During the course of America’s painful and mournful history with slavery, against their will (as most things were… sigh), mothers and fathers were separated from their children, wives were snatched from the arms of their husbands, and siblings said goodbye to siblings… wondering if they’d all ever see one another again. Humans traded as property, from owner to owner, plantation to plantation. Again and again and again.

Have you ever thought about what happened to the now-freed families AFTER Emancipation?

Until I stumbled upon, I hadn’t. 

This beautiful project coming out of Villanova University has given names to the individuals on an often life-long quest to find their freed loved ones. On the site, copies of actual ads placed in newspapers in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s are posted. Each ad is concise and to the point, but it’s hard to read them without feeling the emotions of desperation, longing, and loss.


I encourage all to check this site out.
(You can even help transcribe the ads as they’re placed on the site to aid in further genealogical research.)

It’s important for us to remember another crushing impact of our dark history of oppression and injustice against people of color.

May we see their humanity by saying their names, and may we stay ever vigilant today as slavery continues to reinvent itself under new labels and clever packaging.



Becoming People of the Table

as a family we try to eat dinner at the table most nights. but if you think for a minute we’re batting a hundred at that each week, you’re quite wrong. some nights the table is too full of junk-that-needs-a-home, and it’s easier to just eat in the living room while watching one of our favorite shows. other nights the schedule just doesn’t allow for it. but, it’s something we’re aiming for and a strike in the “win” column when it happens.
both shanna and i were fortunate to grow up with great memories from times around the dinner table as a family. spontaneous laughter, conversations about faith, and moments of realness were all things we came to expect over the years. of course, the meals often included emotions as thick as the meatloaf in front of us, and there were many nights where we couldn’t wait to get out of each other’s presence and back to our own little corners of the house. in our hurried lives, especially with 2 little ones right now, the dinner table is becoming for us an important point of reconnection.
the mess is another story…

cooper mess

tomorrow i’ll share a simple game we’ve been playing at the table lately to keep the conversation real.

4 Thoughts on Balancing Work and Family

a perfect balance between work and family: the ideal we’re all longing to someday experience, while secretly questioning if it’s even attainable. some say it’s a myth… and, while i’m not sure i’d go that far yet, i do think we at least have a goal to shoot for.


here are 4 thoughts on balancing work and family that i hope can add value to the discussion.

1. we have an opportunity to lead up here.

balancing work and family is generally not something senior leaders are great at. they’re fantastic at setting the bar in so many other areas, but this is usually not one of the strong ones. if you’re in any role in your organization other than the top dog, this is likely one of your best opportunities to lead up and set the example. over the course of time, as your colleagues become more fatigued and burnt out, you’ll seem refreshed and renewed on a continual basis. the change will be evident, and your influence will be noticed.

2. busyness doesn’t mean success; busyness means brokenness.

why are our to do lists always so full? why do we always have to bring our kids 4 different places in the same night? why do we rarely eat dinner together at the table anymore? why do we have to make that presentation not just adequate, but over the top? why do we feel we can’t leave the office when we promised we would? why can we not give ourselves a day off from the gym every now and then?

when we honestly dig into these questions, i think what we end up uncovering is often pretty dark. it’s incredible how much insecurity drives our behaviors and actions. we try to prove our value and worth by our achievements and accomplishments.

this is brokenness.

the nice thing about brokenness, though, is that someone else came to fix it. jesus came to give us worth and value. we don’t have to keep trying to earn it.

3. God calls those who won’t work “lazy”, but those who won’t rest “disobedient“.

thank you, perry noble, for this line.

how soon we forget that the sabbath (a 24 hour period of intentional rest, every 7 days) was one of the 10 commandments. it seems pretty significant to be included in God’s top 10 list. if you think of it, there’s a lot of details to consider when putting up parameters on human interaction, and yet God made sure this was one of them.

if we truly observed this ancient practice of sabbath, i think this discussion on balance wouldn’t come up quite so much.

4. it takes strong accountability to keep a temporary season from becoming a permanent situation.

we all have busy seasons where our engines have to hit some higher rpm’s than normal. the problem comes when the season turns into something longer. do we have people who regularly hold us accountable as we try to phase out of a series of red-lining weeks?

the perfect balance between work and family may not ever be truly found and perfectly sustained, but we can move towards it and stay closer in it with some intentionality.

what else would you add to this list?

Why I Haven’t Blogged For 3 Months

it certainly has been a while!

here’s why…

1. our little man
the transition from a family of 3 to a family of 4 has been a little more intense than we thought. mini-coop (cooper) is now almost 9 months old and so much fun to be around. we are fortunate beyond comprehension to be able to parent him, and wouldn’t trade it for the world. his laugh is contagious when he really gets going. here’s some pics…

photo 3 photo 1 photo 5 photo 2-2 photo 4

2. job transition
right now i have one foot in student ministry at my church and one foot in adult ministry. i have been leading the search for lakeshore’s next youth pastor for a while now, and the plan is to have him in place before i fully transition to discipleship pastor. it has been a tiring process, but one filled with many God-moments and growth steps (for me and for the church).

3. small groups launch
the “one foot in adult ministry” is all related to small groups, and we’ve been working hard to get everything launched for this ministry year. i am beyond excited about the 34 new groups that have launched within the last few weeks, and the ones getting ready to launch later in the year. the leaders of each are top notch and committed to doing life with their group for the next year. if you have yet to join a group, you should check it out!

