Category Archives: Family

The New Normal in less than 45 days

So much has happened, most of which I have written about in greater detail in my journal that I keep in my Day One Journal

April 7th I found out along with 14 others that our jobs were being moved from MN to Dallas, TX.  and we had 30 days to find something else within the company or take severance.  First time for everything, needless to say I was stressed, but knew that God was in control even though I was not!

April 13th – celebrated my birthday

April 14th – April 19th – flew to CA for a Six Sigma Conference – was a finalist for the Greenbelt Leadership Award – did not win, but was very thankful just to make it as a finalist and got a free trip to CA which allowed me some time to go see my Dad after the festivities had concluded.

May 2014 – able to secure a new position doing essentially the same thing as before, but it will require us to move to Dallas, TX.  We had explored this option last year but it did not work out for us.  Now circumstances have changed and we are in a better position to take on this move.

June 2014 – secured a place to live in the Dallas area and making preparations to move.

July 2014 – leave MN for TX

Even though I am glad that I was able to find a job, it was hard to go back to the office to work knowing that 14 other people were not as fortunate as I was to be able to find another job and to keep working without interruption.  That is the human side to these types of scenarios.  Now, the new normal will start to take hold.

I have lived in MN for almost 12 years.  God has been very good to me.  I came here 12 years ago, single and younger.  I am leaving now 12 years later, married, two children, and two seminary degrees and still working for the same company that I started with when I first moved to MN.  Life has been very good in MN (except for last winter)

It is going to be a definite adjustment moving to TX in many ways.  I will be glad that I wont have to pay anymore MN State Income Tax.  I will definitely miss our church that has been an integral part of our lives for these 12 years.  I will miss the Christian school that has played a vital role in the life of our son.  I will miss the friends that we have made over the years.  Facebook helps bridge the gap but can never take the place of in-person fellowship and conversation.

Instead of -30 and -40 we will be experiencing 100 and 110 F, so we are trading extremes.  I grew up in Southern CA so I am used to the 100 and 110 F, but it will be an adjustment for my wife and children. I won’t miss the hour-long commutes that should only take 15 mins when there is 5 inches of snow on the ground.  I wont miss having to get up earlier to scrape the snow and ice off of my car.

We have lived in the same place for the last 7.5 years that we have called home.  It isn’t perfect but it has been our home for a long while.  It is familiar, we know all the sounds and noises and where everything is.  Now we will be moving to a new area with new sounds and noises and what we take for granted now (being close to Trader Joe’s, Costco, Target) will be a new adjustment learning where the Trader Joe’s, Costco, and Target are in our new community.

I found out that it is okay to grieve a little when going through these changes but not to let that grief and emotion paralyze and control you so you can’t move forward.  I have found that even though I have said that change is okay, that this change is going to be a lot harder than I realized.  I have been worried about my wife and kids and how they will make the adjustment and I was not addressing my own concerns.

With all of that… please pray for us as we make this transition at the end of July.  We will be looking for a new school for our son (Christian schools so far have been very cost-prohibitive in DFW, any suggestions are welcome in the comments or via email) We will be looking for a new church home – this one greatly concerns me because in this area, we have seen the extremes both theologically and musically.  We know we wont find something exactly like our current church, but we would like it to be somewhat close musically.  One of the biggest adjustments will be not being as close to my in-laws.  Right now they are two hours away and have been a great help to us over the years with many things.  That will be an adjustment.  We will be closer when they are in FL for the winter.

Another big concern is that I will leave behind a friend who was like a brother to me and was a big catalyst in me moving to MN 12 years ago.  Unfortunately, he cut the ties on our friendship over three years ago and there has been no avenue for reconciliation.  This person is still a friend and has been so for over 30 years, but they have decided to take a different direction in their life.

Tomorrow, I will probably preach my last sermon for a while.  I have been very privileged to be able to provide pulpit supply in the MN, WI, IA areas over the last 10 years in various ministries.  When I came to MN, it was two years after I had left FL before I received an opportunity to preach.  Now that we are going to TX, it is like starting over again.

We are thankful and grateful for the opportunity and at the same time there will be some tears shed and that is ok.  Please pray for us as we make preparations for this transition.

Thanks for reading and as always comments are welcome!

