a break or a breakthrough

Moses can’t seem to catch a break.

I’m working my way through the LifeJournal Bible reading plan, and Moses has just led Israel (650,000 men and their families) out of captivity, out of Egypt, out into the wilderness. He’s faced down Pharaoh, court magicians, and an elite army bent on his destruction. He’s wrestled with fears and doubts, naysayers and obstacles. He’s literally seen God part the Red Sea and deliver Israel, drowning all those Egyptians who tried to follow them through the sea. Just after this God sends quail and manna to sustain the wandering tribes.

Now Israel is on the other side of the Red Sea, still wandering in the desert. People are thirsty. They begin to complain against Moses, calling for his head. Moses reacts by asking, “Why are you complaining against me? And why are you testing the Lord?”

In yet another episode of ridonkulous provision, God gives Moses the authority to smack a big honking rock, and promises to give Israel water from the rock. Sure enough, everybody drinks their fill, and their anger passes.

Just when you think Mo’s going to catch a break, the warriors of Amalek attack Israel. Moses now has to coordinate a national defense strategy, run a feeding program, and navigate through the desert to a destination yet unknown to them.

Moses can’t catch a break.

And do you know what I learn from this? God’s not really interested in me catching a break, either. In fact, he likes to let us wander through deserts of desperation. He knows something we don’t: When I don’t need him, I live like I don’t need him.

And he knows that my life is better when I am connected to him. So he lets me (us) go through difficult days to make us grow, to make us lean into him, to develop a trust and a dependence and a hope that endures.

God doesn’t want me to have it easy. But difficult days can still be good days.

Maybe it turns out that I don’t need a break; I need a breakthrough.

Team Sublett snow days

I don’t know if Team Sublett’s normal is much like yours. I mean, we’re talking about a family that has adopted the slogan “Weird is good” as our family motto.

But the past few snowy days have helped us develop a family rhythm that seems to be working. We’ve enjoyed the freshly fallen snow, and it’s given us the opportunity to spend some good time together.

Over the past 2 days we’ve been sledding twice, shoveled a ton of snow (maybe literally), played umpteen games of Settlers of Catan (Cities and Knights is the fav, but it’s harder for some of us who don’t speak English as our first language), listened to hours of 80s music, and checked the Snow Day Calculator more times than I can count.

Here are a few of my observations:

  • Charlie would stay outside playing in the snow all day. He never complains of being cold or wet, and always ALWAYS is ready for another ride down the hill.
  • Annabelle and Sadie are fighting to be Charlie’s favorite. I think Annabelle is winning. She’s really persistent.
  • Isaac is learning to play Settlers. Josie downloaded the app to practice. Levi started great this morning but flamed out when everybody turned on him.
  • We like 80s music. A lot. Even the Chinese kids know songs to request.
  • It’s a lot easier to shovel the driveway before people drive over and pack the snow down. I’m ready to be done with the shoveling for a while.
  • Everybody would be happy with another snow day tomorrow.

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I almost got inked, and I lost to Charlie

I had a pretty interesting day.

I’m meeting regularly with the young men who lead our student ministry, doing a little coaching and encouraging. Today I visited one of the guys at his lab. AC works with squids–tiny little squidies. That job takes him to Hawaii several times a year. Yeah, it stinks to be him.

While I was meeting with AC, the snow doomed tonight’s XStream. Since we didn’t meet tonight, I gave the leaders the option of getting together to play some board games. I thought I’d get some practice in, playing a quick game of Candy Land with Charlie before supper.

He beat me. Totally serious. It wasn’t a “dad tanked the game” win, either. He just flat out whupped me.

Several folks from Team XStream got together tonight for a few hours. We ended up playing Apples to Apples and being silly for most of the night. I love this group of leaders. In addition to being goofy, they love Jesus and teenagers. I’m looking forward to seeing what God does in us this semester!

a low-key birthday party

If you said that you had 10 people in your living room for cake and ice cream, folks would probably think you had a pretty big shindig. That’s just dessert for Team Sublett.

We’ve been planning to have a night of authentic Chinese food to celebrate Annabelle’s adoption anniversary, but we’d like to have all/most of the fam at the table. Since she was supposed to be playing basketball and staying after her game to watch the State High jv and varsity, Kim opted for one of her favorites–meatloaf and mashed taters.

We thought we’d have most of the kids around the table. Then Annabelle called to say that she got permission to come home early, and the party was in full swing. As we chowed down on some deelish loaf d’meat, we all shared something(s) that we love about Kim. No cards, no flowers, no presents…which seemed sort of like a let-down, yes. But we got a chance to say thank you to the one who holds us all together, who sets the tone and temperament of the the house, who keeps us all moving in the directions we’re supposed to go, who runs a seemingly nonstop shuttle from work to practice to rehearsal to church to friends to blah blah blahhh.

Kim and I met on her birthday in 1989. It seems kind of crazy to think of all the things that have happened in the last 25 years. Happy birthday, babe!
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highlights of the day

Wow, so much goodness happened today. It’s hard to select a highlight, so here are a few:

Kim went out to breakfast with a friend who was in town for Leadership Advance. That meant I got to stay home and fix breakfast for Charlie. He and I ate omelets and played until Kim came home to take Jase to get some 6-month-baby shots.

A bunch of the folks from Team XStream loaded the van and headed to Millheim. We drank coffee and ate sammies at the Inglebean before walking over to visit Brandon’s cats (Carl and Carl Jr.) I love hanging out with the folks who are shaping the lives of Calvary’s teens. Our team is growing, and it’s good.
Team XStream at Inglebean

Tonight was Lilly’s winter concert at State High. This concert featured the Cecilian Singers (11-12th grade ladies), OMA (Only Men Aloud 11-12th grade men) and the Chamber Singers. As expected, the music was phenomenal, and Mr Drafall once again selected a number of pieces that find the origin in Scripture. I love listening to his choirs perform. It’s almost like going to worship!

