Category Archives: Announcements

Wow… things got really busy around here

I posted what I thought was just an expression of some of my thoughts and never expected it to turn into a decent full-fledged conversation!  The previous post on Doing what you are trained for – set a record in one day hits.  I did not know it at the time, but someone had posted a link to it at SharperIron.org and then things took off.  It has been a good exchange here.  Thankful for those who read and had helpful comments.  I looked at the thread over at Sharper Iron and it was just as one could expect.  There were a few that accused me of whining (not surprised) but those who accused me of that, never came over here to join the conversation.  I won’t go to Sharper Iron to interact because I left there years ago after a dispute with the Forum owner after I made a comment that named some names in a longstanding controversy.  I guess he didn’t like it.

It is good to talk about things.  If ideas stay bottled up in one’s head, then you never know what they might become… Civil discussion is good and we need more of it.

2014 – A year of transition and change

First, let me say that I have not written much this year, some of it has been intentional and some of it was just not disciplining myself to write. I tried to journal this year and started out great and did really well until May and somehow got derailed and never restarted.  I hope to change that and my posting frequency here as well in the new year – just a few hours away.

This has been a year of transition and change for our entire family.  It means leaving Minnesota after living there for 12 years and moving to Texas due to a job consolidation/transfer.  It meant leaving our church after 12 years and attempting to find another church home in a new location (we haven’t been very successful).  It meant selling one car (it was getting older and needing more attention and $$ along with having no air conditioning) and getting by with one car.  It also meant getting adjusted to taking public transportation every day to and from work.   It meant learning how to function without our “network” of friends and family.  It also gave us a greater appreciation for our times with family since we are now separated. It has given us a greater appreciation of the role of the local church since we went from being heavily involved for 12 years to now being ones who are on the searching end of things looking for a local church (and we are still looking)

I have written a lot about ministry and the various trials and experiences that I have had since graduating from seminary in 2010 and the unfruitful search for pastoral ministry since graduation.  I have decided to write less on the subject and replace my writing with more praying.  I have to guard against bitterness and anger.  Some have said that writing sometimes can be therapeutic and it can, if not checked, it can degenerate into a complaint or gripe session.  My desire to serve God has grown stronger in this transitional period since I have gone from preaching and teaching from January 2014- July 2014 to no teaching or preaching since I left MN in July 2014. The theme this year for ministry is

And I thank Christ Jesus my Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry – 1 Timothy 1:12

I look forward to setting some new goals (no New Year’s resolutions) being a better father and husband and seeing what the Lord has in store for our family this year.

Observations after 3 weeks

Well, we have been here since 8/1 – kids have been here since 8/8/2014.  Some quick observations after the first three weeks:

