Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bethany's Recovery

My little girl absolutely amazes me. She is recovery beautifully from the surgery. She is up and moving all over the place with her walker. Yesterday, she sat up at the dining room table and played Monopoly for 2 hours w/ me and her bros. We also played "war" and had numerous battles on the Wii. Tonight will be her first trip out as Stacey is meeting some of her blogger friends for the first time.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Family Pictures

In late November (Thanksgiving Weekend), we went to the church to get photos taken for the church directory. We were not too thrilled to go because we have never really had luck with pictures. The company and individuals taking the pictures were really good though and the photo shoot was actually fun to do. Below are some of the photos and I am also actually using them as my sidebar pics. I am looking forward to the church directory and seeing everyone else pictures.




All Three Kids

Family Hug

Thursday, December 23, 2010


The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.

We, as individuals, really need to allow individuals to be themselves and love them for who they are. It comes back down to unconditional love. Yet, we try to alter/mold people into something that they are not.

just something that I was thinking of. I am also there is another side of the concern to this thought.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dying Church Making A Difference

I have heard about the church before and them deciding to possibly make a "splash" in their community but I had not followed it. in the last two weeks, I have seen it reference 3x and i want to share the story and the link to it at the bottom.

The story through the lens of Living Lutheran:

The church building was old, and worship attendance had been declining for years. But members of Renton Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Renton, Wash., still had a deep desire to serve their community.

They met with other Lutherans in the area, staff of social service agencies and even city officials.

From these meetings, the congregation came to some important conclusions.

It was decided that their church building should be torn down and that the property be used to serve the community in some way.

Members of Renton went through with their decisions, and a new ministry called Luther’s Table was born. The completion of a new community center on the congregation’s former property was completed in the fall, which includes transitional housing for veterans.

“We planned for a future that we might or might not be part of,” says Martha Myers, pastor of the former Renton Lutheran Church. She served the congregation for more than 23 years.

“We wanted more flexibility, and we want to live toward a new future. There were a ton of things we could do for the community,” Martha says.

A vision emerged to provide affordable housing and education on the site. With help from the Compass Housing Alliance, a housing plan for homeless veterans took shape, along with a coffeehouse and café.

Federal, state and county agencies, along with the community, also took part with financial support. On Oct. 8 the Compass Veterans Center-Renton was dedicated.

The Center includes 38 transitional housing units for single veterans and 20 units of transitional housing for veterans with families. There are also a variety of social services, Martha says.

St. Matthew Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in town, developed the coffeehouse and café, calling it Luther’s Table. Some of the materials salvaged from Renton Lutheran Church’s old building, such as pews and stained glass, are being used at Luther’s Table. The new building also has space for other business tenants.

Terri Bowen was council president in 2006 when Renton Lutheran Church closed. She says community support was essential for the plan.

“Every time we made a step forward there was a resounding ‘yes,’ ” Terri says. “It was as if God was leading us. Everything seemed to fall into place.”

Members of the former Renton transitioned into four area ELCA congregations.

And as they pass by the Compass Center, former members say they are reminded of the congregation’s vision that led to the housing ministry and businesses on the site of their former congregation.

“Every time I drive by, I think about how we fulfilled our dream,” says Dean Thompson, a member of Renton.

the article

I absolutely love this story and I wonder what would happen when/if dying/thriving churches seen their communities through this lens ?

Living Lutheran

I am really looking forward to spending more time on Living Lutheran. It will be a great place to connect and to hear stories about what is happening in our denomination.

The Surgery

Yesterday, Bethany came from the hospital after her surgery and 5 days of recovery. The 5-days was a very long journey and definitely could not be captured in a paragraph or two. But, I will place a quick summary here. Of course, if you are a "friend" on facebook, you know the story since I gave numerous updates a day.

The surgery last about 4 hours and all reports were that the surgery went excellent. Not long after the surgery and visiting her, I went home to be w/ the boys and Stacey and her mom stayed at the hospital on Thursday night. I received a phone call during the middle of night from Stacey and things were not going too well (high pain) and there seemed to be a lack of communication between hospital/surgeon/those taking care of her. On Friday morning, correction on meds and pain management became involved and her attitude went up and her pain levels went down.

Later on in the day, we found out that it was a protocol issue that occurred because the surgeon was new to Riley and how "orders" are done is slightly different. It was a nightmare of 14 hours and Bee should have not had to go through it. We fell through a crack. But, she was now having all the care needed and the hospital was putting plans into place that this would never happen again.

Throughout this though the nurses on her floor and who took care of her were top-notched and ROCKED and took super-good care of her.

