like father, like son

Levi and I got the chance to lead worship tonight for our student ministry.  We had a blast! Folks were singing loudly, clapping, dancing around…it was fun for us to get to play together.  My buddy Kevin took this picture of us during sound check:

photo courtesy of Kevin Sliman

photo courtesy of Kevin Sliman

Check out our faces–identical!  And the funny thing is that I’m pretty sure that it’s the same face that my mom makes when she’s concentrating on her music.

I love the fact that my kids get excited about playing music in church, that they want to be part of our worship team.  Team Sublett has always been part of the set-up team for our church (we’ve met at the high school and the State Theatre) for years.  We’ve tried to raise them to see the importance of serving, of being connected in ways that give back and contribute to the cause.

And I love playing and singing, leading worship with my kids.  As a dad, that’s a pretty big highlight.  Even if we do look like we just licked a lemon!

striking the set

Children of Eden has come to a close, and with the final bow, Levi is ever so near the end of his high school thespian career.  It’s been wonderful, full of great friends, beautiful performances, and life lessons.  Being part of this troupe has provided a sense of community and belonging, opportunities to learn and stretch and grow, chances to serve and lead, and a group of friends who have come to be more like family than mere classmates.

I have enjoyed getting to know parents and their children, hearing their stories, learning about the things that matter to them.  Kim and I have made some great friends in the belly of Bravo (the Thespians booster club.)  We’ve been blessed to watch children blossom into young men and women, maturing with each passing season into young adults capable of bringing an audience to its feet–or to tears–with their talents.

We’ve laughed at the goofiness of high school shenanigans, sympathized with the broken hearts that accompany the occasional “showmance,” and encouraged our kids to work through the drama that lives outside the drama.  We’ve survived the late nights of homework after a long rehearsal, tech week, and the Green Room/Cast Party/Strike the Set…

We are grateful for the teachers who go way above and beyond to inspire, train, mold, and encourage our fledgling theatricals, who have seen the potential and called our kids to dig deep.  We are blessed to be part of this community of families who have shared rides, worked concessions, hugged our sweaty kids (still in stage makeup) and celebrated like they were their own.

We have loved our time as part of the State High Thespians, and our lives are richer for the experience.  And with the stable of dramatics that we’re raising, it looks like we’ll be working the concession table for years to come.
Levi, Boompa, Pappy photo 2 Levi & Sean Levi & Lilly HSM guys at CoE

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.
IMG_1214 IMG_1217 IMG_1198 IMG_1215

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…

slow & steady

I’m an Activator, which means that I can only talk about things so long.  I prefer to act now, and adjust as we move forward.  I’m generally an early-adopter of new ideas, gadgets, hobbies, and habits.  I like operating in situations where my actions directly influence our outcomes.  Youth ministry is a great fit for me.

But this year has been a lot more talking and meeting and foundation than action.  I see the value in it.  I appreciate the work that we’re doing.  But some days I find myself wrestling with the frustration that comes from an unsatisfied Activator strength.

Tonight, however, I’m feeling pretty good.  This evening, being the first Thursday of the month, found us gathered in the living room of Casa de Sublett, we happy few, talking about the current state and future vision for the youth ministry of Calvary.

God is bringing together some quality men and women to shape and influence the next generation here in Happy Valley.  We’ve had a number of false starts this year.  Things have not gone according to the plan I drew up back in the summer of ’13.  But we’re taking the long view, laying a solid foundation, starting with the big picture pieces of youth ministry.  We refuse to rush the process; we realize that having the right people in the right roles, headed in the right direction…well, that’s what wins the day.

Slow and steady might be a little out of my comfort zone, but if that sets us up for a faithful and fruitful future, then I’m all in.

that was a first

I’ve been eating breakfasts at the Waffle Shop (the one near Blue Course Dr) for almost 16 years now.  That place has been my office away from the office.  All my breakfasts with my small groups or leaders happen at the BCWS (Blue Course Waffle Shop.)  My order never changes (sausage omelet, swiss cheese, 2 cups of strawberries, and a never-ending cup of coffee), so many of the waitresses know what I’m ordering when I walk in. That’s a pretty sweet feeling.

I know several of the waitresses by name, and a few of them have shared parts of their story over the years.  I always ask them if there’s anything that we can be praying about for them, and some of them have appreciated that.   But today something different happened.

Our waitress was new (at least to me).  I made a little small talk with her to give Ben time to decide what he wanted to eat.  When I asked if we could pray about anything she had something specific.  So we prayed and ate and talked and drank endless coffee.  But when our waitress brought our bill, she also handed me a note.  As she placed it on the table, she said, “If you were serious about praying for me, here are a few things that I’d like you to pray about.”  Ben and I were stunned!

