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1 Year Into Dreaming Big!

Are you considering making a change of career, location, or something else? Like, one of those changes that requires a ton of thought and prayer? We were in one of those moments just over a year ago. And let me tell you….

Cailey (my wife) and I downsized everything we owned, fit what was left into a U-haul truck, and left the place and people we had called home for 4 years and headed for the Oregon Coast. You can read more about that decision here. I guess you could say that we became members of the ‘Great Resignation.’

Six of the top reasons people left their jobs in 2021 applied to Cailey and I. ⏩

I wrote about my #OneWord focus for 2022 just 6 weeks after landing at the Coast, and if I’m completely honest I haven’t reflected on my word once since then. Sure, it’s come to mind here and there, but I’ve come to realize that most things worth doing in life don’t happen without a plan or intentionality.

I LOVE writing, living an organized life, and taking time often to reflect on where I’m at and what God is leading me into. This past year has been an incredible dream come true, but not completely void of challenges.

  • Car accident
  • COVID
  • Knee injury
  • Prolonged illness
  • Anxiety

In all of the tough times, God has been right there with us. And we continue to recognize His loving hand in all of the blessings. We have been involved in a really great Monday evening virtual group of loving followers of Jesus, and are praying toward launching a Missional Community here in Newport in January, 2023.

Definition: A Missional Community is a committed group of Jesus followers, the size of an extended family (12-25), empowered by the Spirit, to participate in God’s mission of redemption in a particular neighborhood and/or network.

Missional Church Network

I can’t speak for Cailey, but for me this past year has looked a lot like settling in to transition and new careers. Simply getting through the work week to rest a little on the weekend just to do it all over again next week. This has felt largely internal-driven and not so much focusing on others around me. This is one area I see changing in 2023…my focus.

It is time for me to move from transition to CREATE.

The holiday season is upon us and I plan to make adequate time to contemplate what my #OneWord365 needs to be for next year.

Who knows, maybe I’ll even be blogging more 😊

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Christianity vs. Social Issues: A Real Battle!

Faith vs. daily life. Where society is vs. where God is headed. What various people groups say is right vs. God’s Word. If you’re a believer in Jesus (like me) you’ve likely wrestled with these issues.

Recently, I’ve seen issues like the reversal of Roe v. Wade, gun control, gender identification, and immigration separate people of Christian faith. How can this be? Has this frustrated you too? Maybe it’s differences in opinion, how we interpret the Bible, our upbringing, or simply what we give most credibility to.

What disheartens me right now online is that I’m seeing very emotional reactions from Christian women regarding what the Supreme Court just did with abortion. That’s not what troubles me. It’s that some Christian women are celebrating the ruling, and others are outraged. This is causing a separation in the family of God! Which leads to an absolutely critical question.

Is it possible for Bible-believing persons of faith to have different views on social issues and still get along, or is being ‘right’ most important?

If I’m honest this post could have easily taken the form of a rant of frustration. But God kindly directed me to take a higher approach. He held my hand this morning as He walked with me through Romans 12.

In this scripture, God challenges believers to allow our minds to be transformed. How do we do this? Well, we are also supposed to resist being conformed to the world around us (v. 2). This is one of the most difficult things about being a follower of Jesus. Holding to the teaching and guidance of God’s word while living in a society that mostly pulls us in the opposite direction is a constant tug of war.

It is my personal belief that Christians can live peacefully together while holding vastly different views on politics, faith, and social issues. The question becomes, however, how much are we willing to work at it? There is a cost involved. It will cost you and I large sums of humility, patience, and persistence.

Followers of Jesus are called to genuinely love one another, being generous and helping each other (v. 9-13). The Bible takes this a step further by telling us to leave our vengeance and anger for God to deal with (v. 19). Our social posture is to live at peace with everyone whenever possible (v. 18).

Do I struggle with this? Yep! Practically every day. I’m working on not becoming irritated or judgmental as quickly. I’m praying for God to allow my eyes to see the good in people before negative assumptions slide in.

