October 27, 2011

Bringing Home Our Little Brother

When Morgan and I began to sense the Lord was calling us to open our hearts up to adopting, there were countless questions and concerns that flooded our hearts: Adopt from where? Where do we begin? How will we pay for this? That's just a sample. But the one question that loomed over us and that we constantly prayed about was plain and simple: How will Libby and Nathan respond to the idea of having another brother? While I don't want you to think for a second that there haven't been questions (and even concerns) raised by both of our kids (who are 9 and 7, by the way), we have been blown away by the evidence that the Lord was preparing their hearts just as He was preparing ours. He's like that, you see. Faithful. And today I want to share with you the vision and plan that my daughter Libby has for bringing a little brother she's never even met home.

Clean Hands * Pure Hearts Hand Sanitizer
Made with all natural products (right in our dining room), coming in 3 scents (Vanilla Pomegranate, Green Tea & Cucumber, and Tangerine), and sold for a suggested donation of $5 a bottle, every penny will go to fund our adoption and to raise awareness of the thousands of children right here at home in the US who are waiting to be united with their family.

Here's Libby to share with you a little bit more about her plan & product:
Clean Hands * Pure Heart Promo

Here's our Facebook Page: Clean Hands * Pure Hearts

Here's how YOU can help us:
- Go to our Facebook Page & hit the LIKE button
- Share our story with anyone and everyone you know
- Pray for our family - that in the Lord's timing and in His ways He will lead us in all of this and we will ultimately be united with that little boy He desires to be part of our family!

Details coming soon on WHERE & HOW you can purchase & promote Clean Hands * Pure Hearts. Stay tuned.....

October 26, 2011

Dealing With Discouragement

What do you do with discouragement?

I guess you have several options. Like the most commonly chosen coping method: pretending that "Everything's fine". We tell ourselves to just not think about it and - for heaven's sake - don't let anyone else know that we're feeling beaten down and weary. Of course there's also the classic "If my day (week...month...) is going to suck, then your's is going to suck, too!" mentality. There's the tendency from some to evidently believe that their misery really does need some company. LOTS of company! We all handle it differently. There's no right-or-wrong textbook blueprint: What To Do When You're Discouraged. [If there is, please pass it along!] That said, I see God's Word give us some very clear instruction and encouragement of how we're to handle times like this - and some evidence as to why we wind up feeling the way we do when discouragement appears to be eating away at our soul. So here are a few words I've reminded myself of today (as I've felt this way for a few days) that might encourage you as well:

We aren't created to face it ALONE.
In Galatians 6:2, the Apostle Paul says, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." (ESV) The NLT puts it this way: "Share each other's troubles and problems...." Again, even though you don't want to "bother anyone else with your problems", that's exactly what you're supposed to do! We are called to carry the weight with each other. To pray for each other. To listen. Don't think you can lock it away. Discouragement knows how to pick the lock! [For more, see Romans 12:6-21]

We aren't created to face it FOREVER.
No matter how heavy or hard it's weighing on you, and no matter how longs it feels you've endured it, it will NOT go on forever! 2 Corinthians 4 tells us that we may feel beaten down, but we won't be destroyed, and that while we may be afflicted, we will not be crushed. And Paul says that our "light and momentary are preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison." The LIGHT will overcome the darkness. It will! Hold on to Him and trust. 

If you're discouraged, reach out. Don't even try to walk it alone.
If you're discouraged, hold on. God is faithful.

