Posted in My Thoughts

My annual beach trip

Today I made my 3rd annual trip to the beach. No, it’s not the only time of the year I go to the beach…I went a few times this summer. This particular beach trip is for a much different reason than a normal trip. It’s has a very focused purpose.

The purpose is to spend time praying, reflecting, listening, and seeking wisdom from God for my future.

This now annual trip began 3 years ago, in November of 2015. That first trip was to seek God concerning my future, because after 5 months of fighting hard to hold onto my marriage, I had run out of ideas and hope, so I took a day to seek God for wisdom and guidance. I chose to go to the beach because I actually don’t really like the beach very much. I mean it’s ok…I’m just not a fan of the sand, of all the things in the ocean that can eat you, or of how crowded it can get with people. So I chose to go to the beach because it represented a place I don’t really like…and at that time I didn’t like where my life was at, so it was fitting.

I didn’t plan on it becoming an annual trip, but the next year I ended up making a trip back to the same beach on Christmas Day of 2016. The purpose that time was not so much to seek God for my future, but rather to simply spend time praying and reflecting, as well as take time to listen to God. It had been a year since I had lost my marriage, family, and ministry, and at that time I was simply trying to be patient and heal from all of that loss. And just like the first trip, God encouraged me with words of wisdom and scripture, and he also challenged me to remain faithful to him in ways that I needed to be at that time.

Again, I wasn’t planning to make this an annual thing…but today I decided it was time to make my 3rd trip to the beach. This trip was much more like the first one…a focused time of prayer, reflection, and seeking God for my future. My life situation now is a bit different than that first trip; I haven’t spent the past 5 months fighting for my marriage, I lost it 2 years ago now and the divorce has been official for a year and a half. But, the past few months have been difficult in their own right, and I’ve definitely been struggling lately.

The struggle I’ve been having lately has been largely due to finances. My financial situation is very tough right now…actually it has been for a while, which I know is part of what a person who goes through being divorced must deal with…but lately it seems that no matter what I do, more bills keep piling up and I keep feeling more and more overwhelmed. I now have 2 steady jobs, which I thought would help. But this past month I’ve had knee issues that has kept me from being able to work my second job, so that just makes another difficulty in the world of my finances.

As I continue to struggle with this, it has been getting harder and harder to be positive. I’ve been struggling more and more with feeling so overwhelmed that I just want to give up, as well as struggling to believe that God has any kind of a future for me that is better than where I’m currently at in this moment. Despair has been on my heart more, and faith and trust and been harder to hold onto.

So this morning when I woke up, and honestly didn’t even want to get out of bed because it felt as though the burdens were just too much to face, I decided I needed to go back to the beach again…the same place I have gone the past 2 years when I needed a special word and encouragement from God.

And, just like the past 2 years, God gave me just the word of encouragement and challenge that I needed.

(Now, before I continue, I want to say that I’m not sharing any of this so that whoever reads this can feel sorry for me. I’ve always believed that God wants me to be willing to use my life to both encourage and challenge others…so that’s why I’m willing to share personal things. And I know I’m not the only one struggling either, so I don’t think I’m special. I’m simply being open and transparent as God leads me to be.)

As I sat there on the beach, on this October day, praying and listening to God, he shared 2 things with me that I needed at that moment.

One of them had to do with faithfulness, which is something I’ve been focusing on a lot lately in my life. I’ve been praying constantly that I would have the strength to remain faithful…I even wrote a blog about it recently. One of the struggles in my mind lately has been having the thought “God, I’ve been faithful the past 2 years despite all that has happened to me. When are you going to recognize that and begin to bless me with what I need so that I can move into a better future?” Yes, I admit that this thought is a bit selfish, that’s why I’ve been struggling with it. But it continues to come back into my mind regularly.

This is the word I received from God concerning faithfulness: Before you can be called faithful, and thus rewarded for your faithfulness, you must first remain faithful. And it’s not you who determines if you are being faithful, it’s the one who will reward you that determines if you are truly faithful. I needed that. It’s not me who decides if I’ve been faithful or how I should be rewarded for it. God is the one who knows and decides that I’ve been faithful, and he is the one who will decide when and how to reward that faithfulness. I am simply to continue to be faithful.