Our biggest witness, our most convincing display that we follow Jesus and His goodness, is in how we are seen loving one another (Jn. 13:34-35).

For me it boils down to this very hard truth. We cannot say that we fully believe God and His teachings while simultaneously living and acting as if the world around us is also true and good. It’s not. We either live for Jesus, with Jesus, in love…OR we don’t.

Join the discussion and LEAVE A COMMENT below.

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Our Faith is Trash Without _________.

What is the KEY to your faith? Have you ever really pondered that? Our faith completely hangs on one single thread. The resurrection! Look what Paul says about our faith.

And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. - 1 Cor. 15:17

If Jesus had not been brutally put to death on a cross and then raised from the dead 3 days later, our faith would be worthless. Also, our sins would not have been forgiven and we would still be dependent upon the Old Testament Law to ‘work’ for our forgiveness.

BUT…..

This Sunday is Easter. The day that followers of Jesus reflect and celebrate our forgiveness, salvation, and life in the loving person of Jesus Christ. He is Risen. He is the Messiah, savior of all humankind. He is Emmanuel, God with us.

Personally, I will be reflecting on what the Resurrection means to me this weekend. How it is the one single key to my faith. And gratitude to Jesus for his sacrificial love.

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Jesus, Mouthwash For Your Soul

Refresh your Soul

Refresh your Hope

Refresh your Mind

Lately, my wife and I have been experiencing this word, Refresh, pretty regularly. This led me to examine this word in the Scriptures.

Refresh: to sustain, support, rest, the heart. It also resembles festivity and joy. To give care and attention.

And here are just a few of the many uses in God’s Word for what it means to be refreshed.

Proverbs‬ ‭3:6-8‬: In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
Proverbs 15:30: The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones. 
Acts 3:19–20: Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.
Exodus 31:17: It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.

So, where am I going with this mouthwash thing?

Do you like being refreshed? What do you consider refreshing?

Personally…

  • A long, hot shower after the gym.
  • That huge gulp of ice-cold lemonade after mowing the law on a hot Summer day.
  • Arriving at your campsite deep in the forest and fully taking in the clean aroma of mountain air.
  • Catching up on sleep with no alarm on a day off.
  • And yes, that amazing tingling after the morning gargle of mouthwash.

These are simple, yet vivid, examples of what I believe it means to be refreshed by Jesus. To allow Him to refresh our mind, heart, and soul. And how is this done?

Being refreshed by Jesus can be spending quiet, still time in His presence. Reading Scripture. Meditating on God’s goodness, character, promises, and love for us. Taking a walk outdoors and fully experiencing His creation.

Start with recognizing what refreshes you and then connect that with God’s presence.

Until next time….

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My Top 10 Most Read Posts

My Top 10 Most Read Posts

Hey y’all!

I’ve been blogging for over 15 years now. I love writing, creating, and encouraging others. So…I thought I would share with you the top 10 most popular posts on my blog. Starting with number 10.

#10 Interview with Country Recording Artist April Kry July, 2019

#9 Manage your life, or your life will manage you September, 2013

#8 4 Healthy Steps For Your Current Season April, 2015

#7 The Ocean Is Calling Us November, 2021

#6 Best Connection Methods With Those Attending Your Church February, 2015

#5 Team Appreciation is Important July, 2013

#4 Interview with Country Recording Artist Kaitlyn Baker July, 2019

#3 3 Things To Do While Sitting In Darkness January, 2015

#2 A Tribute to Craig Jutila December, 2018

#1 The Fruit of the Spirit in Leadership April, 2013

Bonus: My current personal favorite. A Stroke of Genius December, 2021

I would absolutely LOVE to hear which one is your favorite, and why?

Lastly, what do you want to see more of from me on the blog? Drop a comment below or email me.

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A Stroke of Genius

It’s that time year again. For thousands of us in the #OneWord365 community, December is the launch pad for discovering our new ‘One Word.’ Identifying one single word to focus on over the entire next year.