"David said to Solomon his son, 'Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be discouraged, for the Lord God...is with you!" 1 Chronicles 28:20

October 25, 2011


Tomorrow will mark 2 weeks since my shoulder surgery. Spending these last 13 days trying to learn to do most everything one-handed and with one arm has caused me to do some serious reflecting. It's helped me to be extremely grateful for some things I normally take for granted - some of which I didn't even begin to consider to be as important as I do now. I wanted to share with you some of these things that I now have a heightened sense of appreciation and gratitude for. And hear what might be on your list that isn't on mine. Today, I am with enormous anticipation looking forward to (and grateful for) once again being able to:
  • Tying my own shoes
  • Lifting weights, running, stretching, and seriously exercising
  • Wrestling, throwing the baseball, shooting baskets, and countless other things I do with my son
  • Driving my car and shifting gears
  • Giving my daughter big bear hugs
  • Putting on my own shirt without wincing
  • Brushing my teeth with my right hand
  • Enthusiastically shaking hands with someone (I like enthusiasm!)
This is a snapshot of some of the things I now believe to be much more precious than I realized them to be beforehand. I am grateful for these things. And I'm looking forward to doing them again very soon. VERY, VERY SOON!

What about you?
What are you grateful for today?

October 20, 2011

Healing Hurts!

8 days ago I had arthroscopic surgery on my right shoulder. For over 2-3 years now I've put this off, not wanting to deal with everything that came along with it. I didn't want to pay for it. I didn't want to take the risk - hearing one person's radical transformation, but then listening to the next person's nightmare horror story. I had all these excuses why I just didn't want to mess with it. But beyond any other reason or excuse, there was one that paralyzed me more than any other: I didn't want to go through the healing.

I exercise regularly - I love to run. But over the last couple of years I have grown to enjoy weightlifting more than anything else. (I know - you were looking at me and wondering, "Does he take steroids?") I knew that having surgery on my shoulder was going to mean that at minimum, I would be out of the weight room for 6 weeks. And when I go back, it will be a LONG road. I didn't want to deal with this. I didn't think I was patient enough to go through the healing. And physical therapy? Forget it! Those folks are sadistic torturers! To put it straight: I spent several years just "dealing with the pain" and furthering injuring myself because I didn't want to take time to heal. And as I sat in my recliner last week with ice plastered to my shoulder, I began thinking: How many people are in this same position in their lives? How many of us are in desperate need of healing, but because we don't want to go through the pain...we just keep on walking, keep on hurting, fooling ourselves into thinking that we're just fine "dealing with the pain"?

I don't know if you've got a back injury, a wounded ego, or even a broken heart, but whatever it is, you can't just keep walking without doing further damage. I know it hurts to deal with it. Sometimes, it can even feel like you're ripping the wound open all over again. But when a cut doesn't heal properly, often it has to be reopened so that real healing can actually begin. And typically, that hurts a little. To put it plainly: Healing hurts! But you do want to heal...right?

David praises God in Psalm 30, saying, "O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and you have healed me." Jesus Christ is the Great Healer. He is faithful. And whatever your wound or hurt, He can touch your life and bring healing. But just like David, you have to cry out to Him for help. You have to come to the point of saying, "I've had enough, Lord. Whatever you have to do to restore me, here I am."

Where are you in need of healing in your life?
Are you convinced you'll just keep "dealing with the pain"?
What are you waiting for? Cry out to Him!

October 18, 2011


When you have kids, you begin hearing the word "Mine" more often. I used the word "hearing" very intentionally, in that we as adults don't necessarily say the word as much as we think it. Nonetheless, my 2 children have not yet accessed the filter that tells a person, "I really don't want anyone to know how selfish I am!" We just blurt it out: "Hey! That's MINE!" As a parent, every time you hear those words echoing through your home, it's like a defeating punch in the gut. You're tempted to say things like, "Oh yeah! Who bought you those toys? That's right - I did. And I'll give 'em away if you're not gonna learn to share them!" Ever said anything like that? Those kinds of things come out of my mouth more times than I can count. So the question remains, how do you teach your kids to move their heart and mind from MINE to OURS?

