Sunday, June 3, 2012

We are home.

This little blog has become so neglected, but it is time to begin writing again.  Gabe and I are fully moved into our home here in North Webster at Camp Adventure. Yay!  It's a sunny Sunday afternoon and I'm sitting out on my front porch listening to Pandora, drinking lemonade, and watching my dog sniff around in our yard.  It's beginning to feel like my home.  For the past two months I was only here on weekends and it didn't quite feel like my true home.  I was torn between being here with Gabe, best friends in Anderson, and my school life at Daleville.  Yesterday, we packed up everything from my classroom and at Phil and Kylee's and drove it all up here for the last time.  What a good feeling to be finally home with my husband and in the place where God called us to go last August!

And.......on Friday night, I was offered a teaching job with Warsaw Community Schools.  YES!  I'll be teaching fourth grade at Leesburg Elementary next year and couldn't be more excited about it!  I interviewed on Friday morning at 8 a.m., drove back to Daleville that morning, packed and said goodbye to all my teacher friends, and then I got the call from my new principal that same night!  I'm still a little overwhelmed with everything and feel like I'm in a dream.  On the same day I leave little Daleville, I get an offer  from the school corporation I wanted.  God's grace is amazing.  We moved to this place and left everything familiar so that Gabe could pursue his dream job and follow God's call in his life.  And now, I KNOW God called ME here to teach in this new school.  All along, He had a spot for me and I'm excited to be used by Him in my new job.

The college staff moves in tomorrow and Gabe has been working for weeks to be ready to train them.  I know he will be an incredible leader for these young people.  He has a heart for helping people grow to be more like Jesus and is determined to see Camp Adventure be a place centered on kids experiencing God's love.  I can't wait to see what the summer holds......  I will be updating you as often as I can.  I really want to tell the stories of what happens here so that friends from Anderson, Daleville, and all over can stay connected with us.

For now, I will just enjoy my porch, lemonade, and puppy dog. :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

We're moving!

If you're on facebook, you've probably seen some comments about me leaving the Bridge on there. It's something we've had to keep quiet for awhile now because I've been trying to keep doing my job, while knowing that my time is coming to an end. Well, this post is for those of you that aren't around or I don't keep in touch with too well :-)
This summer, I had the great opportunity to take our junior high students up to Camp Adventure (CA). CA is the place where Libby and I met, it's where I got my call to ministry, it's the place where so much has happened in my life spiritually and God just moves in that place. Read a couple posts back about what took place this summer while we were there....powerful stuff. While I was out there I saw some people who are "high up" in the camping organization. It's through the United Methodist church and there are 7 camps in Indiana, so some of the top people were out there my week. I asked what they were doing out there and Danni (who is the camp manager) told me that they wanted to talk with me. I figured they just wanted to see how my week was going. Instead, Shane just poured into me about things he's heard about me and that they want me to consider applying for the program manager position of CA. It was really encouraging that someone would even notice me and seek me out like that, but I just wasn't sure. I came home and processed with Libby. Libby was getting ready to start another school year and she absolutely loves where she is, we just made changes again to our youth program and I was in no position to just leave it. So I told the camp thanks, but not right now. I needed time to transition out of the youth ministry and they wanted the position filled at the end of the summer. If you know me, you know my love for camping ministry and I told them that I see myself there, but I needed time. SO that door was now shut.
I came home and went up to meet with mentor of mine. He and his wife met me my first summer while working at CA. I've stayed in touch with him and he was helping me process camp. At the end of our discussion, I told them about the camp coming to me for that job. His wife started crying and I thought I offended her :-) But she said that they knew that position was open, they have been praying for that person who would take over and when I walked in, she knew it was going to be me. So she was crying because she really believed this was God directing our steps and that I was the guy for the job. I told them how I shut the door, it didn't make sense on so many levels. 1 - Libby loves where she is 2 - I love where I am, the kids have gone through too much change and I need to carry out this new change 3 - financially it doesn't make sense not knowing if Libby will have a job. They gave me their pastor talks about how God's plan doesn't always make sense, but how He blesses us when we are obedient. They prayed over me and then I left. I was unsettled. I desired to be at camp, but I desired to be at the Bridge. I didn't know what to do. But I had shut that door and I think there was a reason - so we just left it.
A couple weeks go by and I get a phone call from the camp. This wasn't unusual because we had some kids go to the hospital our week, so I figured it was another call asking for details or something. Well, it was Danni. She told me how they had gone through the search process, they didn't have a peace about the position, they prayed about it and my name came back into it. Telling them I told them know, she was told to pursue me again. So I went up and had a conversation with them. I basically interviewed them, I wanted to make sure this was the right fit and a place that I could thrive. They told me they would call me in 2 weeks and let me know. Libby and I committed to praying about this every day. It's so cool when you get on the same page as your spouse - we both felt that if God opens that door, we will go. If He shuts it, I will just feel encouraged and put some wind in my sails so that I can continue strong at the Bridge. They called me a week later and offered me the position! I had told them I couldn't start until January, so I figured I would be out and they would go a different direction. But I was wrong! I accepted the position and I start at the beginning of January. So crazy, yet so awesome. This is where it all started for Libby and me and now we get to go back. I love this place so much, it has so much of my story wrapped up in it.
But there's a tricky part and this is where we need your prayer. I won't be moving up there until March because Libby has to finish out her school year and they didn't want us to be separated. Thankfully, a lot of what I do during the off season is on the phone/computer and driving to meet with people. So I don't HAVE to be up there all the time. But I do have to be up there every week for a couple days at a time. So Libby and I won't be together much, then when March hits, we'll only be together on the weekends. We need your prayer for our marriage and that this time will go so fast. The last thing we want is to be apart, but we know it's only for a season and that this will be the best adventure we get to go on together. We know it will work and be wonderful, but for a few months it will be hard. It's an exciting time, we're so excited. It's so awesome just watching God's plan for our lives unfold.
Next sunday is my last sunday at church. It's been hard, things haven't gone the way I want them to as I leave. At the same time, it's showing me that this truly is God's protection and guidance for us to leave. His plan is perfect, better than anything we could ever dream up.
So there's our story, that's the latest happenings in our life!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

