Our staff got to celebrate our friends Lois and Curt. They’ve been around Calvary for more than a decade, serving and creating art and loving people and basically being family. They’re moving to Louisville this weekend to start the next chapter of their lives. We’ll miss them.
Last night was our monthly Team XStream (youth ministry staff) meeting. These folks have grown closer and are experiencing God moving in our lives. It’s always good to share our stories with each other, to pray and encourage/challenge each other. These leaders set the tone for where Calvary’s youth ministry is headed. We’re in good hands!
And Charlie’s birthday party was a great success! Lots of friends came out to celebrate with us, and the PLAY GYM AT HARVEST FIELDS WAS OPEN! Kids has a blast, just like all of Kim’s parties. The decorations were cute, and Sadie got to be creative with the cake. She also made a sweet pinata that looked like a safety cone!
The only glitch in the whole shebang was mine. The last thing Kim asked me was we were leaving the house was, “Do you have enough gas for the grill?” I smugly assured her that my grill was fully equipped to handle my gassy needs. You’d think that by now I’d know to listen to her intuition. Halfway through the grilling I ran out of gas and had to call my friend Jake to swing by my house to grab another tank. Good grief, Charlie Brown…
4 years ago you stepped into our lives, into our world. We were pretty comfortable as a family with lots of big kids. You took us back into the world of diapers and bottles and car seats and baby bags. You also opened up a world of healing and discovery and nurture for us. We hadn’t planned to adopt a baby, but the Lord brought us together, making us family. And we can’t imagine life without you!
You’re incredibly bright and catch on to things so quickly. Somehow you know directions to places, and often point out places we’ve been as we pass them. You are better at your dad at Mario Kart, much to his chagrin. You wake up smiling and happy every morning. You’re brave in almost every situation, but spider webs might be your kryptonite! You have a great and vivid imagination. It’s been fun watching your older brothers and sisters play with you, and you turn it around as you engage your little brother. You love to sing worship team songs and pop hits from the 80s, so you’re a chip off the old block.
I don’t know if you were trying to be funny or not, but here’s a classic line from this past vacation. You were wearing an orange shirt that had the words “Beach Bum” on it. You promptly started calling it your “Water Butt” shirt! You crack us up all the time.
You’re my little adventure partner, and I can’t wait to explore this great wild world with you. Happy birthday Charlie!
We didn’t pull out of Happy Valley when we thought we would (the crack of noon) meant a arrival time at my parents’ house of almost 3 am. That’s late, even for us.
Pulled hamstring (see pic 1) on the first day on the lake, first time in the water, first run on skis in years. Let the record show that even with the hammy, I skied two full laps around that dang lake. Decidedly determined? Stupidly stubborn? Hard to tell them apart.
We got to celebrate Jase’s 1st birthday with my mom, dad, and Maw Maw. That was pretty sweet.
I took the big kids tubing down the Lower Green River, which was a blast. The float took a lot longer than I expected, but we had a great day on the water.
The flu bug landed that night. Sadie, me, my mom, dad, and Maw Maw spent most of the night tossing our cookies. It would stay with us through our travel day to the beach. Charlie blew minor chunks in the van, and Lilly heave-ho’d after dinner in the parking lot of the pizza place!
The night wasn’t a total loss, as Jase learned how to drink ice water!
My brother and his awesome family joined us for the first part of the beach stay. We spent a nice day at the beach, though we were pretty much on shark-lookout all the time we were in the water.
We alternated between beach days and bum days. But every day was low-key, low-stress. There’s not too much to do where we stayed, but that’s what we were after.
One night while we were watching Bride & Prejudice (a Bollywood blockbuster, Romeo & Juliet set in the early 2000’s in India!) there arose the biggest thunder/lightning storm I’ve ever seen. Lilly was filming it on her phone, and happened to catch a bolt as it hit a house near us. 5 fire trucks and 2 emergency response vehicles rolled out to answer the alarms from the house, but there was no fire. The neighbor lady across the street from the house did, however, go into labor!