The other one had to do with my future…specifically my inability to see it and the discouragement growing in my heart as a result of that. As I was sitting on the beach looking out on the ocean, I noticed that it was quite foggy, so I wasn’t able to see very far. But I didn’t doubt that the ocean continued on beyond what I could see, I knew the ocean still existed beyond what I saw at that moment. And then I received the following word from God as an encouragement…

This verse accompanied that word of encouragement: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. – Romans 8:18

There were a few other verses that God brought to my mind, all of which were just what I needed. This trip to the beach was certainly just what I needed. PRAISE GOD! 

My hope and prayer in sharing this is to encourage anyone else who may be struggling right now; encourage them specifically with the words God gave to me, as well as encourage them to find a time and place to seek God themselves. Don’t only seek God and listen to him once a year…have a regular time of reading his Word and praying. But, definitely also have special times set aside to go and intentionally do nothing more than spend time praying, reflecting, listening, and seeking wisdom from God.

Posted in Bible Study, My Thoughts

Faithful above all else

What does it mean to be successful? I mean what does it REALLY mean…past the ideas we often first think of like becoming popular/famous, making lots of money, or receiving accolades. Beyond all of that, what is the deeper meaning of success?

Several years ago I defined success in my life as having a strong marriage and family, being the leader of a growing and vibrant ministry, being asked to speak at conferences/events/camps/etc, having people read my blogs and books and think of me as a gifted teacher, and making enough money to cover bills and be comfortable as well. These were many of the ways I defined being successful. When they were accomplished, or as I believed they were being accomplished, I would see myself and my life as being a success.

I think it’s safe to say that nothing in that list is a bad dream or desire to have. It is good to have dreams and desires for your life. And none of what I listed above would be considered sinful, so those things I shared are all good things to aspire for. 

But, are those dreams and desires, or rather the accomplishment of those dreams and desires, what defines success?

I honestly used to think so. But then I lost my marriage despite all I did to try and save it, I lost my ministry and most of the opportunities that came with it, and I lost my ability to be financially sound and comfortable. In the span of 5 months near the end of 2015, I went from defining my life as successful to not knowing how to define my life or what being successful looked like anymore. And it took me another 23 months of recovering, healing, searching, and growing before I was able to finally change my mindset and be able to see and understand the deeper meaning of success. 

That is how true success is really defined. Success that goes beyond fame, money, and accolades. Success that isn’t dependent on our accomplishments, nor affected by life’s difficult circumstances.

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful – 1 Corinthians 4:1-2

A faithful man will abound with blessingsbut whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished. – Proverbs 28:20

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. – Luke 16:10

The success of my life is not determined by what I am able to accomplish. It is not determined by how many people I know or the number of people who follow my teaching or buy my books. It’s not determined by how much money I make, where I live, or what job I have. The real success of my life will be determined by my faithfulness. My faithfulness to what I’ve made commitments to, faithfulness to not giving into what is wrong when doing what is right is hard, faithfulness to take serious my role as a Pastor and teacher to those I have been given the opportunity and privilege to minister to. Ultimately, it is determined by my faithfulness to God.

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.  – Matthew 25:21 (and 23)

In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus tells the parable of a master who entrusts a different amount of ‘talents’ to 3 of his servants. After the master returns from a long journey, he asks each servant to give an account of what they did with what he entrusted to them. Two of the servants share how they used what he gave them and gained more, and the verse above is the masters response to both of them. The third servant shares how he didn’t do anything with what he had been entrusted, and the master condemns him. 

This parable is an example of us and God. God entrusts to each of his servants, those who are followers of Christ, with doing his will in this life. In the parable, the two servants didn’t accomplish the same amount as each other, but because they were faithful with what they had been entrusted with, they both received the same praise from their Master. Because it’s not about what we accomplish, but rather our faithfulness with what he has entrusted us with. 

