Category Archives: Personal

The Movie Was Hiding

We rented a movie for the girls at Red Box the other day and Sari had carried it inside. We didn’t watch the movie right away and when it came time to watch it, I couldn’t find the DVD. Misplaced items used to really bother me, but being married and having children has fixed that deficiency in my character!

So, I am calmly looking all over the house trying to locate this elusive DVD. Both of the girls are patiently waiting as I scurry about. Finally I find it on the bookshelf right in the living room in an obvious spot.

Sari says: “Dad, the movie was hiding from you!”


“Some Privacy, Please.”

The other day my daughter, Macie, made a rather interesting request. It was interesting because she is only 2 1/2 years-old.

I had went into their room to get a couple of things as we were headed out the door. If you are a parent, you know the routine: “Get your socks and shoes on!” “No, you can’t wear pajamas to the graduation party!” “Stop fighting!”

As I tried to cross the threshold into their room, Macie was a couple steps ahead of me and had turned to close the door. I stopped her and proceeded into the room as she said:

“Dad, I need some privacy, please!”

I did not see that one coming so soon!

Why Do I Blog?

I’ve written over 250 posts on this blog since June 2010. And, as I’ve discovered, blogging consistently takes time, effort and energy. So why do I do it? Why do I blog?

Well, what I have discovered in teaching youth and children every week in various venues is that using media is important. There is hardly never a time that I am not showing a video or pictures or graphics on the big screen. I am a media collector… particularly when it comes to Bible stories. I am always looking for great ways to help the students “see” (possibly in a different way) a particular story and media generally helps broaden the exposure and communicate using a variety of perspectives (not just mine). I am amazed that what might take me 15 minutes to communicate and navigate (i.e. a Bible story), a 3:00 minute video can do equally as well. I am not advocating just using media all the time to teach. I am advocating using media to augment your teaching. For better or worse, the students I regularly teach are constantly being shaped and interacting with media. So it is necessary (for me at least) to stay current and constantly fresh in regard to connecting the timeless truths and storyline of Scripture to our current world today (in wisdom of course).

That is one of the reasons why I blog. Most of the media that I come across is found (and linkable) online. As I curate media across the web, I wanted to be able to keep track (and share) the media and such that I come across. A blog is a great way to “post” and “categorize” and “search” these things.

Another reason is exposure. As a children and youth pastor, father/parent, and husband (and all-around good guy!) I come across lots of stories and thoughts related to those arenas of life. Having an online space to share those thoughts and stories that might be relevant to people is helpful. I’ve tried email newsletters, but I don’t like the idea of “invading” people’s inboxes on a consistent basis. This blog is a vehicle to write articles, thoughts, and stories and if people find them helpful then they will come back to this space on their own. There are also a lot of great content out there on the web and other blogs that I love to share with the growing audience on this blog. Again, if people find this helpful, great. It is just another easy way for me to keep track of all the articles and thoughts I write as well as all the ones I find across the internet.

So that’s about it. That’s why I blog. I’m trying to keep it simple. As all things go sometimes, it might grow into more things (as I, personally and professionally, grow into more things) over time. We’ll just have to see, won’t we?

In the meantime, I’m working on some more blog posts about parenting… and as I head into Kids Camp 2011 this next week, I’m sure a few thoughts and posts will come from a week spent with 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students!

Seth Godin & Tom Peters on Blogging (YouTube Link)

A Simple Request: Please Wash Your Hands!

I was at Starbucks the other day and I saw this “instructional” sign in the bathroom and it made me think of something. Now, this might be a little gross, but stay with me for a second.

When I am in the men’s room, whether it is at church, the airport, restaurant, wherever, I can’t tell you how many men DO NOT wash their hands! I have no idea about the statistics with women not washing their hands seeing as how I don’t frequent ladies restrooms! But the men are terrible. I would say in my estimation, that 1 out of every 4 guys actually wash their hands after doing their business.

Now this is gross for any number of applications, but I’m thinking about one in particular. I am a pastor at a fairly large, medium sized church, and as such, I end up shaking many people’s hands over the course of a Sunday morning. If my statistical analysis holds true, then 3 out of every 4 men whose hands I shake haven’t had them sanitized! Gross, eh? Yeah, I know… tell me about it!

So, I have a simple request. It doesn’t take long and it might actually help you stave off the occasional sniffles: PLEASE WASH YOUR HANDS.

Maybe it should say: “Everyone, please wash your hands before returning life.”

Worship of a Sandwich?

Yes. It is.

I like Jimmy Johns and all (that’s where this photo was taken), but it’s not worthy of worship!

Can I Tell You a Story?

