lifegroup should give you…

LIFE! Ours has found it’s rhythm over the past few weeks, and it’s an encouraging thing to behold.

We’ve recently added some new folks to the fold, and we started reading/discussing the New Testament portion of the LifeJournal Bible reading plan. It’s the most simple of structures for lifegroup. Each day we read and journal about the passage. When we get together on Tuesday we each share the verse(s) that stood out to us in our reading.

Last week I was called to another meeting, so I asked our newest Youth Min staffers to lead the group discussion. Ali Bruce and Jake Nold did such a good job that Kim couldn’t wait to brag on them to me.

Tonight’s discussion was supposed to center around Ephesians 5-6 and Philippians. We managed to cover 4 chapters of the reading, which led to so much good discussion that we hated to stop for the night. Some of our big takeaways for the night included

  • a renewal of our effort to pray more
  • an increase in intentionality/awareness of spiritual warfare
  • a call to live as missionaries in and to our present culture

I am loving what I see in our lifegroup, and can hardly wait to see what the Lord has for us in the weeks to come!

the start of an XStream summer

School’s out for the summer. We’re looking forward to a summer of playing hard, growing closer together, and living the life God has called us to live. Kim’s got a list of things that she hopes we accomplish as a family, everything from weekly chores to playing games together to taking a walk with her every day. This is going to be a good summer.

We have 5 high school kids now. 3 rising 9th graders and 2 seniors. This could be a wild summer.

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We kicked off the summer for the youth group tonight with a big night of outside games. We had a huge slip ‘n slide, some water balloon games (yay), a dumb flour-in-socks game that may have left bruises (boo, my idea), and a messy food crawl. All of the messy & wet came before a quick dip in the pond and a hasty retreat to the firepit for s’mores and hotdogs. Ali and Jake did a great job of organizing and mobilizing us tonight, and the rest of Team XStream was stellar in our first night out at Harvest Fields. They did a great job, that is, right up to the point they conspired to clobber me with a pie to the face! Jake distracted me while Ali slipped in behind me with 2 plates full of whipped cream!

That’s never happened before, in all my years as a youth pastor. This is going to be a great summer!

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guess who got a new job?!

This girl! Say hello to the newest employee of State College’s landmark restaurant The Tavern!

Josie job

Josie applied at a few places around town, but hadn’t heard from them. So when our friend Ali suggested that she apply at The Tavern, Josie jumped at the chance. Ali (who used to work at the Tavern) talked to one of the managers, then took Josie down to meet him. At the end of the interview, Josie had a job bussing tables! She’s set to start in July.

She’s never done anything like this, so I’m interested to see how she handles a new role and new responsibilities. She’s not afraid of hard work and she learns systems and structures pretty easily, so I think she’s going to do well.

I wish you could have seen the look on her face when she told me she got the job–absolutely beaming! And it’s all the more sweet to know that she’s working at mom and dad’s favorite date spot!

You go, Josie girl! I’m proud of you!

a little love for Sadie

Sadie got a year older over the weekend. Somewhere in the mix of theater, concerts, final presentations, church stuff, and the general craziness that develops in a house of 10 people, 3 cats, 1 dog, 2 rabbits, and somewhere between 1 and 3 goldfish we managed to sit everyone down for a time to celebrate the gift that is Sadie.

While she dove into her presents Saturday night after the final high school thespian show, after church Sunday morning the fam gathered around the lunch table to talk about some of the good things that we see in the youngest daughter. It’s always fun to listen to the brothers and sisters share some of the glimpses they get. They often see a different side of her.

This was a bit of a breakout year for Sadie. She is growing into a young lady, and she’s maturing all around. She had a big role in her school musical, and her musical ability is growing with every passing season. She’s clearly the most artistic among our kids, and her creativity with paint and color is fun to see developing. In fact, her creativity shows up in the kitchen (she’s a heck of a baker), the toy-room (if we had one), and the occasional hand/arm (doodling with sharpies?). She’s good with the little brothers, and has been one of Levi’s best buddies for years. She’s into comics, and she reads more books than almost anyone in the house. She’s an includer who wants all of her friends to get along, but she also appreciates one on one time with friends. I can see leadership potential in her, and I am excited to watch her grow up over the next few years.