One way that Morgan and I have determined to teach this in our home is simply by modeling this mentality and heartbeat. We try to intentionally show Libby and Nathan that every single thing we OWN, we don't really own - that everything we have is a gift from God that He's entrusted to us so that we can bless others with it. For example, this summer we hosted 2 soccer coaches -from the British Soccer Camp Nathan attended - into our home. They lived with us for 6 days. We loved it! Matt and Tom very quickly became part of the family. We told them, "Whatever we have, it's yours if you need it." They used our shower, slept in our guest room, ate our food, stayed up late talking and watching American TV with us - they even drank my Red Bull! I actually loved this because it affirmed to us that they felt the way we wanted them to feel - like they were at home! And we try to model this on a constant basis. Many of the kids on our street come in and out of our backyard like they own the place. We love it! We WANT them there. And for that to happen, you have to start caring less about your grass, your furniture, and your fence. (Sometimes, I even think the fence just needs to come down!)

We travel a lot as a family. When we do, knowing that my car may be sitting in the garage for 7-10 days, I would rather someone who needs it get some use out of it. So I try and loan my car to friends who may not have their own. Again, it's not MINE in the first place! The Lord blessed me with that car so I could be a blessing to others. And I trust and believe that my children are not only hearing what we're telling them, but that they're watching us live it out, and that eventually...it's all going to click. That's what I'm praying for!

If you're still struggling with ownership, I encourage you to read Matthew 5:19-21.
If you're feeling defeated as a parent - feel like you're continually teaching, but it's not sinking in - I encourage you to read Proverbs 22:6. And do NOT give up!

What steps have you taken in your life to move from MINE to OURS?

October 10, 2011

One Thing You Should ALWAYS Be Doing...

There's one thing you could (and should) always be doing. Maybe right now you're feeling adrift - like you really have no idea what you want to do with your life. Almost all of us have been there, 1/2 way through college, questioning, "Do I really want to major in Philosophy...and minor in Art History? What am I going to do with this?" While I would seriously have zero advice for you about what the heck to do with your Art History degree, I would start with another question: What are you doing right now? Whether you're struggling with your degree choice, your upcoming career, making a job change, going back to school, starting that business, or whatever it may be, what are you doing RIGHT NOW? Because there is ALWAYS this one thing you should be doing. If you're a follower of Jesus Christ, you are called to "make disciples". And this means you should ALWAYS be investing in someone. ALWAYS!

You might add or ask, "How can I invest in someone - how can I "make disciples" - if I don't even know what the heck I'm doing with my life?" While you may not know what you're doing with your career, as a Christ-follower, you should clearly know what you're doing with your life. Jesus said, "Come, follow me." And you said, "OK!" But somewhere along the road we lose sight of that and get wrapped up in our own chaos and confusion. We begin being consumed with the DOING and lose focus on the BEING. Our world starts revolving around things like my major, my career choice, and my promotion...and as a result, we abandon the mission and path we embraced  when we put our faith in the carpenter from Nazareth. Have you found yourself there? Has your vision in life been blurred?

If you're feeling lost or confused, second-guessing everything in your life right now, I would encourage you to make a simple commitment: Begin investing in someone else. Meet them for lunch once a week and talk about life. Walk together through a book of the Bible (like Philippians or Ephesians). Find an opportunity in or with your church to serve together. Do life. Invest in them! When you do, a lot of other things will begin to come clear.

Have you witnessed or experienced this in your own life? 
Would love to hear your story!

October 6, 2011

Change...Or Die!

This is the 2nd post I have written in response to Dr. Henry Cloud's book, Necessary Endings. You can read the first post HERE. I recommend you read it first.

Let's talk about a familiar subject that many of us love to hate: CHANGE. In his book, Necessary Endings, Dr. Henry Cloud quotes Julie Shimer, CEO of Welch Allyn (the world's front-running medical supply manufacturer). As she described the events and processes that led to this 100-year old innovator reaching the conclusion that, while they were still the leaders in their field, and their customers were happy, and they were incredibly comfortable with their position and their products, they could suddenly see a time in the future when WHAT they were doing would be obsolete. They (or actually, she) began to realize that "the way we were doing it could not bring about the future reality that we wanted. We had to change!" And whether we like it or not - no matter how long we fight to prolong the inevitable - it's the same for every single one of us in leadership: CHANGE...OR DIE!

