Family, Lessons for my crew


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

They were all climbing the tree. Everyone of them was doing everything they could to ascend up into the heights of this Bradford Pear that stands next to our driveway. For some reason this tree has been the focus of our kids attention for the past few weeks. They love getting themselves up into the top of this tree to see how far they can see, to evade the oncoming danger of the attack of whatever game they are playing at the time, or to hide where someone else can’t find them in the current game of tag.

We’ve lived in this particular house just 8 months now and, I promise, our kids are having more fun and making more friends during these last months, than all the time spent at our previous house. It probably has nothing to do with the house, but the neighborhood and the fact that there are at least kids around.

They are doing everything they can to get in, stay in and get higher. All of them.

Experience, Family


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I don’t know what it is about the day or time of year, but I have loved this day and everything it represents. The feels of the season are always well in place by this time and the world is about to collectively focus their attention on Christ’s coming.

Experience, Family, Lessons for my crew

Land Ho!

Today we made a huge step toward a dream we have been wanting to accomplish for some time.
Real estate has always been in our blood. For years now Crystal and I have worked and worked and planned and adapted our setting and surrounding to what we dreamt of and where we felt the Lord was leading next. It hasn’t always been this way. In my mind when we bought our first home, we bought our forever home and I treated it that way.

I need to make you a caution, especially if you’re a first time home buyer. NEVER believe the home you live in is your forever home.
Your first home should be your first leverage home. I’ll teach you through what I mean by that at another time.

Biblical Living, Experience, Family, Lessons for my crew

Time to say goodbye

Typically, I’m not much of an emotional guy, but I’m finding, as I grow older, that there are many things that are so close to my heart. When it becomes time for those things to move on, there’s something of a piece of you that leaves along with it.

Over the past year, Crystal and I have contemplated selling our home. I was always against it, she was never consistent 😏. For a long time now we’ve prayed about owning a piece of property that was secluded, reserved, raw and a blank slate where we could continue to grow our family. There is nothing inherently wrong with the house we own on any level. It has been a wonderful home, that is, after we worked so so hard to get it in a livable condition again. When we first bought this place, it was a complete disaster. But years later, we’ve transformed it into a tremendous home that will bless any family that will own it from this point forward.

I think the thing that becomes so emotional to us is two things. First, the fact that we are leaving here with no defined timeline as to when our next property will be ready.

Second, that this place is something of a Bethel location for us for all the moves of God he has accomplished through us. I’m not sure if that fully translates, but it’s a Biblical relatable found in Genesis 35. We’ve seen the Lord work in so many situations, and not that this location had anything to do with it, it’s just that this location now bears the memorial marks of that movement. We can sit here around our firepit or on the back patio, or around the kitchen table and remember the greatness of our God as he answered prayer after prayer after prayer and added blessing on top of blessing.

But here’s the important thing…

There is more!

Don’t get hung up on the physical idea of more. I’m not specifically speaking of more in terms of tangible resources you can put in your hand. I think so many times that’s where we digress and become overly selfish. This more I’m speaking of relates to the experiences and adventure the Lord wants to carry us through. More for our family resonates around how much more we can see the Lord work through us and into the lives of those around us, including and especially our kids. We want to be able to lead them into places of unique tension.

What’s that mean?

Movements of faith are always faced with elements of uncertainty!

If we neglect to lead our kids into what faith feels like in this season of their lives, how will they know what to look for when faith rests on their shoulders alone?

I can point back to so many situations in my past where I literally felt the tension of faith.

Hebrews 11:1, such a familiar passage. Quotable by so many people. Lived and fleshed out by painful few.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Hebrews 11:1 NIV

What we are certain of is that the Lord is miraculous and full of wonder. What we are filled with faith for is that the future is as bright as the promises of God as seen as experienced in the past!

Family, Rest

Lake week day 3

It’s just incredible here. In fact, I think we’d buy a property up here so we could come as often as possible should the opportunity present itself. There’s nothing better than life at the lake during lake week.

Today we were met with significantly less drama than yesterday and managed to enjoy a bunch of mountain activities while being boatless.

We started by heading to my friend at the local boat shop to consult about our troubling position. It started rather humorously as we spoke with Mike (see, first name basis already) about our problem, and like every other mechanic would say in the heat of the moment, it’d be impossible to fix this week and we’re 4 weeks out on repairs mostly because of covid and backordering of parts.

We discussed what our best option would be and settled on probably just buying a new engine for the dang thing. In case we didn’t fully clarify, what happened is that we effectively blew the transmission of the boat. Engine runs file but the prop won’t turn because of a blown gear.

