Monday, December 3, 2012

Tis the Season

Well, it's official...the Christmas season is upon us. While different people begin celebrating the Christmas season at different times and for different reasons (we begin listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies starting on November 1st but don't really do anything else to celebrate Christmas until after Thanksgiving) most people recognize the Christmas season to be in full swing by December 1st. Many houses (and some businesses) are outlined by lights, have wreaths on doors and/or have decorated Christmas trees standing prominently in their front window. Most cities/towns have put up their annual Christmas displays. Many churches and some homes have erected their nativity scenes (and not a few incorrectly according to historical evidence considering the fact that the wise men did not arrive until Jesus was at least 2 years old). Every store you walk into is playing Christmas music while red and green dominate the color palate. Yes indeed, it's officially the Christmas season!

Easter is my favorite holiday because of what it represents. But Christmas is my favorite holiday season for all that it encompasses. While Easter is when we celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus for our sins, I cannot ignore the fact that this never would have happened if Jesus didn't first come in humility as a baby. Though we know that Jesus was likely born in the fall and almost certainly not on December 25th, this is the time that has long been designated as the day to celebrate the Lord's birth so I have no problems recognizing it as such. First and foremost, Christmas is a time to thank God for His love for us in humbling himself to live as a man to ultimately die on our behalf for our sins. As the old saying goes, we must never take Christ out of Christmas!

As I mentioned above though, I enjoy the Christmas season for all that it encompasses. While Jesus' birth is always at the forefront, I do enjoy the music, the movies, the lights, the decorations, the family and friends, the food, the opening of Christmas presents and the overall experience that it offers. I do not believe that these things overshadow Christ; I believe they are a separate element altogether which we can celebrate. In fact, I celebrate and thank God for the birth of Christ every day! This is not something that we should give thanks for only once a year.

Santa or not Santa, that is the question. Many people have many differing views on Santa. I've known Christians who have embraced Santa (in varying degrees and ways), Christians who have been indifferent about Santa and Christians who have been vehemently opposed to Santa. Where should we stand? Well, I believe that this is an area that each person must determine for himself/herself. There is no cut and dry answer. As for us, we are no Santa people while not being vehemently opposed to him overall. Look, St. Nicholas seems to have been a pretty cool, generous guy historically. With him, I have no issues. With what Santa has become I do have some issues though. I'm sure I could think of more, but there are three main reasons that we do not do Santa in our household (again please know that this is a decision that we have come to for us and we are not suggesting that everyone needs to come to this same decision; your decision on this matter is certainly not an essential for salvation). You may be shocked to discover that none of my three reasons are overtly religious in nature. In fact, I have met some non-Christians who do not do Santa for some similar reasons. Anyway, here are my three reasons:
  1. The Letdown - I've seen more than one kid shed more than one tear when discovering that Santa is not actually real. It can be heartbreaking for kids to discover that Santa's not real. While it may be cute for a season, it could have negative impact down the line. Some kids don't have this issue at all. So for some it's a huge deal that Santa is fake and for some it's no big deal at all. The problem...I don't know which category Genevieve would fall under. I'm not prepared to break her heart when she gets older. (There also is an belief out there that I at least partially subscribe to that says that children may also begin to question if you were lying to them about Jesus all along too; Obviously this could be dealt with, but why put myself in that place where I would need to). I know that some people believe that the fun kids have for the time they do believe outweighs the letdown when they learn the truth. I respect that belief, I just don't hold to it myself.
  2. The Appreciation - One of my goals in raising Genevieve is to ensure that she grows up with a proper appreciation for all that she gets. I work hard for my money. I'm not handing over credit to some fictitious guy in a red suit for the things I work hard for. If Genevieve thinks that an expensive toy can simply come for free then she will not have the proper appreciation for it. When she knows that it came via hard work and great sacrifice, she will appreciate it more. Some might think this is selfish on my behalf, but I think it's an important value. While I must guard Genevieve from any stress that comes with finances or anything along those lines, that doesn't mean that she can't have a proper understanding and appreciation for what she has.
  3. The Worldview - This is a more recent reason for me that serves as icing on my "no Santa" cake. I believe that Santa skews children's worldviews. American children (of whom even the poor are among the wealthiest in the world) most likely believe that Santa visits children all around the world delivering them nice new toys. The problem with this...even of the kids whose family does celebrate Christmas, many kids around the world will get nothing for Christmas. They will be doing well just to eat a hot meal. This kind of ties into my second reason but I think it's specific enough to warrant its own point. I think it's important for Genevieve to have a proper worldview which is that most people in the world are impoverished...especially in comparison to the American standard.
So...Santa aside, we enjoy the Christmas season. And, as has been the case with many other days and holidays and events, we will likely not be celebrating another Christmas here in the States with our family and friends enjoying our normal traditions for a few years. In fact, if everything goes according to plan, we will not be celebrating another Christmas here until December 2016. Genevieve will be less than one month shy of turning six. Wow, that's crazy to put into words! As a result, we're going to try to do our best to enjoy as much as we can during this Christmas season. Here's a look at some of the things planned or already accomplished:
  • Christmas lights - We love looking at Christmas lights. Of course, this means that we love driving around and looking at random Christmas lights. But this also means that we enjoy going to professional light displays too. This past Saturday we enjoyed our first professionally created light display when we went to La Salette in Attleboro, MA. Polly and I had been there before but this was Genevieve's first opportunity. And she LOVED it! She gets excited every evening to see the lights come on on the tree and on the house, so to have such a big and beautifully done display was quite the experience for her. The Violettes (the family that has so graciously let us live with them for the past 4 years) came with us. It was their first time and they all seemed to enjoy it too!
  • Christmas parties - Tonight Polly and I will be attending the Southern New England Ministry Network's Central Mass Section's annual Christmas party. I believe this is the 8th straight party for me though it's possible they skipped a year or that I missed one. Regardless I've been to a bunch of them and I enjoy them every year. This is the 3rd straight year that it's being held at the same restaurant which is a great experience. I'm not sure what all is planned for the evening, but we will be among friends and fellow ministers so we know we will enjoy ourselves. This is the first of hopefully quite a few Christmas parties we will be able to enjoy this Christmas season. And hopefully Genevieve will be able to enjoy some too.
  • Christmas gatherings - There are many gatherings of people that I don't quite consider to be a party per se but that are still meaningful and enjoyable. We will be celebrating Christmas with my family this coming weekend. We will be getting together with Polly's family the weekend before Christmas through Christmas day itself. Beyond this, we will be getting together with various friends and maybe family at other junctures which will undoubtedly have a Christmas-feel to them.
  • Christmas plays - We don't currently have any specific plans to attend any specific plays but I'm sure we'll end up making our way to at least one.
  • Christmas caroling - We used to go caroling when I was a kid. Whether we went to a nursing home, a mall or to random neighbors (especially on Christmas Eve when we would go to my aunt's house) we loved to spread Christmas cheer.
  • Christmas events - Polly will be helping my mother at an event they are putting on for some underprivileged children. Genevieve and I will be attending an event that a local church is putting on that same day.
  • Christmas adventures - Of course, there are always other miscellaneous adventures that we plan to enjoy. For example, we are planning a trip down to New York City this Saturday to see the big tree, go to FAO Schwarz and perhaps even ice skate. We may try to squeeze in some time in Boston and maybe other fun adventures.
How about you? Do you look forward to the Christmas season? Do you enjoy any elements beyond the narrative of the birth of Christ? Do you make fun plans? Would it be hard for you to miss three years of Christmas the way your used to it?