Just like the post below, I believe in the power of a story to teach. I’ve got to admit that as a young parent, it is easy to default to the “lecture” format, but I’ve found that telling a story, whether real or make-believe, has been very powerfully effective. My friend, Jesse Smith, shares some great insights in “Once Upon a Time”:

There once was a little boy…
Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far way…
It was a dark and stormy night…

We all recognize these beginning, they are popular beginnings for a story. They immediately peak our interest, there’s something coming, something interesting. Stories have power – they break down barriers, open our hearts, and get us thinking.

As a father, I’ve found that story is one of the best, if not the most powerful, tool I have. When my children have added to the rules, tries to pit mom against dad, or any number of things they’ve often heard a story. Sometimes it’s a story from the Bible and other times its from another source (or just made up) but the message is almost always clarified by story.


It’s not a lecture
As parents we want our children to not only understand the rules but the reason for those rules. Often our response to an infraction is overly wordy. At a time when the child just wants to escape your wrath a lecture falls on deaf ears – they just want out. A story opens a new world, a place to escape and a place where they have some control.

In a story there is a chance to explore both sides, a place to talk about solutions – a place for discussion.

When we have a culture of story telling, our children not only hear stories when there is a problem, but all the time. Stories stick with us and when a similar situation occurs, children have a better idea of what will happen as a result of their choices. They can connect to the characters and that starts of joruney oof wanting to model for others.

Stories are natural
Simply put, we’re wired to remember stories. Think about how easy it is for them (or you) to quote their favorite movie or show. They can remember what Blue weeks ago said but not what Mom said 7 seconds ago because stories naturally connect.

A Place to Explore
Stories promote thinking. They are a safe place to think about what loss feels like or what it means for a child to be disabled. Children can easily explore their emotions and behaviors without serious consequence.

If you’re looking for a place to start, I suggest that you pick up a few story books from your library and have a bed time story. If you feel like they might be too old for a bed time story, read the books yourself. Think about how the story flows so that you can begin to form your own stories so you don’t sound like you’re lecturing all the time.

Then, when you’re ready to go to a new level, pick up The Jesus Storybook Bible. This is, by far, the best storybook bible that I’ve read. It mad me cry more than once. It’s full of great models for our children and could easily become your child’s favorite book.

Another plus is that it’s more theologically sound than many storybook bibles out there. It’s not simply a collection of stories; it’s an overview of the primary theme of scripture.

How could you use stories in your home?

via Orange Fathers

I Can’t! No, You Can!

As a parent, you want the best for your children. You want to see them succeed. You want them to live up to their full potential. You don’t want obstacles to get in their way or failures to keep them down. A well-meaning parent says: “You can, you can, you can! You can grow up to be whatever you want to be!”

So how do adults (who used to be formative children at some point) get to the point where they fail and stay down? How do adults let obstacles get in their way and stop them from succeeding? I think it starts when these adults are children… maybe.

A while back, my daughter, Sari, said the words “I can’t.” I didn’t think much of those two words at the moment… that is until my pleasant and often congenial wife, Amanda, turns in to an instant disciplinarian: “Don’t say ‘I can’t’ Sari! Don’t ever say, ‘I can’t’!”

I was a little taken aback by my wife’s response to this seemingly innocent and undisciplinable statement from a 4 year-old. She later explained to me, and to Sari, that she wants our children growing up thinking they CAN do anything, not they CAN’T do anything. Amanda’s family are entrepreneurs. They are all CAN DO people. They have been successful through their failures and obstacles. They work hard. They may be limited by things they CAN’T do, but that is by choice, not by circumstance.

Just having a CAN DO attitude does not guarantee one success in life. Merely eliminating CAN’T from your vocabulary does not mean that life will always work out for you. However, do you see life for the possibilities it holds? Or do you see it for the vast limits it holds and the obstacles in your way?

I wonder if helping to create a culture of CAN DO people starts when they are young…

New Children’s Ministry Venture

I didn’t want to share this publicly until it was officially announced, but as of today, it is.

Along with my current job assignment (children’s pastor @ Hayward Wesleyan), I will be joining the Spiritual Formation Department of The Wesleyan Church on their Children’s Ministry Leadership Team. Rev. Colleen Derr (former Children’s Ministry Director @ SFD) just recently accepted a teaching position @ Wesley Seminary and resigned leaving a vacancy that was filled with a field staff rather than a full time person (for the next year).

You can view the bios here, but I’ve stepped in as the Connections Coordinator and Team Leader, along with two other really neat people who serve as Resource and Training Coordinators. I’ll know more this weekend as I head to Indianapolis, IN to meet with the other staff more specifically what this new venture entails. I’m really intrigued and delighted to serve, resource and advance children’s ministry as an important means of discipleship in our churches and in the kingdom of God.

