32 Birthday Thanks to All!

December 12, 2013

So many things to be grateful for this time of the year and after celebrating my Birthday yesterday, it is time to share those thanks after all the wishes came in!  Before we get to the thanks, there are a couple highlights I want to share with you.  Over the past 5 months I have had the opportunity to live with my friends Jared and Britni, along with their two little kiddos, Grayson and Sloane.  As I awoke and came downstairs I was preparing for the day with a little quiet time with the Lord when Grayson came walking in to the reading room with a card he and Sloane made for me.  What a great way to start the day with the smiles of these two friends of mine(and mom and dad)…

Grayson & Sloane BDay Photo

Then it was off to the Java Jag, the coffee shop at Ankeny Centennial High School, to volunteer.  I was able to see some students and share a smile with them, always great seeing students in their environment!  Afterward I was off to work, starting my day with a meeting with my Children’s Ministry Staff, Jackie and Angie.  Little did I know that the meeting had an alternative motive, a surprise that both of the ladies were in on.  Even before the meeting started, Miss Bridget walked in and definitely surprised me with her presence and presents.  We shared a delicious Wig and Pen Union Jack pizza and then gave me some wonderful thoughtful gifts.  What a blessing it was to have lunch on a day where we are both busy with student ministry at night!

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Following this wonderful lunch date, I continued the day by watching a soccer match of my top team, Chelsea.  As I watched I did a bit of work, but was preparing for a night with students.  In preparing I was excited to take on a new  activity to share with the Junior High students.  Dustin, our worship leader, and I practiced some choreographed dance moves that our friend Geneva taught us to share with the students.  We found out later that it rocked!  As PowerLife started I was serenaded by 100 students and leaders to a wonderful Happy Birthday sing along, as I thanked them I told them how much I loved celebrating my Birthday with all of them, couldn’t be more blessed!  After a great night with the students, I then returned home to enjoy game night with Jared and Britni.  The kids and Britni had baked a cake and Jared had bought some ice cream for a nice treat.  After playing four games, 2 of Settlers of Catan and 2 of Ticket to Ride, I came away with one win in Settlers…I’ll take it.

Catan BDay PicBDay Dessert

Such a great way to the end a day filled with surprises and fun!

There was one thing that the day was littered with I have yet to mention and a reminder of all the great friends in my life.  Thank you for all the Birthday wishes in person, via text and Facebook message.  As I thought about how to say thank you to all I knew of something I would like to share that would be a gift in return.

This year’s gift to you comes from the Lord( John 15:9-17 ), it is His love!  The best gift I got is the love that comes from the Lord and as the Lord reveals in scripture, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  So that is my offer to you this day!  How may I “lay my life down” for you?  I want to continue to grow in my sharing of love with you all as we continue our journey’s in this life!

Then just to say thanks in a unique way, here are 32 Ways I am Thankful for all of you, my friends:
1)     Friendship through life
2)    Support through
3)    Encouragement through challenges
4)    Laughter in good company
5)    Creativity together
6)    Sense of Adventure
7)    Care for my well being
8)    Smiles when a lift is needed
9)    Hugs to share love
10)  Thoughts when in conversation
11)   Prayers in all circumstances
12)  Questions that make me think
13)  Energy early in the morning(and throughout the day)
14)  Empathy when emotions are a challenge
15)  Wisdom in decisions
16)  Love for soccer(sports in general)
17)  Hope in the desert places
18)  Experiences of a lifetime
19)  Your children who bring joy
20)  Your compassion for those in need
21)  Memories of the past that won’t fade
22)  Teamwork
23)  Hospitality over the years
24)  Affirmation in times of change
25)  Accountability in thoughts, words and deeds
26)  Gifts over the years
27)  Acts of kindness
28)  Inspiration and Motivation
29)  Vulnerability and humility
30)  Appreciation for food
31)   LOVE FOR GOD AND OTHERS!!!

