan throws things at them, and an All In Leader must be found faithful.  He encouraged them that God will take faithfulness over talent every time.   One thing he challenged the students to be is faithful to their role in our local FCA Huddles this school year.  This is a challenge that we pray our students will take to heart as we seek to seek LCHS and LCMS changed for Christ!

Please pray for our students as they begin their last day of camp today that God will keep working in their hearts and that they will become All In Leaders for Christ!

time for thanks…

As we are getting ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow morning, I am reminded of how much I have to be thankful for.  More than anything I am thankful for my family both immediate and extended.  I have been blessed by God with a beautiful wife who truly loves the Lord and loves sharing Christ with others.  She is a wonderful mother and the time and love she gives to our children amazes me.  I only hope that I am half the father that she is a mother!  She is truly an amazing woman.

I am also blessed and thankful for my children.  Not many people know this but we lost babies both before Maeven was born and also in between Maeven and Judah.  Knowing this and that God blessed us with these two very sweet children often overwhelms me.  While my kids aren’t perfect, I couldn’t imagine any children ever being better.  Hearing “Daadeee” and “DahDah” are by far the sweetest words I ever here.

I am also blessed with Godly parents who not only verbally shared Christ with me, but have had an amazing testimony of faithfulness to Christ.  When I look at the lives of classmates whose parents didn’t have expectations and boundaries for them, I see even more where God was protecting me through my parents.  At the time it may have felt like they were cramping my style, but God was still in control and today I am thankful for that.

I’m also thankful for my sister, Amanda.  She has a great heart for the kids in our area and gives so much of herself to serve them.  Whether that be through teaching, volunteering at camp and the Rec Center, or wherever.  It’s so awesome to see the way God has used her to impact lives.

I am also thankful for all in in-laws both mother and father and sister and brother in-laws.  I have heard horror stories from friends who just have really bad relationships with crazy in-laws.  God has blessed me with a second family that truly loves Him and serves Him.  And most importantly they raised a Godly daughter whom I love with all my heart!

I have so many extended family members that I wouldn’t even know where to begin with my thankfulness for them.  But, I will say I am so thankful for the loving extended family God gave me and their love and kindness to always take in “extra” family members as well.

My God is great and good and I can’t begin to thank Him for all the ways He has blessed.  While my salvation will always be what I am most thankful for, tonight I just want to let my family and everyone else know how grateful I am for them!

why so unhappy???

In recent months I have noticed something sad among many of my fellow believers…a lack of true joy.  Whether that lack of joy manifests itself as grouchy, angry, or just plain old miserable it’s truly a sad thing.   1 Corinthians 10:31 says that whatever we do we are to do all to the glory of God.  How can we have just a lack of joy in our lives with all that Christ has done for us.  How can we complain about the mundane tasks of life and work when we are supposed to be doing everything for the glory of God?  Doing everything as a way to reflect  Him to the world around us?  In Jeremiah 29:11 we read that God has plans for us, plans to give us a future and a hope.   So why aren’t we living as though we believe this?

Today in a staff meeting at KMM, my dad challenged all of us to really look at our ministries.  Are we doing them just to be doing them to the point they are more of a job rather than a tool to share Christ?  Or are we really viewing them as something that is being done to the glory of God?  When I thought about this and at the same time about some people that have popped into my mind who just have seemed so very unhappy lately it really challenged me.  When I look at the Rec Center I want to always see it as a tool that I can use with bowling and the other recreational activities to reach my community for Christ and not just as a place where I am stuck filling hours in the day.  Yes, making pizzas and dealing with the occasional grouchy person can be draining and not always what I envisioned for my life when I was in Bible College.  Yet, I have a duty to do those tasks to the best of my ability to bring glory to God.   And not only that but I need to be happy and joyful about the fact that Christ has chosen sinful me to be His tool to show love and share Him with those I come in contact with.  I have a calling and a gift to share.  As a believer you do too!  So get rid of the frown and the misery, and not to be insensitive but some may need to get over yourself!  Do all that you do for the glory of God!  Reflect the joy you have in Christ well!!

reflecting…

Today Erin and I attended the funeral of Julia Brandenburg, they eight year old daughter of our friends and co-workers Scott and Amy Brandenburg.   For the past several months Julia had been battling an inoperable brain tumor and this past Monday went to be with the Lord.   Over the past few months the strength and faith that God was in control has been amazing to see from her parents as I can’t even begin to imagine the hurt, pain, questions, and loss that they were and are dealing with.   Even today at the funeral Scott passionately  share about how the family wanted the funeral to be used to praise God and see many come to know Christ.

As I sat there in the funeral and at the graveside I reflected on how many lives this precious little girl had touched in what we think was such a short life.  I also began to think about whether I would have the strength to praise God and trust in His greater plan if that were one of my children.   The only answer I can come up with is I don’t know, but I hope so.

Every night I pray for Maeven and Judah that they would come to know Christ as personal savior at an early age and that they would do great and mighty things for His Kingdom.  Both Erin and I have prayed and given our children to God to use for His Will.  But, what if His will is through loss of pain?  How will I respond to that?  I thank God for the testimony of the Brandenburgs and pray that know matter what God has for my children that I will show that much faith and trust in His Holy Will.  I also thank God for Julia’s impact and testimony, and pray that I will live my life to have as much of an impact as she did for Christ.