Happy birthday, Sadie. You’re growing into a remarkable young lady.

Here’s a clip from tonight’s concert at Esber Hall on PSU’s campus. Sadie and Isaac are standing next to each other.

Kim and Sadie IM004360 IMG_2723 Kim's Christmas 2005 022_2 IMG_1720 IMG_1781 IMG_3247 IMG_5484 IMG_6503 IMAG0058 IMG_0874 IMG_2476

 

oh but he’s at a fun stage

I don’t know how long it’ll last, but I’m going to hold on to this as long as possible.

Charlie wants to go with me everywhere I go. Today that meant riding out to Spring Mills to pick up the truck, hanging out at Josie’s end of the year rugby picnic, then immediately over to the church building for another round of worship team rehearsal.

The truck is back on the road and running well. Last week my buddy Andy and I replaced the brakes and rotors, but I got something misaligned, and the right brake was squealing. So the good folks at Bierlein Automotive tweaked it and threw on two new tires to make it all road-worthy.

The picnic was a blast. We got to hang out with some of the fabulous rugby parents while the girls chattered about the season. Charlie was more interested in playing in the creek and on the playground. But can you blame him? He’s got the soul of an Adventure Guy growing inside him, and I want to feed that.

Since he handled last week’s worship team rehearsal so well, I thought we’d try it again. He was a trooper. He spent about 30 minutes chasing a wiffle ball around the room, swinging righty and lefty (mostly lefty!) and driving the ball the length of the room. It was pretty fun to watch. He was even able to connect with a couple of Happy Gilmore swings, running as he approached the ball and swinging as he ran.

He’s asking me to spend some time with him tomorrow having an adventure. I’m not sure that I can pass that up! We may have to find a little trail or creek to play in…

a little night-walking

Ponder the path of your feet;
    then all your ways will be sure.
Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
    turn your foot away from evil.

Those were the helpful words that I heard as I listened to some Scripture tonight on my walk home from XStream. We dropped the truck off at the garage last night, so Kim and I had one vehicle for the day. She expected me to get a ride home from church with someone. I forgot that I didn’t have my truck until after everyone was gone for the night.

So I walked. And it was actually kind of fun. Over the 2 miles home I got to listen to Psalms 4-6 and Romans 8, and the night was just about perfect for praying as I walked.

I don’t know if I’d want to walk everywhere, but it definitely wasn’t a wasted night!

One another note, Ali Bruce shared the talk tonight at XStream. She talked about how God can use our acts of service to help us grow spiritually. I didn’t get to hear her speak, but I got lots of good feedback from folks who did. Ali is one of our key leaders, and is part of our youth ministry staff. She is the real deal, loves Jesus and teenagers, and I couldn’t be happier to have her with us.

Ali & Josie Ali, Josie, Annabelle

my shadow Charlie

Charlie has been my little sidekick for some time now, so it didn’t surprise me that he wanted to tag along to worship team rehearsal tonight. He’s pretty quick to jump in the truck to ride along for any and all errands, picking up kids from rehearsals, or impromptu trips to the store.

But I wasn’t sure how he’d do at the church while I spent a couple of hours setting up, rehearsing, and tearing down. That’s kind of a long time to an almost-4 year old boy, especially close to bedtime.

I shouldn’t have worried. He crushed it. Plus he got to chase a dog around the worship room, entertain a baby, and work on his worship dance moves.

I should’ve snapped a picture, but I was too busy laughing at him. I love that kid…

God uses people to push us

Tonight at XStream I talked about how part of God’s plan for us to grow and develop in our faith involves the people he brings into our lives. We’ve got to be open to their influence, and there are certainly some folks in everybody’s life who wouldn’t be a good influence. But if you’re paying attention and willing to be teachable, there are people around you who will shape and sharpen you, making you a better person.

I told XStream about a few of the people who have shaped my life. This list is by no means complete, but I thought I’d post a public “thank you” here.