I’m writing this exactly 6 weeks after my wife and I chose to make a significant transition (and it’s Christmas Eve). We’re calling it our #LifeReset. We downsized, quit our jobs, and moved to the Oregon Coast. We began new careers as many have in this ‘great resignation.’ The Coast has always been a place of beautiful vacation memories with our kids. For both of us, there is just something awe-inspiring about the ocean waves crashing against the rocks. The salty air. The sand between your toes. It’s simply magical!

I gaze at the champagne-splashed waves rolling over the sandy abyss, the deep blue sky above hanging out with a gathering of bleached-white clouds, and the evening horizon which artistically displays God’s stroke of genius with brushes of fire red, blood orange, and tropical yellow. Our creator is an artisan.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭19:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A huge part of our transition involved creativity. We started with a blank canvas, envisioned what we would love for our next 10-20 years to look like, and then started dipping our brushes in various pigments. Along the way, God has been so gracious in providing us with quality paint.

I offer all of that to say that I have located my One Word for 2022.

Paint: to depict as having specified or implied characteristics.

In 2022 I plan to ‘Paint’ my tomorrow, career, marriage, mental and spiritual health with the mediums of Joy and Peace. I will do this by tapping into God’s stroke of genius, borrowing His brushes, and asking Him to guide my hand in every movement.

So, what do you plan to focus on in the next year? Do you have One Word for 2022? I’d love to hear from you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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The Ocean Is Calling Us

Exactly 4 years ago we felt God drawing us to serve in Yakima, WA. And it’s been an incredible ride! We’ve made so many new friends, gained additional family members via marriage, and witnessed God do things that led our jaws to drop. Honestly, I don’t think we would’ve imagined ever leaving Yakima.

BUT…

It’s also been a couple years of financial, physical, and emotional challenge. We’ve been primarily working at Winco Foods making slightly more than minimum wage. Cailey (my beautiful wife) has been working hard in regular therapy to deal with some childhood traumas. Both of us have held multiple additional part-time jobs in the last 3 years just to help make ends meet. On top of all that our landlord just sold the home we’ve been renting for 1 year.

These issues recently caused us to rethink our current situation. A huge factor in this we owe directly to our oldest son, Garrett. He was home on leave from the Navy in September. Over dinner one day he shared his concern for us burning the candle at both ends with a flame-thrower. And he proceeded to challenge us to ‘dream big.’ He asked, “What changes to your lives can you make that would position you in a happier, safer, and more secure place?”

We left dinner that night kind of in shock…in a good way. Then Cailey took it a step further. She said to me, “What the heck. Let’s try to dream BIG!” If we could live anywhere we want and change our careers so that neither of us would need a second job what would that look like? What kind of employment would that require?

We have always loved the Oregon Coast. In addition to its beauty, we had a tradition of taking family vacations there most summers with the kids when they were younger. So we began tossing our resumes to employment opportunities on the coast. Newport surfaced quickly in our ‘test’ search. Cailey worked in banking earlier in our marriage, and will be sliding back into that. She enjoys it and this will provide a regular schedule with almost no stress. This is what she wants/needs. I will be doing counseling/social services with a non-profit agency that offers much needed resources to families in multiple coastal counties.

We are incredibly grateful for all our kids. Their support and encouragement in this “life reset” has meant the world to us.

I’m sharing this post just 4 days after arriving in Newport, OR. Multiple obstacles and change of plans hit us along the way here. The truck cost WAY MORE than we estimated, averaging only 7 miles per gallon! Housing is tight like it is most places, so we are making our temporary home in a cozy hotel room for an undetermined number of weeks while we look for what’s available.

In spite of all the difficulties, God is still working on our behalf! He has provided just enough in the moments when our faith was weak but resolute. Here’s a thought I read in my devotional titled, ‘Navigating Transition.’

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

This quote connects to our life reset, and I would venture to say even more broadly to how the pandemic has impacted us. Cailey and I didn’t LEAVE people, circumstances, and hardships in Yakima. Rather, we RAN TOWARD change, health, and discovery together in Newport.

(My world in a single picture!)