Not all of us are entrusted with the same things in this life (although when we read scripture, we see that we are all entrusted with many of the same things: loving others, sharing the gospel, living righteously, serving God by serving those around us, trusting God, etc). However, we are all to be faithful with what we have been entrusted with in this life. And true success is not determined by what we have been specifically entrusted with, or what exactly we accomplish, but rather if we are faithful.

All the things I listed at the beginning are great dreams and desires, and it is always good to have dreams and desires in this life. But, they are not what define success. They are blessings the Lord can choose to give me because of my faithfulness, but I must be faithful first. And even if he chooses to withhold some of those blessings…or take them away, I must still remain faithful. Because true success is determined by my faithfulness. 

Regardless of the hand we are dealt in this life, we are to remain faithful to God above all else. No matter how large or small of a ministry or sphere of influence God gives us, we are to simply be faithful with what God has given us. In the midst of great tragedy, even when we don’t understand why, our focus must continue to be on faithfully living for our Lord and Savior. 

When being faithful above all else is how we seek to live, then no matter what we do or do not accomplish, and no matter what circumstances we deal with in this life, we can be confident that our lives have been successful. 

Posted in My Thoughts


I like to know what’s going on. I like to be able to control what is happening, how it’s happening, when it’s happening, and even why it’s happening. I’m a planner, and I like to have a plan as well as see that plan come to fruition.

Perhaps that is why I’ve spent so much time wrestling with God in my prayers lately; why my prayers have included more questions asked, concerns expressed, fears shared, and tears shed than is the norm for my prayer time. Maybe it’s my desire to be in control and plan for what’s coming tomorrow that has me struggling more lately.

The past couple of months have been both very exciting and very difficult…it’s been quite a whirlwind. After more than a year’s hiatus from ministry, I was able to get back into doing what I love. After not having steady work and income for a few months, I had steady income because I had 2 steady jobs. After a while of struggling to pay basic bills, I finally saw light at the end of the tunnel with being able to start climbing back onto steady ground. Important relationships in my life were growing stronger, and even difficult relationships seemed to be getting better as well.


Even though I was back in ministry doing what I love to do, I was quickly reminded just how difficult ministry can be when some major hardships took place at my church. Even though I now had 2 steady jobs that could provide me steady income, an old medical issue showed up again and made it impossible to work one of my jobs, so I wasn’t able to work as I needed. Because of that, the light I thought I saw at the end of the tunnel faded out of view again because of my inability to work the hours I needed. Important relationships didn’t end up as I had hoped (it’s a part of life…no hard feelings, but it’s still tough), and difficult relationships were still much harder for me than I was hoping they’d be at this point.

It’s been both an exciting and exhausting past couple of months with all that has been going on. None of it is how I would have planned it to be. And, with how things have been going these past couple of months, I have no idea what to expect in the months to come. I have no idea what tomorrow holds. And I don’t like that.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1

“Hoped for” and “not seen”. In this verse which gives us a definition of what faith is, it says that faith does not include knowing what’s coming tomorrow and being in control. Faith involves the things “hoped for”…meaning it’s in the future and it hasn’t happened yet, so we have to have faith. Faith involves things “not seen”…meaning it’s not something we can see or control, so again we have to have faith.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6

This life is a journey. And on this journey, we are constantly seeking to know where our next step will be. We can plan for what we would like to see happen, but along this journey of life there are way too many variables over which we have no control that can change the course of our journey. In this very popular verse, we are told that while we walk along the path of our life journey, we must trust in the Lord rather than in our own ideas and understanding. When we trust him, he will guide us along the path.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:34

Jesus is speaking here, and he tells us to not worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow…the future. Jesus tells us to just focus on today and let go of worrying about tomorrow. As one who likes to plan and know what is coming next, that’s not so easy. I want to take care of things today, but also have a solid plan for what is coming tomorrow as well as the next day…and the day after that too.

In these 3 verses, we are told to trust, have faith, and not be anxious (worry). Those are contradictory to my desire to know, control, and plan.

I say I have faith in God. I say I trust him. And I want to not worry about the future. The question is, do I really? Do I really have faith in God? Do I really trust him? Do I really want to not worry about the future?