 

Lessons Learned – Why we postponed our move

We were all set to prepare to move to the Dallas-Fort Worth, TX area later this year, but then God interrupted our plans and did a work in my life to really make me think about what I was doing.  We were ready, we had prayed, we had taken two trips to scout out the area and make some decisions as to where we were going to live.  As we got to the “last days” (days before giving our final notice to vacate our current apartment) God began working in my life to teach me some valuable lessons that I would like to share with the readers of this blog.  These may not be overly profound or new to you, but they were great confirmation in my life that sometimes even the best plans need to be put on hold.

  1. I cannot let my career be the sole driver in any decision – sure this is a good move for me, but is it a good move for my family?  I believe that it is a good move, in the right time and in a responsible manner (will explain this one more in detail).  I have seen too many people let their careers drive every facet of their lives and I can tell you that it does not end well for these driven people.
  2. We cannot go into debt to accomplish this move – The problem I had in planning this move was twofold:  I believe that I started too late.  We decided to make the move in February after taking a trip in October.  We made another scouting trip in May and had found an apartment complex.  I tabulated the costs involved but my problem was that I was not adding them all together, but rather keeping them separate.  When I sat down with a good friend, who happens to be an accountant, he brought my concerns into perspective by showing me the total cost of my move and then I realized how short I was going to come up.  This was a major concern for me because I did not want to accumulate anymore debt because I am trying to payoff debt that I already had.
  3. Educational concerns were also very important in the decision to delay.  Joseph has done so well at his current school and I hated to interrupt that – not knowing where we would put him in school in the DFW area.  By delaying, this will allow us a greater opportunity to find the right school for Joseph.  We are currently looking for a Christian school or for a Classical school or a combination of both.  Unfortunately, the ones that we have looked at already are a small fortune and in some cases 2-3 times higher than the tuition I currently pay!  If you know of anything that would fit what I have mentioned above, please let me know in the Comments section.

This is still a good move for us, but I am glad that the Lord intervened and allowed us to delay for a year in order to accomplish it in a responsible manner. We are currently praying for the opportunity to get rid of our debt (working on that), and then saving money (as we are able) to be able to move in July 2014.  A lot can change within a year, we will wait and see how God works in this situation!

Bonefish Grill – Pensacola, FL

While on vacation in December, my wife and I had the opportunity to have dinner with her sisters and their husbands (without kids!) at the Bonefish Grill in Pensacola, FL.  I had heard so many good things about this place that I was eager to dine there.  We had a great time together.  The six of us had not been together since our wedding in 2004, so this vacation was a family reunion of sorts.

When on vacation, one of the “rules” that we have is that we cannot eat at a restaurant that we have back home.  If we choose to eat out, then we want to experience some of the local food rather than a big chain restaurant that we can eat at in MN.

Bonefish Grill is definitely a go-to place.  We got there a bit after 5:00 and the parking lot was starting to fill up.  We tried some of the Bang-Bang Shrimp.  They were wonderful. A bit spicy with a kick, but I have never been known to shy away from the spicy food items!  For my main entree I had the Jumbo Sea Scallops and Shrimp.  They were more than likely fresh because of the proximity to the Gulf.  Something unique is that they offer signature sauces with each of their entrees:  Warm Mango Salsa, Chimichurri Sauce (which is more Italian), Lemon Butter and Pan Asian.  I tried the Chimichurri Sauce which was outstanding.  My wife was undecided when it came to the signature sauce for her entree, so our server brought her out a sample of each!  This was great because I got to try the Mango Salsa, but the Pan Asian was the best sauce by far.  I enjoyed my choice, but when I go back, the Pan Asian sauce is for me.

If you are looking for a nice place to enjoy great company and great food and service.  Bonefish Grill is definitely a place worth trying!