The lack of touristy spots is one of the draws for us. There are a couple of those cheap surf shops (Nothing over $9.99…except for the stuff that is…) that we walked through a couple of times.
We had a pile of time to spend laughing and talking, playing games…We got to spend some good family time reading and talking about the Bible. We had a family worship time Sunday morning and listened to Pastor Dan’s sermon online. It was a great message about living worry-free, in the What If…series.
We missed Levi, who stayed home to work. He actually picked up a second job while we were gone! And the house was pretty much intact when we arrived!
All in all, it was a great vacation. We got away long enough to decompress, didn’t try to shove too much adventure into the trip, and made some good memories. We missed Levi something fierce, and wished we had packed Settlers of Catan. We are incredibly grateful for our friends who let us stay in their house. Their generosity is inspiring and amazing.
Team Sublett has been trying to get a little healthier. We’re eating cleaner, cutting back on screen time (some days! Dang that Mario Kart), and mixing in a little exercise. It’s been good, but I’ve had to learn to deal with some facts.
If you know me, you know that I’m either all in or all out. I’m either going to run every dang day, as hard as I can for as long as I can, or I’m not going to run at all. I can be a little intense when it comes to some things. That usually doesn’t play out too well when it comes to getting the family outside to exercise.
So I’m trying to dial it back, learning to take baby steps, and realizing that I’ve got to set a positive tone and find a level that’s going to engage my family. Or I’ll be working out by myself.
So tonight after supper we headed outside for about 30 minutes of shoulder exercies, did some jumping jacks to get our hearts beating faster, then took a brisk walk around the neighborhood.
And you know what? Nobody got too pooped to party, everybody could do the exercises, and we laughed a lot! I think that’s a win! Even if the picture is a little blurry…
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.
Several months ago my good friend and fellow youth pastor Jarrod Sechler suggested that we simplify things of our Metro Worship nights. We’d been trying to include a game, worship, teaching, and prayer as part of every united youth group meeting, and that seemed like a lot to throw into one night. So we opted to focus on worship and prayer, giving students more opportunities to pray together. That means less time for one of us youth pastors to spend talking to them.
And that’s been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
Tonight’s attendance at Metro was a little lower than we’ve been seeing. That’s to be expected. A few of the groups we usually see weren’t able to join us tonight. It’s summertime, which means lower attendance for youth groups in general as families hit the road for vacation, students forget that it’s Wednesday, and other conflicts arise.
But the general feel in the room tonight was good. Lots of students spent a good portion of the night actually praying together. And the worship was sweet! As Jarrod and I sat on the edge of the stage watching our groups mingling, praying together, asking God to move in our town, praying for renewal in the Church and revival in the town.
I’m the old youth pastor in town. That’s a fact I’ve come to face, and a role that I embrace. I’ve been a youth pastor since my college days at good ol’ Hill Street Baptist Church (Hello Toccoa, GA!) in 1988-89. I’ve been the youth pastor for most of my 17 years here at Calvary, and I’ve seen some really good youth pastor friends pack the moving van and head for other locales. I’ve also had the privilege of welcoming loads (seriously–they’d fill a small bus) of new and aspiring youth pastors to our fair town.
Today was a welcome mat day. The Assembly of God hired a young man not too long ago to be their youth pastor. David Culbertson and his wife have moved in and are getting settled. We grabbed a bite to eat today and swapped stories about our growing up, the ways that God has shaped our hearts, and what we are praying about as it relates to the teenagers in our town.
My motivation for trying to meet with all the youth workers in town is a bit bigger than my love for wings and welcoming newbies. I want to get all of us on the same page, at least as far as cooperation and partnering and unity goes. I believe that it’s vital that the Church (big C meaning more than just our little congregations) work together. God calls us to be unified, and promises to bless our unity.
There’s lots of division in the air these days. I want to remind us about the things we have in common, the CORE of our beliefs as followers of Jesus, and the centrality of our mission to share the good news–the HOPE of REDEMPTION–with the folks in our town.
This message has been at the heart of my pastor’s call to our town for the past 21 years, and it’ll be our priority until they drag us out of this town. From Psalm 133 to John 17 (esp vv 20-24), it’s clear to us that God blesses unity, and we want to be right smack in the middle of what God’s doing.