Mike tells us that because of the age of our engine there would be absolutely no way we’d find a fix for it in the next month and if we did it would be a unicorn bringing it to us.

Well, it’s funny how things work like this because I believe in a God of impossibility who delights in the care and concern of his kids. By the time our conversation with Mike ended, he had found the exact part we needed, at a supplier who works closely with him less than an hour away, would be delivered next day and would be reassembled in less than one hours, and OH, at a discount!

He stood dumbfounded at his own words!

For the rest of the day, we spent hiking and picnicking around Trough Creek State Park visiting the rainbow waterfall, the suspension bridge, and the ice mine all found. It was a tremendous excursion that brought some amazing views and a lot of fun.

After some time in the hammock and doing squirt gun canvas painting (that would be my creative wife’s doing), we spent some time swimming at the beach before a huge BBQ chicken dinner and a late night, fireside chat that took us up to almost midnight reminiscing about the stories that gave my parents all that gray hair. Oh those were the days! The days of jumping off two-story roofs onto large trampolines and igniting entire bags of fireworks, and that amazing helicopter rescue moment that happened while mom was major prego with my youngest brother back in ’91.

I tell you what, nothing compares with moments with family. Nothing does! They are absolutely the most important moments of life.

Experience, Family

Lake Week Day 2

We’ll call this day two since we got here yesterday.

Up with the sun and seriously enjoying some time outside and just together with family. Tons of laughs, smiles and daredevil antics as our crew sought to experience everything they could through the day.

It starts with pancakes and prep for time on the water. This is the first time we’ve been able to get the boat out this year, so we had a lot of anticipation to these moments. Able to get out a few minutes yesterday after we got unpacked and settled in a bit.

This morning the water was super warm and all of us ready for a good good day on the water.
As we got on the boat this morning, it was strange because the engine would not connect into reverse. We spent a few minutes trying to figure it out, but not luck, so thank God forward was still an option and off we went not thinking anything of it.

We played the day away. Tubing and skiing and swimming and snacking. Jumping and diving and cruising and splashing. It was mid afternoon before we knew anything and well past lunch.

That meant hammocks and resting and boys building fires while everyone else was fighting heavy eyelids.

Finally, time for more boat. Again, no reverse and almost drifting into a neighboring speedboat. Uncle Kenton jumped into the water to push us back out a bit and off we went.

This time it was for the boys to get their first chance at water skiing. If you’ve never tried it, it can be grueling the first time. This is where grandpa’s training skis come in very handy. They are tied together so they can’t split apart and the skies are actually tied and being pulled rather than the skier having to hold a handle and be pulled.

Grayson up first. He struggled a bit and was actually very close to getting it but just couldn’t stand up all the way.

Austin next and he fought the same trouble. Only this time, on his second attempt, the rope gave out and broke! Never had a nylon ski rope break before, but we joked with him that he skied so hard he broke the rope! He was pretty proud of that and it seemed to make up for the frustration of not being able to really get on his feet.

Austin next and he fought the same trouble. Only this time, on his second attempt, the rope gave out and broke! Never had a nylon ski rope break before, but we joked with him that he skied so hard he broke the rope! He was pretty proud of that and it seemed to make up for the frustration of not being able to really get on his feet.

For the next 30 minutes my dad and uncle Kyle worked at getting the rope somewhat repaired enough to give it another go. We drifted a while, watching the shoreline and our positioning so we didn’t get stuck in an awkward place since we still didn’t have reverse.

It was time to give it another shot with Austin, so into the water he goes. Kyle there with him to assist and help him with the confidence he’s going to need to get on his feet. So, I start the engine and prep to move out a bit and get the line taunt, only this time, there’s no forward either!

I tried and tried and get that lever to move, but it was jammed! No forward, No reverse. Engine running just fine. We are sitting in small cove, no other boat traffic around and wondering what in the world we are going to do to get out of this mess. Dad tried albeit futally to try to figure it out, but nothing was working. We finally decided that we have had the boat version of a blown transmission.

So what do you do in a situation like this?

Only two of us brought phones on the boat. Mine hasn’t been working for a week now for some reason. I can make and receive calls and texts but my data isn’t working at all.
Austin just got a phone for his birthday two weeks ago and he wasn’t planning on bringing his phone tonight, but right at the last minute, I reminded him that his phone had our boat playlist so we definitely needed that! Thank God he brought it as it was our only connection!

Here we are away from everything in this cove doing everything we can to wave and yell and blow the horn trying to get some passing boaters attention! Last resort for us was calling Sea Tow, the water version of AAA but it’s expensive. Besides that, there’s an unwritten rule of boating courtesy that says if you come across a boater needing help, you do whatever it takes, because there’s only two kinds of boaters out there–those needing help now and those who will need help later.

