Wednesday, December 31, 2014

See ya 2014...

2014 hasn't been my favorite year.

In fact, if I were pressed to make a decision, I would say that it has been my hardest year.  That isn't to say that it hasn't had its moments.

(I thoroughly enjoyed speaking a couple of weeks of camp... haven't done that in a while but would like to do more often.  Myles has been so much fun this year... he is learning and growing so much and I've had a lot of extra time with him.  I learned a lot about myself this year... what I can handle...)  

But, the past is the past and that's a story best left for a cup of coffee.

2014 did end well, however.  I was (semi) surprised by a going away party Monday night.  (I had some suspicions... but wasn't 100% until about an hour beforehand.)  It was a great evening.  I took the above picture about 2/3 of the way through the party after a few folks had left.  It was a great opportunity to get together with some great folks and students and laugh, hang out and tell stories.

Rarely in ministry do you get a chance to sit in a room full of the "fruit" of ministry.  That was what Monday night was for me.  The room was filled with friends.  Students who were/are leaders in the youth ministry.  Students who were leaders and have graduated and are doing amazing leading in college.  Volunteer leaders who are committed to reaching the next generation of students for Jesus.  Folks who have supported and encouraged our ministry.  It was a blast.

I felt honored.

I felt honored because my wife put it together for me (it was way outside of her comfort zone to do that).  But I also felt honored because those who were there were there because they wanted to spend time with us before the next chapter of our ministry journey unfolds (Saturday).

It was a great night.

So tonight... for me... I will be the happiest person at 12:01 am on 1/1/15.  It will be so-long to a less-than enjoyable year.  And hello to a new bright New Year.  I can't wait to see what is just around the bend!


Monday, December 22, 2014

An Open Door and Changes

God has a way of opening doors.  We have been watching and waiting for God to open a door to what is next for us and God has done so.

We are proud and excited to join the Christian Fellowship Church team as their new High School Pastor.

The turn around time is pretty short since there isn't any reason for me to wait.  I start there in less than 2 weeks (January 4th).  I'm excited!  I can't wait to get started ministering to high school students in Ashburn, Virginia area.

We are currently working to sell our house in Zanesville to pave the way for us to all move to Ashburn.  So, if you are into prayer, you can pray for God to bring the right buyer to us.  Transitions are difficult but the excitement over this new opportunity is making it easier.

We are looking forward to what God will do in the future.  And we are very excited to join the CFC youth ministry and church team!

More to come (hopefully I'll get back into regular blogging in the New Year),


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Acts 16:6-10

Acts 16:6-10New International Version (NIV)

Paul’s Vision of the Man of Macedonia

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 
So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Oceans - Hillsong United

Matthew 14:28-29aNew International Version (NIV)

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Psalm 103

Psalm 103

Of David.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the Lord, my soul.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014


My 19 month old doesn't understand "soon" (as in... 'lunch will be ready soon...', 'we can play soon...', 'we'll be home soon...').  He only understands "now."

The other day, my wife and I were making lunch for the three of us.  Usually it's a weird dance of the two of us making lunch for ourselves, him and each other at the same time.  As we were making lunch, Myles did what he usually does at the beginning of lunch prep: shows impatience through whining.  He wants his lunch "now."  Then it dawned on me... and I don't think this is the sum total of his understand... he can't see the lunch coming together.

Track with me... Myles is 19 months old.  He is about 2 1/2 feet tall.  All of the lunch prep... his bottle, yogurt prep, grilled cheese cooking and veggies warming... is happening on the stove and counter which is taller than 2 1/2 feet.  All he can see is the edge of the counter.  He only sees what is near the edge... the bread bag... the tip of his bottle... part of a plate.  He doesn't see the lunch as it is coming together.  He doesn't realize that it is nearly ready and will be ready "soon."

But then... we don't really get "soon" either...

We have drive-thru windows so we don't have to get out of our cars to get our food... we have high speed internet so I can watch Netflix right now and on-demand movies... we have a microwave so my food will be warm in 30 seconds rather than 10 minutes (so I don't have to stop Netflix for long).

We want now!

Same is true in our relationship with God.  God doesn't work on our time frame.  The prophet Isaiah reminds us about God's timeframe in Isaiah 55 (NIV):  "8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

God is able to see time and history from a completely different perspective than us.  He sees what is "almost" here and what is coming "soon."  In our fast food, microwave high speed culture, we want it now.  But God is working it out in his time and God's timing is perfect, even if it isn't the same as mine.  


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Terrible Twos... and a Reminder...


We are told that the "terrible twos" can start in toddlers as early as 18 months (not necessarily welcome news for a couple of parents about a month into that timeframe).  We have begun to see some of this "terrible" behavior from Myles.

Now, I'm not a behavioral expert but it seems to strike when there is something that Myles wants and thinks that he can get or do on his own but he can't.  Like... climbing on the couch, reach a toy, opening a boy (i.e.: the alien bowling set pictured), eating his food... etc.  Either he doesn't have the ability or he can't accomplish it in the timeframe that he thinks it ought to be done.  Then he cries, whines, pouts, throws his toys down, etc.