Don’t Let Your Marriage Settle For Good

this past weekend shanna and i had the opportunity to get away for a few days to work on our marriage. and it was so great! it was a great reminder to me that because of the busyness and crazyness and demands and pressures and to-do lists that are unavoidable and inescapable in life and especially in ministry, what unfortunately often happens is that the people who mean the most to us end up getting pieces of us, but not all of us.

unless we’re intentional.

i’m so thankful for the ministry of family life and their weekend to remember events that helped us be intentional again.


here’s why the weekend was so great and why you should consider going soon when you get a chance:
  • the speakers were excellent, well-prepared, and engaging.  i loved how real they were and how their examples weren’t all success stories, but illustrations of personal pain and hurt that they inflicted on their spouse, and how they found a path to healing. 
  • the event was not super churchy or religiously stuffy. as a pastor, i sometimes get cyncial going into things like this (like taking bets on how many fireproof clips they’re gonna show), but this wasn’t like that. while they are very biblical, i wouldn’t be afraid to invite an unchurched friend.
  • they intentionally leave saturday evening free & unprogrammed for a date night. it was so good for our marriage to be able to have some relaxing time together, away from adelina, and out of the reach of our cell phones.
we just celebrated our 8th anniversary the other day, and while i would say our marriage was good, this weekend helped me see that it could be so much better.
thank you family life!

5 Powerful Questions To Ask Your Kids At Bedtime

adelina recently learned how to climb out of her crib, so this week has been a week of transitions and new routines. as i was putting her down tonight, i remembered a list of questions i jotted down in my moleskine that andy stanley noted in his must-read choosing to cheat. my daughter is not quite old enough for these yet, but i plan to ask them to her on a regular basis in a few years. powerful and transformative conversations can happen right before a kid’s eyes close for the night.


5 Powerful Questions

1. Is everything ok in your heart?

2. Did anyone hurt your feelings today?

3. Are you mad at anyone?

4. Did anyone break a promise to you?

5. Is there anything i can do for you?

what are other good questions to ask your kids at bedtime?

Summer 2012 LCC Family Calendar

our church’s summer calendar for our family ministries just rolled off shanna’s computer, and I’m so excited with how it turned out! though we had to rework it all from scratch, the graphic concept was pretty much stolen from hsm’s team at saddleback and we’re super thankful for their creative minds! be sure to check out josh’s blog on a regular basis!

shanna even snuck the ontario beach park into the background!

Book Giveaway: What Matters Most

i have thoroughly enjoyed the slower pace over the last couple weeks. they say that this time of year (especially this week between christmas and new year’s) is either a great time to get stuff done in the office, or a great time to be away from the office. while in years past i would often try to get ahead and spend the quiet hours at work this week, cranking plans and strategies out due to the absence of distractions, i chose this year to… not. and i’m so thankful for the supportive leadership over me to give me this flexibility. i’ve truly enjoyed the extra time off this holiday to spend with my wife, daughter, and our family members. they truly do matter most to me when it’s all said and done.

Adelina Christmas Eve

Adelina Christmas Morning

there have been many mentors and friends who have spoken into my life to help me battle my workaholic tendencies, and i’m so grateful for them. one mentor-from-a-distance has been doug fields, specifically his book what matters most. i read it a few years ago and this simple book revolutionized the way i saw relationships and empowered me to say “no” to good things more frequently in order to be able to say “yes” to great things.

i recently won a copy of the book from the youth ministry garage, and figured i’d give it away. just leave a comment with a funny or serious idea you came across that helped you connect more with those in your life that matter most. i’ll select one at random and send you the book!

Random Phone Photos

this cricket made the fatal mistake of sneaking in our house late at night a few weeks ago. they are so loud when they're inside. until you step on em, that is.

earlier in the summer we did a few “txt events”… random spur of the moment events where we sent out a txt to all our students and hung out together.this was one txt event where we pretty much took over the whole restaurant. five guys burgers and fries. we even had a bunch of parents come join us which gave it a nice family-friendly feel.

earlier this week we got to take a quick trip to the adirondacks with my family. shanna, adi, and my mom made it half way up. my dad, my brother and i made it up to the top!

she looks BIG here!

Cheat The Church (Not Your Family)

i have been absolutely loving being a dad and this new season of life. so so so so fun!  the coolest thing lately has been watching adelina smile voluntarily (not that fake, “i-can’t-help-it” kinda way”).

but even as cool as it is, and even though when i’m home i never wanna leave, i know how easy it still is to overwork and give too much of my time to the church.  andy stanley summed it up a few years ago here by challenging us with this tension. here’s a small bit, head there for the rest:

I’d like to tell you about the best leadership decision I’ve ever made. It came back in 1995 when we decided to launch North Point Community Church. My wife, Sandra, and I had two kids at that time, both of which were in diapers, and she was pregnant with our third child.

If you’ve ever started a church, you know it is extraordinarily time intensive. You’re never done. Whenever you go home, there is stuff left to do. And yet I found myself in this stage of life where there was more to do at home than there had ever been. So I found myself in this awful dilemma. There was not enough time to do everything, and there wasn’t enough time to be who I needed to be as a leader of this brand new organization, as a father of two little boys, and the husband of a wife who was pregnant and doing her best to support me emotionally through a very difficult transition. I found myself sitting alone one afternoon thinking, I can’t do all of this.

The “Work” Paradox

Think of the dilemma: If you stayed at work (and the “work” could be business or church) until you got every single thing done that you needed to get done and were just far enough ahead to where you could actually enjoy the next day, you’d never go home, right?

If you stayed at home until everybody at home got the time and attention they wanted, you’d never go to work! Never once have my kids said to me, “Dad, I think we’ve played enough. Why don’t you go on in the house and see if you can get some work done.” That has never happened, and it never will.

i love the courageous decision he made to set a radical boundary by coming home every day at 4:30, and in these early days with adelina, the whole article was a good reminder and challenge.  you’re gonna cheat one of them… don’t let it be your family!