It just hit me…. 20 years

While having a conversation with my dad yesterday, I realized that I have been working full-time for 20 years!  If I had stayed with the same company (which is probably a rare thing to do in this day of uncertainty, unemployment, and mergers, etc.) I would have been there for 20 years.  I am thankful that I have had a relatively stable work history.  I started working full-time in 1991 just before I graduated from college.  I stayed with that company until 1999, surviving two acquisitions and managing to keep my job both times.  In 1999, I went to work for an independent Baptist mission agency in Jacksonville, FL.  I stayed there until 2002 when I moved to MN to attend seminary.  I was unemployed from August to October of 2002 and have worked for the same company since October in 2002 in two different capacities.  I have done the unenviable job of business to business collections (both in person and over the phone) Not my idea of a great job, but it paid the bills while in seminary, when I got married and when we had our first child.  Shortly before my son’s first birthday, I changed roles within this company and now I have a somewhat less stressful job in the Financial Operations area dealing with manufacturer rebate contracts.  It is an okay job, the pay is not competitive for this area, but the benefits are outstanding!

I am still looking for ministry opportunities, but there are not many to be had these days.  In the meantime, I am trying to find something that pays better because we are expecting our second child in August and we found out that God will grace us a with a little girl!  We have not decided on names yet, but I have stated that I would like to give her my mother’s first name as her middle name in honor of my mother who passed away in 2006.

April is a birthday month for our family.  My sister-in-law celebrates her birthday today (2nd), then my dad and sister share the same birthday on the 10th and then I am three days later (13th) and my son is on the 20th and one of my nephews is the 23rd.

Turning 40 did not bother me, but now that I am turning 42, it is starting to bother me a bit because I have been looking at my life and what I have accomplished and what still remains to be done.  I can remember when I was fresh out of college and full of zeal and ready to get busy for God and yet I was told that I could not expect to be hired by any church because of a few things:  1) I was young (23 at the time) 2) I did not have any experience  3) I was not married.

Now almost 20 years later, I am now looked on as being old (even at 42) still no formal church experience (being paid and having a title), but I am married and a father.

I also heard about one of my seminary  colleagues who is getting ready to go into full-time ministry upon his graduation in May, he already has a place to go!  I am glad that he will not have to experience what I have over this last year of rejections and lack of interest on the part of many churches/pastors.

Lord willing, the next 20 years of working will hopefully be more fruitful than this first 20!

My thoughtful son

I am a creature of habit…. it must be the perfectionist tendency that I possess. Everyday when I get home from work, I put my keys, wallet, and work ID badge in the same place, so that I do not forget them or lose them.  Friday was no different, I hung my badge up when I got home and did not think twice about it, until I was getting ready for church on Sunday afternoon (I had a early meeting prior to the evening service) when I noticed the empty lanyard without a badge.  I knew I had it when I came home, but did not have time to go on an exhaustive search for it.  I let my wife know that my badge was missing and that I would look for it later that evening.

As I was driving to church, I was attempting to re-trace my steps from Friday and at the same time I was praying that I did not drop my badge between the parking lot and my apartment.

I did not think about it anymore until I returned home later than evening and my son told me that he saw my badge hanging precariously from the lanyard and he did not want me to lose it, so he took the badge and placed it in my drawer.  That was very thoughtful of him and I thanked him for doing that!

If I had indeed lost the badge… it would have cost me $$ to replace it, been a hassle to get in each morning at work until it was replaced. It would have been a major inconvenience.  Thanks to my son Joseph for his thoughtfulness and looking out for his dad!

History does repeat itself

I was reminded of this disputed fact earlier this week, when I encountered some former seminary colleagues and their inquiries as to what I am doing now. It reminded me of when I graduated from college in 1992 (that seems so long ago – almost 20 years ago).   When I graduated from college, I was ready to head into ministry, after all, I had just finished Bible college and earned a B.A. degree in Church Ministries.  However, the following things were not in my favor at the time:  I was 23 years old, single, and had no formal ministry experience.  The economy was bad all over (like it is now) I had a decent secular job, but my heart was not there at all.  I sent my resume everywhere I knew that an opportunity existed that would possibly suit me.  Nothing happened for six long years. I was active in my local church, not real good in the dating arena from 1992 onward.  I was living in frustration because I felt like there was something wrong with me because I was watching my college friends and colleagues leave Jacksonville for ministry positions and opportunities.  The brief stint that I did have in full-time ministry (1998-2002)was a real eye-opener for me (it was not in a local church ministry, but a para-church organization) and it was some of those experiences and the hypocrisy that I saw that God used to get me to leave the dysfunctional situation and resume my education after a ten year hiatus.  So in 2002, I resigned my position and headed north for the Twin Cities to begin my academic career towards a MDiv. degree at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Plymouth, MN.