I have read this verse countless times and I can even preach it…but can I live it? 16 years ago marks the beginning of a HUGE journey I went on. I started junior high. I’ll never forget those years, I hated them more than anything. I was the kid that got bullied. I won’t get into my whole story, those of you reading this probably know my story. But when I think of those years, I can name the people who had a hand in making it miserable. Well, this past month, 1 of those guys’ names kept coming up in conversation. Every time it did, it brought back all the pain and my hate for that guy. Last week, my pastor told me about this worship leader coming to lead a program we have at our church called “Celebrate Recovery”. They were building him up to be something great and that I should come check him out. When they said his name, those feelings were back and I was vocal about it. Last night, I was in my men’s group and his name came up again. Seriously, I couldn’t get away from it. So I opened up about how I felt about this guy and what he did to me. Derek said, “Dude, you need to let that go!” I mean, it was 15-16 years ago. But it shaped me so much, I couldn’t let it go. So they all encouraged me to face him and talk about it. I laughed about it and knew that would never happen. I’m the kind of guy that just holds stuff in. Talking with Chris and Phil today, I just really felt like I needed to do this. So evening came and I didn’t want to go in there. I walked into our auditorium and stood in the back for the first 20 minutes, I didn’t want to go anywhere near this guy. I felt this nudge saying, “go up there, see him up close, listen to him”. I got to hear a bit of his heart tonight. I was fighting tears the whole night. I’m not sure if you get the magnitude of this…I’ve held these feelings in for so long and now I’m faced with my “demon” that’s had a hold on part of me. Afterwards, I got to talk to him and of course, he didn’t even remember me for awhile. But I got to know him and his story a little bit, then I told him mine. I told him how I needed to clear this and get it out because I’ve held onto it for far too long. Amazingly, he wasn’t blown away, but so apologetic and asked that I would forgive him. Once I did, I felt this release. It seriously was a warm tingle throughout my body and for the first time, I felt like I could let it go. I cried, he hugged me. It was beautiful. I found out why he wasn’t blown away – I wasn’t the first to do this to him. But he assured me that he wasn’t walking with the Lord at that time and he is not that guy anymore. He now has 3 kids and said his boys have no ounce of ‘mean’ in them and he knows he doesn’t want his kids to be like how he was in middle school. Our lives intersected again for a reason, his name was brought up over a month ago to me for a reason. Tonight brought some healing for my life. I needed that, God knew I needed that.

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be children of God.