There is so much more I could say, but this is a pretty good start!  Thank you all for your friendship and your kind words yesterday!  It was a great way to celebrate and this time of year is always a good reminder of all the numerous blessings that come in the shape of friends!  Praise God for you and your friendship!  Please let me know how I can be praying for you and your family!  My goal is to share more and more love, because God continues to show His Love more and more each day!


Thanks to the One!

November 28, 2013

Time to give THANKS to the one who created us and has given us everything!  “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!  His faithful love endures forever.”  (Psalm 106:1Psalm 107:1, Psalm 118:1, Psalm 136:1, 1 Chronicles 16:34)

I am constantly reminded of how good God is through the good and the bad.  Today, I am thankful for too much to list and give credit to all deserving.  What I am sure of is that God is the provider of all blessings as our Creator.  He has given numerous gifts that can be only through His love and power.  Primarily I am thankful for the way God has used my family and friends to encourage and support me in my journey.  As the journey continues I hope to also be a blessing to others and that is my prayer today, “God use me to be an example of your love and grace that helps remind others of your abundant blessing.”

I started off my day preparing “thank you” notes and gifts for some great people and I just love that today reminds us how empowering giving thanks is for ourselves and others.  Then I continued onto my 3rd Annual Thanksgiving Day Mountain Bike Adventure.  I find time riding as great time to connect with God and be in His presence in His creation.  I traveled to a new site, 

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I was the only one out on the “singletrack” today and it a beautiful ride with a mix of dirt and snow.  Over the past few years I have enjoyed starting the day off in quiet time with God while exercising and soaking in His creation.  There were a number of challenging hills and turns, which provided humbling encounters today.  I am so grateful for the passion of adventure and exploring.  It is impossible to deny how great God is when you see what these eyes saw this morning.  Here are a couple examples:

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Today as we spend time with God, family and friends, let us be reminded that when we have more than we need that there are others around us in need of some of which we have.  What will we share?  In our Faith and Trust, will we take a step provide for others.  A new tradition of serving others begins tonight as I head to Lutheran Church of Hope to package meals for Meals from the Heartland.  A prayer to close, “Lord, thank you for all you have given to me.  May our work packaging meals today provide nourishment to those in need and may those in need receive this provision as an example of your Love for them!  Through these meals may your name become know!  Amen.”  Thank you God for this day and every day, for the current blessings and future blessings!  You are the ONE to be Thankful for!


A Different Day!

November 1, 2013

Each year many get excited about a celebration that involves creativity, carving, candy, contests and costumes.  Yes, you are correct, it’s Halloween.  I do wonder how many know the roots of this holiday we celebrate so profusely in the Western Culture?  As I was doing some prep work for teaching this week with the middle school confirmation students at Hope, I decided to venture out and research a few things.  I soon was reminded that Halloween is derived from All Hallows Eve, which I then learned was a part of Hallowmas which is a time of year set aside to remember the dead including saints, martyrs and the faithful departed(via wikipedia).  There is much more to the history of Halloween and even Hallowmas, but I am one to always ask the question, why do we do what we do?

Hallows Eve

I wonder if you have pondered this question yourself over the past couple of days?  Because so many of us spend time and energy preparing to celebrate Halloween, yet as I have done for years, I don’t even celebrate what it was intended to celebrate.  I primarily celebrate the opportunity to be goofy and enjoy time with friends in a unique way, all dressed up!  I wonder if we looked at Halloween a bit differently, if it would be less about the traditions with roots to the 16th Century in Ireland, Scotland and Wales which has evolved to costume parties, trick or treating and good ole pumpkin carving and more about it’s true origins of celebrating those who have passed.  But let’s be honest, in many cases there isn’t a lot that is fun about that and in all reality if we celebrated per Halloween’s original roots it sure wouldn’t look the same.  So what are we to do?