On Saturday, she began her physical therapy,. We also learned that during the surgery, the surgeon was not only able to put the rods in and secure them correctly; he was also able to move the curvature of her spine during this surgery. The % was going to happen later down the road. So, she was in a little more pain because of that, but this will make her future recovery so much better.

The next two days was her practicing walking and for her to go from IV meds to oral meds. She did great. We brought her home yesterday and she did great. She sat up in the chair for awhile. She then set up in a wheel chair to play Wii. The wheel chair is for longer excursions (museum and zoo trips). She moved around the house with the walker with no problems.

The one thing that she is happy about; she grew two inches so she is closer to getting out of her booster :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bethany -------- Surgery

Tomorrow morning, we are waking up early in the morning and taking Bethany down to the hospital for major surgery. She is having spine surgery for her scoliosis. The surgical procedure should take about 4 hours. The doctor wants to get her up and moving as soon as possible but she will have a "recovery" of 9-12 months before she can resume regular activities.

Last night was a little rough on me as I did a "normal" activity with her. I "potato'd sacked" her to bed. After the surgery, I will not be able to do that. We will have to come up with something different after the surgery.

Also, I really am struggling inside at times because of the fact that she is having to have this surgery due to her having NF. I am the one that passed it on to her. I know many people say that I can and should not blame my self, but it is hard.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Email Came ....

Jeff ..great news everything has been completed and your license has been approved.

We are now approved for fostering and adopting. We are looking forward to the journey ahead of us and we will know a lot more about that journey in about 6 weeks. If you are out there reading this, I ask you to pray for us during this process and see where "we land".

Friday, December 10, 2010

Paper Work

We think that our caseworker from Indiana came over and picked up the last piece of paper work that she needed to get our foster license and adoption papers processed. If this is the case, we would be able to open our home to foster care or adopt children who are looking forward to forever-homes.

It has been quite a journey with re-arranging schedules to make classes and to get all the i's dotted and t's crossed. For a few weeks, we thought that everything was turned in and just sitting on the desk.

Someday, I will have to share more about the process, but today is definitely not the day or time to go into it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Time At The Shelter

On Monday afternoon, I picked up two of our high school guys from church and went downtown Indy to help serve dinner at one of the men's shelter. It was very nice to be down there and serving with the guys. With how the shelter is set up, we did not have many opportunities to interact with them. However, we had a "heads up" that this would probably occur; so we were "mentally" prepared.

Even though we did not get to have a relational aspect with the men that we were serving; it was great that we were able to go down to the shelter and help serve the meal and then help in kitchen prep for their next meal.

We are going to be partnering with them once a month. Thus, we look forward to doing ministry with them and I look forward to getting to know some of our guys better while serving.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

we went to Stacey's parents house for Thanksgiving. In the picture is my wife and 3 kids, Stacey's parents and Stacey brother and his his wife. It was a good time of relaxing and visiting and of course, a little food.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Future ...

Bonhoeffer once said:

The essence of optimism is that it takes no account of the present, but it is a source of inspiration, of vitality and hope where others have resigned; it enables a man to hold his head high, to claim the future for himself and not to abandon it to his enemy.

We have a fantastic vision and mission at CTS. I am looking forward to us serving and working together to make the dreams that we have a reality. There may be individuals who are down and upset about how the vote went and that we remain in the ELCA. However, be optimistic. Look forward to the future. Let what god has called us to be in our community be an inspiration. We are able to keep our head up and march forward. This church will be a place that will help people grow in Christ. This will be a place where people fall in love with God our creator. This place will also be a beacon, a place where people will serve our God.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Remaining in the ELCA

Today was our vote. We had 395 adults who signed in to vote. To leave the ELCA, we needed to have a 66.7% vote. Which meant that we had to have 268 votes to leave.

171 voted to stay in the ELCA
224 voted to leave the ELCA

Thus, we remain an ELCA church.

The vote is now over. Hopefully, we can rally together and reach out to one another. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. As a church, we have a wonderful vision/mission and we need each one of us to carry it out.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

So Much .....

Life is definitely not settling down. It has been crazy.

Here are a few things things on the burner:

Church Vote

On Sunday, we will be having our church vote. Overall, it has been quiet at the church about the vote. We will be taking a look at whether we will stay in the ELCA or the NALC. I have no clue which direction the vote will go. It seems to depend on who you talk to. At times, I think that we will definitely stay in the ELCA. Then at times, I go; the votes will be there for us to begin the process to make the switch.


