25 years ago

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.
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sweetFrog for the win

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!

your life is a mist

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.
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one of the best weeks of the year

About half of my leaders will miss youth group this week. A good chunk of students won’t even bother to show up. And I couldn’t be happier.

This is SPORTS CAMP!

A few years back our church started offering a sport camp as an alternative to the traditional vacation Bible school. Our town is a sports camp town, so it was a good fit. We have coaches working with campers to learn skills in football, basketball, soccer, and dance. There’s also a gospel lesson, and the message of Jesus will be presented this week.

Each year the camp draws more campers, and a good number of them aren’t connected to any local church. This might be the first time that they ever hear that Jesus loves them!

Josie, Lilly, Isaac, Annabelle, and Sadie are helping staff the camp. And they’re loving it! It’s been fun seeing them studying the lessons that they’re teaching, learning the choreography for the songs that they’re singing, and praying for their campers.

Kudos to Calvary’s Kid’s Ministry leaders and the plethora of volunteers who make this camp happen. It’s a good thing!

This is a shot of some of our teens sticking around after camp Monday night to pray together. As a dad and the youth pastor, I have to admit that I got a little choked up seeing this take place. I love these young’ns.

Ali leads prayer

lifegroup should give you…

LIFE! Ours has found it’s rhythm over the past few weeks, and it’s an encouraging thing to behold.

We’ve recently added some new folks to the fold, and we started reading/discussing the New Testament portion of the LifeJournal Bible reading plan. It’s the most simple of structures for lifegroup. Each day we read and journal about the passage. When we get together on Tuesday we each share the verse(s) that stood out to us in our reading.

Last week I was called to another meeting, so I asked our newest Youth Min staffers to lead the group discussion. Ali Bruce and Jake Nold did such a good job that Kim couldn’t wait to brag on them to me.

Tonight’s discussion was supposed to center around Ephesians 5-6 and Philippians. We managed to cover 4 chapters of the reading, which led to so much good discussion that we hated to stop for the night. Some of our big takeaways for the night included

  • a renewal of our effort to pray more
  • an increase in intentionality/awareness of spiritual warfare
  • a call to live as missionaries in and to our present culture

I am loving what I see in our lifegroup, and can hardly wait to see what the Lord has for us in the weeks to come!

let the good times roll

Tonight we kicked off our first installment of Club56, which is our attempt to help rising 6th graders bridge the gap between elementary school and middle school, at least as it pertains to youth group. We have 3 events planned for 5th and 6th graders over the summer. Tonight we took them bowling.

We had a few great leaders on hand to connect with the students, and the bowling was flat-out fun! We hooted and hollered every time someone got a strike or spare, and groaned with every split.

I believe that the tide is turning as far as the youth leaving the church. Oh sure, there will always be some portion of the graduating class that decides to explore other options, who want to check out of church. But for those students who are loved and encouraged, given a safe environment to ask genuine questions, taught to study the Word of God, mentored and given opportunities to lead…for those students who come to know Jesus personally, find a community to grow with, and discover their calling in life–those students are going to find a faith that lasts a lifetime.

I think we are on the path to creating a place like that for teenagers right here in Happy Valley. And I get excited when I think about the future!
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when you break an egg

The other day Kim came home with groceries–ALL the groceries! Our cupboards were nearly bare, so she was stocking up against the oncoming summer invasion of hungry teenagers. She said her cart was so full it was like playing a game to see where she could fit the last few items.

The last item out of the van was the eggses. They are especially precious to me. I start every morning with a delicious and predictable 4-egg, meat, and cheese omelet. I’m pretty simple and boring like that.

As Kim walked in holding the last shopping bag at arm’s length, I noticed a familiar slimy substance oozing from the bag. Much to my dismay, the carton of eggs decided to commit egg-icide, taking a dive onto the driveway. 11 of the 18 contributors to my morning repast were broken, lost, wasted.

I was a little irked. Maybe more than a little. Irked. Miffed.

Then Kim went all “Kim” on me. Ever the optimist, she separated the whole eggs from the broken and began to pool the shattered eggs into a bowl. A few minutes later she had several frying pans buttered up and was cranking out the beginnings of some delicious omelets. Toss some meat and cheese on those little egg flats, add a little heat and some hot sauce, and breakfast is ready!