Maybe we take some time each year remembering those who have passed on Halloween and create our own unique celebration for this, and then just for fun do all the other stuff, which is less about the commemoration and more about the gathering of friends and neighborhoods!  How will your perspective change this day forth?  Because today is known as All Saints Day, a celebration of God believers who have departed this earth.  Today can take on a new focus for all of us, who do we know that have passed before us that we can be reminded of and celebrate?  Who are the saints, or Christian believers, we know?  Let’s be reminded of their lives and the examples they set for us and praise God for the eternal life they have been gifted with!  A gift that is available to all of us!

Oh and how about a curve ball?  October 31, 1517 marks an important moment in Christian history.  Martin Luther’s 95 Theses were delivered as his first move in the Reformation.  October 31 is a different day in multiple ways.  It is a day that we too celebrate the day in which Martin Luther stood up against the malpractices of the church leadership in the Roman Catholic Church.  At the time, Pope Leo X granted indulgences for those who donated to the renovation of St. Peters Basilica in Rome.  He was the leader of the church and the people were coming to him asking forgiveness of sin and it was granted through a donation.  Martin Luther took a stand for a different reality and that reality was rooted in God’s Holy Word, which at the time wasn’t available to many because it had yet to be translated into a language they could read.  For many reasons this is why the people entrusted the Pope and priests to be their interpreters and followed their lead.  For those Christians today who read this and understand that forgiveness doesn’t cost us a thing, we can see how out of line Pope Leo X may have been.

Martin Luther

Why don’t we celebrate Reformation Day more profoundly than Halloween?  Especially when Halloween is rarely a time of commemoration as it was originally intended?  Now I know many churches today celebrate Reformation Sunday which falls the Sunday after October 31, however the day that the 95 Theses were posted is a major historical event that transformed the church in many ways.  Now this is what I was sharing with the students about on Wednesday night, the roots of the Lutheran Faith.  I am so thankful for Martin Luther who obeyed God and His Word in a way that has changed the trajectory of Christianity for many centuries!  Praise God for Martin Luther, whom stood firm in his Faith which led to a new day and a new way!

Maybe today you will forever be reminded of a different day and a different way to celebrate on October 31!  Perhaps amidst all the fanfare of candy and costumes, we will take a moment of time to celebrate a man who chose to stand firm and post the 95 Theses that led to a breakthrough.  Maybe he can be an example for us today in learning how to stand firm!  October 31, maybe you and I will look at it to be “A Different Day!”


Nederland or Deutschland…Both!

October 7, 2013

Dank je wel and Danke!  The two countries we spent the majority of our time exploring while away have much to offer and I am so thankful for the opportunity to have seen so much.  I had previously shared some photos on Facebook and you are about to see some more!  I first want to express how unbelievably beautiful the countryside is in both the Netherlands and Germany.  From small towns off in the distance and valleys with dense forestation, to an abundance of flowers and the infamous windmills, these eyes did not get tired while driving many miles over a span of 7 days.  The trip took us away from Den Haag, Netherlands, the homestead for my great friends Brad and Mindy who are living over there on a 2 year work assignment.  We first journeyed to Germany with stops in Cologne, Bamberg, Munich, and Stuttgart.  Our first stop in Cologne was an opportunity to see an amazing cathedral with such great intricacy in its design.

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Cologne Cathedral.

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Cathedral at night.  A photo I captured that I thought was cool.

