writing another story

I had two out-of-the-ordinary conversations today.  The first was with some grandparents from our church.  They’d been wondering what was going on for youth (they have a few headed toward 6th grade) and had no idea.  So they asked me to lunch and plied me with questions.  They had definite ideas about what we should be doing, and those ideas were sort of at odds with our practice.  I got the chance to tell them the story of how youth ministry has changed, and how we can make a difference in this next generation.  When they heard my rationale for the way we’re doing ministry they found themselves agreeing with me, and even offered to jump in to serve with us in some role.  Isn’t amazing how powerful the right story can be?

And tonight after youth group (which was SO good!  We talked about Jesus’ teachings on the Kingdom of God) I had a 5 minute chat with a dad who’s been coming to help out for a few weeks now.  He was apologetic for not being more involved up to this point.  I replied that if more dads were involved in our ministry I believe that we’d see some remarkable growth in our ministry, and in their families.  That led us to talking about how our faith was shaped by our childhood–for good or bad.  Most dads I know feel woefully inadequate when it comes to discipling their kids and leading their families.  They know that they’re supposed to do it, but they don’t feel qualified, don’t know how, don’t have a plan…and that leads to feeling guilty, discouraged, and defeated.  But some dads are taking steps, trying to do some different things, making an effort.  And that’s significant.

The redeeming truth is that I get to write the story of US for my family.  I get to shape and define what my kids know as normal.  And it can be as passionate and Jesus-centered, as wildly radical and generous and faith-infused and risk-taking, as obedient and hopeful and loving as I want it to be.

Parents, you get to write the story for your family.  You get to define normal.

What story do you want to tell?
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investing in the next generation

One of the things that I find most exciting about my job is the fact that I am part of the team of people shaping the next generation of leaders.  That’s also one of the pieces of Calvary’s OneByOne Initiative that gets me jazzed–being directly influential on the next generation. (You can read more about our plans here.)

Tonight I had the privilege of speaking to a 2 groups of young men from the PSU football team.  They gather every Tuesday night to study the Bible, pray, and talk about what God is doing in their lives.  We talked about Risk & Reward, how important it is to have a heart tuned to hear God, and the fact that Jesus calls us to follow him into some wild and precarious places. I loved being part of the discussion.

Have you read the story about Jonathan and his armor bearer?  Take a moment to re-visit it, and tell me what you would say to the next generation based on this passage.

And here’s the video outlining our vision, detailing what we believe God is calling us to do…

one o’ them days

It began with Kim recording “indisputable video evidence” of me snoring.  While I failed to see the humor in it, she seemed quite delighted with herself.  We spent a good (not really good) portion of the day chasing down expired drivers licenses, renewing expired vehicle registrations, and trying to figure out which vehicles are insured, and for how much.  When we weren’t having fun with the DMV, we were trying to do a maaaaaaassssive clean of the kids’ rooms.  They were out of school today, and we decided that it was time for some heavy duty spring cleaning.

If only there was a way to prevent clutter and dust and mess from accumulating…oh well, what can you do?

With all the fun we were having today, it’s little surprise that by the end of the afternoon we were all on each other’s last nerves.  I’m pretty sure that I didn’t even want to be around me at one point.  So to blow off a little steam, we went outside to play with Charlie.

And Charlie’s usually good for whatever ails ya.

Here are a couple of shots from the last few days.  A couple of days ago he asked me to help him find a lost truck.  When I did, I told him that he owed me some monies.  He smiled, walked over to the hutch, and pulled out a cup of plastic gold coins.  “Here monies!”  In the second, Charlie wanted to do some homework with Sadie, so he pulled out his laptop and climbed up to the table.  And the third is from today.  He loves to play baseball, and even swings lefthanded.  I think we have enough wiffle ball bats to make it through the summer.

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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…

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

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.

i loves me some books

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.
IMG_1181I 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!

80 hours of work today

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.

a bridge too far

(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.