I'm sure I'll post again before Christmas but it's never too early to say this anyway, so: Merry Christmas! We wish you an amazing Christmas season as you celebrate the birth of Christ and spend time with family and friends.

In Christ,


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mi Familia

In my last two blog posts, I talked about my thankfulness for God and for His saving grace. In today's blog, I wanted to post about the next most important aspect of life that I am thankful for: mi familia (my family).

First, I thank God for creating us as relational beings and for creating the family unit. The Bible tells us in Genesis that God created all things. Over and over again, when we read these accounts of His creation, we see that He saw that it was good. But when God makes man, for the first and only time He makes an interesting observation: It is not good for man to be alone. This is the only time in the creation account that God calls something not good. What was God's solution? I believe that answer becomes clear when we read the entire verse that I referenced above with regard to God's calling man's loneliness "not good." Genesis 2:18* reads, "The the LORD God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him.'" God's solution was a relationship. In fact, we read the following words of Jesus in Mark 10:6-9: "But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.'" Anyone who has ever attending a Christian wedding has likely heard that verse before. The Bible actually has a lot to say about the family unit. When describing the trinity, two of the distinct persons (important note: there is only one God, who is three distinct persons; this truth is referred to theologically as "the trinity.") are referred to in familial terms: God the Father and Jesus, God the Son. Paul dedicates a section of Ephesians to a description of how various members of the familial should treat each other: Husbands to wives, wives to husbands, children to parents and fathers to children (Ephesians 5:22-6:4). Exodus 20:12 lists the fifth of the Ten Commandments given to the Israelites which informs children to obey their parents. Paul alludes to this in the Ephesians passage I referenced. And even all this doesn't begin to scratch the surface of the Bible's references to the family unit. God created and ordained the family unit. So my thanks for my family ultimately belongs to Him.

So, who is my family that I am thankful for? Let me do my best to list them as follows, along with some specifics that I am thankful for with regard to the two most important people in my life:

My Wife

Polly - As I mentioned above, when Polly and I were married, we ceased being two separate individuals and became one. We are unified. I love Polly more than my words could ever express with the deepest love I can. Now, I know I'm not perfect. Sometimes I can be short while at others I can be a whining baby, but I truly do love her, praying for her daily and daily asking God to help me love Polly "as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (quote taken in context from Ephesians 5:25). Though I fall short, I attempt to satisfy proper love as defined in 1 Corinthians 13. Specifically, 1 Corinthians 13:2-7 reads, "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." One good test for yourself is to replace the word "love" in this passage with your name. Would the statements be true? I know they're not always true for me, but I do try my best to love Polly the best I can.

So what do I love so much about Polly? Where do I even begin with that. No matter what I say here, it will not be an exhaustive account for the numerous reasons I love her. The truth is that I discover new reasons I love her all the time. With that said, let me list a few reasons:

I love Polly because she:

Is a godly woman (more about that below)
Is beautiful
Is funny
Is smart
Is nurturing
Is gentle
Is sarcastic (in appropriate situations; this is important to me)
Is kind
Is fun to be around
Is an amazing mother
Loves me

As I said, I could go on for a while. I won't. But I do want to touch on her being a godly woman. The Bible contains a passage that describes an excellent wife. It is found in Proverbs 31:10-31. In the original Hebrew it is written as an acrostic poem with each line beginning with the successive letter in the Hebrew alphabet. It loses that poetic structure when translated to the English but not it's meaning. Is says:

10 An excellent wife who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
    and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
    and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
    she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
    and provides food for her household
    and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself with strength
    and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
    Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
    and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
    and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
    for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
    her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
    when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
    she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
    and let her works praise her in the gates.