Little did I know when I arrived in the Twin Cities how things would change in my life.  I started seminary in the Fall of 2002.  I could not find a job right away (It took 2 months to find a job and I am still with the same company almost 9 years later, but in a different role) I met my future spouse in 2002 and we were married in 2004, while I was still in pursuit of the MDiv degree.  In 2006, our first child was born, Joseph.  We lost his twin brother (earlier) and my mother passed away in September of 2006.  I thought that the convergence of these circumstances would push me to the breaking point and that I would quit seminary.  God was faithful and used several people to encourage me not to quit. As a result, I dropped back into the M.A program and finished the M.A in May of 2008 and then set out to finish the MDiv. which God allowed me to do in May 2010.  I applied to attempt to continue my education but was not accepted for post-graduate work.

Earlier this week, when I was talking with people and they were inquiring about my status (ministerially speaking) and I told them that I had sent out 15 resumes last year and no interviews.  Answering these questions, brought me back almost 20 years ago when I was answering the same questions to college colleagues who came back to the Jacksonville area and I would run into them at Trinity Baptist Church /College functions.

I did not realize how discouraged I had become until I started answering those questions on Monday morning.  By the time I came home on Monday afternoon, I was ready to crawl under a rock.  I asked the usual questions, Why me?  What did I do wrong?  It is also tough because I do not have a mentor or an advocate like so many younger guys have these days.  I could mention instances where guys have gotten their “foot in the door” and eventually obtained a position because of who they were associated with (mentor) or who they worked for or someone who was willing to “go to bat for them.”  I do not have anyone like that.  I thought if I had been accepted to post-graduate studies that kind of a Paul/Timothy relationship would have been fleshed out.  The reason I thought this is because I have heard about these types of relationships from my seminary professors with their mentors and have seen it in the lives of other ThM and PhD students at other institutions.

Now instead of being 23, I am 41 on the verge of being 42, I am married now (7 years in July) and I have one son (Joseph), one in heaven (Jonathan) and a son or daughter due in August. Now instead of being too young and inexperienced, now I am older and married and still do not have any formal experience (most churches do not take into consideration my extensive experience serving in three Baptist churches as a volunteer faithfully since 1987, they want to see that I had a title and/or a paycheck for what I have done and they have come up with the five years of experience as some form of benchmark of success or competency.  I recently saw one church was looking for a pastor that had a minimum of ten years experience!)

Even though time has marched on and now I have three ministry degrees, the pain is still present when I have to answer these types of questions.  20 years ago, Facebook and Twitter did not exist.  Some of the discouragement comes from seeing what others are doing and they are landing some great opportunities to serve God.   The pain is compounded when I returned to the secular  job where I have served honorably for the last eight years, but get no recognition, no career development and the compensation is lacking (when you are the main breadwinner) in an area where the cost of living is high in contrast to the salary that is below the per capita salary for our area.  Then you watch people get promoted who have been with the company less time than I have and with less education.  That does not help.  It would be one thing if I was radically succeeding in the secular workforce and making enough to support my family adequately, but that is not the case.  It feels like a grand failure on both fronts (secular and ministerial).

Charles Spurgeon talked about depression, “Fits of depression come over the most of us. Cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.”

I am hoping at this point that I will not have to wait another six years before going into full-time ministry, but that is not for me to decide.

A quick look back at 2010

Well, I am sitting here at my desk and it has just started to sleet here in MN which will eventually turn over to freezing rain and then snow, I thought that I would do a quick “year in review” post.

January – seminary resumed

March – I took the GRE exam, seminary Spring Banquet, preached at Rock Falls Baptist Church in Mondovi, WI and Harvest Baptist Church in Redwood Falls, MN

April – Oral doctrinal defense before the faculty of CBTS; celebrated my 41st birthday and my son’s 4th birthday.  I also preached my Senior Sermon in chapel at CBTS and gave my Senior Testimony.  Received my rejection letter from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (I was looking to do ThM or PhD work at Southern and was not accepted).  Preached Easter Sunday at FBC International Falls, MN.