Stacey and me have finished up all of our foster care classes and I have taken one of two adoption classes. Stacey was unable to take it due to illness. So, she will need to do a make up. Yesterday, I had a meeting with caseworkers to see about where we are in the process. I am still trying to keep some of it quiet. When more details come out, I will then share. One of the key components is the home-study. Our homestudy was done 3 weeks ago, but they are still waiting for some documentations and they thought that they were waiting for some of the references to come back. However, they were in; they were "misplaced". our caseworker said she is approving the study. Thus, her supervisor needs to sign off and it needs to be turned into the home-finders unit.


Ministry is going well. It is very busy with Roots, Crosstrainers and Oasis. after 4 months, I believe that i am settling in with the students and adults leaders. I am looking forward to the journey ahead. There is some hesistancy as the vote looms and I am not sure if there will be some who leave depending on the vote; that is kind of an odd feeling.


The kids have adjusted greatly and are doing fantastic in school. The fall sports are complete and the winter sports are under-away. The boys are playing basketball. Bethany is taking a sports break but has connected up with a Brownie 9Girl Scout) troop.

More later ....

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Congregational Meeting # 2

Congregational Meeting # 2 is in the "books". The meeting last night took a different tone. As a staff person, I am trying to be careful with putting my thoughts out there; in time, they will come. We, as a church, have 10 days till we vote on the direction that we as a church will go. Will we remain an ELCA church or will we change denominations and go to the NALC. November 21st, has the potential to be a day when the church "implodes". However, I also think that it is an opportunity for us to be unified that we are a church and that we want people to Know God, Love God and Serve God.

If you are from CTS reading, may you feel a sense of peace as you wrestle with this issue. I know that there are quite a few that want to stay in the ELCA and I know there are many that believe we have no option but to leave the ELCA and join the NALC. Then, there are a number of you who are really confused on why we are even voting.

May God be with us and may be live out the words in the book of James. May we be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Renteria Say No to Party

From Yahoo News ...

Because of all his big league heroics and huge moments in the Fall Classic, Edgar Renteria(notes) has long been considered a hero in his home country of Colombia.
But on Tuesday, the World Series MVP showed why the adulation is deserved past his exploits on the field.

Given the chance to be welcomed back to the city of Barranquilla MacArthur style, Renteria instead asked that any planned parties or parades be nixed.

The reason for the shortstop's request was simple: His hometown — an industrial port city in northern Colombia — has been ravaged by recent floods and Renteria prefers that all available money go toward helping the estimated 900,000 people who have been left homeless.

The shortstop made his request about the tribute from Miami on Tuesday. He is expected to arrive Thursday in Barranquilla, where his family lives.

Renteria says there are "more important things back home" and that it's critical to tend to the needs of those left homeless by the recent flooding.

Good on Renteria being in tune with the suffering going on in northern Colombia. After hitting that big three-run homer last week to help lift the San Francisco Giants to their first World Series title, Renteria could have opted for the hero's welcome. His chances for such an ovation (and calls from Hugo Chavez), after all, may be running out after the Giants' declined his contract option for 2011.

Instead, he used his platform as a way to draw more attention to and raise more money for what's going on in Barranquilla and other Colombian cities. Excellent move, Edgar.

Church Meetings

Last night was our first church meeting and we will be having another one tonight. I did not count, but I would say that there was 250 - 300 adults at the meeting. The meeting was very civil and I was very happy to see that.

There were two-main segments that night. The first segment dealt with the difference of the ELCA and the NALC. The reason for these two comparison is that this is where we will "land". We will either be an NALC church or an ELCA church. The decision for these two options came after the "fact-finding-team" seek'd out numerous options.

The next segment was a theological discussion that the pastors led on the difference of the ELCA and the NALC.

After both segments there was a time for questions and answers. I thought that the questions were good and the answers were well received. As I mentioned earlier, I appreciated the fact that there were folks with diverse opinions that it was not an "angry" mob mentality.

It is my hope and dream that we will be able to sit/worship/work together and continue to reach out to those who need to hear the gospel of Christ.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Meet Me Under The Bridge

Proverbs 19:17 (NIV), He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.

We (CTS students)had the opportunity to serve yesterday at the Meet Me Under the Bridge Ministry. we enjoyed our time down there as we served food, sorted some clothes, sang a few songs and connected with those who are often "invisible".

MMUTB is going to be a ministry that we will connect with on a monthly basis. The next time that we will connect with them will be Dec. 12th. Then, beginning in January, we will go down there and serve on the 3rd Sunday of each month.

This past week, we went down and "served" the food. The up-coming times, we will also be getting food donated, cooking and taking it down. Here are a few pics to give you an idea of what we did (trying to respect those whom we served).