In my opinion, Polly embodies what it is to be an excellent wife. 

My Daughter

Genevieve - Genevieve is the most beautiful, amazing, precious, sweet, intelligent little girl that any dad could ever hope for. I know that many men love to have boys that they can play rough with and teach sports to. I, too, would love to have a son someday for those same and other reasons. But I would be lying if I said that I didn't always want a daughter first. I have always wanted that daddy's girl. And as much as Genevieve loves her mother, she is a daddy's girl.

Anyone who read the blog post I wrote on my wedding anniversary last month knows how seriously I take my responsibilities as Genevieve's father. It is a responsibility that I do not take lately but also one that I completely enjoy.

It's been so fun watching Genevieve grow up. It's amazing to me to see how big she is getting, how much she knows and how much she talks (I think she gets that from her mom). My life changed the day she was born. I can sit and tell you about all the things that Polly and I can't do anymore now that we're responsible for her precious little life, but I honestly just don't think of things that way. No, I am thankful for the little life God blessed Polly and me with and entrusted to us. As Polly reminded me a couple of nights ago when Genevieve vomited, it's an honor and privilege to clean up our daughter's vomit. Some people are not able to enjoy the blessings we enjoy as parents. We don't take that lightly.

I hope to always be an active part of my daughter's life.

My First Family

It's said that you can pick your friends but you cannot pick your family. Well, that's true up until you pick your spouse and I suppose also if you ever adopt. But that statement does hold true for my first family. What do I mean when I say my first family? Well, that's easy...I mean the people that made up my first family unit. You see, before I was a husband and a father, I was a son and a brother, a nephew and a grandson, a cousin and an uncle (well, before I was a father for that last one anyway). Now don't get me wrong, I never stopped being any of those things. I have never taken off the son hat or the brother hat, the nephew hat or the grandson hat, the cousin hat or the uncle hat. It's just that when I hear the word family these days, the first hats that come to mind are the husband hat and the father hat. God blessed me with the opportunity to begin my own family unit, to start my own family traditions, to build my own family legacy. And for that I am grateful. Though this changed my perspective of family, this didn't diminish my first family's importance to me. I love them all with all my heart. I would do anything for my family. It's just that we don't throw random stuff into our bunk bed and call it "Garbage Truck" or line of the kitchen chairs to play "Choo-choo Train" anymore.

Dad & Mom - I have made it no secret that my parents had a big influence on my life. They taught me how to love God first and then family above all else. I still call them for advice and wisdom or even just to talk. And it doesn't hurt that Genevieve loves calling Grampie and Grammie too.

Shan - When I was little, she was Momma Shanda. Now, she's Shan. But that just shows a change in name, not in love. I also love her boyfriend Zach.

Stephan - My big brother who has always been there to talk theology along with many other intellectual discussions. We were roommates for a short time after I graduated college which only strengthened an already strong bond. I love his wife MyTam, who is awesome; I am so thankful she is a part of our family.

Dawn - Dawn and I grew much closer when we both lived in Missouri while I and her husband (whom I also love and with whom I used to play Prime Time for Sega way back in the day and with whom I also enjoy many great theological and other intellectual discussions) were both attending the same college (I'm not sure if I should still call it CBC or if I should cave and already begin calling it Evangel). I love that we got to enjoy that special time together.

Jon - I mean no disrespect to my other siblings, my parents or anyone else when I say this, but aside from my wife and my daughter there is no person I love more in this world than my brother. I cannot watch "A River Runs Through It" ever again because it reminds me of our relationship and it caused a panic attack at the thought of either of us not being around some day. I know this is a reality of life, but the movie just made it too real. We were the ones who fought the most, but we were also the ones who loved the best. There have been good times and bad times, ups and downs, but I would never trade away any of the moments I have shared with him. And now thanks to the birth of his son Sean, Sean and Sean's mom Siobhan (as well as her parents, her brother Rich as well as Maura, Vaunie and Breezy) have become a very important part of our family and our lives. I love them all so dearly.

My Extended Family

My extended family includes my grandparents (both of my dad's parents as both of my mom's parents have passed away), numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and thanks to my wonderful marriage an awesome father-in-law Byron, mother-in-law Marilyn, brother-in-law Leroy & his wife Karen, brother-in-law RIdge as well as Polly's grandparents (her dad's mom and both of her mom's parents), aunts, uncles and cousins. As if that wasn't enough, we also consider the Violettes (with whom we've lived for four years) to be like family. In fact, I don't think Genevieve would understand it any differently. I wish I could write things about all my extended family in the same way that I did about the rest of my family, but this post is already plenty long enough. Let's just suffice it to say that I'm thankful for all of them, love them all and pray for them all regularly!
God created family...and I'm so thankful He did!

In Christ,


* All Scriptures given using the The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Friday, November 16, 2012


"28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), "I thirst." 29 A Jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." John 19:28-30.*

In this account of Jesus' death on the cross, John uses the Greek word "tetelestai" which is translated in verse 30 as "It is finished." Jesus had fulfilled all of the Old Testament Scriptures pointing toward the Messiah (Hebrew) or Christ (Greek). Jesus became the covering for our sins (1 John 2:2). We, who are imperfect and unable to have a relationship with a holy God on our own, can be reconciled to God through Christ's death on the cross for our sins. I keep trying to think of what verses I should put down here but want to use nearly the entire New Testament. In fact, this action is what the ENTIRE Bible is about. The book of Romans is a pretty amazing place to read about what Christ did for us. But as I said, it's all good. A few that stand out off the top of my head are John 3:16, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 10:9-10, Ephesians 2:8-9. Of course there are many, many others.