Finally, someone spots our desperate cry for help and motors over. They graciously agree to pull us back to the dock. It takes about 20-30 minutes for us to do all this and finally get situated back on dry land. Where, on earth would we be without gracious people like that? I offered to fill their fuel tank for them but they declined, telling us that they have been in the same position before and will eventually be again.

So there we go, only day two and we’ve already had a crazy experience.

The night ended with more laughs, great dinner, smore’ cones, jam twists, fireside talks about the most random things and trying to get uncle Kyle to decided to buy a house in PA.

Tomorrow, we’ll do some fishing and visiting my favorite boat mechanic right up the street. We’re already on a first name basis now, so it’ll be just reconnecting old friends. 😉

It wouldn’t be lake week without a little drama!

Experience, Family, Rest

Lake Week

Lake week again. Finally! We’ve been anticipating this week for a long time now.  Our family really only knows one speed and that it just fast. With 5 kids, you can imagine the constant movement that happens all the time. It gets to be breakneck every once in a while. 

Over the past few weeks, as we’ve been in the process of finishing up some major projects on our house, we’ve just about exhausted ourselves for weeks on end. For a while there it was up around 5 and to bed around midnight for days on end and you can really only do that for so long before your body begins to refuse to listen to your crazy talk! 

So lake week. For three years running we’ve made it a point to come up here in the middle of July to just be together with the whole family and spend as much time on the water as we are able. We have found that there is therapy in these woods and waters. Some sort of healing salve is released when you jump in for the first time and float 40’ above the muddy bottom of the warm waters.  We’ll fish, we’ll tube, we’ll ski, we’ll eat and laugh and play and it will be most rejuvenating. 

What’s your therapy? What do you do in your word to get the most relaxing you can? 

Biblical Living, Experience, Family, Lessons for my crew

What have we learned?

Months into this strange season we are living right now, and we’ve gotten far enough to track some metrics on our progress. These are peculiar days we are living! Who’s going to argue with me on that?

When in your imagination did you ever think you’d see a fight over toilet paper in a grocery store?

When in your thinking did you ever imagine you’d be told by the government that you should not leave your home for any reason unless absolutely necessary!?

How about being told to wear a medical mask everywhere you go and in every interaction with people. How many places have you see where they put info stickers on their entrances indicating to hats, glasses or MASKS that now have to go back and change all those indications!? And how have robberies not spiked in the process because of everyone now sporting masks?

Everything is different and nothing is normal. But what have we learned?

We cannot allow this time and season to escape us without noting something…a thousand things, we’ve learned through it.

This really draws my mind to the really familiar passage from Ecclesiastes 3 where the author, presumably King Solomon, wrote about there being a time for everything we endure in life. We live life in seasons. Every year is broken into seasons. Our lifetime can also be broken into seasons, think about it. We think in terms of years, days, months, hours, minutes, but what if there is something larger at work with less defined and structured parameters?

The season of parenting

The season of honeymooning

The season of sickness

The season of having teens

The season of being a teen

The season of just married

The season of being married for decades

The season of career

The season of retirement

The season of education

The season of depression

The terrible two’s (you know, the years between 2 and 22)

The season of corona

Everyone of these seasons comes with a gift of learning. We can either learn something and grow from it, or we can try to kick our feet up and close off the world until it passes. Ironically, we see a great number of people trying to do that every thing with this season of Corona. They do the same with seasons they don’t know what do to with.

How many people have you seen that are just trying to make it through?

They’re trying desperately to make it through early parenting.

Make it through parenting a teen.

Make it through the career or job they currently have

Make it through the marriage

The problem is making it through is the un-communicated mirage that believes once we’re through, it’ll be better.

As I stick a pin to your glitter filled balloon, don’t hate me on the other side.


The only thing you’re going to receive on the other side, besides trying desperately to vacuum all that glitter, is bitterness from having an expectation that could never be realized.

Can I be so bold to tell you that you did this to yourself!?

Adjust your expectations

Sink yourself into the season you are in and own it like a boss.

I’m going to say something ridiculously profound utterly simple. You ready?!

No one knows how to get through the season they are going through until they’ve gone through it.

No one knows how to get through the season they are going through until they've gone through it Click To Tweet

No one in our generation has lived through a pandemic like this. NO ONE.

And honestly, even if they did, the one they would have gone through previously would have been drastically different.

We have go to drop the victim lifestyle and mindset that we are trying to adopt because of the season.

And honestly, that applies to every season of life you are blessed to experience.

Every season has its own blessings.

Every season.

Even the terrible ones.