After a night in Cologne it was onto Bamberg for our next stayover.  Along the way we were able to make a pit stop for a boat tour on the Rhine River.  This was a top highlights of this trip.  Simply amazing to see the numerous castles and picturesque towns right along the river.  Take a peak…

IMG_20130922_043248_896Castle #1

IMG_20130922_044545_497Castle #2

IMG_20130922_044746_726Castle #3

IMG_20130922_045447_567Castle #4

IMG_20130922_050338_567Castle #5

IMG_20130922_050525_942Castle #6

IMG_20130922_051255_098Castle #7

IMG_20130922_052237_875Castle #8 (in background)

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A great glimpse, but as you can imagine in person the sights were much greater than my cell phone camera can catch.  It was amazing to see a castle around almost every corner.  I really hope that my friend Brad fulfills his promise to buying his wife Mindy a castle some day.  I can only imagine what it would have been like to live in one of these great fortresses along the Rhine.  This trip is a must for anyone visiting Germany.  Hop aboard the KD Rhine Boat in Bingen for the nearly 2 hour ride up the river to St. Goar.  It would have been great to have the whole day to hop off in a couple of the towns and catch a later boat to continue.  The little towns I am sure had much to offer and a tour of one of the castles would have been an added bonus.  Our time was limited as we wanted to get to our next overnight stop for some rest, Bamberg.

Bamberg is a gem and the Old Town is known as a UNESCO World Heritage sight.  It was barely touched during World War II and displays some very old architecture.  It is also known for its Rauchbier, which is a smokey flavored beer.  Only appropriate to enjoy a pint of a beer with one’s name in it!  Rauch translates to smoke in German and it provides a unique process of brewing that originates from Bamberg.  Even though a short stay, here is a glimpse.

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Above Bamberg!

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Along the river in Old Town.

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Bamberg Cathedral.

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Old architecture.

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St. Michaels Church

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Outside the Brewery where they make Rauchbier.

Then it was off to Munich where we spent three days and nights.  This proved to be a great mid trip break with all the miles we planned to put on.  Munich was my favorite city we visited with so much history and unique architecture.  There were a number of sights we were able to see as we ventured on a bike tour, spent a day at Oktoberfest, visited Dachau and went to a Bayern Munich match.  I too was able to take a run to Olympic Park which provided a great view of the city.  Here are some of the sights in Munich.

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Marienplatz during the Glockenspiel…hit it at the right time unintentionally!

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View atop a tower at one of the churches in Munich!IMG_20130923_064736_696

Inside a church along our bike tour…very intricate design on inside!

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The outside of the church referenced in previous photo.

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Garden visit along our bike tour.  Love this shot!

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Angel monument along bike tour.

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Oktoberfest 2013.

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Olympic Ring ride at Oktoberfest, yes I went on this!

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View atop the ferris wheel The Oktoberfest!

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The PowerShot which also gave quite a view of the city at night!

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Panorama of the Bayern Munich match at Allianz Arena!

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View out of the window of one of the barracks at Dachau. You can see the foundation of many other barracks that were in this prisoner camp.  Hard to believe that this was real!

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View of Olympic Park from atop a hill.

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View of Munich atop the hill at Olympic Park.

As you can see we definitely took Munich in!  From Munich it was on to Neuschwanstein Castle, which provided for a surprise second castle, which is the much lesser known.  It however provided one of my favorite sights of the entire trip.  Check it out.

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Hohenschwangau Castle with a simply majestic backdrop!

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Pretty Majestic too!  Thank you Neuschwanstein!

From here we were onto Stuttgart for an overnight and didn’t explore the city too much, from our first glance it was quite industrial.  We did however take in a great meal and then visited the Mercedes Benz Museum before we departed the next morning.  My favorites at the Mercedes Benz Museum are here.

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Always love cars with these gull wing doors!

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How about the 1974 World Cup Transport for the Deutschland Team!

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A sweet concept SUV!

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Can never beat a collection of classics!

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Classy!

After this morning stop it was on to Luxembourg City for our next overnight.  One of the coolest things in Luxembourg was the Casemates du Bock, which provided for a unique view.

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Panorama from the top of the Casemates.

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Another view from atop…fort like.

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From below the casemates.

Then we were back to the Netherlands.  After a pitstop in Liege including a 360 step climb for a view and lunch.  we were headed back for Den Haag.

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Will it be worth it?

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Yes, my legs were sore!

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It was worth it!