I have absolutely no desire to get into a theological discussion or debate with regard to this post. I simply want to take this opportunity in this season of thanksgiving to thank God publicly for the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and that I am saved as a result of my faith in the gracious act of Christ's death and resurrection. Sin has lost it's grip on me as I am now in Christ Jesus.

"1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2

There has been more than one individual who has been guilty of proof-texting this and any of the verses mentioned. Proof-texting occurs when a verse is read out of its intended context. To fully understand and appreciate this and all the other verses, you must really read them in the proper context in which they were written. As I said, its really good stuff.

Anyway, so that's today's thanks: I'm thankful for my salvation through Christ's death and resurrection. It's a good thing too, because I know how impossible it would be if I had to rely on my own self-righteousness.

Questions? If you have any questions about what I wrote today or would like more information about what it means "to be saved" please feel free to email me at

In Christ,


* All Scriptures given using the The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Giving Thanks to God for Who He Is

To some Thanksgiving is a valued holiday. To others it is contrived and pointless. To others it is offensive as it misinforms the masses about the true history surrounding the Pilgrims "relationship" with the Native Americans. To me, I fall somewhere in between. While I do not ascribe to the false notion that things were all warm and cozy between the Natives and the Pilgrims (my ancestors), I still enjoy the day as a day of thanksgiving and a wonderful time spent with family while enjoying delicious food. Now, every day should be a day of thanksgiving in reality (much in the same way that we should celebrate the truths of each holiday on a daily basis). Lamentations 3:22-23* says:

22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;

23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

We truly should be thanking God every day as he grants us new mercies every day. With that said, I'm not opposed to taking a specific day and giving extra attention to the matter. In fact, as some others already do, I have opted to take the whole month. Over the course of this month, I will be using this blog to focus on various areas of my life I am thankful for. And today, I will start that with my #1 priority in giving thanks: God.

First and foremost, I am thankful that God IS! Moses asked God what name he should give the people of Israel when they asked who sent him. Exodus 3:14 tells us, "God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM.' And he said, 'Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" God is the great I AM. HE IS WHO HE IS. Though this certainly gives us a good picture into His eternal nature, I also believe that it also has a bit of an "Enough said!" element to it. What else needs to be said for God...nothing! HE IS...enough said! He is the one who created the universe and all that is within it. He created me. He is the one and only, true God. There is none before Him, none beside Him and certainly none above Him. He stands alone as God. He is the Creator. All other gods (notice the small "g" as they are not genuine) are created, whether by God (some people worship nature or individuals, which were both created by God) or by God's creation (some people have created their own gods to worship or worship gods created by others). But God, the God of the Bible, the only God...HE IS! And we recognize God to be Triune: The Father, the Son (who is Christ Jesus) and the Holy Spirit. In fact, when speaking to the Pharisees in John 8:58, we read, "Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." Some would argue that Jesus was not equating Himself to God there and that it's a mistranslation, but when doing a legitimate study of the Greek word used "ego eimi" (and especially in comparison the the Greek word "genesthai" He used to reference Abraham's coming into being in that same verse) it is clear that Jesus was claiming to be always existing and claiming to be God. The rest of the context really helps us to understand this better as He was giving His authority over that of Abraham's when the Pharisees asked what authority He had. Also we must consider the context directly after this verse when the Pharisees picked up stones to stone Him in John 8:59 which was certainly due to their understanding that Jesus had just claimed to be God. There are many Scriptures that further solidify this truth and also some great writings from the Church Fathers as well (esp. the Cappadocian Fathers). There is one God, made up of three persons. And God is worthy of our praise and thanksgiving just because of who He is!

So, I am thankful for who God is today. Even if He had never done anything for me (which He did and continues to do; and which I will focus on for the remainder of my focus on offering thanksgiving this month) He would still be eternally worthy of my praise.

If you have any questions about anything I wrote or would like clarification or further resources, please email me at

In Christ,


* All Scriptures given using the The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Win-Win-Win Situation

Polly and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary a week and a half ago. We chose to get married in the fall because it's both of our favorite season. We chose the specific date because it was Columbus Day weekend and our traveling friends and family would already have an extra day to take their travels easier. Of course, the downside to that is that since we like to celebrate our anniversaries enjoying the fall in New England, we picked the most hectic weekend we could have selected. Prices, traffic and overall stress increases in New England over the Columbus Day weekend in northern New England. It is, after all, peak foliage season and the last weekend for most in that area at their vacation homes. As a result, we have had to be creative. On a couple of occasions, this has meant celebrating our anniversary a week late. And that's what we did this year. But this year's anniversary was unlike any other.

Genevieve was born in January 2011. She was 8 1/2 months old when Polly and I went to Maine for our 4th wedding anniversary last year. We contemplated the idea of leaving Genevieve with Grammie and Grampie (my parents) for the getaway, but Polly just wasn't ready yet (there was also the practical issue of feeding Genevieve since she was still being nursed at the time). So, we took Genevieve to Maine with us. She was her usual active self during our 2 1/2 hour steam-engine train ride through the woods of Maine and to the coast. Our walk through a lovely ocean community with fun shops was made more difficult by the need to maneuver her stroller through tight spaces at the small shops and she was way beyond tired. At one point, she finally fell asleep. For us, this meant no more stopping at shops. Movement is critical to keep that child asleep outside of a bed. While we enjoyed our trip to Maine, let's be was a family vacation and not a romantic getaway. It just happened to be around our anniversary.