This looks to be a fun ride!

You Hurt Your Foot?!

Does this ever happen to you?

Sari hurt her foot the other day. I don’t remember exactly how, but it seems like she is always running in to stuff!

Anyway, when she hurt her foot she screams bloody murder! Life is over! I know, I know… kids respond to pain in a variety of ways and my daughter is just expressing herself, right? Okay. I’m learning how this goes. There’s no manual for parenting. Anyway, we gave her some ice, elevated her foot, and laid her on the couch to recover.

Then Amanda and I turned our attention elsewhere. We moved on to other things. About ten minutes later we noticed Sari running around the living room with her sister, Macie, playing. I made a comment: “Sari, your foot must feel better?”

As soon as I said this, she fell to the ground and started to caress the foot again like she had temporarily forgot her injury and began to wimper.

Amanda and I started laughing at this sudden miracle, then Sari smiled, giggled, then went on her merry way.

Boy… they learn manipulation early!

Memorizing Bible Verses @ Home

I credit this to my Mom! When my brother Brad and I were young, my Mom would help us memorize Bible verses. We had no idea at the time what an impact knowing these Bible verses would be.

So, drawing on the tradition of my family, in our home we’ve been trying to do some of the same. Right before Easter I knew that our senior Pastor was going to be speaking on John 3:16, so I took some butcher block paper and a Sharpie and proceeded to write the verse on it and then taped it to the wall in our hallway. Once or twice a day we would stop by the verse on the wall, pause, and say it together. When the girls were in church on Easter Sunday and Mark started preaching on John 3:16, the girls heads whipped up at me in shock that someone else would know this verse we’ve been learning at home! It was a neat connection piece.

Then we added another verse, Ephesians 4:32, because they have been learning what it means to forgive as they offend and annoy each other as sisters. Fascinating!

Top 5 Posts from this Past Year

I’ve almost had this blog for one year. It’s been fun. As a matter of form, I usually don’t like to talk about the function of blogging (self-promotion) in that I think that content speaks for itself whether it is useful for readers or the internet community at-large. However, I do like to look at trends. So for none other than to give my readers insight into what gets read the most on “” here are the top 5 posts from the last year:

Wheel of a Deal | Minute to Win It (video) (533 views)
Adam Meet Eve | The Skit Guys (video) (469 views)
David and Goliath (story & video) (466 views)
Breakfast Scramble – Minute to Win It (video) (292 views)
VBS 2011 @ Hayward Wesleyan (178 views)

More is Caught than Taught

I was driving down Railroad Street in Hayward, WI the other day and a truck with a camper trailer pulled out in front of me between Marketplace Foods and McDonalds and made me stop short.

Now obviously according to the generally accepted etiquette of civilized driving, one does not make another vehicle wait or stop short when pulling an extra large camper trailer. This over-size towing package should wait patiently until the road and other vehicles are clear before embarking on its destination.

Well this obstruction did not wait and it affected my driving attitude for a brief second. I had my two girls in the car when this happened (and, to be honest, wasn’t as dramatic as I’m making it out to be). Due to Hayward being a tourist/vacation destination for many people, us locals get used to city drivers and vacationers on our roads and we usually have to tolerate their erratic driving during the summer months.

Here’s what I thought: “This guy (or lady) just cut me off! How dare they?!” Then I paused, realized it was a non-local, and proceeded to wait patiently and choose to be cordial rather than annoyed (any average driver knows this is difficult, right?).

My next  was this: “If I were to scream and yell or mutter under my breath about what I feel about what this person just did, my girls will hear this and they will learn something. They will learn that when you are cut off by another vehicle in the car it is okay to call the other driver an ‘idiot’ or ‘stupid’ or ‘crazy’ or ‘inconsiderate’ (of course, which all might be true!). But is this what I want to teach my kids about how to be like Jesus in our world? No.”

Often what our kids learn from us is our responses to things that happen in our lives. The difficult part to play as a parent is being aware (all the time) of our responses–holy or unholy. Of course, my wife Amanda and I try to verbally teach our kids good, holy responses, but those lessons pale in comparison to the things they learn when we are not “consciously” teaching… like when we are driving down Railroad Street and other cars pull out in front of us. The old adage is true: “more is caught than taught.”

What are your kids “catching” from you? Have you ever thought about that? What do other people “catch” from how you live your life as a person who follows Jesus?

Speaking Well of Your Spouse

I came across this insightful post the other day from Michael Hyatt. You can read it below or head on over to the post on Michael’s blog:

As a leader, the health of your marriage directly affects the impact of your leadership. I have witnessed this time and time again. Being effective at work or in ministry begins by being effective at home.

