Overwhelmed With Gratitude

God has always taken care of shanna and i in big ways. we certainly complain a lot just like everyone else, but when we pause long enough it really doesn’t take much time to see His provision. sometimes it is unexpected and anonymous, and we are floored with how God answered a prayer and met a need.  other times it comes in the form of something more “expected”, but just the same – it came from Him.

we recently have been seeing both forms of God’s provision for our needs, and God has been challenging me to try to be just as grateful and thankful for the “expected” as the “unexpected”.

i found this verse the other day and like so many times, new significance emerged from these ancient words:

“Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15, NLT)

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Successful With Family > Successful In Ministry

i want to be successful in ministry. when i’m in the office, i try to work harder than anyone else (though at our church that’s hard to do). i believe in the mission of the Church and i love seeing Christ’s transformational work in real people so much so that i could easily live an unbalanced life and never come home. i’m still detoxing from the workaholic tendencies that so naturally come out of this drive. i want to be successful in ministry.

but lately i’m sensing an even deeper desire to be successful with my family. a sense in which my leadership at home is more important and holds more weight than my leadership at church. i remember sitting in a workshop at the simply youth ministry conference in march, led by Cathy Fields. you can actually purchase the mp3 here which would be well worth the $6. it was all on this value of being successful with your family, and i still remember Doug wrapping it up at the end by saying something along the lines of: “i really don’t care what you get out of this conference or what skills you obtain, if you’re not successful at home, you’re not successful anywhere else.”

this in no way lessens or cheapens our commitment to our jobs, but instead what it does is it elevates our commitment to our families. so…

  • when push comes to shove, family wins.
  • when a conflict occurs and you can’t be both places, family wins.
  • when it’s time for a day off even though there’s still more to do, family wins.

when it’s all said and done and you release your kids to adulthood, how do you know if you’ve been successful?  are there specific markers to look for? my hunch is it’s based less on the “final product” than we sometimes think, but i’m curious of your thoughts…

Protect Your Marriage

i’ve really been enjoying Michael Hyatt’s blog lately – tons of great content for leaders and it’s super practical!  just yesterday he posted a challenge in response to the news of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s infidelity. and it made me think of a previous post on why speaking well of your spouse is so important.  here’s a few highlights from that post, head there for the rest!

Affirmation wards off the temptation of adultery. When others see you are happily married, they are less likely to proposition you. It’s like a hedge that protects your marriage from would-be predators. You simply stop being a target.

Affirmation provides a model to those you lead. To be a truly effective leader, you must lead yourself, and then you must lead your family. Your marriage is a powerful visual of how you treat the people you value the most. When you speak highly of your spouse, your followers are more likely to trust you. It takes your leadership to another level.

Affirming your spouse in public is an investment that pays big leadership dividends. In a world where fewer and fewer marriages last, it can be a difference-maker.

Mariska & Baby Girl

people have been asking a lot from time to time how the dog is doing with the new baby.  now you can see for yourself!  she does so so well, and then…

Happy Anniversary Shanna!

today Shanna and i celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary!!!

here’s what i just tweeted in memory of this fine day:

6 years ago today i hit the jackpot without even playing the lottery… happy anniversary Shanna!!! I wuv u soooooooooooo much!

and here’s a picture of the scene from our backyard after we began celebrating this morning:

(ok ok… you probably can tell that’s not actually from our backyard because the sky is blue, but it’s a day worth celebrating nonetheless!)

i don’t wanna wish these days away

these days really are so much fun, and from what i hear (from like…everybody) they go by fast. i don’t wanna wish them away while looking forward to the next “phase”.  i wanna enjoy these moments.

My Broken Palace

a few months ago i heard about the good people over at My Broken Palace and i’m quickly falling in love with all they have to offer hurting students. it’s more than a website… it’s a place where hurting teens can go 24/7 to know they’re not alone in their pain. if you work with students, this is a good place to point your teens in their time of need.

here’s a few videos to generate some interest.  head to the site itself for more!

i’d love to know in the comments what else is out there right now to help students navigate their pain and hurt?

You Own The Sunday

this past sunday we started a new 4-week series in our student services called “You Own The Sunday”. like so many ideas we try, it was taken from someone else in a different context (josh griffin’s, to be exact) and tweaked to try to fit ours. the series isn’t done yet, so i can’t say yet whether or not it has truly transferred successfully, but there’s been enough “wins” already to think so. there’s a good chance we’ll be doing it every year.

here’s how it works:

our students are given 4 weeks to “own” all elements of the service – from the greeting at the door, to the tech and video elements, right down to the preaching. the goal is to not have a single adult on stage all morning (but they’re adults all over the place to support them and help them succeed in the weeks and months before).  we divided our students into our 4 most attended school clusters and challenged them to unite together to put on the service specifically for the rest of the teens that go to their school. the students putting on the service are challenged to make sure every single student at their school gets at least 1 personal invitation (not just a facebook event invite).

may 1st = Greece Arcadia Titans own the sunday

may 15th = Hilton Cadets & Spencerport Rangers own the Sunday

may 22nd = all the other schools own the sunday

june 5th = Greece Athena Trojans own the sunday

here’s what i’m hoping to see from it: 

  • more relevant communication (because it comes from people “indigenous” to teen culture)
  • more invites (teens are more likely to invite to something they own)
  • more new visitors that don’t go to church anywhere
  • more connection between teens in our ministry that don’t normally connect together (but should)
  • more involvement after the series from students that normally just sit in the seats
so far we’ve seen a lot of what i’ve been hoping to see… and it’s exciting!

Adelina Flips The Bird – Photo In Need Of A Caption

probably inappropriate, but too funny to resist. i promise, this was not staged… i looked down as Adi was laying on me and this is what i saw.

let’s make a “caption contest” out of this. in the comments section, just submit your caption. if there’s at least 10 entries, i’ll give a prize to the funniest. 1 ground rule: keep it clean 🙂