In fact, Polly and I have rarely been on too many dates since Genevieve was born. And even when we have had the opportunity, we haven't really had to much money to do too much. That's why it was huge for us when our friends helped us win $100 in gift cards to a group of restaurants. We finally had something to do while we were away from the baby. We were telling my nephew's mom Siobhan and brother Jon about our date when we were visiting them in New Hampshire over the summer. It started off a bit slow with us walking through Malden Square (I wanted to see what had become of it; not good) and with us swinging into McDonald's for a snack wrap. But then it picked up as we mini golfed, ate dinner and then hung out at Jordan's where they have some fun free things and we furniture "window" shopped. Apparently Siobhan and Jon were unimpressed. That's when Siobhan made us an incredible offer that we simply could not refuse. She offered to let us use her vacation house the weekend after Columbus day AND to watch Genevieve while we were away. We made tentative plans. Over the course of the next couple months, Polly went back and forth on whether or not she was ready to be without Genevieve for a few days. While I have spent a number of days away from Genevieve due to travel for my job and when working doubles, Polly had only spent one day away from her (and that was for a youth convention we took our youth to so that wasn't a getaway for us either). Finally, we decided that it was time and that we needed it. Genevieve was a little extra trying that week so Polly was ripe for the break.

Polly and I had a wonderful long weekend away. It was much needed and much appreciated, just as we assumed it would be. But what about Genevieve? I mean, I knew that even if she had a rough time away from Mama and Da-da, she would be fine in the long run. But we also wanted it to be fun for her, Siobhan, Jon and Sean (my nephew). So, did she do okay? You look at the pictures below and decide for yourself:

Forget managing. Genevieve had a blast! She was so well behaved and loved all her play time with her auntie, uncle and cousin. In fact, as my brother was pulling away from the house (she stayed with us the first night in New Hampshire before my brother drove her down to Mass the following day) rather than crying, she just waved with a big smile. Apparently she didn't cry once during the car ride. She was okay with leaving us. Yay...right? I mean, that's a good thing. It's what we wanted. But it's also sad to think that they don't miss you. Of course she missed us (this was proven when she got so upset that I was leaving when we picked up my car from work on the way home...she was happy to have her Mama and Da-da back again and she wasn't ready to leave them again just yet).

Really though, I think that her ability to detach is a very good thing. It will be a necessary skill later in life. But I think a question is begged here. Since Polly's a stay at home mom and since Genevieve is not dropped off at day care or school each day, how was she so okay with leaving us. Well, I think there were 3 major factors:

1. Prayer - We, as well as others, prayed that she would be emotionally strong during this weekend and that everything would go smoothly. I've had way too many prayers answered to question whether or not it's effective. Hey, prayer works!

2. Practice - I think that itineration has brought with it and added bonus. Genevieve is put in different environments with different people nearly every week when we drop her off at church nurseries. And you know what I noticed at the last church we went to? She has begun to grow accustomed to it. No more crying and worrying that Mama and Da-da are going to leave her. No, I think she's becoming a confident little girl who trusts that her parents will return.

3. People - It didn't hurt that she already loves the people she was going with. Siobhan has given us picture books each year at Christmas chronicling Sean's life. Genevieve looks at those books nearly every day. She knows who her family is. Also, every night before she goes to sleep, we thank God for a whole bunch of people and things. Of course, our family is included in those thanks. She hears her family members names every night! She knew she was in good hands. We had been talking about the visit all week and she was so excited each time we did.

So, in the end, it was a win-win-win. A win for Genevieve, a win for Siobhan, Jon and Sean and a win for Polly and me.

In Christ,


Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Ideal Husband

As I celebrated my fifth wedding anniversary with my wife today, I couldn't help but think about the fact that I have an amazing, sweet, funny, beautiful little girl that will most likely get married someday as well. I know it's a long time off from now, but that doesn't mean that I shouldn't already be thinking and praying about it the kind of man I want her to marry. So, I do. And I don't mean how he looks, what kind of job he will have, what his talents will be, etc. I'm speaking about what kind of man he is. I'm talking about his character. So, out of that, I've decided to create a list. This is not necessarily intended to be an exhaustive list; it's just a list of the important qualities that come to mind.

I want Genevieve's future husband to be a man...

...after God's own heart - I want him to love the Lord God with all his heart, mind, soul and strength; I want him to love the things that God loves and hate the things that God hates.

...of integrity - I want him to be honest, genuine, authentic; I want him to be the same man in private that he is in public.

...of strong moral character - I want him to be known as a man with strong morals; I want him to be a man of purity and a man with a clear conscience.

...of respect - I want him to respect God, Genevieve and their children as well as everyone else around him; I want him to know and appreciate the precious gem that he will be blessed with when he takes my daughter's hand in marriage.

...of sound judgment - I want him to be able to make the right decisions, no matter how difficult they may prove to be; I want Genevieve to be confident that he will make decisions with her in mind.

...of ambition - I don't care what job/ministry he might be involved in so long as he has ambition to do all that he does to the best of his ability.

...of selflessness - I want him to put Genevieve before himself, even willing to lay his life down for her if the situation called; And I want him to put his children before himself; If he's tired and has had a hard day, his family shouldn't have to pay for it.