May – preached a funeral for a dear friend who passed away;  I finally finished my MDiv degree at CBTS after almost 8 long years.  Preached at Calvary Baptist Church in Cambridge, MN

June – preached at Grace Baptist Church in Cameron, WI

July – took a mini-weekend vacation to Duluth and preached at FBC International Falls, MN.  Celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary.  I was elected to serve as a deacon at Fourth Baptist Church and was also re-appointed to serve on the Missions Committee.

August – preached at Grace Baptist Church, Boyceville, WI – doing pulpit supply for two consecutive Sundays while the Pastor was on vacation.

September – preached at Calvary Baptist Church in Granada, MN (my in-laws home church), elected to serve as Secretary of the CBTS Alumni Association

November – we celebrated Thanksgiving at home this year because my in-laws were getting ready for their “snowbird” journey to Florida for the winter.

December – we were able to go to Florida for a vacation.  Family went ahead of me, they drove down with the in-laws and I flew down on the 2nd of December.  We missed all of the snow and such and we even got to stay an extra day in Florida due to our flight being cancelled.  We celebrated Christmas twice – once in Florida with in-laws and then here at home as a family.

Some other things of interest:

  • We both made less money this year than last – significant decrease, God is good in allowing us to give more to our local church than we did in 2009 considering the income decrease for us (over $3500.00 less income than 2009)
  • I sent out over 15 resumes in search of full-time pastoral ministry opportunities.  No interviews
  • Did a lot of pulpit supply this year (March -Sept) most preaching I have done in a year.  Preached over 22 times in 2010.

Not being in full-time ministry is extremely discouraging and unsettling for us because we are not in a position to put down roots (buy a home, etc.).  It would be foolish of us to start that process here and then have to undo it because of receiving a call somewhere else.  We will continue to pray as we have during the previous year for God’s guidance in this area regarding ministry.

We are excited about 2011 because it is a New Year and we do not know what God has in store for us.

Stats regarding the blog:

We had 2,142 vists to the blog this year, which is less than 2009 which had 2,959 visits.  That is probably due to my writing less this year due to seminary concerns from January – May.

It is also interesting to see the top posts that get the most attention.

The #1 post is my post regarding Dan Conry being fired by Clear Channel (KTLK) back in May of 2008.  That post had 199 views this year.

2 -10 are as follows

My review of Acapulco Restaurant in New Brighton, MN – 124 views

Our post regarding our T-Mobile @ Home phone service – 79 views

The page which tells about the blog  - 72 views

Review of Five Guys in Maple Grove – 69 views

When God turned His back on Jesus – a link to a sermon preached by my friend Donald S. Whitney – 52 views

Review of Salad Creations in Maple Grove – 47 views

My post regarding my rejection to admission at Southern Seminary – 47 views

The right way to resign – regarding the resignation of Philip Graham Ryken from Tenth Presbyterian Church – 44 views

Review of Rojo Mexican Grill in St Louis Park – 36 views.

Thank you for taking time to read, comment, and pray for us!


Merry Christmas to all

Thanks to all who read my posts.  I wanted to take the opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas.

John 1:14 – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.(NKJV)

I am sure by now all of the gifts have been exchanged, opened, etc.  Christmas is not necessarily about the gifts, even though we exchange them.  Christmas is about the celebration of the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ, who came to this earth, born of a virgin, eventually to die on a Roman cross to pay for the sins of the entire world.  That is the true meaning of Christmas!

If you have any additional questions about the paragraph above, please contact me or leave a comment and I would be glad to talk with you further about the Gospel of Christ.

 

Vacation Wrap-Up

We have actually been home since Monday, but dealing with waves of illness, colds and such.

I joined my family on Thursday, December 2, 2010 in Florida for a vacation.  They drove down to Florida after Thanksgiving and I took the convenient route and flew down.  With all of the hype surrounding the TSA, I was not sure what to expect.  Thankfully, I was surprised and made a point of being extra kind to the TSA agents because they do not have an easy job.  No problems with security and I had plenty of time to wait before my flight left that day.  I made my connection in Atlanta with ease and arrived in Florida on time.