You see, I can say that I have all those things and that I want to live according to those verses. But unfortunately, words only count for so much when it comes to faith and trust and not worrying. Actions are what really prove my faith, show my trust, and reveal if I’m really not worrying.

Despite how difficult things are and potentially will be, I must be willing to let go of my desire to control things, and I must act in faith that I know God is trustworthy and has a plan for my tomorrow.

Despite not knowing how I’ll cover bills on a weekly basis, I must be willing to keep working hard at the jobs the Lord has provided for me (being smart with how I spend money of course), and then have faith that God will provide for any needs that arise tomorrow.

Despite not understanding why my life is the way it is right now, I must be willing to keep seeking to live for God and be faithful, and then trust that God has a plan for all that is happening now and for my tomorrow.

Despite not being able to be in control, despite not being able to plan for all scenarios, and despite not being happy with some of the things that are going on, I must be willing to let go of worry and place my faith and trust in a God who is in control and has a plan, even when I can’t see it or don’t understand it.

“Lord, give me strength to put action behind my words; words that say I trust you and have faith in you. Give me strength to not worry about tomorrow, no matter how difficult today is, because I know that you have a plan and are in control of all the things I have no control over. Help me to not just say I know you have a plan, but help me live like I know it.”

Posted in My Thoughts

The legacy we leave

What kind of legacy do you want to leave? How do you want to be remembered? When people speak of you, what would you like them to say?

And, I’m not just talking about after we are gone from this earth…we also leave legacies while we are still here on the earth. Legacies of how we handled a certain situation(s), legacies of how we lived our life during a particular time-period, etc. We are continually leaving legacies.

The legacies we leave while we are still around are able to be changed. We can seek to right our wrongs, learn from our mistakes, and make the necessary changes for moving forward. However, our ultimate legacy that is left once we’ve passed on cannot be changed. That legacy will be set, and the kind of legacy we leave once we are gone will be determined by how we spent our time here.

Reality is, everyone will leave a legacy of some kind. That is a truth we cannot escape. Those who watched us live our lives will remember us in some way, good or bad. The question is, what kind of legacies are we leaving now, and what will our ultimate legacy be once we are gone?

There are 3 main measurements that will determine the type of legacies we leave. 3 aspects of our lives that those around us watch the most. Our actions, reactions, and words.

1- Actions

What we choose to do. The things we stand for and fight for. How we choose to spend our time and energy…and even our money if it’s obvious. What we choose to believe in, because our actions are dictated by our beliefs since we will make choices based on what we believe is right or wrong. Where we go, who we choose hang out with, and even the type of things we choose to post on social media. All of those actions speak volumes about who we are. These actions are all things we choose to do, and those who see them will take our actions into account when they are forming what our legacy is in their mind.

2- Reactions

When life hits us, how do we respond? In the midst of difficulty, what is our reaction? If someone says or does something to us that we don’t like, how do we react? Our reactions are often an indication of our heart. We can work to do things that look good in front of other people, but in moments when something happens that is hard or that we don’t like, we will often react before we have time to think through what will look best to the people around us. Our actions are an indication of what we choose to do, but our reactions are an indication of the condition of our heart at that moment. For example, if anger is in our heart, we will react with anger in that moment. And those who see our reactions will take them into account when they are forming what our legacy is in their mind.


Words are very important. We can hurt someone very deeply by our words, as well as encourage them in amazing ways. With our words we can guide someone in the right or wrong direction, give good or bad advice, lie or tell the truth, and either help or hurt another person. Words are important and carry a lot of weight. The saying, ‘actions speak louder than words’ is completely true, and we must remember that. It is for that reason that I put words third on this list. But that does not give us a pass on what we say…our words are very powerful and important, and those who hear our words will take them into account when they are forming what our legacy is in their mind.

Our chosen actions, our initial reactions, and the words we speak = our legacy.