I've seen more church workers and ministry leaders than I can count reach a point of indescribable loss - a point where they have absolutely no idea how they got where they are and (more importantly) no idea where to GO from there. Let's face it: If you don't know where you ARE, it's pretty tough to figure out where you're going. Going further with it, another key principle in us moving, growing, and changing is (as Shimer puts it) being able to "picture an ideal future". What does that look like? If the world is changing, this doesn't mean that people will - as a result - be changing with it. The world is changing BECAUSE people are changing! And if the mission of the Church is reaching those "changing" people with the Gospel, we have to determine what that's going to look like 10 years from now. Are we moving in that direction? Or are we ignorantly riding our Sit 'n' Spin, thinking we're going somewhere, while we remain immobile? 

Do you know anyone who's stuck? Is it you? Dr. Cloud suggests that there's a way out of this hole. Better yet, a way to determine that you won't wind up in this ditch in the first place. He puts it this way: "The first step that will motivate you to do what is necessary is to see that what you are doing has no hope of getting what you want." He goes on and adds that "...it does not take courage to stop doing what you know is not going to work." Let that soak in for a moment. If we are seeking, pursuing, and seeing the ideal - and we are courageous enough to see things realistically, for what they really are - we will have a much better opportunity to not only determine our desired destination, but just as crucial, the path and steps that will get us there. And hidden in that last statement is the key: We have to see things as they are, not as we want them to be. Not future things, but what's right NOW - what's staring us straight in the face. Jack Welch - arguably the greatest CEO of the 20th Century - had a first rule of business: "Face reality". This drives a stake straight into the heart of what I mentioned a moment ago: You have to know where you are to know where you're going. Not where you want to think you are - what your desired Utopian reality is - but the actual state of things in your life, your business, your marriage, or your church. 

Can you see things clearly? If not, what's clouding your vision?

I highly recommend Dr. Cloud's book to anyone in a position of leading - a family, a business, a church or ministry, or any situation of leadership.

October 4, 2011

Sifted Like Wheat

This past Sunday we started a brand new series, A Misplaced Joy. This series is based off a brand new book (of the same name) written by a close friend of mine, Ryan McCoskey. I'll be sharing with you really soon how you can get a copy of the book. And trust me, you really want to read this book! This post stems from my first message, The Betrayed & Denied.

Have you ever wondered how Peter could have arrived at the point of denying Jesus? How could the man closer to Christ than any other human wind up disowning Him - pretending he didn't know Him? [Hang with me for a moment, but think about Job. Do you remember that God literally asked Satan, "Have you considered my servant, Job?" In other words, "What do you think about Job? Have you seen how he reveres and trusts and follows me? What are you going to do about it?" Other than saying, "You can't kill him", Job's Creator basically gave the devil access to do with him whatever he wanted. He let Satan test Job.] Now, back to Peter. How could he wind up in this dark place? I'd like to suggest and submit exactly how this happened. Check out Luke 22:31-32:

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."

Peter - Satan came and asked me if he could have full access to you. He wants to see what you're made of - to see if you'll stand. I didn't say no. I didn't turn him away. BUT...I'm praying for you! You have to walk through this fire. You have to find out for yourself what it means to follow me. And Peter, when - not IF - but WHEN you turn back to me, strengthen your brothers and your friends.

So here's the thing: If you're a follower of Jesus Christ, there will be a time - mark it down - when the Lord will allow you to be "sifted like wheat". He will allow the Enemy to find out what you're made out of - to see if you will stand. And in the sifting - in the testing - you may find yourself beaten down, feeling alone and desperate, ready to give in and give up. But...you will NOT be alone. And as Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4, you will NOT be crushed. And WHEN you come through the fire and walk through the testing, you will actually be stronger. And Jesus longs for us to hear His words and His heart in these moments: I will restore you. And even though you don't understand this, you need this. It won't be easy. In fact, it will possibly be the most painful thing you've ever endured. But...I'll walk through it with you.

Have you been "sifted like wheat"?
Are you prepared to walk through this in order to truly follow Jesus?
This is what it means to live in the Kingdom.