I love the fact that my wife is an overcomer. She continually sees things from the positive. Whether it’s breakfast or something much bigger in life, Kim is good at reminding me that a few broken eggs isn’t the end of breakfast. There’s always a shot at redeeming the moment. It may not look like what we expect, but all things can turn out for the good.

a little love for Sadie

Sadie got a year older over the weekend. Somewhere in the mix of theater, concerts, final presentations, church stuff, and the general craziness that develops in a house of 10 people, 3 cats, 1 dog, 2 rabbits, and somewhere between 1 and 3 goldfish we managed to sit everyone down for a time to celebrate the gift that is Sadie.

While she dove into her presents Saturday night after the final high school thespian show, after church Sunday morning the fam gathered around the lunch table to talk about some of the good things that we see in the youngest daughter. It’s always fun to listen to the brothers and sisters share some of the glimpses they get. They often see a different side of her.

This was a bit of a breakout year for Sadie. She is growing into a young lady, and she’s maturing all around. She had a big role in her school musical, and her musical ability is growing with every passing season. She’s clearly the most artistic among our kids, and her creativity with paint and color is fun to see developing. In fact, her creativity shows up in the kitchen (she’s a heck of a baker), the toy-room (if we had one), and the occasional hand/arm (doodling with sharpies?). She’s good with the little brothers, and has been one of Levi’s best buddies for years. She’s into comics, and she reads more books than almost anyone in the house. She’s an includer who wants all of her friends to get along, but she also appreciates one on one time with friends. I can see leadership potential in her, and I am excited to watch her grow up over the next few years.

Happy birthday, Sadie. You’re growing into a remarkable young lady.

Here’s a clip from tonight’s concert at Esber Hall on PSU’s campus. Sadie and Isaac are standing next to each other.

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I think we’re ready for summer

What a weekend! We did some gardening and pruning, played on the trampoline, watched one of the black cats (I can’t tell them apart) play with a little snake, practiced a wedding, helped lead worship, performed a wedding, and spent a day playing in and around the pond. We capped things off with our girls’ middle school orchestra concert. Whew! I’m ready for another weekend.

We’re a few weeks behind our normal schedule for getting the yard into shape and planting some things in the garden, so we took advantage of the beautiful weather to get some plants in the ground. That’s typically how we spend the Mother’s Day weekend, but we were sick/busy (sick of being busy?) The rototiller that I borrowed wouldn’t start, so I got Charlie and Isaac on the job!

Kim and I got cleaned up for Saturday evening’s wedding rehearsal. Our dear friends Artur and Laura asked me to perform their ceremony, which was an honor. It was a beautiful weekend for a wedding, and they are such a precious couple. We’re excited to send them off into life as husband and wife.

Monday found us out at Harvest Fields, just like usual for Memorial Day. We played around in the pond, grilled some hotdogs, and feasted on my buddy Andy’s doughnuts made over the fire! That might just become a new tradition for us. By the time we got home, Jase was slapstick-silly! And as you can see, the hair on those boys just begs to reach for the sky!

Tonight’s middle school orchestra concert was a sweet reward for a day at work. I don’t know many youth pastors who enjoy a middle school orchestra/band/choir concert, but the students in our district can flat out bring it.

Any way you slice it, I think Team Sublett is ready for the summer.

 

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my shadow Charlie

Charlie has been my little sidekick for some time now, so it didn’t surprise me that he wanted to tag along to worship team rehearsal tonight. He’s pretty quick to jump in the truck to ride along for any and all errands, picking up kids from rehearsals, or impromptu trips to the store.

But I wasn’t sure how he’d do at the church while I spent a couple of hours setting up, rehearsing, and tearing down. That’s kind of a long time to an almost-4 year old boy, especially close to bedtime.

I shouldn’t have worried. He crushed it. Plus he got to chase a dog around the worship room, entertain a baby, and work on his worship dance moves.

I should’ve snapped a picture, but I was too busy laughing at him. I love that kid…