But as I said earlier, the legacies we leave now while we are still around can be changed. If our words or actions have somehow tarnished our legacy, know that we can still work to right our wrongs and leave a better legacy. So…

If you have chosen an action that you know wasn’t the best decision, or was blatantly wrong, work on fixing it. Correct the mistakes you made, apologize to those you hurt or were somehow affected by our actions, and then change your choices moving forward to show that you were sincere in your acknowledgement of wrong doing. Prove you have changed by the actions you make moving forward…and you’ll be able to change your legacy in the mind of some (not all…because let’s be honest, some people won’t forgive or want to change their thinking…but do the best you can)

If you reacted in a way that was not the way you should have reacted, or in a way that caused pain in those who watched your reactions, then work on mending those relationships. Apologize to those who saw your wrong reaction, work on yourself to determine what led you to have that kind of reaction, and move forward with resolve to learn to not react that way. Work on your patience in difficult situations so that you learn to react properly. Realize that your reactions begin with your heart, so seek to have peace and humility rather than pride or anger in your heart. Prove you are working to change, and you’ll be able to change your legacy in the minds of some (again, not all, that will always be true to a degree…but don’t let that keep you from doing what you can)

If you said something that caused damage in any way, be it a lie or a hurtful statement or anything else that you should not have said, then find those that your words affected and say you are sorry. Learn to apologize and admit you were wrong. Begin to work to restore your relationships that were hurt by your words. Work on what you say and how you say it. Seek to speak less and listen more, and when you do speak to have your words be more uplifting than negative. Prove you are changing how you speak to others, and you’ll be able to change your legacy in the minds of some.

Perhaps you noticed a common concept in how to begin repairing your legacy. Apologize. Learning to admit our wrongs and say we are sorry goes SUCH A LONG WAY! Pride on the other hand will keep us from being willing to admit any wrong on our part, and can even lead us to try to defend what we have done rather than working to correct it. Apologizing takes humility…pride refuses humility.

Our actions, reactions, and words will be what determines the legacy we leave.

What is the legacy you want to leave?


…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20)

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves… But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:22, 25)

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  (1 Peter 5:5)

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Romans 12:16-18)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17)

…Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith… (1 Timothy 6:11-12)

*if you know of another verse/passage that could accompany this, please feel free to share.

Posted in Bible Study, My Thoughts, Parenting

What I want my kids to know about hate

White Supremacy. KKK. Free Speech. Violent Protests. Hate.

Those words have been seen and heard all over the media this past week since the events in Charlottesville, VA on August 12. You can’t turn on the news without it being talked about, can’t visit social media sites without seeing someone posting their thoughts about it, and honestly can’t be anywhere that the media can be accessed without hearing about it. It’s all around us.

Today there is a rally/protest planned in Boston. I was actually driving through Boston early this morning, and I started thinking about what it might be like to be in Boston during that time. If I had nothing going on and nowhere to be, perhaps I would have ventured into Boston to observe and see what would happen. But, today I get to see my kids. First time in a week since I’ve seen them…so that takes precedence for my day today!

As I was driving and thinking about that, I began to think through what I would want to say to my kids about what is happening in our society right now. My kids have TV, and my oldest is on social media, so I guarantee they’ve heard at least something about Charlottesville, White Supremacy, KKK, Free Speech, Protests, or Hate this week. They might not understand much of what is happening, but I’m sure they’ve at least heard about it.

So what would I want my kids to know about all that is going on? What would I want to tell them and teach them regarding this? I want my kids to know right from wrong and to live to do what is right…so what do I want them to know about all of this hate?

I want my kids to know that acting in hate toward other people simply because they are different than us is NEVER right. 

I want my kids to know that believing you are better than someone else…anyone else…is NEVER right. 

I want my kids to know that every human being is valuable, so treating them as inferior or believing they are less valuable than you is NEVER right. 

That is what I want my kids to know about hate. That is what I want to teach my kids as they grow up.