Reconciliation, it’s hard, but beautiful. Thankful that Christ shows us that same love when we hurt Him. He is quick to embrace and forgive. I think I caught a glimpse of Christ’s love even more. Thankful for these lessons, as hard as they might be.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Camp Experience

This is long overdue, but I think an important part of my spiritual journey that I would like to share. I wasn’t going to blog it because I thought it would take away from the power of the experience, but I know some of you actually read our blog and don’t get a chance to hear our stories and share our lives as frequently as we would all like. So here you go….

This summer, I took our middle school kids to camp at Camp Adventure. There were 172 students out there and I had the responsibility of being the spiritual director. That role means that I create the curriculum for the week, put together small group booklets, give the messages and anything “spiritual” that takes place. On top of that, I am the “in charge” of that week. That’s a lot of responsibility! I was beyond excited for this week at camp. Camp Adventure has a special place in my heart for many reasons – but that’s a whole other book!

Most of you know, I couldn’t even sleep leading up to camp. I was a like a little boy waiting for Christmas to come! But Monday of our camp week hit and I was down. I wasn’t real sure what was going on. All day, people were asking me if I was tired. I just didn’t want to be there. This feeling didn’t make sense. I had looked forward to this week for so long and now it’s here and I just want to leave?! What’s going on?

Well, leading up to this week, I was really struggling with pride. I had told many people in my life that I need prayer for that because I knew it was an issue. I wrote all of the curriculum for camp and put it all together and people thought that I had bought it somewhere. I’m not gonna lie, it was really good stuff! But the problem – I thought it was all me.

God was quick to humble me. That Monday, I went up to my cabin before the evening worship session and just broke down crying. I wasn’t sure why I was crying at first, but then I felt this overwhelming sense of hatred in my life. I have dealt with spiritual attack before, so I am aware that it is a very real thing. But this was unlike anything I had ever experienced. So I posted on facebook just asking that the parents would pray for me because I was feeling this way. Immediately, my phone was blowing up with texts of prayers from the parents, my inbox was being flooded and people were commenting on it. I finally got my composure and went up to the lodge to prepare for the evening. The program manager was up there on her computer checking facebook (which never happens), and she asked how I was. I broke down once again. Then her and her assistant prayed over me, my other directors prayed over me, our interns gathered around me. I find out later, the whole camp staff got together just to pray for me. I was absolutely covered in prayer. As I got up to deliver God’s message I literally felt like 2 men were on either side of me holding me up and my legs were elevated and this presence was within me pouring out the message. I’ve delivered countless messages and never have I had this feeling that I was completely removed. It was so humbling to see that NONE of this was ever about me! I was just the vessel God chose to use. For that, I am grateful and my prayer is that it never again becomes about me, but that I live my life in obedience to God’s call and His will for my life.

The story doesn’t end there. This next thing I am going to share with you might sound weird. If you are like me, I am a very cynical person and when people talk about this stuff, I toss it out the window and think they’re full of it. So I get it if that is how you feel. I was the same way. But I experienced it, I know what happened and it absolutely changed me and changed my relationship with God. It brought this deeper intimacy for Him that has radically rocked my world.

Wednesday night was commitment night. It was the night that I got to explain what a relationship with Christ is all about. So I knew that I needed to pray and get my whole team together to pray over this night. As the other directors were praying over each chair, I went out to the deck that overlooked the woods/lake. I knelt down over this chair and began to pray. I got to the point where I asked God to really speak to me, to SHOW me that this is about Him and that He has full control over this.

Apparently the word “show” has power to it when you ask God for it. This is where you might think it’s weird – but that’s probably because you’ve never had an experience like that. But as I was kneeling there, I was ‘removed’ from my body and was looking out over the lodge where the worship session was going to take place. I saw this swarm of angels – TONS of them – fighting this battle with an evil presence. The angels were not allowing anything to penetrate them and the lodge was under God’s protection. But over it all, I see these hands in the air and this voice say out to me, “See, I win. I ALWAYS win!” Again, I start crying (I was a bit emotional that week). But as I was talking with God, I still felt this weight of something on me and I didn’t know what it was. Again, I step outside of my body. I see myself kneeling over this chair and on top of me was this angel. His whole body was draped over me. On top of him was this evil darkness – I still remember parts of what it looked like – but it was beating on the angel. This presence was trying to beat me, but God sent His protection and it completely covered me and I was unharmed. The weight I felt was the weight of God’s protection.

That night, over 150 students came forward to begin their relationship with Christ or to get their relationship with Him back on track.

