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…
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.
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.
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.
I’m a reader. I can remember crushing the Hardy Boys series when I was in 6th grade. The librarian at Robins Air Force Base knew me by name. My love for reading just so happens to feed another love of mine: getting books! I’ve been keeping the mailman just as busy as that librarian.
A few days ago my friends at the Youth Cartel sent me a hefty box. As my role at Calvary has moved back into youth ministry I’ve got a lot of reading to catch up on and a new team of leaders to train. I ordered a pretty fair run of books to give away to our new leaders, because leaders are readers (can I get an amen, Matt Hoffert?) Much to my surprise and delight, in addition to the great books I ordered, the wonderfully sneaky shipping department of the Youth Cartel slipped in a few bonus books (one non-fiction, one novel) and a sweet David Crowder band cd into the box. You guys rock!
My run to the mailbox today paid off, too! Charlie and I opened to magic box to find my buddy Jonathan’s trilogy waiting. Jonathan is a friend from high school who lives in Nashville. When he’s not hanging out with wonderfully creative people or waxing poetic over the wonders of Flannery O’Connor, he spins some delightful yarns. Sadie saw the books and has claimed the right of first read. You can order this acclaimed trilogy right here. I am certain that you’ll be pleased.
I love the fact that some of my kids have discovered the joy and wonder and adventure that good books can bring. Now I just have to wait my turn to read my books!
Yeah, that sounds like a lot. But that’s what we cranked out today.
10 of us (the midtown “staff”) pulled a “day away” to attack an issue that we’ve been wanting to tackle for some time. I don’t know if the idea was original with him, but Steve called it a FedEx day–at the end of the day we wanted to have a product to ship.
We laid out some basic ground rules (be honest but kind, stay present, no email, etc) at the beginning of the day before diving in, but we spent a solid day working on our approach to making disciples. Which is a pretty good idea, since the major call of Jesus on the Christian/Church is to make disciples.
We started by making sure that we had a good working definition, then cranked out several hours digging into the system and content. Steve let us choose one of the two topics, then gave us time to dive in. Our goal was to have some clearly defined action steps coming out of our discussion.
I’ve written about my non-love of meetings, but today was a completely different animal. We had a focus, a clearly defined objective, and we were talking about something that truly matters, that will make a difference in our lives and the life of the Church. Our discussion was lively and spirited. We had time to chase a few rabbits without derailing the whole process, and even when we didn’t agree on every point, our time together was ultimately unifying.
I’m not going to give away any of the details, but I believe that our time today will be fruitful as we move forward. It’s fun to be part of a good team, and it’s amazing what can be accomplished when everyone pulls together.
(That’s the title of a movie I’ve never seen. But I’ve heard of it. If you’ve seen it, maybe you can leave a comment as to whether I should watch it or not. Thanks.)
It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for anything that passes itself off as manly. I’ve read John Eldredge books, been through the Men’s Fraternity study, started shaving with an old-school safety razor, have a watch that belonged to my PawPaw, and subscribe to the Art of Manliness website. My buddy Caleb and I have spent hours talking about manly things we’ve read or heard or happened upon. We’ve bought into manly thinking and acting and playing and grooming and accessorizing and reading and all sorts of other things.
But every once in a while I stumble across an article that makes me wonder if the purveyors of manliness are pulling our collective leg, seeing just how far we’ll take their advice. Like today’s submission:
How to Poop Like a Samurai
I’m not even kidding. Kids, don’t come busting into my bathroom with your “Can I download this game?” or “Dad I need a ride to…” You might just find yourself on the business end of my Samurai poopiness.
Steve preached a good message on the biblical concept of REST (listen here). I’ve been thinking about that idea for several days. When is the last time you have felt truly and fully rested–recharged and renewed and reinvigorated?
Steve pointed out several of our bad habits and practices. I know that I don’t get enough sleep. I’m far too tethered to my electronica. My life is more cluttered than is good for me. I’ve worn busy-ness like a badge, and been proud of it.
Part of my solution has to include more rest, more time unplugged, more time disconnected. I’ve got to learn to say NO to some of the things that are good in order to get after the things that are great. (There’s a good video on this idea here.)
A second piece to my recovery has been carving out time to be with people who add to me, doing things that I enjoy. Sounds simple, right? But one of the first things that tend to get snipped and tossed away are those extras, those hobbies, those pastimes that fill our tanks.
So Saturday morning I took a few of my kids, a few youth, and a few friends kayaking. We were able to snag some time in an indoor heated pool. We spent a few hours paddling and splashing and playing. None of us are in great paddling shape, and we were all wore out by the end of a couple of hours.
But I’m closer to finding out how to stay fresh, how to stay sharp, how to stay rested.
How are you feeling?
It is better to give than to receive…The Apostle Paul attributes this to Jesus himself.
We try to practice that, both as a family and as a faith community. We believe in generosity as a practical application of our faith in Jesus, as a way of loving our neighbor, as an act of obedience to the call to be a blessing. We look for ways to live that out corporately and as a family.
But tonight the tables got turned on me.
I stopped by the Meyer Dairy with a few of our kiddos to snag some of that delicious glass-bottled milk. We returned 6 empties and took 4, which left a few dollars in my pocket. So I gave Isaac the dude-head-nod, indicating that he should grab a sleeve of ice cream sandwiches. The young lady working behind the cash register asked me how much cash I had on hand–she’d done the math in her head. I was a dollar short. “No big deal,” I said as I moved to put the sleeve back in the freezer.
“Hang on, sir, I’ve got it.” I tried to talk her out of it, but she would not be denied. She was going to bless our family, and there was nothing I could say to change her mind. She closed the deal by saying, “Pay it forward, right?”
It’s better to give than to receive. I believe that. I also find that sometimes you have to be on the receiving end of the gift. That’s the way it works.
Charlie is my little buddy. He likes to go with me when I have an errand to run or when I’m picking up the older kids from after-school activities. Just about every Sunday when I’m leading worship, he finds someone to bring him to the apron of the stage at the end of our first service so he can walk around the stage. He always wants me to sit with him so I can help him “play” guitar. We sing together just about every day, and he can already carry a tune–even if you can’t understand the words he’s saying!
One of the little things that he says sticks with me. It’s funny how often I find myself learning something from one of my kids. I’m not sure where he picked it up or why he says it, but it’s almost automatic. I ask him multiple times every day, just to see if he’s consistent.
Me: Hey Charlie, how you doing?
Charlie: Good now.
That’s the kind of attitude I want to cultivate–optimism, hope, positivity. 15 years ago when we moved to Happy Valley I was in a bit of a funk. I would have told you that Kim was the optimist and
I was the realist. But the truth is that I was a negative dude with a pessimistic outlook.
But these days, I’m taking a lesson from Charlie. I’m good now!
Here’s a pic of him wanting to get in on the homework action tonight. He had to have his computer, sit at the table, and start working on his alphabet–in Spanish!