But I want to do more than just tell them this…I want to teach them to be able to know why this is true. I don’t want to just give them the ability to simply recite truths that I passed on to them (yes, I do want them to listen to what I say…and I’d be proud if they every quoted me), but I also want to instill in them the ability to think critically about things and understand the why behind something being right or wrong. I want them to grow up knowing how to know if something is right or wrong on their own, because I won’t always be here to tell them what is right and what is wrong.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son…” John 3:16

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love… If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:7-8, 20-21

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:43-44

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:14-18

I want my kids to know and understand that God loves everyone, regardless of whether or not they believe in him or love him, what they look like, or where they are from. I want them to know that God loved all of us so much that he was willing to send his son to die for all of us…not just certain people. I want them to know and understand that God calls us to love others, and that we are even told in 1 John that if we hate someone but say we love God, we are a liar. I want them to realize that we are commanded to love our neighbors, and that we are even told to love our enemies. I want them to begin to put into practice now the fact that we are challenged to not be conceited but rather put others before ourselves. And I want them to strive to live peaceably with all people, seeking to promote peace by living in harmony with others.

When my kids know what God says in his word about how we are to treat others, they will be able to understand that they are not better than other people who are different, and that will lead them to realize that any form of hate toward another person for that reason is NEVER right.

What do I want my kids to know about hate? I want them to know that hate is wrong, including why it is wrong. I want them to know that treating others who are different in any way that is degrading is wrong. I want them to know that thinking they are better than others who might be different is wrong. And I want them to know that anyone who promotes hate toward a group of people that are different is wrong.

Posted in Broken Thoughts, My Thoughts

When God allows our dreams to die

This Sunday is a big day. This coming Sunday my second child will start going to the Jr High youth group at church. My son has been in youth group for a couple of years now, and now my oldest daughter has also reached youth group age. So starting this coming Sunday, I will officially have 2 kids involved in the Student Ministry!

I have always loved Student Ministry; my youth pastor was one of the biggest influences in my life, I had some incredible experiences and memories from my years in youth group, and for 13 years I was a youth pastor myself…so I have a huge passion for Student Ministry. And because of my love for Student Ministry, I am excited for my daughter to begin this next chapter in her life journey.


While I’m excited, I’m also struggling. I’m not struggling so much with the fact that I’m now old enough to have 2 kids in the Student Ministry, nor am I struggling with being worried that my daughter might not enjoy her experience. Rather, I’m struggling with the reminder that a dream of mine has died. The dream of getting to be my kids’ youth pastor.

When I was 12 (the age of my son and only 1 year older than my oldest daughter) God developed in me a passion for Student Ministry. I knew from the time I was 12 that I wanted to become a Youth Pastor, and I did what was needed to direct my life in that direction. After I graduated from Bible College, I started my first full-time job in Student Ministry, and for 13 years I was living my dream.

When I had kids, another dream developed. The dream that one day I would get to experience youth group with my kids because I would be their youth pastor. They would get to see my passion for Student Ministry first hand by being involved in my ministry, and I would get to watch first hand as the Student Ministry provided them with experiences and memories of their own.


God allowed my dream to die. I’m not blaming him or anything like that, don’t get me wrong here. I just know that God is sovereign over all and ultimately in control, so he knows what will happen and he allows things to happen for a reason…even if we don’t understand those reasons.

When my life took a left turn and I was suddenly thrust into the world of divorce, my life as a youth pastor also came to an end at that time. My son was starting to attend youth group when I stopped being the youth pastor, and that was hard for me because I didn’t get to be my son’s youth pastor. And now 2 years later, I’m being reminded of that feeling again as I watch my daughter start attending youth group.

My dream of being a youth pastor is not dead…I know that. It has just taken a break, but I am still just as passionate about Student Ministry as I was before, and I know that at some point in the future I can be involved in Student Ministry again. So that dream has not died. But the dream of being my kids’ youth pastor has.

It has died because when I do become a youth pastor again, it will be at a different church than the church my kids call their home church and where my kids are involved in the Student Ministry. Even if they occasionally attend my youth group in this scenario, they will do so as visitors and I still won’t be their youth pastor. At best, I will be their dad who is a youth pastor.

So that dream has died. When God chose to not miraculously save my marriage, which I spent countless hours begging him to do, he was allowing my dream of being my kids youth pastor to die.