The Organization

View From Parking Lot

Singing Outside The Garage

Preparing To Serve

Folks Enjoying A Meal

Friday, November 05, 2010

Ornaments with A Cause

A young boy decides to make Christmas ornaments and the proceeds go to help a homeless/poverty mission organization. Awesome. Below is a little info on the family and then below that, there are two links. The first link is a link to the ornaments for sale and the second one will be a link to the mission it is supporting:

Greetings from the Carlson family. Eric, Kristy, Brandon & Aidan live in Omaha, Nebraska. Brandon is in 3rd grade at Ezra Millard Elementary and Aidan attends preschool at Hamilton Heights Child Development Center.

Our family likes to participate in a service project each year during the holiday season. We started making Lego ornaments for our extended family and thought they were so unique it would be a good idea to sell them to raise money for charity. Each member has a job (or two) in order to make and sell Lego ornaments. Brandon is the manager, spokesman, and master builder. He also tracks inventory, orders, and profits. This year his class is helping by sponsoring a drive to collect items needed for the Hope Totes.

Kristy is responsible for product development, ordering, and super glue administration. Eric runs the shipping department and motivates the master builder. Last but certainly not least is Aidan (age 4) who is able to help for the first time. He sorts colors in different containers and can build the big presents--but only after he creates a unique structure of his own.

This year the proceeds will be used to purchase items for Kid-Friendly Hope Totes full of shampoo, toothbrushes, tooth paste, and other personal items kids need to stay healthy. Typically the only items available are adult-size. We believe these children should have access to products made specifically to suit their needs!

Ornaments For Charity
Ministry It Helps

Philosophy of Ministry

Here is the "philosophy" of ministry that we will be using within our student ministry at Christ The Savior. The philosophy of ministry is "our tool" to help us (as a student ministry) reach the mission of our church: Reaching people to know, love and serve Christ.

We realize that each student is at a different stage in their life and there are different ministries that will help us reach out to people so they will know Christ, Love Christ and then go out and serve Christ.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Bishop Hanson: It Gets Better

Bishop Hanson speaks about the recent deaths/murders on individuals who were gay or perceived as being gay.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Halloween 2010

Here are a few photos of the kids from Halloween 2010. These are at the church and house for the Trunk Or Treat night on Oct. 30th:



Bethany at my Trunk




All 3 of Them

The Vote ....

It is election time but this post/blog is not about the up-coming elections. Instead, it is about me to briefly mark down on my blog that we as a church (Christ the Savior) will be having a vote in the near future (20 days to be exact).

We are going to vote on whether we should leave the ELCA and join the newly formed NALC or wether we should remain in the ELCA.

Before, I came (back in January), the church did vote on the social statement and "rejected" it and wanted to remain with the more "conservative" point-of-view.

That vote was a "simple" vote and the majority of the church agreed with.

I did not think that the decision to leave the ELCA or stay with the ELCA was going to be a big issue (in all honestly). I thought it would be more focused on this is what we are about as a church/congregation and not which denomination we are apart of.

The vision/mission of CTS is what brought me here.

Our Mission
Reaching people to know, love and serve Christ.

Our Vision
It is the vision of Christ the Savior Lutheran Church to be AWAKENed, united and growing in Christ

A lways serve
Worship Christ
A bundantly give
K now scripture
E ncourage other and
N ever cease praying

However, I am hearing that many believe that this vote is going to be ugly and I have heard many say that this vote is going to be "catastrophic". To that, my heart breaks and I cry out.

I, as an individual, am one that leans to more of unity. I understand that many say that is not impossible with such a different interpretation of scripture.

It is my hope and prayer (which ever way the vote goes) that in the end, people will be unified. They will look around and see that this is a church/place that they love and that we can be unified and strive for the "end in the mind" which is our mission and vision and the theological difference that we have do not effect the 9 items in the mission or vision. Hopefully, we can have a large umbrella instead of small umbrella's.

Yesterday, we did a class on the Apostle Creed and how "creeds" can unify us. That is my wish and dream; that we can be unified because I believe that we do believe in the creed:

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: and in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary: suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell: The third day he rose again from the dead: He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty: from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead: I believe in the Holy Ghost: I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints: for the forgiveness of sins: the resurrection of the body: and the life everlasting. Amen.

So, on the 9th and 10th we will have congregation meetings and then we will vote on the 21st. The vote on the 21st is not going to be the end-all. There will be more that occur after that - maybe more on that later.