A little exercise was needed along the way because there was definitely a lot of driving.  Did I mention we put a lot of miles in as we explored?  We covered 1230+ miles in 6 days of driving.  Here is a snapshot of the route.

Map of Travels

A definite bucket list checkmark while driving on the Autobahn in Germany. I was thankful that Sixt upgraded the VW Golf equivalent rental to a BMW 1 Series Diesel.  Let’s just say when it was opened wide on the Autobahn I reached 220km/hr(136 mph).  Ya, that was sweet and my palms were definitely sweaty on the first go.  That was all of 20 minutes into Germany.  Yes, I like to go fast and I was fortunate that my co-pilot as we traveled across Germany was appreciative of the opportunity to go fast.  He also made mention of how much safer it seemed on the autobahn as compared to driving the interstates here in the US.  I concurred as drivers are much more aware of what is happening around them and senses are heightened.  You had to be when cars would fly by out of nowhere, literally!  Some had to have been clocking 250km/hr(150 mph).  A neat experience nonetheless and when I go back I will not hesitate renting a car.  After all the miles we were ready to settle in for a night back at the homestead.

We enjoyed a little take out and some College football before a day in Amsterdam.  Amsterdam provided some great sights and my favorite were the canals.  Took a little canal tour which provided a good view of the city.

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Great view of canal.

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Love the bikes that line most of the bridges above the canal.  There are an abundance of bikes in the Netherlands and I love it!

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Smallest house in Amsterdam.IMG_20130929_062347_948

The design on the top of buildings are called Step Gables…one of my faves!

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As I mentioned great architecture!

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One of the sights down the canal at an upcoming church tower.

After another night at the homestead watching football and enjoying some pizza, it was one last day.  This day we had nothing planned and I wanted to make the most of it by getting to see what I would define as a must see in the Netherlands, Kinderdijk.  I had a carefully planned route from Dordrecht which would involve taking a train, renting a bike and making a pit stop at the Noah’s Ark replica.  It really was the best way to close out my trip!

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A great panorama of the windmills!

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Up close and personal with a working mill!

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Love the farm in the fore ground, feels like the countryside!

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Love the canals that surround the windmills.  Useful!

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Bikes & Windmills = Dutch experience extraordinaire!

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That’s big!

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Unique perspective!

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There were animals.  Many pairs inside and yes some were live!

What I love about everything experienced on this trip is that there were so many sights that the eyes could only capture.  The photos are only a glimpse of the amazing time this trip was and my hope is to encourage others to find opportunities to get out and explore this world!  This was by far a trip of a lifetime and I am so thankful for our hosts Brad and Mindy who decided to live over in the Netherlands so we could come visit :-)  Where will your journey take you too?  I hope in my sharing some are encouraged to someday visit Nederland and Deutschland as you will not be disappointed!  As for now it is back to work, bon voyage!


Don’t worry…

September 12, 2013

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Today I wanted to share with each of you what seems to consume us at times in our lives, WORRY.  There are many things we find ourselves worrying about.  Are we going to meet the deadline?  Are we going to have enough money at the end of the month?  Am I ever going to find a job I enjoy?  Will I ever get married?  So many worries, and so much time lost worrying.  I cannot help but recognize what Jesus teaches about worry, but more importantly asks…Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? (Matthew 6:27)

This past weekend I able to teach about this excerpt from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount(Matthew 6:25-34) to our children at Lutheran Church of Hope Ankeny.  It was a focus during our weekend services as Pastor Scott Rains shared a message(listen here).  I hope to continue to encourage and provide you with resources to help you consider what God is speaking to you through my writing.  I believe He is alive and well in our lives, and I know that I cannot take credit for what begins to stir in your heart after you take time to read what I have shared and/or what I have resourced you with such as scripture references, message links, book recommendations or videos.  So as you read today, I want you to consider what are you worrying about today?

