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,


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Feeling "Youth"ful

Now, I know what you're thinking, "Mike, you just spent your entire blog post yesterday talking about how you're starting to feel old. Now, today, you're writing about feeling youthful? This seems a bit contradictory." First, let me respond to your supposed thoughts by saying that I am absolutely in a place where I sometimes feel young and sometimes feel old. I am torn. I suppose that it has much to do with the perspective and context surrounding my situation at any given time. But, though this is true, I actually don't want to talk about how young I'm feeling (in fact, there are certain aspects to what I want to share that make me feel old) but about ministering to youth--the term typically used in the church world to refer to adolescents.

I believe I have alluded to my feelings about transitioning from youth ministry to missions work in past blog posts, but I wanted to commit an entire post to it. Plainly put, I miss working with youth! I'm not going to was really weird and a bit sad to me that I had no youth ministry to be revving up for at the beginning of this most recent school year. This reality was already having me feel a little bummed. Then, Polly and I went to Six Flags with some friends during Labor Day Weekend. The day that we chose to go happened to be the same day that the Southern New England Ministry Network youth department was having it's "Six Flags Day." This meant that I ran into a bunch of my youth pastor friends who were having fun with their youth. I was having fun too, but had no youth. It left me feeling a little bit more bummed.

What's interesting is that transitioning to missions is not actually transitioning me out of youth ministry. One of the things I'll be involved with in Costa Rica is youth ministry. This is something that John & Dina Musacchio are big into (they too were youth pastors before becoming missionaries). It's more the itineration, preparation period that has left me wanting.

I did a youth service on the Friday night I was at my brother's youth ministry in Charlotte, NC in August. It was one of those last minute, "Hey Mike, can you speak tonight?" things. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And I was already scheduled to do a couple youth services at the request of the church's senior pastor. So, I thought about it. What if, just what if Polly and I could expand our prayer and financial partnership not only through regular adult church services and family and friends, but we also could expand our partnership through youth services? Why not?! I mean, not simply asking a church if they can have us and being blessed with a youth services, but intentionally seeking youth services out. So, I started contacting my youth pastor friends and offering our services to come and share about Speed the Light, general missions, or any topic they thought might be beneficial for their students. And I immediately started getting results. We already have a number booked for the near future with more we just have to work out dates for. Talk about a win-win. In fact, out of these contacts birthed out of this desire I had two youth services last week. They were amazing. I loved every minute of being around teenagers. It was awesome!

I seriously can't wait to book more. Yeah, it's more time out of my schedule during the week. But you know what? It is so worth it! God gave me (and Polly) a heart to work with young people (as well as college students, though we have stayed involved in a local college ministry's Bible study during this itineration period so we're not really missing it). That's a fire burning within me that won't be extinguished. I don't want it to be extinguished! I love working with youth and I love the fact that I love it.

Let me quickly address the aspect of this that has me feeling older (as I alluded to in the intro). It's not that I've been out of high school as long as some of the youth I've encountered have been alive (though, come to think of it, that doesn't really help the situation). It's not that I have youth pastor friends who are young enough to have been one of my youth (that doesn't really help either...I need to stop dwelling on possible reasons and just get to the point here). It's that when I was at one of the youth ministry's service, the youth pastor described a contest they were about to do that caused the following immediate reaction out of me aloud to him: "Do you know how long I've been in youth ministry? Long enough to know this is a bad idea. I guarantee that someone will get hurt." Yep, I took on the role of the old, out-of-touch, no-fun adult yelling the situational equivalent to, "You'll poke your eye out." There was a time, I would have come up with such a game and acted upon it. I know that it's probably a good thing that I've matured to this point. But that doesn't mean that it didn't make me feel old. For the record, someone did get hurt. I felt too bad to say, "I told you so." Well, verbally anyway. I'm pretty sure I involuntarily gave a look that communicated as much.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to speaking at the youth services I already have booked. And I can't wait to get in touch with other youth pastor friends (and churches) to book more. I only wish I had thought to do this sooner. You don't know how much you cherish something until you miss it though, right? That's partially true. I knew I loved the youth at Calvary Assembly of God in Dudley, MA. I just didn't know how much they were such a significant part of my life.

What can I say? I heart youth.

In Christ,


Monday, October 1, 2012

Feeling Old

I've mentioned before that we spend a lot of time traveling around and sharing our hearts for Costa Rica with various churches these days. Some of them are churches we've been to before and some of them are churches we haven't ever been to. We love visiting churches whether it's our first time there or whether we've been there many times before. It's either an opportunity to meet new people or see old friends. I love both. The church we visited yesterday was one that I had been to before. In fact, I served as a youth/children's pastor of sorts at Vietnamese Christian Center (VCC) in Worcester, MA during the summers of my college years while my brother Stephan was serving as the church's interim pastor. So it should come as no surprise that I was excited to visit yesterday and see some old friends.

It wasn't my first time preaching at the church, but it was my first time preaching there in a few years anyway. At least, that's how I thought about it as I was getting ready for church yesterday morning. It didn't feel like it had been that long since I had last preached there. I then began to think of when the last time was. I used some simple deductive reasoning to assess that it was when I was still in college because I had become the youth pastor at Calvary Assembly of God in Dudley, MA in the summer immediately following graduation. Assuming (a fair assumption) that I last preached there during the summer in between my junior and senior years of college, that would mean that I had last preached at VCC sometime during the summer of 2004, or a little over eight years ago. That's when it hit me...I'm getting old. Let me explain.

The fact that it was eight years ago in and of itself is not really all that big a deal. I mean, as long as your over the age of eight, you clearly did something eight years ago. And nobody would argue that an 8-year-old is old. No, eight years on its own is not a big deal. BUT when you couple that with the fact that I viewed the eight years as a short period of time, it is a very big deal. I sincerely thought of it as though it wasn't that long ago, yet it was eight years. This means that eight years is a short period to me. This means that I'm getting old. I mean, think about it...eight years ago to a 16-year-old is half a lifetime ago. When I was a sophomore in high school (16), second grade (8) seemed very distant to me. That's because, relatively speaking, it was. Yep, the only reasonable conclusion to how I felt about that eight year period of time is that I'm getting old.

On the bright side, I can't be that old because I did still remember serving and preaching at VCC eight years ago. Really old people would have forgotten that. know on second thought, maybe I do feel like it was a long time ago and I'm just giving into Polly's constant reminders of how old I am as I close in on 30.

Well, regardless of how old I am or am not feeling, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with the wonderful people at VCC yesterday. I hope it's not another eight years before I see them all again...even if it isn't that long a period of time; or is it? (this battle will be raging internally for a while). They were as loving and generous as ever.

In Christ,


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