I LOVE the fact that God is opening doors for us to care for the people in our community. And I’m certain that God is up to something here!

tattoos & ice cream

Oh you know, just a normal Tuesday night for Team Sublett.

Kim and the kids decided that they wanted to make my 46th birthday memorable, so they accompanied me to a tattoo shop this evening.  Yep–all 9 of us trucked it downtown, traipsed into the tattoo parlor, and got me a tattoo.  I’m fairly certain that all the kids would have gotten a tattoo if it was possible!  Even Charlie was excited about it…

I’ve been thinking about it for years.  I had a couple of ideas in mind–either a perichoresis (one of the symbols for the Trinity) or a Greek word.  I was leaning toward the word for “set apart, made holy” but it really didn’t settle with me.  In the end I chose the word that means “remain, abide.” In John’s gospel, Jesus told his followers that if they abide in him, and he abides in them, they will bear much fruit, and that fruit will last and bring glory to the Father.

That’s what I want my life to be about: fruit for the Kingdom, glory for the Father.  In order for that to happen, Jesus tells me that I have to abide–to stay close, to remain, to stay connected to him, to let him abide in me.

So that’s the reason for the tattoo.  The ice cream was just a treat for the fam on a beautiful Tuesday night in Happy Valley.IMG_1204 IMG_1200 IMG_1199

my favorite part of Sunday

This past Sunday was a pretty remarkable one in the life of Calvary.  As we kicked off our OneByOne Initiative, we gave away $25,000.  Yep.  Gave it away, sort of like a reverse offering.  Everyone who attended one of the Calvary gatherings received a packet of info about the OnByOne Initiative, which included an envelope with a $10, $20, or $50 to use to bless someone in our community.  We’re already hearing some pretty sweet ideas of how that money is going to be used.  But that wasn’t my favorite part of the day.

Pastor Dan showed up to preach live at the 11:15 worship gathering, which was an unexpected treat.  But not my favorite part.

I got to do the voice-over for a video we used.  Not my favorite part.

Hands down, this was my favorite part of the day.
Every Sunday that I lead worship, Charlie shows up between services to sit with me, play a little guitar, sing into the mic (it’s off!), and hang out with his daddy.

Isn’t that what a worship gathering is really about?  Thanks to Mike Leach for snapping the pic of us.


birthday blessed

As my birthday comes to a close, I’m a pretty content man.  The day was filled with lots of reminders of the good things in my life, and the year has been one of some great/difficult/wonderful moments.

Over the past 9 months I’ve moved back into youth ministry.  The change has been filled with lots of opportunities for me to grow, to learn some valuable leadership lessons, and to put into practice some of the things I’ve gleaned over the past 24 years in ministry.  The transition has been more difficult than I imagined.  Slower, filled with more conflict and leadership snags…but at the same time it’s been a year of getting back to what I believe I’m called to do, re-kindling a fire and passion for ministry, building a team, finding people who want to do life together, rediscovering what our call truly looks like in this town at this time.  One of my new/good friends took me out for lunch today and reminded me that we’re in this for the long haul, and that we’re headed in the right direction.  Our youth team/lifegroup time tonight affirmed that.  Difficult but good.

And my family loved on me today.  It was a normal chaotic day that included a 2+ hour trip to the eye doctor with Sadie and Annabelle.  I got my eyes checked for the first time in about 10 years (no glasses yet!) while the girls got contacts.  Naturally, Sadie lost one of the contacts way up inside her eyeball tonight!  We had to double-team her to squiggle it out.  But along the way today there were lots of good 1 on 1 conversations, plenty of hugs, and lots of love.  I’m not ready to reveal what they’re giving me for my birthday just yet!

I am a man most blessed.  And grateful.  And changed.

take a second look

Sometimes the first glimpse doesn’t give you all the info that you need.

Sadie has always been our messy kid.  She’s creative and delightful and artistic and talented in so many ways (you ought to see the incredible painting she made for my birthday!) And she’s usually got traces of glitter or glue or paint or flour or sprinkles on her hands. And her clothes. And her beautiful face. I’m not complaining; I’ve come to embrace the mess and appreciate the process. If you want to make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs.

So tonight when I saw marker on her hand/fingers, I started to complain. But something caught my eye. There was more marker there than I could see, and it wasn’t just mess.

I want to learn the lesson of the second look, to take the time to see the whole picture. Sometimes what looks like a mess is a masterpiece in the making.

Sadie, please don’t ever stop creating. You make all the mess that you want; we’ll celebrate the beauty.