Worries come in all shapes and sizes.  In specific as of recent I have found worry hanging out in the sphere of work.  Will I have enough time to do what I need to do.  Hear me loud and clear, what me, myself and I need to do.  Where does our need to do something come from?  I am walking through a 21 day prayer devotion with my children’s ministry staff and God revealed to me something worth pondering.  Much of the worry that we may face as it relates to expectations comes from ourself or others.  God didn’t intend us to worry.  Many of the agendas we encounter in this world are created by imperfect humans.  As a result we often find ourselves trying to meet up to the expectations of others.  I believe that we have responsibilities that are important to do our best to manage.  This is a sweet spot for worry to hang out and if we were to be honest with ourselves and considered what it would look like to Take God Seriously in this arena of our life, we would be evaluating the expectations He has for us, learning to discern His plan!  So let’s address this worry, is it imposed on you by expectations of others or self imposed?

It may not take too long to realize that the source of worry comes back to one of these realms and we are setup to fail, primarily because we encounter unrealistic expectations.  Part of the process to remove worry is to evaluate many of the expectations in our lives, where do they come from, how do we manage them and what is the result of meeting up to the expectations?  This process has allowed me to take on a new view when it comes to managing these expectations.  God made it clear to me that I am limited in my capacity, and in many cases it is only through His power that a task is completed.  I have come to know and understand that it is His plan that will be carried out, regardless of how I plan for execution.  In many cases my plan and intentions, have not been carried out perfectly or as I had hoped.  On the back end I  trust that God will do what He needs to in His time.  I just hope and pray that each day that I will do my best!

Last night as I was preparing for our first night of PowerLife, our Junior High Ministry, time ran out to do everything I had hoped before the leaders and the students and it would have been easy to let the worry creep in.  I turned over some of the details to God and simply did my best!  Again, I look back on last night and recognize that I might have expected to do too much in preparation and was setting myself up for failure.  However what has been revealed in conversation with others and quite time this week, is that there is only one way to overcome worry.  It comes from the passage referenced earlier when Jesus challenges the people when He says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33)  Are you hearing this?  Jesus not only is preaching this to the people of His time, but to us today!  Seek the Kingdom of God!  Above everything else!  First!  He(God) will give us everything we need!  Let that soak in.  Our needs that we come up with on our own, are not His needs.  Do you believe this?  Do you believe that God will provide your needs?!

Much of our worry as it relates to what we need comes from our own selfish desires and expectations, we find ourselves worrying to meet our needs, that we created.  Get rid of worry by asking God what He wants for us.  Ask God what our true needs are!  If this is new for you, please reach out to me.  I would love to talk through this, because I find worry fleeing as I have put more and more trust in God.  When the worry was removed last night as I turned it over to God, I was living the freedom of His presence as I delivered a message He had placed on my heart to share with the students and leaders.  If you turn your worry over to God, how might you better perform at whatever it is you are doing today? What freedom will it bring you?  Your worry may be coming from the expectations of the world, so be mindful to evaluate.  Turn the worry over and simply do your absolute best in the time you have today!  The Word comes from God through Jesus, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.”  Give your best today…as a parent, child, friend, employee, athlete…in whatever you do!  Don’t worry, just give your best!  I will pray that in your best, God will carry out His plan!
Give your best


Ankeny United!

September 2, 2013

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Friday night under the lights is one of the many things I love about fall.  This fall in Ankeny, Iowa there is a new reality within the community.  After a number of years of preparation, the two schools faced off in their first Varsity matchup on the football field!  After a State Championship last year, this fall marks the beginning of a new era for football and sports in Ankeny.  There was much anticipation for the new rivalry established within a town that has been united around sports and activities for many years.

As an outsider, growing up just down the road in Urbandale, I have a different perspective and lens to look through than many of the families that have been in Ankeny for years, or teachers and coaches within the system.  There is no doubt tension that has grown within the community for a number of reasons, which can be overcome if we are ready to take it on as a community!