As a church, I hope that we can follow James advice: quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Are You Breastfeeding ?

I went to the doctors today and that was one of the questions that I had to answer. At least I know that I got one question right.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Vacation Pics

Here are a few pictures from our camping adventure:

Walking Through the Woods

Family Break On The Trail

Bee Silly-Stringed Me

Jacob and His Walking Stick

Isaiah Throwing Football At Our Tent Site

We had a great time !!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


It is almost time for a 4-day vacation. We are going to go camping and we are planning on doing absolutely nothing. I am looking forward to the "break". Hopefully, we will get some good pictures and my sidebar pictures of the family could change.

Monday, October 18, 2010

It Is Fall

I took a few photos of the house that we live in and the church that we serve at and you can tell that Fall is upon us. Some leaves are still green, some are turning colors and some are falling to the ground .....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

10 Orange Principles

These are 10 principles that mean a great deal to me that come for the ReThink Group and the Orange philosophy. The video is not where I want it. I still need to feel comfortable with where the camera is located and etc, so consider this Bad Practice Run


Here are some things that "resonated" with me this past week as I read some of the writings of Andy Stanley on Leadership.

Leaders must challenge the process precisely because any system will unconsciously conspire to maintain the status quo and prevent change.

Accepting the status quo is the equivalent of accepting a death sentence.

Leaders challenge what is for the sake of what could and should be.

A leader is someone who has the courage to say publicly what everyone else is whispering quietly.

Leaders have been given the assignment to take people places they’ve never been before.

Courage is the willingness to move in a direction in spite of the emotions and thoughts that bid you to do otherwise.

Leadership is about moving boldly into the future in spite of uncertainty and risk.

Leaders can much more easily live with the prospects of having tried and failed than not having tried at all. Leaders fear missed opportunities more than they fear an unsuccessful enterprise.

I am in the midst of trying to lead change in a few areas and I am struggling in some ways as I go through the process and these statements helped me think through some of the obstacles that I am/will face.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What a Week

Time seems to be absolutely flying. I cannot believe it. I look at my calendar and question where has it gone. The calendar is full and fulfilling.

Isaiah is having a blast in soccer. His team is undefeated and he is playing well.

Jacob's basketball season has started. His team lost their first game. He played well on defense and he scored a point on a free throw.

Bethany is not really liking baseball through her week conversations and vows that she will never play again. However, when she is at practice and during her games; she seems to be doing fine; especially last week as she got four hits. Her team (all girls) is playing in a all boys league; so that has been fun. Most of the times, the girls are beating the boys.

The church is going well. The attendance last week was over 675. The confirmation class had over 100 when you count the students, peer guides and adult leaders - the group is a really good group. Our Roots (5th and 6th graders) ministry on Thursday nights are a blast. Last week, we had 25 and they are a real fun group. Oasis (high school ministry) is meeting on Sunday night and we had about 30 last Sunday. We played a football game and had a broom hockey contest before moving into our last lesson on Pause.

We also had class on Monday night for adoption; that is moving along. We are concerned about the homestudy and what will occur there. We hope that there is no hiccups. We are not sure which direction the decision will be, but we are excited about the possibility of going from a family of five to a family of eleven.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Spring Hill

This past weekend, our numbers dropped a little with illness and other commitments that came up. However, we still took a large group and we had an amazing time. The above picture is our group picture. Listed below will be a few individual pictures to give a feel for the weekend.

Paint Ball

Climbing Wall




One: God / Faith / Life

What are you going to do with the one life that God has given you to live ?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Spring Hill: Here We Come !!

60 of us from the church is headed to Spring Hill. It is our confirmation retreat. We are looking forward to a great time of worship and fellowship. I will share the happenings when we return.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

30-Hour Journey

It was a whirlwind 30 +/- hours. Here we go ....

- drive to Ohio (4 hours)
- sleep (7 hours)
- wake up / kids at old school (1 hour)
- at judges offices trying to reclaim some items (1 hour)
- wayne county fair (3 hours)
- wayne county child services (1 hour)
- back at kids old school (1 hour)
- visiting the Baker children (3 hours)
- wayne county fair (3 hours)
- drive back to Indy (4 hours)

There was a few breaths in there in between. It was very busy but yet fun. It was great for the kids to see old frioends at school and have fun at the fair. It was awesome to see the kids (Bakers).

The bad thing, no camera to take pics of the events.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I really have no idea where time has gone and why I do not seem to create time to come over here and write down my thoughts. To be honest, I think that I really need to create time to do it; it helps.