I also know that God is sovereign and in control, and he has a plan for things that I don’t see or understand. God allows things to happen in our life that we don’t understand, even really difficult and bad things. Yet he does so for a purpose that we don’t know in that moment.

God is at work. God is in control. God has a plan. God is doing things in my life to prepare me for the plans he has for me. I may not always get it or know why…or even be happy about it…but I can still trust that God is at work. I can know that, while my dream might have died, his dreams and plans for me are even greater than my dreams for myself.

Consider Joseph. He had no idea why he went through everything he went through (and man did he go through a lot!), but God had a plan for him that so much bigger than Joseph could have even imagined.

Do I wish I could be my kids’ youth pastor? Yes. It was a dream of mine. But I know that God is faithful and in control, so I can also trust that if he let that dream of mine die, it is because he has a better plan…both for me and for my kids. All I need to do is to continue to trust him and follow where he leads, and I can have full confidence that his plans are greater than any of my dreams.

When God allows our dreams to die, it is because he has something bigger and better planned.


Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6

But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. – Genesis 50:19-20


Posted in Bible Study, Broken Thoughts, My Thoughts

Some dates just carry more weight than others

Recently I’ve posted some pretty open and honest blogs concerning my life. I’ve shared all that I’m struggling with in terms of what I have lost in the past couple of years, and the loneliness I had been feeling because of the loss. I’ve also shared what I have learned from the loss and pain that is associated with it, and even why I’ve chosen to not forget my past as I move forward.

Forgetting the past…at least attempting to…is often the normal response to painful experiences. There was a time I wanted to forget everything and start over. I will be totally honest and even admit that at one point when I was really hurting, I wanted to just walk away from everything and everyone and start a new life somewhere else. I’m SO GLAD I didn’t, but I admit it was a consideration at one point.

I know that painful memories are not fun, and we want to get rid of them whenever possible. I get it, I really do!

Today for example, is a date that brings with it a lot of memories and pain for me. July 19th. A date that I’m sure I’ll never forget, and a date that I’m sure will always bring me more pain and reminders of the past than most other dates. Some dates just carry more weight than others, and this date is one of those for me. This date was my wedding anniversary. But not only that, it is also the date that I first realized that my marriage was in serious jeopardy of coming to an end (and it eventually did end).

For many years this date carried with it good memories. Memories of another year being married to a woman I loved and had a family with. In more recent years, however, it has carried more painful memories with it. Memories of the pain of loss and rejection. There are both good memories and painful memories associated with this date, which is why it carries so much weight.

But despite the pain, I don’t want to just try to forget the memories associated with this date. As hard as it has been, I want to learn to accept all memories as part of the journey that I have been through in my life. I want to learn from the memories of my past as I move forward into the future. And I want to learn to continually trust in God and rely on his strength in my life, and painful memories help me do just that.

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

“…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11-13

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” – James 1:2-3

“…but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5

If I try to push away or forget the difficult times in my past, then I’m trying to live my life in my own strength, and I’m trying to act as though I’m not vulnerable to pain and hurt in this life. But when I choose to remember the difficulties of the past, then I’m constantly reminded that I am weak and vulnerable, which reminds me that I need God.

I need God’s grace in my life. I need God’s strength in my life. I need to remember that difficult circumstances help me to look to God for his grace and strength in my life. I need to remember that it is because of his strength that I am able to do all the things I need to do as well as what he has called me to do in this life. And I need to remember that trials and suffering in this life serves as the catalyst for me to grow deeper in my faith, gives me the ability to endure and remain steadfast, creates in me a stronger character, and ultimately leads me to hope.

July 19 is a painful day for me…but I know that it’s also just another date on my journey that God is using to produce faith and strength and character and hope in me.


To anyone who has certain dates or memories that are very difficult and painful…

May you be able to find rest in God’s grace. May you admit that you are weak so that you will allow his strength to be your strength. May you continue to seek him each day as he produces stronger faith in you. May you remain steadfast and endure the trials with full confidence that God is at work in your life despite the pain. And may you find hope again for your future because of all that God has done in your life through the trials and pain.