...of peace - I am not naive to think Genevieve and her future husband will never disagree; I'm not sure it would even be healthy if they didn't; But I want him to be a man who seeks peace and not arguments, who is more concerned with others' feelings than with being "right" (while not in any way compromising standards, of course).

...of unity - I want him to be a strong head of his household, unifying his family together.

...of a guarded tongue - I want him to choose his words carefully and wisely, never saying things he later wishes he could take back.

...of humility - I want him to remember his spiritual poverty apart from Christ and never feel as though he is incapable of stumbling.

...of romance - I want him to never let the flame of his love for Genevieve die out and for him to remain romantic throughout their marriage; I want him to surprise her and woo her.

...of mercy - I want him to be understanding when Genevieve might do something that drives him crazy.

...of self-control - I want him to be able to exhibit self-control in all things...anger, exercise, etc.

...of good stewardship - I want him to be a good steward of his treasures (money, things), time and talents.

...of obedience - I want him to be sensitive to God's voice and quick to obey it.

I'm absolutely positive that I could keep going on with this list for a while, but I think that is at least a good starting point. So, here's the question. What is the proper thing to do with this information? What do I do with this list? Do I simply sit and go over each item, praying that God will help Genevieve's future husband to have that quality? No, no and a thousand times no. While I do think that there is value in praying specifically for him in the area of each item, I think I have a greater responsibility.

My live out each of these qualities. I do now and will continue to pray for my daughter's future husband in these areas, but more importantly I pray for myself in these areas. How I am in each of these areas teaches Genevieve what to look for in a future husband. For example, if Genevieve saw me lacking peace and self-control and always yelling at her mother, Genevieve would view that as an acceptable way for a man to treat a woman. The simple truth is this...I have no right to expect Genevieve's future husband to be any better a man than I am. I need to live out the example of the type of man I want her to marry.

Likewise, Polly has the responsibility of living out the qualities and characteristics of the woman of virtue that we want Genevieve to grow up to be. Genevieve will model her virtues off of those of her mother. Thankfully, Genevieve has the most virtuous woman I know for a mother. I have no doubt this will suit her well in life.

Does all this assure that everything will go smoothly or perfectly in Genevieve's future marriage? No. But not having this mentality virtually assures that it won't. I want to give Genevieve and her future husband the best fighting chance I can. I know this model works, because I'm the result of it. My parents weren't perfect and there are things that I have been intentional to change (which will probably be true of Genevieve some day as well) but they were a solid example of husband, wife, parent. I grew up knowing that my parents loved each other. I grew up never questioning if things might or might not work out between them. In fact, I'm not sure that I know a couple to this day that is more in love with each other than they are. I am thankful for their example. Now, I'm ready to take that torch and pass off that example to the next generation.

In Christ,


Friday, October 5, 2012

Better than Expected

In some ways, five years is not a long time. In some ways, though, it is. Five years is usually the lowest increment of time associated with long-term planning. Have you ever been asked about your five-year plan? I was asked that question during a far too lengthy phone interview for my security job. I was only looking to become a security officer to pay the bills since my career job (youth pastoring) could only pay me part-time. If I had a five-year plan, it probably wouldn't have involved working at their company anymore (yet, nearly seven years later, here I am still working for the same company). Now, granted the idea is not to stop at a five-year plan...that's just the starting point. Many others have ten-year and twenty-year plans as well. I absolutely do not operate on these long-term planning models. It's not that I don't have goals, it's just that I try to be flexible to the environment around me. Having a five-year plan is not a bad thing at all. Being unwilling to move away from a five-year plan when situations change or God calls you to something different than you expected, that's not good

Well, even though I can't say that I ever sat down and mapped out a five-year plan five years ago when I was preparing to marry Polly, I think it would be misleading to say that I didn't have expectations or ideas of how life might look five years down the road. I thought it might be fun to take a look back at the last five years:

For example, if you had told me that five years ago today (the last day of my bachelorhood) would be the last time I'd golf for at least five years, I probably wouldn't have believed you. This is not because golf is such a great passion of mine, because it's not. It's just that I have family and friends who enjoy golfing and one might think the opportunity would have presented itself between now and then. The truth is that it really hasn't. I can assure you, though it makes for a great joke, my lack of golfing has nothing to do with being married. It instead has everything to do with my lack of ability and where it ranks on my personal list of priorities. I still think it makes for a great joke though.

Okay, on to a real look back...

Living Arrangements


When Polly and I got married, we moved into a cute little apartment in Southbridge, MA. It was a nice development with a pool and workout room. It was a bit small, but it suited us well. We had a 14 month lease or something along those lines, so I had actually lived there for a couple months before we got married so we could set it up already. I think we both felt that we would live there for a couple years before investing into our own home.


We lived in the apartment for one year. A few days before we were going to renew our lease we were invited by a family in our church to come and rent a room in their house in order to save up for a house or pay off loans or whatever. After praying, we felt it was the right decision so we moved in just prior to our first anniversary. Four years later, we're still living there. We balked at the idea of buying a house a couple times but just never did feel right about it. In hindsight, of course, we're happy we never did make that investment as we know other missionaries who are fighting the challenge of selling their houses in this economy. Could God have overcome the economy and helped us sell our house? Sure. Or He could just prevent us from buying one in the first place. I'm happy that's the route things went.