There is so much going on in my life and the life of the church that I want to share and I want to see if I can create some discussion and dialogue even though most of my readers (past) are gone and rightfully so when I do not post and I am not activly reading and commenting on other blogs.

I really need to get back in the cycle of reading and commenting as well because there are some blogs that I really miss reading.

Quick synopsis of what has happened the last few days and things that I will explore when I get back on Thursday (making a quick trip to Woo)

- Roots kicked off on Thursday
- Crosstrainers kicked off on Sunday
- Oasis began a new series (Pause)
- We began classes for adoption
- Soccer season began for Isaiah
- Basketball is starting today (?) for Jacob
- Bethany had her first baseball game on Sunday

Those are just a few of the highlights. Things coming this week:

- trip to the Wayne County Fair
- roots pizza party this thursday
- spring hill retreat with jr highers (50+ students and 15 adults)

So, here we go on blogging, I hope

Monday, August 16, 2010

Oasis: Last Night

Last night, we began our new series on WE. We had a good group that came out as we begin to look at the process of community. We had 37 high school students, 3 hs graduates who are about to head to college and 8 adults.

Our night set-up is rather simple. We had a time of fellowship and fun and that was followed by worship. We then had a game and movie clip that set up our theme of community (not doing it alone) and then it was message and small group time.

I am really looking forward to seeing where Oasis goes; there is tremendous potential there.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Celebration of Life Message

On Saturday, August 7th, I gave a message (funeral) to one of my best friends. It was one of the toughest messages to give and I really was not sure which direction to go. Here is what I went with:

Message, Saturday, August 7th

If tears could build a stairway and memories were a lane, we would walk right up to heaven and bring you back again, Polly. No farewell words were spoken and there was no time to say goodbye. You were gone before we knew it and only God knows why. Our hearts still ache in sadness and secret tears still flow down our cheeks. What it meant to lose you, no one will ever know. But now, we know you want us to mourn for you no more and to remember all the happy times we got to experience with you. Life still has much in store and since you'll never be forgotten; we pledge to you today that a cherished place within our heart, is where you'll always stay.

I think that the one thing that I will always remember Polly for will be that she let her heart live out on her sleeve. She was an individual that was unafraid to show her emotions and she lived her emotions out to the fullest. The one emotion and attribute that I will remember the most is the one of compassion.
Definition of compassion: a feeling of distress and pity for the suffering or misfortune of another, often including the desire to alleviate it

To me, this definition paints Polly perfectly. When she saw someone that was hurting, someone that had injustice done to them or an individual that was going through a hard time, she was there to lift them up out of the murk pit that they were experiencing. This could be seen through the hugs that she gave, the brownies that she made and the tentative ear that she had when individuals needed to dump their burdens.

I am sure that as you sit there and think about Polly and what she meant to you, her kids and this community that many stories flood your mind. I want you to cherish those thoughts, embrace them and hold them up high. Her life and what she did is something to be celebrated and definitely something that is not to be forgotten. In particular, I would like for you to think and ponder specifically on a time when you saw her love and care about the less fortunate or those who were going through a valley of darkness. Grasp tightly to the word justly and how she lived that out.

A few months ago, Polly was up on the 3rd floor of Zion with other families that had attended that night of Sunday Night Live. The evening was over but a few families were still hanging around and talking. Polly was talking about the up-coming mission trip that Katie and Seirra were going to be attending and that turned into a conversation about having a servants heart and making sure that we put others first and not ourselves.

I asked you a few moments ago to grasp tightly to the word justly and this is the reason why. Here was one of her most recent favorite memory verses (Micah 6:8):

God has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

For a moment, I would like you to imagine what our communities would look like if we had individuals who lived these three attributes out. Here is a brief look at how these could be lived out:
act justly means to accept responsibility for the well-being of the weaker members of society:

The Gospels present to us a picture of Jesus Who has compassion on the teeming crowds, Who wants little children to come to Him, Who is concerned about widows, Who heals the sick, Who has mercy on lepers, Who cares for prostitutes, Who can promise forgiveness and salvation to prisoners. He was angry about any and all injustice and treated all people equally.

We can do the same

To love mercy is to be filled with an intense longing to help others, to do kind and compassionate deeds for those who are in need.

Here too we are to imitate God. God, you see, is merciful and full of loving kindness.

Finally, what does the Lord require of you but "to walk humbly with your God."

It means, to live for God and make Him the center of your life. It means to live a life of fellowship with God. It means to give your heart to Jesus who gave His life for you. It means to be filled with the Spirit and the power of Christ so that you are born again and are a new Creation in Christ. It means to spend time with God in prayer and Bible reading. In the New Testament this is called the life of discipleship:

Living for Jesus a life that is true, striving to please him in all that I do,

Living for Jesus is to walk humbly with your God.

