Both my parents and Kim’s parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversaries this year. My parents hit the mark back in July (we’ll celebrate at Thanksgiving) while Kim’s folks reach the milestone tomorrow. Kim’s parents’ friends threw them a big shindig down in Florida this past spring, but since most of the family couldn’t get down to the Sunshine State, we’re having a family party in Beautiful Bedford tomorrow night.
We have learned so many good things from our parents. They’ve modeled what it means to pursue Jesus as a family, radical generosity, perseverance in the face of adversity, a solid work ethic, parenting with grace, the “blessed to be a blessing” concept, and how to live a life built on the foundation of prayer. We’ve absolutely been blessed to have these four as our parental units.
If you see Rusty and Judy or Ken and Darla, give ‘em a big hug, and tell ‘em that their kids are grateful.
We have a top-notch video department at Calvary. Greg Ford does some fabulous work, and one of his latest creations features our student ministry. Take a look, and if you love it, drop Greg a note to let him know!
Youth Video from CalvaryCreative on Vimeo.
I’ve been the chaplain for the State College Spikes since they moved to town in 2006. It’s been a source of great joy and entertainment over the years. We’ve seen a lot of baseball, met a lot of great guys, and made some good friends.
This year they did something new: they won it all!
I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these young men. We only had 4 regular season home Sunday games, which meant we only had 4 chapels. But we made up for things by getting together often for breakfasts at the Waffle Shop.
If the statistics hold true, some of these guys will be out of baseball within the next few years. They know that. But for a good many of them, they have a faith that will outlast their baseball career. They are men of character and integrity. They play this game that we love with a burning passion, but it doesn’t define them. They find their identity in Jesus, not in the box score.
They are bringing a great big trophy back to Happy Valley, and they deserve to celebrate their accomplishment. But some of them have discovered that there is more to finishing well than the box score can report.
I made the trek to Danville today to be with some friends who are spending a couple of days in the hospital there. A few months ago they got the news that the baby they were expecting wasn’t going to live. He hung on all the way through birth, passing away in his parents’ arms about 95 minutes after his arrival. Mark got to tell Josiah that he loved him, that he was proud of him, and that he did a great job of fighting to spend a precious few moments with mom and dad.
Lots of family and friends have been praying and loving this couple, and they are so strong, trusting that the Lord is going to heal and restore and help them get through this.
But this is just plain hard. Awful. Terrible. Unfathomable. Unthinkable.
We would love for you to join us as we pray for Mark and Hannah and their family. They’re doing well, but the waves of emotions will continue to roll for who knows how long, and they will need the love and support of family and friends in the days to come. The death of a child is one of the most difficult things I can imagine.
We’ve been meeting at Harvest Fields all summer for XStream (Calvary’s youth group.) We meet behind the Barn, beside the pond. There’s a fire pit, and we hang around there most nights until well-past dark. And almost every week there are folks who take a swim in one of the ponds out there.
But this week–our last at the Barn, btw–2 students wanted to declare their faith in Jesus Christ, to tell their friends and families that they’ve made a decision to follow Christ, to give their lives to him, to ask him to forgive their sins and give them new life. Tonight we used that little outdoor amphitheater to baptize Isaac (my son!) and Melissa. The act of immersing them in water represents the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It’s our faith in Christ that gives us new life, and our baptism is a public declaration of our faith and hope in Christ, our love for him.
As their youth pastor, I celebrate young men and women who want to live for Jesus, who have reached a point in their faith where they want to declare that publicly. As his dad, I am so proud of Isaac and his decision to follow Jesus that I could just about burst!
I believe that God is doing great things in our community, and that this could be a breakthrough year for Kingdom life in Happy Valley.
Like most of our friends and family, we took the customary “First Day of School” pics today. But for the first time in a long time, Levi was conspicuously absent. He and Charlie and Jase opted to sleep in this morning rather than turn up for the photo session. So we got pics of our 2 beautiful high school girls and 3 wonderful middle school kiddos. They all look so grown up to me…
Our summer came to a grinding halt this week. Levi has started his fall semester at Penn State. At the same time, there’s a newborn snoring in a crib next to my bed as I write this. Our family continues to expand, and I love it. Family vacation didn’t truly happen for us this summer. We opted to stay in town and host a 4th of July party, and then Jase arrived, which has been wonderful and wacky. Over the last 2 weeks I accompanied Levi and Lilly’s thespian troupe on their trip to the largest theatre festival in the world (Scotland’s Fringe Festival) while Kim took a couple of days to visit her sister and family on the other side of Pittsburgh.
All that to say that it was a different summer than we expected, but it’s been good. I am looking forward to this year on so many fronts. I believe that this is going to be a great year for our family, for our church/student ministry, and for our community.