Early in our marriage, Gail and I attended a church led by a dynamic, thirty-something pastor. He was an extraordinary communicator. He was a wise and empathetic counselor. As a result, the church grew rapidly.

But as we got better acquainted with him and his wife, we started noticing a disturbing trend in the way they related to one another. They would often make disparaging remarks about the other in public.

At first, it seemed cute. Their comments seemed playful and humorous. Everyone laughed. But over time, they became more and more pointed, thinly masking their frustration with one another.

We ultimately left that church. But several years later we learned they suffered an ugly divorce, both admitting to multiple affairs. They lost their family, and, of course, their ministry. To this day, it grieves me to think about it.

Conversely, I noticed that Sam Moore, my predecessor at Thomas Nelson, always spoke highly of his wife. He would often say, “I hate to leave her in the morning, and I can’t wait to see her in the evening.” They have been married now for nearly 60 years. Last time Gail and I were with them, they were holding hands. It was obvious they were still in love.

In reflecting on these two experiences, I am convinced that praising your spouse in public is one of the most important investments you can make—in your family and in your leadership.

This is important for at least five reasons:

  1. You get more of what you affirm. Have you ever noticed that when someone praises you, you want to repeat the behavior that caused it? This is just human nature. It can be a form of manipulation if it isn’t genuine. But it can be a powerful way to motivate others when it is authentic.
  2. Affirmation shifts your attitude toward your spouse. Words are powerful tools. They can create, or they can destroy. They can build up, or they can tear down. I believe most people have a drive to align their actions—and their attitudes—with their words. If you start speaking well of someone, you start believing what you say.
  3. Affirmation helps strengthen your spouse’s best qualities. Encouragement is also a powerful force for good. All of us need positive reinforcement. This is why when we are losing weight and people notice, it gives us the strength to stick with the program. This is true in every area of life.
  4. Affirmation wards off the temptation of adultery. When others see you are happily married, they are less likely to proposition you. It’s like a hedge that protects your marriage from would-be predators. You simply stop being a target.
  5. Affirmation provides a model to those you lead. To be a truly effective leader, you must lead yourself, and then you must lead your family. Your marriage is a powerful visual of how you treat the people you value the most. When you speak highly of your spouse, your followers are more likely to trust you. It takes your leadership to another level.

Affirming your spouse in public is an investment that pays big leadership dividends. In a world where fewer and fewer marriages last, it can be a difference-maker.

Question: How have you seen this play out in the lives of those who have led you?

The Coffee Cup is Teaching

Sari and Macie were playing a game (Hungry Hippos, I think) and they started to fight about it. Amanda stepped in and told Sari that she needed to teach Macie how to play so she wouldn’t get frustrated. At this point in the intervention, Sari was exasperated and she exclaimed to her mother: “I don’t want to teach Macie! I don’t want to be a teacher!!”

I was a silent witness to these events from another room. I called to Sari and asked her to visit me, which she reluctantly did, assuming, rightly so, that she would be in trouble for her outburst and unwillingness to cooperate with her sister and mother.

I had a cup of coffee in my hand and I set it down on a table. I asked Sari to watch what I was doing for a second. I reached down to the coffee cup, grabbed it by its handle, brought it to my mouth, took a slow and deliberate sip, then proceeded to set it back down on the table. I asked her what I had just done. She replied, “You drank some of your coffee.” I pressed her further, “How did I drink my coffee?”

I continued: “I grabbed it by the handle, right? Why? [pause] Because a coffee cup holds hot coffee and it’s probably not a good idea to hold it by the cup when it is really hot, right? Did I hold it by the lip/rim of the cup? Why? [pause] Because I could drop it like that, right?”

I think Sari was beginning to catch on…

“Did I gulp the coffee fast or sip it slowly? Why? [pause] Because coffee is hot and it could hurt my mouth if I drank it fast, so I drink it slow, right?”

Dad: “Did I just teach you how to drink coffee?” Sari nods. “Did I have to say anything to you or did you just watch me?” Sari: “I just watched.” Dad: “Can you teach Macie stuff by playing games the right way and showing her how it’s done?” Sari grins. “Maybe you can teach Macie about how to act appropriately and not throw fits by you acting appropriately and not throwing fits. Can you do that?” Sari: “Yes, Daddy.”

Dad: “Now go teach your sister stuff…”

I like coffee. Amanda and I drink it every morning. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that short little lesson about what we do and who we are is on display to everyone all the time. We are always teaching, aren’t we? We are constantly teaching our kids, our siblings, our spouses, our coworkers, our employees, our friends, our customers, even strangers, and we don’t even know it. What are you teaching people today?

Go ahead, have another cup of coffee…

My Current View!