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.

winning the busy war

I like being busy. Check that–I like being productive, being fruitful. Too often I settle for being busy. Sometimes I wonder if I’m quietly trading one for the other. Am I fooling myself into thinking that busy will lead to productive? Or that I’ll at least convince people that I’m headed towards fruitful if I’m busy…

If I know you like I think I do (and you know I do, don’t I?), you’ve got a lot on your plate. You’re working hard for the man, running kids to ball games, rehearsals, and part-time jobs, “helping” with those 4th grade science fair projects, puttering around in yard, waiting on the repair guy, trying to get the van fixed…you’d like to take a vacation, but you’d come home tired from all the vacationing!

As summer approaches, I’m spending some time thinking through all the things I want to do, all the things I want accomplish. I’m more excited about my role at Calvary than I have ever been, and I don’t imagine the pace slowing down. I’ve also come to realize that the work is truly never going to be done until Jesus returns–literally.

Instead of bemoaning our busy-ness and comparing schedules to see who wins the “oh man, I’m busy” award, I’m proposing that we take a more proactive approach. This excerpt from Reggie McNeal’s book Practicing Greatness landed in my inbox today. It’s just what I needed to read.
Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 11.41.32 PMSo my short list involves getting out into the wilderness more, and spending more time playing in the backyard with my kids. Work and all the rest of the stuff will still be there. I only have so many days with my kids.

Who’s with me? Charlie’s a mean bocce player!
Charlie bocce

a rather weird mother’s day

Kim has long held that the Team Sublett motto is Weird is Good. Somewhere about middle school Lilly observed that sometimes Weird is Just Weird. This was a weird Mother’s Day.

We were supposed to be at church having our pastor and church family praying over us and baby Jase. As it turned out, as they were dedicating babies, I was driving Kim to the doctor. We’ve both got a sweet miserable case of strep. I had it first, so I guess this qualifies as the worst Mother’s Day gift I’ve ever given.

We’ve both been sequestered to the bedroom as much as possible today, alternating between napping, sweating/shivering with the fever, bemoaning the sore throat, etc. In between all of this, we’ve had a few moments to share.

19 years ago Levi made Kim a mom, and it was a glorious day. Lilly and Sadie followed, and it seemed like our little team of 5 was set. Little could we imagine that in the past 5 years our troupe would grow. We’ve added 5 more to the fold over the past 5 years, and we’ve seen more than our share of miracles along the way.

As much as I’ve tried to mumble “Happy Mother’s Day” to Kim today, we want to say thank you to those mothers who made the brave choice to take the first step in their children joining our family. I can only imagine the difficulties you have faced and the pains that you will likely feel forever. We know some of you; we will never meet others. Some of you are close; others are a world away.

Please know that for every smiling family photo, every story of a child’s first experience or fabulous exploit, every breakfast and bedtime prayer…part of me thanks you, remembers you, hopes that your heart is healing, that your life is turning out well.

We know that this wasn’t your hope, this wasn’t your original plan. We thank you for taking care of your baby until she or he could make it to our arms. We can’t imagine life without these kiddos, and you will always be part of their story.

So, thank you, and happy mother’s day. Our hearts remember yours today.
Team Sublett Easter

I think we survived

It might have been the most awkward night of their lives, but nobody left the room screaming tonight when we talked about pornography.

The female leaders (led by my lovely wife Kim) shared some of their own experiences dealing with body image, acceptance, and lies girls believe/the truth that God wants them to know. These leaders are the real deal, and we are blessed to have them working with your daughters. The big idea is that when we understand and know God’s truth we can discern the lies and live according to the truth. I know that the young ladies were encouraged.

The young men met with me and the other guy leaders. I did most of the teaching, but the other leaders chimed in with some very wise and on-point comments. You could have heard a pin drop when I said the word PORNOGRAPHY. I don’t know if they’d ever heard that word in church before (although some of them pointed out that Pastor Dan mentioned it Sunday in his sermon.) We gave them the opportunity to write down questions, but the bigger opportunity for follow up is going to come in the conversations that will happen in small groups.

One young man came up to me at the end of the evening with a big smile on his face. “That’s the most awkward conversation I’ve had since I was 13. That’s when my dad gave me ‘the talk.'”

I’m ok with awkward as long as it leads to future conversations, hope being born in the hearts of young men and women, and freedom being celebrated.

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.

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.
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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!
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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.
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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