So the first Wednesday of every month I’ll be found wherever the youth groups are gathering for worship and prayer. As the old guy, I’ll likely be hanging out in the back, looking for the new youth pastors, watching to see who’s connecting, who needs a word of encouragement, and who’s emerging as a leader here among us. I love being the old guy in youth ministry!
Kim and I had the opportunity to get away for the weekend to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Some friends were exceedingly and abundantly generous with the loan of an apartment in downtown Lancaster, and we spent the weekend walking around the city. It’s a wonderful downtown, filled with artsy eateries and quaint little shops. It rained most of the day Saturday, but we didn’t mind. Other than church trips, I can’t remember the last time that Kim and I got away just the two of us. (That’s probably not good.) We had a great weekend of talking and reminiscing and dreaming together of what the next 25 years might bring.
Our lives look drastically different than what we might have expected coming out of high school. By the time we were finishing college, I think we had some idea about what our lives might hold, but there have been some radical and surprising turns along the way.
The bottom line for me is that I am more in love with Kim now than I was 25 years ago. Way back then I was as much in love as I knew to be; I just didn’t know a whole lot. We’ve lived a lot of life over the past 25 years. We have a much deeper understanding of what love means, and how much sacrifice and commitment a healthy marriage takes. I’ve also learned to laugh more, especially at myself! God has used Kim to help me grow in innumerable ways. Of course, I am all too aware of the areas I still need help and grace.
My heart still leaps when Kim walks into the room. If I’m on stage speaking or leading worship, I know exactly where she is. I am absolutely certain that everything goes better when she’s in the mix–from our lifegroup to the largest worship gatherings I’ve been part of. She is a great mom, an incredible intuitive counselor, a mentor who brings grace and wisdom to every conversation. She’s beautiful and kind and fun, and she is the glue that holds our family together.
I can’t imagine what my life would look like without her. I am a man truly blessed.
We wrapped up Sports Camp tonight. There’s always a closing ceremony that involves each sport group leading a song from the week–with accompanying motions! It’s fun to see big high school/college guys leading motions with the littlest 4 year olds. The leaders who run the camp do an excellent job of from start to finish, and every camper seemed to have a great week. We are truly blessed to have great folks who jump in to lead this camp every year, and every year it runs a little smoother, and is a little better.
The camp director gave all the volunteers a gift card to sweetFrog, which was a pleasant surprise. DId you know that (according to their website) The F.R.O.G. in sweetFrog stands for Fully Rely On God, and we show that by being a good neighbor everywhere we move into. Through local partnerships, fundraisers, and much more, our stores become part of the fabric that wraps their communities. That’s pretty, um, sweet, isn’t it? We didn’t waste any time with those gift cards–we drove there right after camp closed.
When we walked into the store we immediately spotted the bright orange shirts from camp. There were already a couple of other families closing the day with a little sweetness. More folks trickled in as we made our way through the line. By the end of the night I’ll guess that 20 camp shirts showed up at sweetFrog.
We had an excellent first trip to sweetFrog. Charlie had a simple chocolate with chocolate shavings, but he’s already got plans for his next visit–peanut butter and chocolate!
Those were the words that Andrew Wingert wanted us to consider tonight at XStream. We read Psalm 39, where King David is asking the Lord to help him understand how fleeting life is, and how that knowledge should affect the way he lives.
Thousands of years later we find that not much has changed in some respects. Our lifespan is still about the same as it was in the days of the ancient Hebrews. Even with the advances of modern medicine (and all the health and fitness posts on facebook!) our lives are still incredibly brief in light of eternity.
Right in the middle of the psalm (which is a song) David sings the line:
Now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in you.
He knew–he understood–what really mattered. When our lives are focused on loving God and loving others, when our hope is tied to our relationship with our heavenly Father, we truly find ourselves living the life God dreams about for us.
Life is short, no matter how long the days seem. I want my life to count, and want to make certain that I’m focused on the things that matter most.