Today we are to walk humbly with our God for then and only then can we act justly and love mercy.

So, the next time that you are thinking and remembering of Polly or you are thinking about what you are going to do with your day, please remember one of her new found verses that she lived out. Take a step out of our comfort zone and love those that are around you or extend a hand to someone who is less fortunate and try to lift them up.

Imagine what would happen in your life and the life of the community, if you kept the spirit of Polly alive and served those around you. I want to challenge you to find a way to connect with Wooster and Wayne County and make it a better place.

To the kids, I want to let you know that you will always have a special place in my heart. I thoroughly enjoyed the time that I had the honor of getting to know you and watching you grow. Each one of you is special. Polly loved you immensely, thus carry her on with you as you journey through life.

Prayer Time ….
Irish Blessing to Polly:
Longing For One More Day

When we lose someone we love it seems that time stands still. What moves through us is a silence... a quiet sadness... A longing for one more day... one more word... one more touch... We may not understand why you left this earth so soon, or why you left before we were ready to say good-bye, but little by little, we begin to remember not just that you died, but that you lived. And that your life gave us memories too beautiful to forget. We will see you again some day, in a heavenly place where there is no parting. A place where there are no words that mean good-bye.

Let Us Pray
God, we come to you today with heavy hearts. It has been a long 8 days for many of us in this room. Our emotions have ran the gauntlet from being sad and angry about what has transpired to laughter and smiles reliving the memories that Polly and her children have brought us. The journey onward is going to be difficult. We ask us that you grant us peace and that we will be surrounded with comfort and love. We also pray that our eyes and ears will be open to you and that because of the love that you have given to us that we will be able to shower that love to the Baker children and all the support people in their lives. May you be with us as we leave here.

WE Series

On Sunday, we are beginning a new series for the High school students, it is called WE. Here is some information:

On August 15th, we begin a new series called WE. This series will help us discover the "why" behind community - why we need it, why we should pursue it, and why it is more than what you do every week.

August 15 - The Others
Following Christ was never meant to be done alone - we need community

August 22 - A Beautiful Mess
It can be a messy process when we are in community with other people.

August 29 - Up close
We learn about God through community

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Funeral

The funeral for Polly is on Saturday. She was a wonderful friend and an amazing woman to her kids and to her community. She will be greatly missed by many. I am traveling over to Wooster this evening and I will be giving a "spiritual message" and leading the closing prayer. This may be one of the harderst talks/messages that I will give.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

PR 2010 Video

Here is a picture video that I quickly put together to recap some of the trip:
PR - 2010

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Yesterday, we lost 2 great friends to a tradgic set of circumstances. We do not know exactly what happened and we may never know. What I hope and pray is the focus of everything is the 6 kids that they left behind.

They are wonderful kids and they have to be struggling mighty of not having their mom and dad. They range from the ages of 4-13. I cannot imagine.

My heart breaks.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Going Deeper: Puerto Rico

I wanted to share with you the theme for the week and how it was broken down. The students really connected with the themes and I am looking forward to seeing how it will play out in their life.

- More Jesus / Less Me
- More Courage / Less Fear
- Less Do / More Be
- Less Here / More There
- Less Ego / More Love

As I went through the week and still processing, I am not sure which one I struggle with the most. I think that it is More Courage / Less Fear. However, Less Do / More Be is close behind if not first and I just do not want to admit it. I like "doing". I like "results".

Thursday, July 29, 2010

PR 2010 Video

Almost A Month

Well, it has been almost a month since I have posted here. i need to place my facebook statuses over here. Making a 140 charachter response via the phone is so much easier then logging on to a computer and putting thoughts down here.

It has been a very busy month as I have made the transition to the new church. things are going fantastic. In week 1, my focus was the Sr High Curriculum and we have that mapped out for the school year (Aug - May). The second week was dedicated to Confirmation. We are making some changes in the curriculum to hopefully create more of a flow while emphasizing the strengths of the existing program. In between the curriculum prep, I was meeting with various staff and ministry leaders. In week 3, I was in Puerto Rico with 18 students and 4 other adults. Here are a few pics:

Our group inside the rain forest

A few of the students at a roadside stand getting canapas - the love to eat them and to throw them

The beach a few blocks from the hotel we stayed at going in and out of the country

View from Old San Juan

One of our youth taking a break on the worksite when she found an animal friend.