We serve a powerful God, who is living and ACTIVE. I notice a trend in my writing about my life. It’s never about me. When I come face to face with my creator, it’s never about my glory – it will always be about Him. But when we get in the way, sometimes He has to remove that veil to show us who we really are and that in the end – HE WINS.

Monday, April 4, 2011

This weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at the Bridge in the adult services. It's funny when Chris asks me to do this, I always get so nervous and scared. How will it be received? Will people even listen since I'm just the middle school pastor? But every time, God puts something in my heart that needs to be shared. It's never "my" message, it's never stuff that I can come up with, it's always backed by the Holy Spirit just speaking through me. I had in mind the message I wanted to give and as I was getting ready for it, it was like God said, "No, you're not listening to me...I want you to give THIS message". So everything changed.
I got up and shared about the Israelites and their desert experience. I shared my own story of my desert experience. It was something that I struggled to do, I didn't want to do it, but I knew I had to. Very few people in my life actually know what I dealt with in middle school and how I felt about God and my life. As I shared it saturday night, I felt the wave of emotion come over me. I felt those feelings again. I struggled to share it because my family was in the crowd and I know they didn't know that stuff about me. But at the same time, it was a release. It's something I have kept inside all of these years and only a few people have gotten a chance to know that side of me. I wasn't sure why my story was necessary, I'm sure I could've come up with something different to share, but this was it, this was the story of my life that needed to be shared.
After every service, I had someone come up and talk to me. Saturday night, a man came to me that I had never met before and told me that we had the same middle school experience. I got to have a great conversation with him. Sunday morning came and first service is usually rough. Afterward, a middle school student came up to me with tears in his eyes and told me that he needed that. That he was in that desert and it finally all made sense, which then creates a time for us to get together and walk through that together. At the end of the day, a lady came to me and could barely talk as she was crying. She poured out her life to me and shared some things that broke my heart. But what's cool, she shared how my life had intersected her life without me ever knowing it! It's so cool to watch God work. She was connected to the boy that stole our church bus and I was the one that went out to meet the boy when they stole our bus. That's a long story in itself, but as she stood there crying, she told me that she knows God put me through the desert for many reasons, but 1 of them was to impact that boy. I never knew that, I never even thought that. But it was incredible to have someone minister to me after I had just drained myself of all emotion that morning.
One thing I do each week is go into the local junior high (Highland) and have lunch with the kids. Throughout the year, I've realized that ministry as a middle school pastor isn't just for middle schoolers, but it's to those I encounter (everyone!). I talk with the lunch ladies every week, the janitors buy me cookies, I have a great relationship with the staff at the school. This sunday, they all came out. The janitor came up to me and gave me a huge hug afterward and just shared some cool things that encouraged me. Then I got to see the lunch ladies and talk with them. I never thought my time with them would make any difference or do anything, I never even thought I was at the school for them! God does cool stuff.
So here's what I can take away from this weekend. It wasn't about me, I want you to get that. As people came up to me crying, it wasn't me, it was God working in their own life and opening their eyes to what is happening to them. It's so easy to give a message and get the feedback I did and then think, "Dang, I'm good". But I was constantly reminded yesterday that it's not me, it's not my story, it's not what I think I can offer. It's that people want to be drawn to the heart of God, but we're all searching. We're all going through a desert at different times in our life and we want to know that the end is beautiful. As I left this weekend and left all of those conversations, I saw every person as they reflected on their life begin to see the hand of God in their life. As He had their path set and as He guided them through it all, they can finally begin to see how God is working in them! How incredible, how beautiful, how awesome is our God.
The end result of my life, what I want people to get from my life - I want them to see God. I realized this weekend that I really am nothing significant. As much as I want to stand out and be great at something and be the best at something, I am not. But the God that is in me, is great, He is significant and He gives me purpose. My hope, my prayer is that people won't see me, but they see the God that is in me and ultimately are drawn to the heart of God through it all. It's not about me, it never has been. If it was, we would still be in the desert, we would still be lost. It's when you can step aside, drop the pride and allow God to work through your life that you will begin to see how BIG He is, how great He is and how your life can be a tool to impact the kingdom for all eternity. "He must become greater, I must become less" - thankful that I am nothing, but in Christ, I am everything.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Trip Down Memory Lane

It's Saturday afternoon, and I have a big to-do list waiting for me to tackle. Gabe and I are leaving tomorrow afternoon for Gatlinburg, Tennessee! We are going on a six day getaway with two of our favorite people, Phil and Kylee. This is our third spring break trip with them, and we are looking forward to the time away from home with good friends. We're staying in a sweet resort in the mountains, going to do some hiking, eat at some great places, play a lot of Phase 10, and fill ourselves with rest and relaxation. Gabe and are pumped to go!

