Saturday, July 28, 2012

10 1/2 Months

During this coming week, Titus will be the same age that Elyse was when she passed away... 10 1/2 months. This is a number that has been impressed on our hearts for the last 2 1/2 years. Anytime we talk of her passing, we can't help but mention this number.

So now this number also belongs to Titus. Every parent I've ever talked to that has lost a child and then has more to follow really can't wait to get past this monument. It's easy to be filled with the unnecessary and unreasonable fear of potentially losing this child too. And at times it can be almost paralyzing. 

We are now watching as Titus is going through all the same stages where Elyse was at that age, and it's almost exactly on the same timeline she was on.

Elyse playing under the dining room table
Titus loves to play around those exact same chairs.

(Notice Peter reading a story in the background. That boy
will be in Kindergarten in less than a month! I can't believe
how quickly he is growing up.)

Titus has just recently started trying to pull himself up. 
This one was taken just a few days before she passed.
She was so proud of herself after pulling herself
up to a standing position on that stairway.

It's almost surreal to be in this spot. A very positive part of it all is that it brings back the most recent memories we have of Elyse, memories that are now almost 2 1/2 years old. When I watch Ty do a certain thing, it totally takes me back to Elyse doing that exact same thing, and that is a very GOOD thing. I pray that those memories will never disappear. 

Yes... it's hard when I think about not being able to have her right there with us... but it's also a very precious thing to carry on those memories.

The bottom line is this: we miss Elyse each and every day, some days more than others; and this stage in Ty's life brings back especially poignant memories. 

Not too long ago, April changed some of the decorations on our living room mantle. As I look at them today, they really do characterize our life as a family. We remember Elyse every day, but we are also reminded every day by her of the HOPE that we have in eternity. Titus is an incredible blessing and has brought us much comfort. 2 Corinthians 7:6 - "But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, ..." And notice the globe in the upper left, with Africa front and center. We look forward (with hope) to the day we get to meet the little girl God has picked out for us over there. (

The bottom line: We live today with much hope. We miss our little girl like nothing else, but we truly are blessed. God has provided us three incredible children so far, and with the upcoming adoption... even more. He has given us a great family, the most incredible friends, and continues to provide for every physical need we have.

Would I change anything??? Absolutely! I'd take my little girl back in a heartbeat! But I wouldn't change who I've become as a result of all of this. He has taken me to the deepest and darkest places and has proved Himself to be completely good, faithful and sovereign through it all. He truly is a loving and grace-filled God.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

All good things must come to an end

I write this post with both a heavy heart and a lot of excitement. After an amazing 15 year run at Hume Lake Christian Camps, April and I have decided that it's time for a major change, and I will be bringing my full-time service at Hume to a close at the end of this month.

What am I going to do? As of the first of May, I will be assuming a position as Business Manager for Briner and Son, a landscape design and maintenance business here in Fresno owned by April's family. (Yes, I am breaking a major rule I set up years ago and I am going to work for relatives. Not to mention... the in-laws!) For once in my life, I'll actually be putting that Business Major to use. My responsibilities will include H.R., A/P, A/R, I.T., a whole bunch of special projects, and pretty much anything else that needs to be done. It's a growing business and I get to fill a necessary role that will hopefully help them grow even more and become more efficient.

Leaving Hume was a tough decision, one we started putting before the Lord over a year ago. I've always joked that I wanted to leave Hume two years before I got fired, but in all seriousness I believe that I'm leaving with the satisfaction of knowing that God brought me there, grew and matured me, used me in ways I never could have imagined, and now has given me the freedom to head out and be used in an entirely different way.

What will I miss most about Hume? No question, more than anything, it will be the people. It's been called the "H Factor." It's the Hume staff and their families that make up Hume's personality and the core of what makes it so unique. I will miss them more than anything. They have been there for me through the hardest of times and through the best of times. They introduced me to my wife, welcomed my children into the world, and carried me to Jesus as I had to say goodbye to my daughter. They've loved me unconditionally when I really didn't deserve it, and God's used them to mold me into someone a lot better than I was on May 26, 1997, when I pulled into a camp towing a trailer with everything that I owned and stepped into the role of Ponderosa Head Counselor, really having no clue. I'll also miss the many connections I've made with so many youth pastors, getting to encourage them, love on them, challenge them, listen to them. I'll miss being a part of something so much greater than myself.

What do I look forward to? I believe that God has brought me to this place in life "for such a time as this." I'm going to have so many more opportunities to be around people that don't know the Lord and who desperately need Him. I'm excited to be around non-Christians on a regular basis. I'm excited to have my faith challenged, to be a light. And to be perfectly honest, I'm excited for some change. It's easy to get stuck in ruts and be convinced that God can only use you in a certain way.