After the concert, we hung out in the lobby with a few families that we’ve grown to know and love over the years of shared theatre/choir experiences. It was fun to laugh and catch up with them. Two of the other parents were celebrating birthdays today, and Kim’s birthday is tomorrow. I think we missed an opportunity to go out and celebrate, but I don’t know that the day could have handled much more excitement…

5 years ago our life changed

5 years ago today we stood got the gift of a lifetime. Annabelle walked out of a waiting room and into our hearts.

The crazy thing is that on the way to the meeting our translator/guide told us to expect the worst–that Annabelle would be unhappy to go with us, that she would likely cry a good bit and want to stay in her homeland with her friends. For the first time Kim and I had to consider that Annabelle might not want to be our daughter. We prayed and walked in, hoping for the best.

You can imagine our surprise (and see it in Kim’s eyes!) when Annabelle greeted us with a smile and a kiss and a “Mommy! Daddy!”

5 years have passed so quickly. And we’re more in love with this young lady now than we were when we first met her.



my brother-in-law, the prophet

We kicked off a series on dating tonight at XStream. Some of the students have been dating for years; some of them think, “Dating? Ew. Gross.” But it’s a topic we need to discuss. Plus it gave me a chance to tell some of my dating stories.

The series is entitled Obsessed, and we looked at how Samson jacked up his life and future (not to mention that of his nation) because he allowed his obsession with the ladies to get in the way of his calling and devotion to God.

Have you seen this?

One of my favorite parts of the Kim & Stac story is the day we met. I actually met Kim’s brother first. He rode with the fam down to GA to drop Kim off at college (Hey Toccoa Falls!). We were already playing baseball–outside–on January 20, and he tagged along for a little batting practice. He borrowed my glove and was shagging balls in left field when the family conversion van rolled up. He hollered, “Gotta go!” and tossed my glove to another guy, and I didn’t give it another thought. Months later I found out that he hopped in the van and told his parents this stunner:
“I just met the guy Kim is going to go for.”

Can you believe it?!?! I’m so glad he was right.
stac & kim birthday

stac & kim boots

stac & kim 1 year

Stac & Kim wedded bliss

a full heart

Kim and Charlie have this thing between them. At some point they watched Disney’s Tarzan and heard Phil Collins sing “You’ll Be in My Heart.” Kim explained it to Charlie, and he’s taken to saying it to Kim. It’s a pretty sweet thing.

Years ago I bought Kim a heart pendant with the birthstone of each Sublett child on the heart. Then we started adopting, and all of a sudden the heart was too small to hold all the gemstones. I bought a bigger heart (as if that were even possible!) and added a few stones to the collection, thinking we were finished adopting.

Then Jase joined Team Sublett, and the heart was once again outdated.

So for Christmas/New Years I took the heart back to our good friends at Miska Jewelers (they know me by name) and made the correction. Charlie noticed that Kim’s “heart” was gone, and he asked about Mommy’s heart repeatedly. (The boy can focus like few other Sublett kids.) He could hardly wait til the heart was back in its proper place.

8 children. 8 stones. I don’t know if it’s complete or not. (Kim says it is!) but it’s a full heart. I love our family.


the best part of the game

Tonight we watched Ohio State whup up on Oregon. I didn’t really have a favorite in the game. I like to see Big 10 teams play well and represent the conference with dignity. So while I didn’t think that OSU would pull it off, I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

But the BEST part of the game for me was having a full house for the viewing. Team XStream was in the house! Not everyone showed up, but we had a blast catching up, being silly, telling stories, and building relationships. There were conversations happening all over the place.

This was a night of community being built, and I love what God is doing here.

Team XStream is the name we give our adult leadership team for youth ministry at Calvary. They are the folks who invest in middle school and high school students, who model what it means to live for Jesus, who invite students to walk with them. Kim and I have been praying and keeping our eyes open for young men and women with leadership potential. We’re looking for folks who display the following characteristics:
Faithful–to Jesus, to his teachings, to his call
Available–not too busy doing other things to make a difference
Responsible–they understand commitment and are growing in maturity
Teachable–They want to learn, are hungry to grow

If that sounds like you or someone you know, drop me a line. I’d love to talk to you about joining one of the best teams ever!

it’s the most wonderful time of the year

I’m not just talking about the Hallmark Channel and the never-ending stream of “recently widowed mother of 2 meets cynical/skeptical businessman, they get stranded in a snowstorm and discover the true meaning of Christmas…and true love.”

Tis the season of Christmas concerts for Team Sublett. Tonight was the Mount Nittany Middle School choir and orchestra concert. Kim’s parents made the trip up from Bedford, and we enjoyed a few hours with them before the concert. I noticed that Annabelle hardly touched her supper. She told me that she wasn’t hungry, and we got ready to roll to the school. Just as we were putting on coats and headed out to the truck Annabelle blurted out, “I have a SOLO!”

No wonder she didn’t eat; she was NERVOUS!

All 3 kids had a great night. They sang and played some incredible music, and we are so proud of their hard work. We LOVE the teachers who are investing in our kids. Not only are they developing musicality, they’re teaching some valuable life lessons, things like cooperation, being part of a team, the importance of practice and discipline, and how to manage their time. We’re so grateful for our schools and the good people who bring these programs to life. Mr. Shaffer made a point of thanking the custodians, the tech crew, the other music staff, as well as the students and their families. We are blessed to have folks like Mr. Shaffer and Ms. Geesey speaking into the lives of our kids.

And here are a few of the outtakes from our family photo shoot the other night. Kim wanted some pics of the littles, and there were more than a few awkward ones!

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