Something wonderful happened for us about this time of night 3 years ago. Charlie came into the world just after 11pm, a squirming, squealing little red man. And Team Sublett has been blessed beyond belief through him.
We honestly thought we were done with babies. 2 adoptions of older kids had gone really well, and we hadn’t changed a diaper in our house for years! Then Charlie’s birthmom entered the picture, asking if we’d consider adopting him. I thought we’d be more likely to bring her into the family, help her figure out how to get on her feet and raise the little boy. But she didn’t want to parent, and thought we’d be a good family for her child.
We prayed about it, talked it over with the fam, and jumped into the mix. And I couldn’t imagine what our life would look like without him.
He’s been a gift to us, especially to Annabelle, Josie, and Isaac. Most of the children they knew growing up in China were in an orphanage, abandoned by parents who couldn’t keep them. They didn’t understand what it was like to want a child, to bring a baby into the family. We wondered if they would bond with the new addition. In no time at all he’d won them over. In fact, I began to wonder if the boy would ever learn to crawl; he never touched the ground because everyone wanted to hold him!
Charlie has been absolutely redemptive for us as a family, and it’s been fun to watch how God is moving in us through him.
Kim and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary Monday. The kids stayed home and took care of Charlie while we went out to dinner at our favorite place, The Tavern. We enjoyed a delicious meal, uninterrupted adult conversation, and the luxury of lingering over a cup of coffee after dinner.
24 years ago we were so excited about starting our new life together. I had just graduated from Toccoa Falls College with a degree in youth ministry. I’d been hired to be the youth pastor at Greensburg Alliance Church, in a town a few miles down the road from Kim’s family. I don’t think we were scared about being newlyweds, starting a new job, or stepping out on our own. Maybe we were just so in love–or so naive–that we didn’t know any different!
I must have been a little nervous, though, on our wedding day. The day progressed smoothly without any major hiccups. But there must have been something going on in my head or heart. When I took my bowtie off at the end of the day I spotted something unusual. Around my neck, where the bowtie had rested for hours, was a little ring of blisters! Yep, I’d worn my tie so tight that it gave me blisters, and I never felt a thing!
24 years…what an incredible journey. God has blessed us tremendously. I am married to my best friend, my partner in life and ministry. It sounds cliche, but it’s absolutely true: I love her more today than I did 24 years ago. But that hair was something special, right?
Our church wrapped up our yearly sports camp Thursday evening, and I got to invite the 5th graders to join me and the other youth leaders for a few events this summer designed just for them. The parents of all the children were gathered all around the watched the various teams step to the front to show some of the songs they had learned. They were wildly enthusiastic and loved sharing with the parents, but something else caught my eye.
As our youth pastor, I am all too familiar with the fact that 60-70% of high school grads will walk away from church and faith. That fact is driving me to re-examine a lot of our practices in our church, and in my family. I want to know what we can do to help students develop a faith that lasts a lifetime.
As I watched the coaches (volunteers who led the sports camp) gather for their final huddle, I realized that almost half of the leaders were either students from our youth ministry or former students who are now in college. A huge wave of emotion rolled over me as I began to think about the links in the chain of influence. The leaders in our student ministry have shaped the lives of the young men and women who were now leading this sports camp. And they, in turn, are speaking into the lives of the next generation of boys and girls, modeling what it means to live for Jesus.
I hugged and high-fived as many of those leaders as I could tonight as they exited the building. I don’t know if they see what they’re doing, if they sense the importance and feel the weight of their influence. It’s likely that most of them think they were simply volunteering for a fun sports camp. But the truth is that they were cementing their own faith, and leaving a legacy for those elementary kids to follow.
I don’t know if there are guaranteed ways to help students stay connected to Jesus and the Church as they graduate. But I do know that finding ways for them to share in the story, to be part of the life of the Church, to speak into the life of those following behind them is about as good as it gets.
When I turned 40 Kim and the kids (only Levi, Lilly, and Sadie at that point) made me a little scrapbook. It had notes from each of them and a plan for the coming year. On the 27th (my day of birth) of each month they planned to take me out, either individually or as a fam, for something fun.
Kim’s so creative like that.
Annabelle was looking through the book with me when I stumbled onto the last page, which was the coolest thing. There’s a picture of me, Lilly, and Sadie working at a Steven Curtis Chapman concert, raising funds for Chapman’s adoption organization, Show Hope.
Beside the picture, Kim wrote the words, “Hi Annabelle! We love you!”
It would be another year (22 months actually) before we would actually travel to China to go get Annabelle. What a wonderful adventure this has turned out to be!