One example of the tension that I witnessed as I left on Friday night passing through the parking lot, High School students were screaming profanity and using name calling as a way to prove a point, leading to one car stopping and students getting out to walk back to the other car to get in the face of the other students.  All I could do is sit back and wonder, what up?

There is no doubt in my mind that God has brought me to Ankeny to have an impact in a time such as this.  I too believe there are many others, students and parents that too want to change the trajectory of the reality in Ankeny amidst the division that a High School split causes.  Or wait, is it the split that really causes division or is it people?  I believe it is people that get in the way.  I don’t expect others to take on my point of view, I do pray and hope that others ask God to speak into our lives and guide our steps, which may lead to a new perspective.  Maybe it will be more similar to how I am looking at it…

I consider this season in Ankeny to be a time God is calling us to stay united, continually cheering on our community in everything positive and life giving.  Why do we have to be enemies?  Why do we have to be victims to tension?  As a coach and former collegiate athlete, I definitely have a competitive nature but through a new perspective, looking at life through the lens of God, I have found that I no longer view others as enemies.  I am called to love others and this love carries forward in every facet of my life.  It doesn’t mean there aren’t times when I struggle to love others, but when I coach I appreciate more and more the talents and abilities of our opponents to the extent that I would much rather praise their efforts than spend my energy boo’ing them.

Back to this past Friday night, while supporting the Ankeny Centennial Jaguars primarily because I’m a Jaguar Soccer Coach, I too found myself appreciating and even enjoying the good efforts and/or plays by the Ankeny Hawks.  This is all a matter of perspective to me.  It would have been easy to cheer against them like the hundreds of students and adults that chose to, but why?  First off, it does no good for those I’d be cheering against and it only encourages those I’m around to follow my lead.  I often am considering the impact of my actions and if I am completely honest I often find myself judging the actions of others.  My hope is to challenge others to act as though they would hope to be treated.  I mean how many of us wish there were hundreds of people cheering against us in work, in activities, in life?  Think of the power of hundreds cheering us on in the good things we do?  I know, football is just a game, but there are millions that enjoy playing the game and many gifted athletes who want to do their best.  Can we do our best to cheer them on to their best?

So let’s step away from this example and consider the bigger impact.  Ankeny is in a crucial season where we go one of two ways, we divide or remain united.  I choose the latter and hope many do as well.  I honestly believe we could be an example of a community that demonstrates a healthy rivalry, that leads up and demonstrates to the world around us that the split in school does not result in a split in the community. I look to scripture often to provide us encouragement and support in what we are doing.  Whether you find yourself a Christ follower or not, I ask us to all consider what Psalm 133 speaks to us…
How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!

If Ankeny were to live in harmony, I truly believe we would become an example for the world to follow.  We can be example for many as they live their lives.  Consider the headlines, “Ankeny United”, living in unity with one another.  I think the message from this past weekend at Lutheran Church of Hope, “Why Can’t Christians Get Along?”, hits home as to the root of the problem when it comes to unity.  Take a listen to the message by clicking the link above.  You can also watch the video message by following the instructions below.

This is a God-sized dream, one that He has laid on my heart and I am praying that through me and many others, we can lead up, changing the reality of the future of this community.  Especially as a Christian, I am hoping to encourage and empower my other brothers and sisters in Christ to remain united on this front so we can lead others into harmony.  A couple of things are already happening that I find to be a result of God’s prompting in the lives of others and I have been blessed to partake.  First, a group of youth leaders from Ankeny area churches gathered for a worship service the night before school to promote unity amongst students as they began the new year.  Our prayer was to encourage students to stay united in Christ, no matter which school they were attending.  Another group of youth leaders from different churches, along with students and teachers gathered to encourage Christian community within schools.  As I have reflected on what God is doing, I have become more and more clear that He is calling for us to be UNITED!  To grow as a community seeking God’s guidance and direction as we live in the reality and tension of split schools.  God’s plan is different and if we live into His plan I believe this next season in the community of Ankeny could be more in line with God’s plan if we accept the challenge.