  • Living – we have a nice apartment which is bigger than our last place.  I think all of us are getting used to the new layout because it is a lot different than our last place.  The rent is more than what we were paying in MN.  It is a much bigger complex and we haven’t seen very many people out and about.  Maybe they stay inside in the summer like people do in MN in the winter.  We live relatively close to many things like Target, Costco, etc.  We are still learning where things are and how to navigate the roads and the traffic.
  • Work – I have a bit more responsibility and my days are busy.  Not much has changed except it is nice to be around people again.  After the layoff happened, I was sitting in an area that was relatively empty, there were people in other areas on the same floor but our jobs did not have interaction.  This has been the easiest adjustment thus far since I already knew most of the people because of my frequent trips here since 2012.
  • Commuting – Since we are down to one car after selling the Honda before we left MN (Honda had issues and no A/C) I have been taking public transportation to work.  We live right across the street from a train station.  I take a DCTA (Denton County Transportation Authority) train for one stop (5 mins) to the Trinity Mills DART station to transfer to the Green Line train to Farmers Branch (two stops) and then I get off the train at Farmers Branch and the bus stop is right there at the station.  I ride the bus and it drops me off right across the street from where I work.  Then I have to cross said busy street (taking my life into my hands – it is not that bad) and then walk down a long driveway.  I am usually at work within 1 hour from the time I leave home and then I do the same thing again in the afternoon.  It is interesting being a part of the sub-culture that exists on public transportation.  I will say this, the buses and trains are very timely and I am thankful for air conditioning on these warm days.  My son came and rode the bus and train home with me on Friday afternoon so he got to experience what I do everyday to get to work and back home again.  Because I use several modes of transport between two providers, I have to use a regional pass which costs $10 a day, or $50 a week or $160 a month.  I just purchased a weekly pass but haven’t purchased a monthly pass yet.  It is definitely an adjustment not having a second car!
  • Education – this has been one of the hardest decisions that I have ever made.  Joseph was in a Christian school from K-2 grade and he did very well there, most importantly, he trusted Christ in April of this year.  Christian school is unbelievably expensive.  A comparable Christian school here in TX vs MN is going to be about $2k more per year which we do not have in our budget.  We tried to get Joseph into a Classical Charter school (he is still on the waiting list) but were unsuccessful in doing so for this year.  He is going to attend public school this year and we went and met his teacher and some of the other school staff and everyone seemed very nice and kind. He will be in a class of 20 students (TX has a law that does not allow class sizes to exceed 22 students per 1 teacher) There will be 11 boys and 9 girls.  We will see how he does this year.
  • Church – this is another factor that has weighed heavily on my heart throughout the entire process.  Our family has been a part of Fourth Baptist Church for a long time.  I came in 2002, my wife came in 1999 and our children have been there since they were born, so it is the only church they have ever known outside of visiting with their grandparents, cousins or going to hear dad preach. I am very thankful for the opportunities that I had to serve in the various ministries of Fourth Baptist Church.  It is an adjustment going to church and not teaching, ushering or serving in any capacity.  The second week here we went and visited the church where my bosses husband is the pastor – we have enjoyed visiting there in the past, but the drawback is that it is 45 mins to 1 hr west of here… long drive both ways.  Today we visited a church that we visited when we were here in June – it is only 15 mins from our home but the issue still seems to be with the music – a little too contemporary for our family.  Everything else is great, the preaching is good, the people have been friendly (some of them even remembered us from our June visit) but getting past the music issue may be difficult.  We are aware of two other churches that are similar to what we came from in MN but both of those are 45 mins away as well – one south of us and one east of us.  Being in the “Bible belt”  I did not think that this would be an issue, but it has become one because we are finding two types of churches: 1) Ultra-conservative and ultra-legalistic 2) Church services that resemble a rock concert or performance.  We are not finding (at least not yet) anything that is between both extremes.  So we keep searching and praying for the right church that is within a reasonable driving distance.  We greatly miss our friends at Fourth Baptist Church in Plymouth, MN and going through this experience has given us a greater appreciation for the role of the local New Testament church in the life of the believer.
  • Location, Location, Location – no matter where you live in this area, things seem to be spread out.  Nothing seems to be close.  I stated in an earlier paragraph that we are close to Target and Costco, but Trader Joes and Whole Foods are considerable distances from us currently.  We seem to be driving more to get from place to place.   We were definitely spoiled being 15 mins from work and very close to Trader Joes, Costco, and Whole Foods in Maple Grove.
  • Weather – yes it has been warm here, we have had several days of over 100 degree temperatures, but nothing too unbearable.  You drink more water and stay inside.  I do not want to see my first electric bill.  We have all the ceiling fans running and the air is set at 77 degrees and I hope I don’t have to take out a loan to pay the bill!  I think things will be different once we get into Fall and Winter, a definite adjustment for those of us who were used to below zero temperatures and lots of snow.  Last winter took its toll on everyone both mentally and physically…
  • Cost of Living – there is no State Income Tax here in TX, so it is like getting a raise, but there are some trade-offs.  1) Sales tax is higher – 8.25% compared to 7.275% – does not look like much but that also translates into higher property taxes as well.  2) There is tax on clothing here  3) Rent is more expensive here  4) Gas is a bit cheaper 5) Food is a bit cheaper  6) Utilities are more expensive.  I am thinking that the “cost of living is cheaper” argument may not have much merit by the time we have lived here for one year.

As you read this, please pray for our family as we continue to assimilate and get adjusted.  Pray that we will be able to make connections with people, not only where we live, but that we would be able to find a good, solid local church and that Joseph would have a good school year as well. Its only been three weeks, and we still have a lot to learn and some growing to do as well in this process.  We have learned a lot along the way.  We would love to hear from you.

Moving week….

We are in the midst of moving this week…. so I will be back in August once we get settled with some new posts.

 

Thanks for reading and stopping by.

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!

Back home again

A quick post to let readers know that I am back home again and I plan to post on the following items in the days ahead:

  • Lessons learned – why we are not moving for one year
  • A couple of new restaurant reviews from my recent business trip to Dallas, TX
  • Brief report on a couple of recent preaching engagements.

Thank you for your patience and stay tuned.