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my kids…

I remember loving this time of year as a kid. I still do but the reasons have slightly changed. The highlight of thanksgiving was always the simple fact that I had 4 whole days out of school. Most of the time my teachers didn’t even give us homework over the break. The idea of a very short week felt incredible!

Oh, how things change. I find myself on monday morning of thanksgiving week wondering how I will possibly get everything done. Thursday will be here before I know it and after a quick blink of the eye, it’s Sunday (the first Sunday of Advent) and the business will not end.

I’m blogging today from the dentist office while I wait on Tyler and Jenna to finish with the first “braces” consultation, impressions and the ringing of the cash register. As I sat waiting for Jenna, Tyler asked me if I used “touch of gray” this morning. After counting to about a hundred or so, I responded with a simple “no.”. He then informed me that I have a lot of gray. I quickly blamed him and moved on.

I’m not sure what causes our hair to turn and I guess it doesn’t really matter. I suppose stress does have something to do with it. As I approach this week of endless “stuff” to do I will be working to change my perspective. Perhaps you would like to join me. We’re entering “the most wonderful time of the year.”. Perhaps I’ll start acting like it.




Hard to believe that Advent is coming up in just a few short weeks.  As I look over “The Journey” by Adam Hamilton, I can’t help but think about those difficult months those two young kids endured.  We really don’t hear a great deal about that pregnancy and what they went through.  I’m not sure we can truly appreciate those details today.  Our cultures are so different that I really have a hard time comprehending what that must have been like…what it might have felt like…the fear…the anger…the tidle wave of emotion they surely experienced. 

This year at New Haven United Methodist Church we are going to Journey through that time using the book from Hamilton.  I hope to see you this Advent and may your “Journey” be fulfilling.



This weekend we will be sending out our pledging opportunities.  This includes opportunities of service within the church.  We have so many areas where folks can serve and become more involved with the work we are doing in the community.  What can be more interesting is the idea of a “stewardship” campaign within the church.  This isn’t anything new, but for some reason we don’t like to talk about it much. It’s not like I don’t know why we don’t like to talk about it.  Everyone has a different idea of what it means to give to God.  The idea of a “tithe” holds strong for some and for others they will quickly point out that it is simply and Old Testament term that is irrelevant for the church today.  As the official Christmas shopping season begins and/or continues over the next few weeks I have to ask myself and urge all of us to ask ourselves about our giving to our creator.  It doesn’t seem to matter what I can actually afford, I still want to give my children the best that I possibly can.  I don’t worry about the amount of money I spend on them, but that I offer them the best.  When we give to God are we striving for the same thing?  Do I give to God working to give my very best, or trying to give what I “have” to give and still have enough left for me to survive?  Or do I come up with a reason to not give to God? 

Where do you stand with these questions? 

If you are looking for an interesting read coming in to the Christmas season, take a look at Mike Slaughter’s blog and his book about Christmas.  It may just change how you think about giving!


What do you do all day?

As the associate pastor of NHUMC I have a variety of roles.  Currently we are seeking a director of our children’s ministries.  With this vacancy, we are all faced with working together to maintain our ministries and make sure the children in our congregation and community stay connected in their faith.  Along with this, I work with our adult ministries, worship, student ministries and other various areas.  This is not unique, but certainly keeps ones schedule very busy. 

Not only am I the full-time associate, but I am still a full-time student in seminary as well as working through the ordination process which requires a unit of cpe (working 12 hours a week at the local hospital and 2-12 hour on call shifts per month).  This leaves very little time in which I have to spend with my family.  This of course becomes very challenging for me and frustrating for my family at times. 

Just the other day at one of our youth events, one of the students was laughing at something I had done and said something about me having too much time on my hands.  We both laughed it off and then I noticed he was saying something under his breath.  He was going through my “schedule” (at least as he saw it) and then said what he was thinking.  “you have Sunday services, Sunday night youth and Wednesday youth; that leaves a lot of free time.”  God gave me the self-control needed at that moment 🙂  I wanted to say “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!”  Of course I didn’t say that and simply explained very briefly that it may look like there isn’t much to do, but there really is.  I stay quite busy, but I truly love what I do.

I had to laugh when I thought about it later that evening.  At times life seems so simple and it seems impossible to have such a busy life that we cannot make the much-needed time for our family.  I learned something from that young man even though he may not have meant it this way; I believe he was telling me to look at what’s filling my life and decide how important it really is.  Not everything is priority #1.  I really should have some free time on my hands.