When we got married, we were both involved in ministry at Calvary Assembly of God in Dudley, MA. I don't think that we felt we would be there after five years, but neither of us had a clue where we would likely ministry somewhere else though. To pay the bills, I was working as a security officer for a biotech company. I had already been there for almost two years. Polly had just started a new job teaching at a local Christian school. As I already mentioned in the intro, I definitely didn't expect I would be working the security job after five years. Nor did we think Polly would be at the school. Again, we thought we would be moving or transitioning to a full-time ministry opportunity.


We only stepped down from ministry at Calvary AG at the end of June in order to focus on our mission adventure to Costa Rica. As I already mentioned above, I'm still working the security job. Polly left the teaching job when Genevieve was born, but has always stayed involved and helped out with school activities. And as of yesterday, she's teaching there once again on a part-time basis (every Thursday).



When we got married, Polly and I both wanted to wait at least two years before trying to have any children. Based on our timetables, I think it's fair to say that we both would have expected a family of four at this point. We definitely thought I'd be the first of my siblings to provide my parents with a grandchild.


Just after three years of marriage, God graciously blessed us with Genevieve. She's the only one for now. And she's amazing! I never knew that I had that kind of love within me, but my love for Genevieve is like no other love I've ever known. I chose my wife so it was easy to love her (she always will be my first true love) but I loved Genevieve even before I met her. It's a different kind of love. A very special love. And, as it turned out, my brother Jon provided my parents with their first grandchild. Although I didn't see that one coming at the time, it certainly didn't disappoint me. Spend one second with my nephew Sean and you'd see why I'm proud to be his Uncle Monkey.

Suffice it to say we certainly didn't think we'd be preparing to move to another country. I could go on, but I'll spare you. What all this has taught me is this: Life doesn't always happen the way we expect it, but if we allow ourselves to be flexible and follow the Lord's leading, we discover that different does not mean worse. In fact, if you ask me, my life after five years of marriage is better than I ever could have expected or dreamed it to be.

Go love on your family today. Go enjoy your life. Stop thinking of what could have been and start enjoying what is!

Take care,


Thursday, October 4, 2012

All About the Why

Last Tuesday (Sept. 25) I had the privilege of sharing about Speed the Light to the youth at Cornerstone Church in Winchendon, MA. The whole crux of my talk was that we will never really understand Speed the Light if we only think of it in terms of the "what" (purchasing communication and transportation equipment for missionaries) and disregard the "why" (that people call on the name of the Lord and be saved). I said that I believe the "what" is merely a tool used to accomplish the "why." Why we do what we do is important!

On the following day (Wednesday, Sept. 26) I attended a weekly Bible study put on by my friend Joe and the ministry he works with (Campus Ambassadors) at a local college. The discussion hat night was on the importance of the "why" over the "what." He showed this powerfully thought-provoking TED Talk by Simon Sinek (If you can chunk out 15 minutes, I highly recommend watching it). I couldn't believe the connection.

It got me I usually make the "why" my focus instead of the "what?" I certainly do in itineration. I introduce myself and my family, then I share why we do what we do. I talk about the importance of the Good News that we bring with us no matter our context (where we are) or what we do (the programs). The context changes, but the message stays the same! What we do changes but the "why" remains the same. I'm not sure how well I do it in other situations though. I'll tell you one thing, I'm certainly more intentional about it now.

On that Thursday (Sept. 27) I had the privilege to speak about missions to the youth at Faith Christian Assembly in Middletown, CT. It became apparent to me what I should speak on. So I preached about getting a hold of and focusing on the "why" instead of the "what." We talked about the importance of understanding the heartbeat of God - that none should perish. We do what we do because we believe that Christ died for all. And He commanded us to share that truth with those that do not know. We can't decide if others will accept or not, but we can decide if we will be obedient to do our part of sharing. All Christians have a share in this responsibility.

So, how about you? Whether in life in general, your faith, your job, etc., do you find yourself focusing on the "why" or the "what?" Everyone ultimately has some idea of what they're doing, but it's those who focus on knowing and understanding why they do it who succeed. I want to encourage you to be intentional in your life and focus on the "why." If you.don't know what drives you, then I encourage you to work on figuring that out. I believe you'll be better off for it.

In Christ,


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Until the Last Leaf Falls

Polly and I each consider fall to be our favorite season. In fact, that's a major reason why we opted to get married in the fall (October 6, 2007) and why we opted to stay in a cabin in the Green Mountains in Vermont for our honeymoon.

I was born and raised in Massachusetts. In fact, aside from my four years of Bible college in Missouri, I have lived in Massachusetts my whole life. And lets face it, New England is known for it's falls. Polly didn't grow up in New England, but she did grow up in the Northeast (just north of Philly). Falls may not have been quite as spectacular for her in Philly as they have been in Massachusetts, but it was still her favorite season. Once she moved to New England, she was hooked. Here are some of the aspects of a New England fall that make fall my favorite season:

1. Falls in New England are gorgeous! If you've never been leaf peeping (the official term for searching out and viewing beautiful fall scenery created by the various colors of the leaves) in New England then you're missing out on one of God's most beautiful masterpieces within His creation. When I see the beauty of the fall landscape, it stirs up within me the desire to worship its Creator! They are that stunningly beautiful. From bright, vibrant reds, yellows and oranges to rustic oranges, reds and burgundies the color palate is phenomenal. Have you noticed the amount of descriptive words I have used in this one simple paragraph? They still do not do the beauty of fall justice.