Do I plan to stay in ministry? Absolutely! That doesn't change. There are some great new opportunities  on the horizon, and while I can't totally explain those in this forum, it's going to be fun to see how they pan out. When will they pan out and what will they look like??? No clue!

What doesn't change? God is good. God is faithful. God is sovereign. I love those three things most about God and I'm excited that I get to serve Him no matter where He has me. God has truly reminded me lately that it's not so much about where I am as it is about who I am. He's called me to follow Him wholeheartedly and to be faithful. From there, He will take care of the rest. I believed that 15 years ago when I came to Hume and I believe that today as I move on. My identity rests in Him, not in where I work or live.

So that's the big news. Be watching for more and please be praying for us. The last two years have been absolutely crazy, and while we would cherish a time of peaceful waters, we realize that's not the road God has us on, so we embrace this road and seek to stay faithful as we travel down it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Life in the City

We've now lived in Clovis for almost 5 months. It's hard to believe so much time has passed, but it also feels completely normal, as though we've lived here for a year or two. It truly has become home.

Some things I've grown to enjoy as we've transitioned here:

  1. Stores - We now have grocery stores, Costco, Starbucks, etc. all within a 10 minute drive. Big change from the 1 1/2 hours we experienced before. (Of course, now it's easier to spend money on things I don't really need.)
  2. Family - They're close... really close. April's family all live within a 4 mile radius of our house. It's given us a greater connection and allowed us to be in each others' lives on a pretty regular basis. Yes - that's a good thing!
  3. Church - We've really enjoyed attending the Clovis campus of The Well Community Church. We've started to meet new people, and have just enjoyed being a part of that community.
  4. Neighbors - We had neighbors at Hume, neighbors that we absolutely loved. But the big difference now is that the majority of our neighbors don't know the Lord and have a desperate need for Him. It's been so cool getting to know Bob & Dorothy, Mark, Jimmy & Cindy, Tim, and so many more. My prayer is that we can get beyond the hellos and goodbyes, and be able to have some significant conversations. 
What do we miss? We miss our friends... deep friends... friends that you just can't find anywhere else. When others moved away from Hume, they warned us.  They told us that we'd never have the same kind of friends as we had there and they were absolutely right. Our friends there walked with us through the darkest days ever and carried us to the Lord when we couldn't carry ourselves. We will forever treasure the friends the Lord gave us there and the depth of those friendships. We keep in touch, but it's just not the same.

Yet here we are, living in the city, and we know that God has called us to be here "for such a time as this." We remember and treasure the past, but live in the now, with a hope for the future, knowing that our citizenship lies in heaven, not in Clovis and not at Hume. So we make every effort to live here, right where God has called us. Yet our ultimate hope is in that one day we will live in eternity with our Lord (and we'll get to see our little girl again) and we'll be able to stop, look around, and know that we are finally home for good. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Target, Stuff, Gratitude and Adoption

After dinner tonight we stopped by Target to pick up a few things for Peter's first day of preschool tomorrow. As we wandered our way through the store, found what we needed and were on our way out, Peter started to complain that we hadn't bought anything for him. As we got into the car, we tried to convince him that he had enough stuff and that he didn't need any more. He wouldn't budge, and went on to say, "I want stuff. I like stuff." He just couldn't get enough "stuff."

April and I looked at each other and knew this could be a pivotal moment. We could just silence him and say that we weren't going to buy him anything and be frustrated, or we could try to turn it into a teachable moment. Fortunately we chose the latter, and what developed was an absolutely beautiful conversation.

For the next couple of minutes, we got to share with Peter that there were a lot of children out there in the world that didn't have enough food to eat, a warm bed to sleep in, or toys to play with. They didn't have "stuff" like he did.

Peter's response stopped us in our tracks.  "Why don't they have beds to sleep in? They could sleep at our house. We have room." As tears formed in April's eyes, our frustration with his apparent greed turned into joy that he "got it." April went on to explain to him that this was why we're adopting "Baby Girl from Africa."

For most of the drive home we got to talk about when we would bring her home, how it would happen, what room she would sleep in, if she could sleep in Peter's bed, and much more. He really wanted to give up his bed for her to sleep in. 

As parents we pray for these kinds of teachable moments, but how often do we take advantage of them? We are grateful that God has blessed us with the privilege of shepherding Peter's heart and pointing it toward Christ. More to come in future posts about the progress of the adoption, but for now we have grateful hearts for a simple teachable moment.