It’s only through terrible seasons are you given the beauty and blessing of seeing the tremendous come through the terrible


Oh Eli

Four years ago today we met this little wonder.
Today is her birthday! She shares it with Grandma Mickey and it just happens to be the day of the week they have tea together on Facetime. So they’ll celebrate their birthday’s together on Facetime over tea. I just think that’s amazing.

As I put Eli to bed last night, tucking her in and getting her all settled, I felt like I just had to share some of the story of how she came to us. To a 4 year old, I’m not sure it meant much or even made sense, but to us, it brings tears to our eyes every time and we get somewhat emotional about the thought of how she came to be an Elworth.

On her birthday, we had been notified about 3 weeks prior that we had been chosen to be her adoptive parents. We were told that it could be any day when they would call and we’d had to get on a plane as soon as possible to get there.

So we worked really hard to lay out the plans. That’s a big ordeal considering we were a family of 6 at the time. We had to split the kids among friends and each of them had a bag packed by the door along with ours.

I remember this morning so clear. I had gotten up early and gone to have my annual blood draw for my cholesterol. On the way back, I stopped by Starbucks to grab coffee and while I was standing at the mobile pick up counter around 7AM, my phone rang. I silenced the call, not thinking anything of it, grabbed my coffee and out the door.

When I got to my truck, the phone pinged telling me I had a voicemail and as I began driving out of the parking lot, I heard our caseworker from our agency in Florida tell me the exciting news.

Her birth name her biological momma gave her was Miracle Love, so they told us that Miracle had been born and it was go time!
You can imagine the emotions rushing through me as I drove home that morning!
I had a thousand things to do now today because we had a plane to catch.

I got home to find the house slowly moving around. Crystal was upstairs getting ready for the day and the rest of our crew was slowly moving, getting breakfast. I made my way upstairs and just casually mentioned to Crystal that I had gotten the phone call. She was as clueless as I was when I silenced the call. Like we had totally forgotten that we were expecting the phone call of our lives!
Within a minute, it made sense and now it was go time.

I had been checking airfare from three airports into Tampa, Florida everyday for the last three weeks, so I knew exactly how this was going to go down.
I took care of all the bookings that had to be done right away while Crystal made the final preps on all the kids needs and letting those who were going to watch them while we were gone know that we were coming.
It was all so exciting and moving so fast!

By 9AM, we were rolling out of the driveway in our big GMC Denali headed to two different stops to leave behind our 4. By 11AM, we were pulling into Regan National for our flight that would leave in just 20 minutes. I’ve never felt like I was going to miss a flight until that one. One of our stops to drop kids was in Martinsburg, WV and as soon as that stop was done, we were race car drivers and I prayed intently that we’d be able to go as fast as possible to get to the airport on time.

We were the last people on the plane, racing up pushing an empty stroller that drew a few strange glances. The smiles on our faces while pushing an empty stroller needed explanation for some reason, but we couldn’t contain ourselves! This was all so thrilling!

The plane was so full that Crystal and I didn’t get to sit together on the flight. She was one row in front of me and kept peaking through the space between the seats trying to find my reaction to all this.

Two hours later, we landed in Tampa and rushed to get our rental car and luggage underway. While we handled all that, we also contacted our agency and told them we were in town and would soon be on our way to the hospital.

One more hour and we finally arrived at the hospital, met our agent for the first time and started our way to maternity. This was so surreal, strange, and exciting at the same time. The emotions running through our minds and bodies were lightening fast and all over the map. We just didn’t know what to think or how to react to any of it!

There she was, for the very first time.

Just 7 hours after we had received that phone call, we were sitting in the hospital holding this promise, this gift the Lord has led us to wait on for years.
I get quite emotional when I think about it. You don’t know all the heart-aching moments we spent in prayer asking the Lord for the blessing of a babygirl. To see that moment, to have lived it, to be able to remember it is simply a testament to the faithfulness of a God who is and Is able to go so far beyond our understanding.

Moment of honesty here, first time I saw her, I thought she looked funny. She was all grey and had that fuzzy forehead. It makes me laugh as I look back on it today.

The days following that surreal event were tough. Eli was positive for coke and another substance. Don’t judge for it, though. Her momma didn’t know any different. Eli spent 4 days or so in the NICU to cope with the effects of withdrawal. She would shake and get really cold. She didn’t want to eat well and needed a lot of skin-to-skin content to know she was safe. We had all of that to give, so no issues there.

But she came through it!

She grew, she ate, she recovered and finally, after about two weeks, she came home!

What a day it was when we were all finally connected as a family together! Another story for another post.

Here’s to you, Eliana Kyleen. You’re an amazing joy and our family wouldn’t be complete without your smile.