adventure is where you find it

Charlie and I are adventure guys. That’s how I’ve been describing us to him for the past 6 months or so. I use that terminology when I’m talking about taking walks in the woods, climbing big mountains, or helping out around the house. I want him to look at life as an adventure to be lived, and I figure I’d better start laying that foundation.

A few weeks ago I read an article about microadventures. You can read that article here. I found myself nodding my head (yes!) as I read, inspired and more than ready to embrace the adventures that lie within my everyday reach.

So today on our way to pick up Sadie from her Shakespeare Camp (shows are a week away!) Charlie and I left the house 15 minutes early. We just beat the 4:30 closing time of Lion Surplus, Penn State’s clearinghouse for electronics, office furniture, and interesting odds and ends. We spent a glorious 15 minutes roaming around, gawking at size 17 football cleats, 20 old kayak paddles, and piles of old computer parts.

As if rewarding our adventurosity, one of the worker men gave Charlie a creamsicle as we made our way out the door. He thought it was great–until it melted all over his hand…and shorts…and car seat. He’s a mess, but he’s growing an adventurer’s heart.

Life is supposed to be an adventure. You might not be able to get away to the Grand Canyon–or even the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania–but you can live the adventurous life. Find adventure in the familiar.
Charlie dreamsicle 1 Charlie dreamsicle 2

the daddest thing ever

I don’t know about you, but I had a stellar Father’s Day. All the kids were home. We went to church together Sunday morning. The kids Kim bought me some new shirts & shorts for the summer, and we spent some good time talking and sharing stories after a nice lunch.

I got to talk to my dad for a little while, and Kim spent some time on the phone with her dad. We’re grateful for the men God has placed in our lives. They’ve taught us so much, and their fingerprints are all over our lives.

The Spikes are back in town, and I’m serving as their chaplain again. They had a home game on Father’s Day, so after chapel a bunch of us from XStream went to the game. I got to hang out with most of my kids for at least part of the game!
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I preached at some of the Calvary locations this weekend. They recorded Saturday night at the Table. If you want to listen, here’s a link. By the time I got to the second sermon Sunday morning I was having trouble remembering if I’d already told a story or asked a question…But overall I was pleased with the sermon.

But by far–BY FAR–the daddest thing that I’ve ever heard of took place this morning. My buddy and local youth pastor delivered his own baby at his house! He and his wife have been expecting the arrival of little girl #2 any day now, and so the birth didn’t surprise me. But the fact that she delivered at home, and that HE DELIVERED THE BABY–How does that even happen. Much respect, sir, much respect. That’s the daddest thing ever, and more than a little crazy.

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

careful what you watch

We spent a glorious week in an almost-deserted OCNJ last week thanks to the generosity of some friends. Other than a Wednesday trip into NYC we literally hung out together all week with nothing much planned. There were a couple of days we didn’t even get out of our pajamas.

But Charlie discovered the magic of Danny MacAskill.

There’s a moment (3:10) in the film when Danny hops off his moving bike over a pencil, landing smoothly on his bike and riding away. We watched that (and other similar videos) repeatedly.

Charlie tried to re-create that moment tonight in our living room.

I was sitting on the couch holding Jase with my feet propped on the table in front of me. Charlie had been wheeling around the loop (living room, dining room, kitchen, hallway, repeat) on his little plastic car. You really should see this kid powerslide through turns. He learned how to drift on his own. Anyway, I saw that he was eyeing the “tunnel” under my legs. He’s been known to shoot through the tunnel. But this time he had something different in mind.

He scooted toward me with all the juice a 3 year old can muster. Just as the nose of the car entered the tunnel, he took flight. He flung himself up and over my legs, hoping that the car would slide through and he’d land on it and roll away, just like Danny. But his push came at the expense of the car’s momentum, and the car slid backwards, away from his hoped-for landing zone. It didn’t matter too much in the end, as he never really cleared my legs. He landed with his midsection hung up around my knees. He looked disappointed, as though he really thought he could pull it off.

Jase and I giggled at the little man’s daredevilry. I want to foster that kind of risk taking attitude in my kids. I’ve started telling Charlie that we’re Adventure guys, and we’re supposed to do adventure things. Who knows what they’ll end up doing…

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.

investing in the next generation

One of the things that I find most exciting about my job is the fact that I am part of the team of people shaping the next generation of leaders.  That’s also one of the pieces of Calvary’s OneByOne Initiative that gets me jazzed–being directly influential on the next generation. (You can read more about our plans here.)

Tonight I had the privilege of speaking to a 2 groups of young men from the PSU football team.  They gather every Tuesday night to study the Bible, pray, and talk about what God is doing in their lives.  We talked about Risk & Reward, how important it is to have a heart tuned to hear God, and the fact that Jesus calls us to follow him into some wild and precarious places. I loved being part of the discussion.

Have you read the story about Jonathan and his armor bearer?  Take a moment to re-visit it, and tell me what you would say to the next generation based on this passage.

And here’s the video outlining our vision, detailing what we believe God is calling us to do…

dad & dudes day

We finally got a little sunshine in Happy Valley, and the boys and I made the most of it. Levi was MIA since it’s tech week for Children of Eden.  He was missed…

Sadie got bunnies for Christmas, and we picked up a great used bunny hutch (thanks Lee Culver!) But one of the door-screens had a hole in it, and last week one of the bunnies quickly discovered his path to freedom.  Today Charlie and I replaced the screens and the bunnies are living the high-life again.

Isaac and I took advantage of some late afternoon sunshine by tossing a baseball around for about 20 minutes.  It took me a few minutes for my arm to actually remember how to throw…yeah, that was sad.  But pretty soon we were slinging it pretty good.  Isaac is a good little athlete.  I need to find a batting cage to see if the boy can hit.

After a quick bite to eat we headed back outside for another little adventure.  Isaac’s been asking me to cut his hair for a few days now, and Charlie’s looked a little shaggy for weeks, so it was time to bust out the clippers.  I was able to clean Isaac up pretty quickly. Charlie, on the other hand, was a little trickier than I expected.  I almost gave up several times before putting him on a chair in the bathtub and having Kim hold his head still!  I ended up wetting his hair and trimming the top with scissors.  I think they turned out pretty well.
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If the youth pastor thing doesn’t work out, maybe I could go to beauty school!

let it rain

It seemed like spring was on the way.  Warmer days, sunshine, birds chirping.  Then we remembered that spring in Happy Valley means lots of overcast, rainy, dreary days.

And I love it!

When the rains come down the creeks come up.  That translates to days ripe for kayaking some of the creeks in central PA.  A significant portion of them only run for a few weeks every year as the spring rains fall and the snow melts away, so timing is crucial.

This past weekend I got to sneak off with a few friends to run a new one–Shade Creek near Johnstown, PA.  It was a quick (75 minutes) run marked with lots of pour-overs, ledges, little holes, and some fabulous wave-trains.  There was hardly any calm water at all on the 7 mile run.  There were 4 of us on the trip: My buddy Andy, a former youth group student, and a friend who used to guide rafts down big water in Idaho.

I spent most of the day bombing down the creek with a huge grin on my face.  The water level and speed was just about perfect for me/us on our first run of the spring.  I knew that I had to stay focused if I wanted to stay above the freezing cold water that was trying to turn me upside down!  It was a great day, and definitely stoked the fire to get out more often.

But do you know what my favorite part of the day was?  Getting to talk to the former youth group guy about how his faith has become real, how he has grown as a follower of Jesus over the past 4 years.  That was the best…