The next day I found myself doing some yard work and raking leaves.  I did not mind doing this, in fact, I miss doing yard work since I live in an apartment.   I enjoyed being able to work outside in short sleeves while the temperature was in the 60′s that day.  I also enjoyed being able to spend time with my nieces and nephews (4 of them) along with my sister in law and brother in law.

My in-laws have a beautiful home and it will suit them well as they stay there during the winter months.  It will probably be hard to come back to MN in the Spring/Summer because this home is so much larger and spacious than the home they have here in MN.  They also have a plethora of orange trees in their backyard which the kids enjoyed eating oranges!

The first Sunday, we visited a church where the music director was an old college friend.  While we enjoyed the sermon, the music was a bit over the top for us.  Much too contemporary for any of us!  Seeing this made me appreciate the conservative music that we have at Fourth Baptist Church.  This trend in contemporary church music is troubling because it takes so much of the world and integrates it in the church through music, etc.    I will not mention the name of the church because my intent is not to impugn them just because I disagree with their musical philosophy.  They are a Bible-believing, Gospel preaching church.

My wife got sick Saturday evening with the stomach virus that I eventually got. She was out of action for a couple of days.

Monday, I had the opportunity of cooking the evening meal for everyone (there were 11 of us total, kids and all) I made a cassoulet recipe that I had previously made here at home and I changed a few things and added shrimp to it.  It turned out to be a hit with the little kids, with my nephew eating two bowls!  There was not much left over when we were done.

Wednesday we went to an aviation museum in the area and Joseph had a lot of fun seeing the various types of aircraft and climbing in the cockpits of several different jets and helicopters.  I knew that I wasn’t feeling well and the stomach virus that hit my wife, hit me hard.  I was down Thursday and part of Friday.  I have not been that sick in years, but during that time, it made me very thankful for the good health that I have had this year.

Saturday, we celebrated Christmas a bit early with the family.  We had a wonderful meal and a great time together.  This will be our first Christmas apart from my in-laws.

The two Saturdays that we were there, I took Joseph to the local Lowes Kids Clinic where we built two train cars (the caboose and the passenger car).  This was a good experience for both of us.  For Joseph, it was good because he learned to follow directions and put something together.  It was good for me to be able to spend some time with him and it was definitely out of my comfort zone because I am not good with building things.  We finished the train yesterday at our local Lowe’s store. The Lowe’s store in Florida could give a few pointers to the stores here in MN on how to run these Kids Clinics.

We ended up coming home a day later because of a flight cancellation on Sunday.  We came home to a great deal of snow on the ground! Even though our flight was cancelled, we were able to go to dinner as a family and enjoyed some really good seafood and some ice cream as well.  My wife and I went to see the spot where we were engaged 7 years ago.

Overall, we had a great time in Florida, and it made me appreciate the time with family. The weather was warmer than here in MN, but unusually cold for this time of the year.  I also had some time to reflect and think regarding the future and ministry.  Still not sure where we will end up or what we will do!

While we were away, I did receive an email from the First Baptist Church of International Falls, MN, letting me know that they called a classmate of mine, Ted Clarke, to be their next pastor and he has accepted.  I had the opportunity to preach at FBC Intl Falls in the Spring and Summer this year.  I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to preach/teach there during their search for a pastor.  I am thankful that Ted Clarke will be the next pastor and I am confident that the Lord will bless his ministry there!

We are praying that we will all get over the colds that we seem to have brought back with us.  We have spent the last week getting caught up from being away. I was able to work some overtime.

This week, we will be getting ready for the Christmas holidays and before we know it, a New Year (2011) will be upon us.

Thanks for reading… comments are welcome as always.

 

 

A Gospel Conversation

Here is a recap of a conversation I had with my son Joseph (4 yrs old) earlier today while we were out running errands.

Joseph:  Dad, what do I have to do to be baptized

Me:  You have to be a Christian

Joseph:  What does that mean?

Me:  You have to believe that Christ died for your sins, was buried, rose again and you have to realize that you ar  a sinner and you cannot do anything about your sin problem. You have to trust in Jesus Christ.  That is the Gospel.

Joseph:  Dad, I believe the Gospel, but I am not a sinner.

Joseph is learning, God is working in his life.  Please continue to pray for his salvation.  He is asking some very good questions in some of our conversations.