I took this picture a couple of days ago.  Myles loves to play with his alien bowling set (I'm not sure who bought it for him... but thanks!).  He doesn't actually bowl (yet) but he mostly likes to get the alien-shaped bowling pins out and carry them around and throw the bowling ball (not actual weight thankfully) at one of our cats.  But on this particular day, he couldn't figure out how to get the velcro flaps open so he could get to the pins.  I was sitting about 3 feet away.  I asked Myles to bring the set to me and I would help him open them.  He didn't.  He struggled.  He fussed.  He got upset.

If he would have only brought the set to me, I could have helped him.

As I reflected on this, a Scripture came to mind (Matthew 7:7-11 NIV): "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! "

Only a few feet away, my desire was to help my son, if he would only turn and ask for help.  

How many times do I fail to ask God for help?  Only a few seconds away, God's desire is to help his children and yet many times, we do it on our own... getting mad, frustrated, angry, etc.  Our God is a gracious Father who wants to help his children.  Yet, too often I don't ask... 


Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Destination Unknown

While things have been quiet here on my blog for the past couple of months, things in my life haven't been as quiet.  Without going into much detail here, our ministry is transitioning.  God has closed a door to ministry right now in Zanesville.  And while we don't know what that looks like, I have a new appreciation for the story of Abram's call in Genesis 12: 

"12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

So Abram went..."
Genesis 12:1, 4a, NIV

The amazing thing about this story... what is dawning on me and what I am learning... Abram didn't know where he was going.  We often read Genesis 12 through the eyes of the rest of the book of Genesis.  We know where Abram, later Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and the rest of the crew end up.  We know that Abram will have a son and be asked to sacrifice his son.  We know that that son, Isaac, will have two sons, Jacob and Esau.  We know about Jacob's 12 sons and how they sold their brother into slavery and how the whole crew ended up in Egypt.  

But for Abram, in chapter 12, he didn't know that.  He didn't know where he was going.  He didn't know what the end would look like.  

I know that anxiety right now.  
I don't know where this road will lead.  

Sometimes with faith... we don't know.  We are called... sent... by God to someplace... unknown.  And God doesn't give us the GPS coordinates or the address of the final destination.  Sometimes God just asks us to go... 

And He expects us to go.  

Hebrews 11 shares the same insight about Abraham... "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8, NIV, emphasis added)

So... where is God calling you?  
Where is God calling me?  

For now... only God knows... 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Last... but not least... Thoughts from The Dominican Republic from Emily Allen

            Sitting in the airport for our long layover gives me some time to reflect on this incredible week and all of the amazing experiences that we’ve had.  So many moments throughout the week left an impact on me, but probably the thing that affected me the most was Tuesday when we went to the Hole.  The Hole is an inactive landfill that has become the home of many Dominicans who can’t afford to live in typical neighborhoods (which still don’t even begin to compare to those in America).  When we went, we walked through the streets, got a small tour of the church, and fed the children of the community.  It was incredible to see the impoverished people being content with what they had.  Upon our arrival at the Hole, children started coming out from everywhere yelling “Americanos! Americanos!”  They would claim us as their own and hold up their arms to be embraced and held by us.  They were aching and searching for any love and affection they could get.  What really hit me hard was hearing that girls there usually started prostituting themselves by age 11-12.  At that age, they would be responsible for taking care of their younger siblings while their parents went to work for the day, along with all the responsibilities that come along with being a mother.  One of the things that the church was focused on was teaching them practical skills so that they would realize that prostitution wasn’t their only choice.

            There are so many more things about the life-changing trip that we experienced that I cannot wait to share when I get home! God has been so good throughout this trip and has kept us safe with little to no problems.  Thank you so much to everyone who has prayed and supported the team on this trip! Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we embark on our final flight! Most importantly, remember to pray for the people of the Dominican Republic and the efforts of GO Ministries to spread the love of God.

Emily Allen

Maya Norris' Dominican Thoughts

This week I've had many life changes. I've learned how to love children even without being able to speak to them. I've heard no complaining by the people here. Everyone here has much less than us and they still have a great outlook on life. I've felt like I never felt before last night. I felt as if I have truly fallen in love with the people here. It will be hard to leave tomorrow. 

The children here just need so much love. As soon as they saw us they ran towards us. They want to be held and fed. It’s really great to have so much love and trust from a child who hasn’t ever even seen you before. With this thought, none of it would have happened if it weren’t for people who went before us and gained their trust. If they hadn’t been kind and caring then we wouldn’t have been trusted.

I could see the contentment of the people. I have also seen their willingness and eagerness to work for the church and for God. They have all been so kind to us and so fun to meet. Their music is actually some of the same songs we sing in church but in Spanish. When we had youth group on Wednesday the boy sitting next to me, Eder, sang some of the songs in English to help me figure out what song it was. It was really fun.