Like I said, this is our third spring trip with the Larsons. We have also been camping with them every fall since we have been married. I think we are so blessed to have friends like them who want to travel with us and be with us for a week! Thursday after school I looked through my folders of pictures and pulled out 20 pictures from our different trips with P&K. I have such great memories from these trips and wanted to share with all of you!
Enjoy the trip down memory lane...

October 2008
Camping trip to Summit Lake
(no dogs yet...)
I didn't take very many pictures on this trip.
I didn't know it would be the first adventure of many!
Hello, Larsons!

March 2009
Spring Break trip to Myrtle Beach, SC

They love each other.
Notice the overcast was like this almost all week on this trip.
It didn't stop us from having a great time!
We had to get our pictures at every one of these.
I just noticed I am the little boy in this weird painting thing. Ha!
The fearsome four....I LOVE this picture.
It's in a frame in our house. As embarrassing as it is asking
someone to take a picture, I'm always glad I do!
We made a picnic lunch and ate it at this little park one cloudy afternoon....
Another fun pic from this trip!
We rented one of these four-seaters for an hour and got a workout!
It was no easy task pedaling through the streets of Myrtle Beach.
But we laughed and laughed!

October 2009
Camping trip to Turkey Run
Look how little Sadie was! She was only four months old and this was her first trip.
Sweet hubby Gabriel....he's so good with our hyper dog!!
This is another picture up in our house!
Turkey Run is one of my all-time favorite state parks to hike and camp.
The trails and canyons make you feel like you're not in Indiana!
The Larsons.
Gabe, Phil, and little Sadie.
I like that they're in the middle of laughing about who knows what.
This is what they do....make fun of each other and laugh about it!

March 2010
Spring Break trip to Kissimmee, Florida

This picture just shows you that Phil and Kylee are FUN.
We were walking back from CiCis Pizza and took crazy pictures like we were models.
Oh, Florida, how I miss you and your palm trees.
We went to the coast one day so we could see the ocean...Cocoa Beach I think.

We were very close to Orlando and so we visited Downtown Disney.
It had a ton of fun places to eat and walk around.
We ate at Rainforest Cafe, and we were ecstatic!
Oh, the men...
We love getting away together!

October 2010
Camping trip to Brown County
(Now, there's two dogs: Sadie and Hashbrown!)
I didn't take get a picture of Hashbrown on this trip though...

Our little family....soooo happy!
We LOVE camping trips.
Our new tent...
Kylee and the Larson tent.

March 2011
Spring Break trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Pictures coming soon....

So there you have it. Three years of trips with our friends. I will take many pictures this coming week in Tennessee and try to post them on here when we get back. Looking forward to making more memories starting tomorrow when we take off for the south. Until then, I need to get going on that to-do list. :)
Happy Spring Break everyone!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

31 days of beauty. day one

Hi friends. Most of you know that I really enjoy reading other people's blogs during free time. I love to search for blogs that revolve around cooking, home decor/nesting/renovations, teaching, and just creative and unique writing about everyday stuff. I came across this blog last night, She Breathes Deeply, and this young wife, soon-to-be mom had this great idea to celebrate beauty in 31 different days/blog posts. There is a list of 31 questions she encourages other writers to blog about. Well, I was inspired to try and complete those 31 questions. I am promising myself to keep the posts short and concise and not let my rambling get out of control. And I will try to keep updating about our little life right now.

Day 1: What does beauty mean to you?

beauty is the grace and mercy christ gives me everyday. beauty is unconditional love. beauty is having God's Word come alive to me. beauty is the sound of my second graders laughing their guts out. beauty is worship moments at my church. beauty is crying over a student of mine. beauty is encouraging a friend. beauty is letting a friend encourage me and believing what she says. beauty is communicating with my husband without having to talk. beauty is feeling beautiful. beauty is being secure in who God made me. beauty is being completely alive!

I hope you all have a great start to a new week. Guess what? Spring is coming because Tuesday starts the month of March. Woo hoo! Let's be happy about that.