This is my context for unity.  What is your context?  How is this example speaking a new reality for you in your context?  Where is unity and harmony needed in your life?  What are we doing to seek harmony?  The truth is the more and more we seek harmony, the impact it has on the reality in our communities and the world!  Let’s get out of the way and live to serve, cheer on and support others!

*Instructions for video message:
1)  Visit link : hopeonline.tv
   2)  Go to “Since You Asked” Sermon Series
3)  Select “Why Can’t Christians Get Along” by Pastor Richard Webb


Worlds of Fun…and Oceans too!

August 19, 2013

What is better than spending a day at Worlds of Fun with students?  Also making the short walk over to Oceans of Fun.  Yesterday I spent the day with 12 students experience the fun that these parks have to offer.  As only God would have it, the day was perfect.  We started the day asking for God to keep us safe and provide a great experience for all the students.  We knew there was much joy to be had, so we wanted to know that was God was present amidst the thrills!  The forecast was sunny and warm, with a nice breeze to keep us cool.  The park traffic was light now that school is back in session for many of the Kansas City area schools, so we had short wait times.  We were able to make the most of our 7 hours!

We all started at Worlds of Fun riding many of the thrill rides.  My favorite has always been the Mamba, and I think it still holds true!

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We had a few stops before the Mamba of course which included the Patriot to start our day.  If you don’t know about the Patriot, it is a unique ride at Worlds of Fun, with many upside down loops and seats that allow your feet dangle below as you fly around the turns.  You can see a ride along video here.  Then it was onto the Timberwolf and Detonator before the Mamba.  I will say the Mamba wait tested our patience, first it was a dropped item below the cars that they retrieved, then it was a guest illness they had to clean up.  Of course the wait just built the energy all the while finding the patience and just enjoying the company of friends.  After the Mamba a couple students took on the Boomerang.  You can watch their ride here…

After my experience last year, I decided I didn’t want to feel out of sync the remainder of the day so I passed.  Following the Boomerang it was onto the Prowler before we took a break for lunch, which was a much needed refueling!  For the guys it was onto Oceans of Fun.  We all had our fair share of roller coasters and decided it would be a nice and refreshing taking on the water slides and tube rides.  It was unanimous that our favorite set of slides were the Predator’s Plunge.  The photo below best depicts the surprise of the drop floor that sends you plunging into the tube below at a high speed.

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It doesn’t quite capture the full story, but if you can imagine being enclosed in a capsule while leaning slightly back and waiting “patiently” for the 3 second countdown before the floor drops out below you, it makes for a great ride!  Until you reach the end you are in an tube the entire time, turning many directions with water flying in your face for all of 30 seconds before you reach the opening at the end.

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We hit all of the different rides available at Oceans of Fun, including a stop at the Wave Pool; who doesn’t love a good ole’ wave pool?  The mid afternoon spell at the water attractions provided a good break from the high speed roller coasters, but it was time for us to finish out the day with a few last rides at Worlds.  We headed as an entire group to the Prowler, the Mamba and onto the Patriot.  The photo below says it all…

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Smiles galore!  The fun was had by all and it was a great way to spend a Sunday.  The students were so appreciative of the opportunity to go and I was thankful for the time with them.  I continue to be reminded during days like these of why God has placed me on this journey.  I cherish the relationships I have developed in serving the students and continually hope for more opportunities like these to get to know students.  By the end of the 14 hour day, the students were still going strong, especially those in my car who decided to end our ride with a fun jam session to the Lion King soundtrack!  For those of you who know me, it’s all about singing as though no one were listening.  I thank God for the “Worlds of Fun” and “Oceans of Fun” He brings into our lives.

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence

and the pleasures of living with you forever.”    ~    Psalm 16:11


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