This past Sunday in worship we were looking at guilt.  Something that literally cages us to a point of inactivity in our faith.  how easy it is to focus on our shortcomings and even the shortcomings of those we love.  Guilt can suck the spiritual life from us to a point of being lethargic in our faith. 

I don’t believe this is an issue of the conscious mind; on the contrary this is something our subconscious attaches too and we do not even realize it until we are in the grip of it.  The question we must ask ourselves is quite simple and compelling all the while.  How do we find release from this cage?  the “generic” answer is equally as  simple…with God’s help.  then I respond with “ya, right!” 

In all seriousness, we  have the opportunity and the gift of grace and forgiveness given by God.  Moreover, we have grace that we are given; that we may “give” it to ourselves.  If we allow guilt to overshadow our lives it becomes part of our character.  it becomes so much a part of us that we act and respond according to the guilt that we hold in our lives.  we fail to see clearly the world (and God’s people) around us.

We can choose to act and look like a Christian who has it all together.  It isn’t our actions per se that define our character and show our true faith…that definition lies within our REactions.  We can choose how we act, but our reactions in life’s circumstances show others exactly who we are and whom  we belong to. 

May we all allow the power of the Holy Spirit to free us from the cage of guilt.

thoughts from the little guy

On monday of this week I began a rather intensive schedule (even more so than usual).  I woke early to begin my day and saw my kids off to school.  After getting work done at the church I returned home to see my 2 youngest boys before leaving for a class at the hospital and then I would stay for my on call shift until 8am.  What this means is that I would not return the following day until they had already left for school.  Moreover, I would be leaving the next day for a week-long class at seminary.  Essentially this means I would see my little guys for about 15 minutes and then leave and not return until the end of the week (Friday). 

As I took my things to my vehicle my 6-year-old came out to give me another hug bye and he said something I will not soon forget.  “You are always leaving.”  Am immediate rush of emotion  came over me and I wish I could say it didn’t bother me, but it certainly did.  I said yes, I know it seems that way and it wouldn’t be long until daddy’s schedule will be a little easier and I won’t have to leave as much.  then he asked a question that dug deep.  “Don’t you want to spend time with your family?”

At that question I could hardly keep the tears from flowing.  I assured him that I certainly did want to spend time with my family and that I loved them more than anything.  Of course the words resonated in my mind over and over and he just simply said “ok, see ya later”.  How simple it was for him to just leave it at that.  While I was so worried that he may not understand what was really happening and be upset at me, I realized that his faith and understanding was far more than I gave him credit for.  He has a deeper understanding of life than I ever thought.  I “gets it” even when I don’t.  All he knows now is that daddy is very busy, but he won’t always be busy like this and will spend time with us.

I wouldn’t say it made things easier thinking of it in that way, it is nice to know that God has given my little guy a faith and understanding of the important things in life.  unfortunately, life itself will quickly try to take that away from him.  I pray every day that my children never lose their “child” faith.

The student pastor

Quite often I have a sense of “I’m never going to get everything done!”  This morning started as one of those days and it proved to be true.  I know, we all have busy schedules and believe me, I get that.  It isn’t that I think somehow my schedule is stacked higher than anyone else.  As I move along in the beginning of my last semester of seminary, I had thought that this would be the semester that sent oh so smoothly gliding by with little effort.  I think God wanted to have some more comedy and I became the subject. 

As I juggle being a full-time associate pastor, full-time student, working through the ordination process, working at the hospital doing my clinical pastor education and oh ya….my wife and 4 children; it can easily seem overwhelming.  this morning as I came down stairs to spend some time on school work before taking my kids to school I began thinking of all the things that I had to do for the day.  since I had planned on doing some of my clinical hours at the hospital I knew I wouldn’t get everything accomplished.  Finally the morning progressed and I was out the door heading for the hospital.  When I arrived I noticed I did not have my I.D. badge.  After a long round about trying to solve the issue, it became clear that the only solution was to purchase a new I.D. or drive home and look for it.  Being that it is a rather lengthy drive, I chose to forgo the hours today and somehow try to work them in over friday and saturday. 

I made a stop at Wal-Mart and on my way out I heard something on the radio that seemed quite fitting for me in these days and especially at that moment.  The song is called “strong enough” by Matthew West.  Essentially the words say I’m not strong enough to be everything that I’m supposed to be and I need God’s mighty strength to be who I need to be.  Yes, I already knew this, but somehow the words of the song echoed in my mind all day as I worked to carry out as many tasks as I possibly could. 

 Bottom line…I have an awesome wife and 4 incredible kids and a God who loves me and will give me the strength and endurance I need to press on.