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!

Lessons for my crew, Purpose

We’re gonna be okay

I know today seems so hard. Forgive me, but it might get worse. We really have no clue, but what I do know and understand is that the Light of the Church shines brightest when the problems of the entire world seem darkest. I think I can speak for both of us when I say that, It looks pretty dark outside right now.

What are we supposed to do?

Biblical Living, Random

Your ask is too SMALL

Hey what are you praying for right now?

What’s on your list of consistent requests to the God of all comfort and the Lord of creation?

It’s shocking to me how many people don’t have a consistent prayer for which they are petitioning the Lord. We have grown too small in our asks and I’m not sure why.

I have a theory about why.

Are you interested?

It’s because we can’t so we don’t think God can either.

I’m going to mess with your head a bit here in this post, but I believe there is a part of our theology that places ourselves on God’s level. Without even realizing it we have pulled up a throne next to God’s and are governing our own world’s as if we had His power.

Our prayers got smaller, because we got larger.

Rather than dealing with our inability to move mountains, we decided that it would be best to leave the mountains where they stand.

So here’s the problem. Subconsciously we know we don’t yield the awesome power of God, but rather than submitting to that and humbly acknowledging His deity and authority, we would rather keep our self-positioned throne next to His and just deal with our lack.

Can you see what I am seeing? Pride is what keeps us from asking the Lord for the biggest and strongest of prayers in our lives. For when we submit to His unique ability to provide and answer, we are also acknowledging our inability to do the same.

So again I ask, what are you praying for right now?

Because the things you are seeking the Lord for are a direct reflection of your view of this amazing and almighty God who affirmed His own desire to see our prayer dependance on Him.

Stop asking the Lord for small things. Start praying mountain moving prayers that only God can accomplish. And put those prayers on repeat. Put yourself in a position to see the Lord himself move and act on your behalf and begin to see the Lord move.

I guarantee you, it will change your life

Experience

Experience Life

“Your life is defined by the experiences you allow” – PK.

Is it wrong to title your blog with one of your own quotes? While I’m unclear on blog etiquette, I’ll just go with it.
This truth has been becoming of the central themes of my life. When I look back of my few years, I see story after story that has defined my present and my present experiences that will, in turn, define my future.

The things that I allow into my life have stretched me and have shaped me. When placed together with my core beliefs in the person and work of Jesus Christ and His Word, I can take my experiences and see what He has formed and planned for me.

There are so many experiences that I’ve enjoyed and pictures that make my mind race. We could sit for hours and talk about backpacking across Mexico. Climbing 14,000-foot mountain peaks in Colorado, Longs Peak and Half Peak to see for hundreds of miles. We could talk about the faith-filled adventures of missions trip and our deputation experience or of one of my earliest memories with my family that I wrote about here.

We are a product of the things we allow ourselves and our kids to be a part of.

One of my favorite memories (that was not a very favorite at the time) was when my dad took us on an adventure down the Rio Grande River in Albuquerque, NM. What he thought would be a simple, relaxing day on the river in the canoe, turned out to be a rescue operation that ended in a helicopter ride late into the night. It was an experience we would never forget and certainly one that my mom hated being a part of not knowing what was happening or to expect.

Today we find ourselves trying to protect from anything that might harm, but is that really the best thing for us? What about for them? Our goal cannot be to guard them against every harm but to teach them to find joy and God in every experience.

“The good news is that through this experience Jacob’s guilt was taken away.” Isaiah 27:9MSG

I’ll purpose to write about more of my experiences as we go along here, but what have been some of your most life-defining experiences?

Family, Random

A Culture of Encouragement

Photo by Jandré van der Walt on Unsplash

“I am so thankful for you! Can I just say how grateful I am for what you are doing and who you are becoming. Recently I saw you owning that _______________ (insert whatever that might be) and I was really amazed at how well you handled it and seemed to love what you were involved with. Thank you so much for believing, for owning your position, and for choosing to be a part. We are better because you’re involved.”

Sounds good right!?

I love being an encourager. It’s wonderful being on the side where you can see people almost get taller after receiving a few words of affirmation. They perk up, change their demeanor, their face relaxes and you can almost see weight being removed from their lives.

Encouragement is incredibly powerful both for the person giving it away and clearly for the one receiving it.

Here’s a couple thoughts about encouragement that you should plan to integrate this new year.

1) Encourage often. Words of encouragement go so far, farther than you can imagine. Think of how you felt the last time someone spoke words of life into you. You should encourage more than you think is necessary.

2) Encourage without stipulations. No one likes the guy who encourages with the solely through the sandwich approach. Sure there are times for that, but make sure your encouragement is genuine more than it is for you to produce a change you want to see. A pattern like that will quickly be viewed as empty and insincere

3) Expand your encourage. There are more people that should be encouraged that you think. Everyone needs encouragement, everyone deserves it, the people on your team, in your family or part of your crew that aren’t doing all that great of a job. Find something about who they are and maximize your encouraging message about that one thing.

4) Make a list right now. Monday is encourage day for me. Each Monday morning, as part of my weekly startup routine, I make a list of those I need to encourage. People I witnessed over the weekend as part of our church. I’ve had people come up to me years later holding a note card I sent them years prior and they are still amazed of the encouraging words I spoke to them.

Encouragement is a super powerful force and, sadly, it’s not used enough.