Polly and me on our honeymoon in Vermont (October 2007)
2. Falls in New England bring with them wonderfully comfortable temperatures and incredibly breathe-able crisp, fresh air. Fall does not bring with it the heat or humidity of summer, yet its also not so cold that you need to bundle up. A simple pair of jeans, t-shirt and hoodie is completely sufficient for fall temperatures. Also, I am more likely to be able to drive around in my car without the use of the a/c or the heater.

3. Falls in New England play host to many of my favorite activities. Besides leaf peeping, fall is also the season for apple picking, pumpkin picking, playing in piles of leaves (this was obviously something I enjoyed much more in my childhood, but now I'm filled with anticipation for Genevieve to experience the fun of jumping into piles of leaves), running (my favorite season for running even though my lungs burn a little bit extra), football, playoff baseball (don't get me started about this year), the start of hockey season (again, don't get me started about this year), etc.

It takes teamwork to get the high apples
Got it!

4. Falls in New England are home to fairs. I know I could have included this in the previous point about activities, but going to fairs is such a favorite activity that I decided it deserved its own point. I don't care for playing carnival style games (or more to the point, spending the money to play them as I actually do enjoy them; I also like watching others play them). I don't usually go on too many carnival rides anymore. I just like to walk around, look at exhibits, watch performances and eat "fair food." My favorite "fair food" is Thanksgiving sandwiches. Mmmmm. Polly and I have been to quite a number of fairs since we've been married, but our favorite is the Topsfield Fair, which has been around since 1818. I believe it's still considered the oldest agricultural fair in the United States, but that is up for debate. Polly and I have been to the Topsfield Fair together right around every anniversary. It's become one of "our things."

Topsfield Fair 2011 - Genevieve's first fair
Topsfield Fair 2009 - fair foods

5. Falls in America play host to my favorite family holiday. Don't get me wrong, Resurrection Day (Easter) and Christmas are among my favorite holidays as they celebrate to incredibly significant events in the history of mankind (Jesus birth and resurrection, respectively). It's just that while each of those holidays also involves times spent with family, I just think of Thanksgiving as the ultimate family holiday. It really is a day just for getting together with family and eating delicious food. That's the other thing about Thanksgiving...the food spread is the best of all the holidays. As are the leftovers! I look forward to making a turkey, stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce sandwich every day or two after Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving 2009 - Polly's with the first Thanksgiving turkey she ever cooked
6. Falls in New England have amazing food associated with them. Fresh apples picked from trees transform into apple crisp, apple pie, apple sauce, apple cider, cider donuts or caramel/candy apples. Pumpkins go from the pumpkin patch and into pumpkin bread, pumpkin pies and numerous other pumpkin goodies. For Polly this also means Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks.

I'm pretty sure I could go on and on for hours about my affinity for fall, but I think I've made my point. Fall is the best season and New England is the best place to experience this wonderful season. Polly and I enjoy fall every year, so what makes this year any different? Well, our missionary adventure does. It changes everything.

If everything goes according to what we're hoping for and we raise our budget by the spring or summer of 2013, we won't be enjoying another New England fall until possibly 2016. And that's not even a guarantee. Genevieve won't get to experience and fall in love with the fall as we have. We won't get to enjoy the things that we love the most about the fall. But God is also blessing us with pretty cool alternatives. Let's take a look and see what I mean:

1. We will not get to experience the beautiful colors of the New England fall. But from what we hear, see and read, there will be plenty of beautiful things to experience in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is home to beautiful, colorful wildlife (especially birds), volcanoes, waterfalls, gorgeous beaches and other beauty that will no doubt leave us breathless and in awe of the Creator, stirring up within us the desire to worship His creation.

I can't wait to take my own photos like this...
...and this
2. I won't get to enjoy that same satisfaction of cool, crisp air following a hot summer, but we've heard good things about the climate in Costa Rica. It will be humid and will rain for eight straight months (though not necessarily all day and not raining at all the other four months) but the temperature usually stays pretty agreeable and it won't get freezing. I think we will be just fine dealing with the climate change.

3. We will miss the fall activities. There is simply no way to replace some of the specific activities, but we will have new activities keeping us busy. We will be picking other amazingly fresh fruits, do a bit of nature walking/hiking, swimming at the beach (we do that here in New England, but it's cold) and I'm sure numerous other things. It's nice to do things we already love, but it's also fun to do things we've never done before.

4. We won't be able to go to fairs, but I'm sure we'll enjoy some fun festivals and other celebrations in Costa Rica. Again, they'll be new to us. But as I said, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

5. Thanksgiving will simply be different. There are many ex-Patriots living in Costa Rica and other missionaries from the United States as well. There's no doubt that we will celebrate Thanksgiving. The food will be different and we won't be with our family, but we'll still have a lot to be thankful for! We will have to remember to pack some Thanksgiving decorations to help bridge this perceived gap.

6. Food. I love fall foods. We will miss fall food. But, we're also going to be enjoying new foods that we're not currently accustomed to. And from what I know about Latin American food, it will be good! Also, those fresh tropical fruits I mentioned earlier, we will definitely be enjoying those and I'm sure we'll learn some delicious treats to make with them.

So, there it is. We've been hit by the reality that we'll be missing fall while we're in Costa Rica. But, let's put this in Polly's friend Mel once said to her dad when they were at CINCEL (the language school) in San Jose, Costa Rica, we'll be in "stinkin' Costa Rica!" That's something to be excited about.

But for now, while we're here in New England, we'll just keep enjoying the fall. And this year, potentially our last one for a while, we'll be sure to enjoy it...until the last leaf falls.

In Christ,