While there, we participated in a local kids club, worked at a Salvation Army, helped at a Juvenile Retention Center, attended local church services and helped with a few work projects at a local school academy.

If I get my act together, more on the trip later.

Friday, July 02, 2010

A Long 2 Weeks

It has been a long two weeks as we have tried to pack and clean the house and move and begin to unpack the boxes into our new home and for us to get familiar with the new area and the new ministry (job).

I am giving this update from my new office, which I need to do some work on as well, but that is going to have to wait for awhile.

In the near future (after the holiday), I will give some updates and be a little more active again.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day, Dad. I love you. I am glad that we were able to come over for the reunion and see you and the family.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Nava: 1st Pitch = Grand Slam

From Boston (AP) via Yahoo Sports

Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava has hit the first pitch he faced in the big leagues for a grand slam.

Nava became only the fourth player to connect for a slam in his first major league at-bat—and second on the first pitch. Cleveland’s Kevin Kouzmanoff(notes) did it on Sept. 2, 2006, against Texas, according to STATS LLC.

Nava accomplished the feat in the second inning of Boston’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday when he sent Joe Blanton’s(notes) fastball into the Red Sox’s bullpen in right field.

The lefty hitting Nava was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket before the game. Outfielder Josh Reddick(notes) was optioned back to Pawtucket.

Nava is the 10th player in Red Sox history to homer in his first at-bat, and just the second to hit a slam. Rip Repulski hit a slam on May 10, 1960.

I think he should retire ....

Manassas, Virginia

Here we come.

One of our best family friend (Crystal)and myself are going to be taking 9 children and youth (10-12 year olds) to Manassas tomorrow. We will be there from Sunday - Friday.

We are looking forward to serving and our service may look a little something like this:

- therapuetic recreation camp
- summer camp
- helping at an assistant living center
- VBS outreach
- neighborhood clean-up projects

It should be great and I am looking forward to watching them serve and shifting my mind (hopefully) off the move for 6 days.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

21 Days ......

21 days till we move in Indianapolis, including a mission trip to Virginia and a day reunion in West Virginia.

My mom came over for 24 hours and helped get us started. There is a lot that is left to do in the packing/cleaning stage and time is of an essence with everything else on the table. In the end, I am sure that everything will get done.

Last night, Stacey and myself agreed that we are so looking forward to being done with the move and beginning to start this new chapter in our life. Don't get me wrong, we are going to miss Wooster and we are going to miss some of our wonderful friends greatly. Thankfully, we will only be about 4 1/2 hours apart.

But, we want to be out of the chaos of the move and we want to be in our new home and we want to be working for/with the great team that is in place over at CTS.

The next three weeks will be insane. Let the rollercoaster begin and we look forward to landing in Indy in 3 weeks from today.

Lady Gaga on Church

Lady Gaga is on the top of the music world right now. She is a very controversial musician and as an individual that works with teenagers, she is talked about quite frequently. She reminds me of the Madonna when I was a teenager.

She is "racy" and she tackles some themes that are very edgy and many would consider very disturbing. However, this post is not about that. I just want to share a PG picture of her (in case you do not know who she is) and some of her words recently about church that she shared when she was on Larry King.

"I struggle with my feelings about the Church in particular....in terms of religion, I'm very religious. I was raised Catholic. I believe in Jesus. I believe in God. I'm very spiritual. I pray very much. But at the same time, there is no one religion that doesn't hate or speak against or be prejudiced against another racial group or religious group, or sexual group. For that, I think religion is also bogus. So I suppose you could say I'm a quite religious woman that is very confused about religion. And I dream and envision a future where we have a more peaceful religion or a more peaceful world, a more peaceful state of mind for the younger generation. And that's what I dream for."

I put a bold on the word that is very telling for me. I think that there are many individuals are CONFUSED about religion, church and spiritual issues. They are on a journey and they struggle to grasp what is happening in their life and this crazed world that we live in.

Just some words to think about. For me, it is just a reminder of how important conversation is and to listen and hear people's stories.

Friday, June 04, 2010


Words of Wisdom today are brought to you by: Arthur H. Stainback “The value of compassion cannot be over-emphasized. Anyone can criticize. It takes a true believer to be compassionate. No greater burden can be borne by an individual than to know no one cares or understands.”

Today, make sure that each person that you come in contact with knows that they are cared about or that that there is understanding.

This is tough, but if we can begin to truly have each person understood and cared for, wow.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pics of the New Home

Here are some pics of the home. Someone else is currently living in the home. We will be redecorating and when we get it redecorated and moved in; we will put pictures up.

We are super-excited about the home.