Who are some people you should consider encouraging?

Well, start close to home. How about your kids? As parents, we are super quick to try to teach the bad out of them but we end up forgetting the good. Encourage your kids.

Encourage your spouse. I’ll be super honest with you, I work to impress my wife. I am over the moon when she speaks words to me about something she witnessed of my life. Reciprocate that! Turn those words back on your spouse and encourage him or her.

Encourage your co-workers. On one of my Monday’s, I added to my list of people to encourage, one of the custodian’s at our church. I wrote my card saying that every time I walked into the building I noticed that she had been there and that I was grateful. She texted me back after she received that card and was so thankful for what I had sent.

If your an employer, encourage your employees. I’ve never understood why employers don’t do more of this. You truly want your business to improve, try creating a culture of positivity and encouragement rather than fear and confusion. Confusion in the fact that there are times when your employees never understand if they are getting it right, all they hear from you is when they got it wrong–that’s fear, and that’s not healthy.

The options are endless. Start this year by creating a culture of encouragement around you.

Experience, Family

Christmas Memories

It’s the best time of the year, isn’t it!

Like you, I’ve got a thousand Christmas memories. Not from a thousand Christmases, but at least all those memories.

Traveling to Grandma’s house when I was my son, Austin’s, age and the thrill, and stress, of being around so many family members. Driving Grandpa’s tractor to plow snow out of the driveway. Opening presents on Christmas morning with my cousins and uncles and then dinner, oh the dinner!
And that was just one Christmas.

There were so many others.

Most of them Grandpa and Grandma came to us, wherever in the world we were living at the time. We always had some project to work on with Grandpa. Several years he brought us a tractor and we’d put it together and test it out. It was awesome.
When my brother was older, the project became is 1969 VW Bettle he was restoring. It was a sweet Bug when it was done! And it was marked by so many memories that all of us put into it, wrenching that thing through so many problems but all memories.

I remember the first Christmas Crystal and I spent together. Just married and still in college. We were dirt poor and I believe the roaches that took up residence in our home had more of a Christmas than we did. It was a very lonely Christmas and we missed our family so so much, but we made memories together.

Our Christmas in Mexico was super unique. Getting to learn Mexico customs of the holidays was strange, unusual and cultural. Sure there’s still the flood of materialism, but there’s a load of more intentional family moments and tradition that takes place. Tamales are a big deal around the holiday, much like Turkey are for us.

Now Christmas is filled with the voices of a thousand children, or 5 whichever ;), but it’s joyful, it’s wonderful, and it’s ours. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My favorite tradition is that all our family gets new pj’s for Christmas and together we watch a Christmas movie on Christmas Eve after we get home from our Christmas Eve services at Church. It’s truly a wonderful moment.

I get a bit nostalgic around this time of the year and find myself thinking back to all those moments and memories of years past. They are so good! They are filled with the faces and spaces of what defines us–good or bad.

Take some time this season, enjoy the moments a little bit longer.

Eat an extra cookie for old time sake, you know when you could and didn’t care. Engage with those kids, no matter who’s they are, as they make their first memories of the most wonderful time of the year. Who knows, maybe you’ll make their favorites list one day.

How about you, what are some of your favorite memories of Christmas?

Biblical Living, Grand Point - Ship

Are you fighting Depression?

2007, one of the best years of our lives. Also one of the most difficult we’ve ever faced before. Crystal was pregnant with our son Austin. We were finishing up the deputation part of our missions career. We’d seen God moving personally in so many ways. We had our hiccups but for the most part, we were blessed, encouraged and on our way to Latin American life as we believed God was directing us to. First stop, San Jose, Costa Rica: A tropical paradise in the middle of a Spanish jungle. It would be the place where we’d learn Spanish and learn our first steps in missionary life. It would also be the place where our son would be born and little did we know, it would be the location of one of the most severe experiences with depression we would face to that point in our lives.

We didn’t know anything about depression. We were naive enough to think that it only happened to people who were weak or didn’t have a strong enough faith to get through it. We’d wrongly assumed that with enough prayer and belief, people who faced depression should be able to get through anything.

The reality is that depression has the power to seriously offset your life. It’s not something you can plan to avoid or even prevent.

It is an illness and it needs to be treated as such. We need to look at it the same as we would for a broken bone, a cold or the flu. It’s something that needs specific and intentional focus to be able to handle.

So much of our world is in a depressed state.

Having just gone through a sermon series focus on the book of Ecclesiastes, I think of Solomon’s words when he declared that “there is nothing new under the sun.” I always struggled with that thought because he lived in a day when so many things were utterly different. It finally make sense when I realized he wasn’t specifically talking about things but more lifestyles and situations.

Our world is very weary.

Our family has been through so many different seasons of life. One season I can recall was when we seemed to be coward in a corner simply waiting for the next blow to come. Whether it was medical, financial, personal or other, we knew it wouldn’t be long before something else came to cripple us. It put us in a mentality of depression. We needed help!

Knowing this, I wanted to offer you a method of hope today.

You were not meant to process through your life alone. You never were. You are not created for complete independence. You were designed to be completely dependent on an amazing God and the people he places in your life. You are for them and they are for you.

Know this, I am not a licensed counselor, but I care enough about you to at least tell you some of what I’ve learned over the years when it comes to depression. So throughout this week, we’re going to focus on this issue and we’re going walk through it together.