Charlie Walker was my 7th grade English teacher. It was 1980 in Warner Robins, GA, and Charlie started the year by introducing himself: “My name is Charlie Walker, and I’m your English teacher. You might not learn a lot of English, but you will learn two things: 1) Jesus loves you, and 2) I love you.” Turns out he was right about that. Over the next few years Charlie showed me what it meant to live simply, radically, humbly, loving others more than self, and loving Jesus more than anything. He’s a large factor in why I’m a youth pastor today.

A few years later at Toccoa Falls College this kid from Nyack, NY heard my boom box blasting Petra tunes and stuck his head in my dorm-room doorway. He saw my nerf-hoop and made himself at home. Phil Human was a loud, large Yankee who liked basketball and loved Jesus. Over the next 3 years he’d become a brother to me as we shared lots of stupid, funny, serious, and spiritual moments. We talked about everything. He challenged me to grow as a man of God. I could call him right now and it would be like no time has passed in our relationship.
Us at Kings Kids Kamp Phil and Jody

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andy Mylin is–other than my wife–my best friend. We’ve played in the outdoors, traveled the country talking to middle school boys about sexual purity, and had countless conversations about adoption, parenting, and being a godly husband. He knows all my secrets, and I trust him with my soul.
Red Mo Andy & Janet

I am grateful for the men God has given me over the years to mentor and shape me. They have prayed for me, laughed and cried with me, modeled righteousness and grace, and challenged me to be the man God has called me to be. They inspire me to lean into God’s provision, to walk in a manner worthy of God’s call on my life.

Who has been influential in your life?

sometimes you get a little dirt on you

Every Tuesday Charlie gets to hang out with his buddy Jack. Jack comes over to the house and they do guy stuff. At this point in his life, that mostly looks like playing with trucks in the flowerbed dirt, chasing the cats around the yard, throwing sticks into the bushes, bouncing on the trampoline, and trying to figure out how to make the swings work.

I hope that things don’t really change that much for him. And yet I hope they do.

Guys–most guys, most dads I talk to–walk a more solitary road than we should. I know that’s a generalization, but it stands up. Friends are often hard to come by, and I think it stems from our level of sharing. Ladies seem to be quicker to open up, to go deeper, to share how they’re feeling. Some of us guys don’t even know how we’re feeling, even when we’re feeling what we’re feeling. It’s not easy to talk about your feelings if you don’t know what you’re feeling.

But I’m hoping we can turn that tide. God uses people to shape us, to help us grow spiritually. But that only works when we can share about how we’re doing, when we can be vulnerable and get real with others.

Guys are pretty good at hanging out to watch the game, fix the car, or grill the burgers. We have to learn how to get from casual conversation down to the stuff that matters.

That means that sometimes you’ve got to be willing to get down into the dirt of life. Good stuff grows in good soil…
Charlie dirtThis is Charlie after hanging out with Jack today. Charlie claims that Paisley (our one-eyed wonder dog) “digged up dirt and throwed it on” his face. I think it’s a good look for him. Adventure guys get dirty together.

never too late

Levi is 19 now…for all practical purposes, he’s a grown up. He’s as big as me, has a regular job, bills to pay, and all that jazz.

We’ve shared some incredible and extraordinary experiences over the past 19 years. We’ve traveled the world, played sweet music, made up and played epic games, and created some sweet hairstyles.

Yet even with all that good stuff piled up, I have a few regrets. One of them looms large: I was not a good teacher when Levi was younger. I had very little patience, was too demanding, with expectations set too high. Bottom line, I wasn’t very fun to be with when it came to learning new things. Like throwing a baseball, cutting the grass, or working on a bike.

Well, the good news is I’ve grown up over the past few years, at least a little. And Levi is still in need of some bike mechanic help.

So tonight we learned how to change a flat tire on a mountain bike! It was actually pretty easy, and nobody got angry, bossy, or sarcastic! Since things were going so well, we decided to throw on some new/different brake pads, just for fun.

I’ll always have regrets for the things I missed or messed up, but the mistakes of our past don’t have to determine our present/future. It’s never too late to take another run at it, and you might just surprise yourself with how things turn out.
Levi tire