That’s enough for now. We’ll be sharing tons more over the coming months on our LIFE RESET and incredible journey of following Jesus into the crazy unknown. We’d love to hear from you. Drop a comment below, leave a prayer, or encourage us to remain connected to friends and family.

Until next time…..

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You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram! Here’s a little about me if you’re interested.

COVID Life Sucks, but God Still Offers Peace!

(Not a political blog post, but one of personal struggle and faith)

I live in Washington State. Yesterday, our governor announced a state-wide mask mandate for everyone regardless of vaccination status.

Now, I have made the personal choice to receive the vaccine. But I was against it for a very long time. It simply bothers me that government institutions are pressing heavily on people to get a vaccine injected into their body that to this day still has not been approved as safe and effective by the FDA. I chose to get it on my own timing and for my own reasons. And I completely support those who have chosen not to get it.

This entire discussion will change once the FDA fully approves it.

For now, however, we are stuck with a gigantic question. How do we approach daily life at work and at home with positivity and hope when virtually everything we see in the news and that is being forced upon us by our elected officials points to despair and frustration?

I have come to realize something this week. Allowing ourselves to float aimlessly down the river of societal unrest not only does not help us, but it actually causes us to get more unhealthy. Our clarity of thought, mental health, and overall outlook on our world gets flushed down a truck stop toilet when you and I allow mainstream news outlets, social media, Hollywood, and self-serving politicians to shape how we decide to live our day and treat others.

Do you agree?

I spent the entire evening last night feeling sick to my stomach. My anxiety was higher than it’s been in months. “Take slow, deep breaths. Stop looking at the news” I would try to tell myself.

I slept 9 hours last night and I still awoke feeling like I had been drug on the ground behind a running horse through the desert. After taking my wife to work I came home, took a shower, and sat down at the table with God, His word, and my journal. It was time to have a discussion.

Next, I was reminded of the Fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5 tells us these traits are ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.’ These are character traits that God hopes His followers will develop for every season of life.

One of my favorite quotes over the last 30 years comes from pastor and author, Charles Swindoll. He says, “My attitude is made up of 10% my circumstances, and 90% how I react to them.”

Ouch!!! My 90% reaction last night contained none of the above-mentioned 9 Spiritual traits.

This is what led me to write this post today. I am a pastor and follower of Jesus. If that’s you as well, we are called by God to be set apart from the norms of the world. God asks us to stand out in how we love and how we posture ourselves when facing fear, frustration, and uncertain times.

May I encourage you today? Especially if you have been feeling similar to me recently, take time first thing in the morning and again right before bed to meditate on God, His goodness, His promises, and His power. I’m going to do my best to do this too.

I’ll leave you with this. Yes, I have very strong opinions on how our leaders are facilitating the COVID situation, what’s occurring in Afghanistan, racial injustices, the current labor shortage in America. But when it boils down to it, our character and public posture must be shaped by God’s word and strength, NOT by the social issues that dominate today’s news headlines.

Do you agree? What do you struggle with most today? Have you figured out how to keep yourself centered and positive in the midst of the current chaos we live in, or do you struggle like I do?

Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

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Contentment Is Learned

I don’t make enough money. I didn’t get enough sleep last night. Workplace negativity annoys me. Extreme social behaviors fueled by the pandemic often cause me to have ill feelings towards others.

Can you relate, or am I alone on this?

While all of these statements are true for me in my head, I also recognize that the magnitude of their truth only grows when I give it permission.

I don’t make enough money. Actually, I do. ‘Enough’ is relative. I have enough because God always provides for my needs. I may not have excess, but excess is not essential.

I didn’t get enough sleep last night. True…but I could have went to bed earlier. I wasn’t proactive.

Workplace negativity annoys me. Ok, so why don’t I choose to allow it to energize me to be an element for change toward more positivity?

Extreme social behaviors fueled by the pandemic often cause me to have ill feelings towards others. It is what it is. I’m not going to singlehandedly change societal behaviors, most of which are personal pet peeves anyway. I even talked with my therapist about this. (Yes I’m in therapy. Healthy people seek help while unhealthy people remain unhealthy in their solitude) She challenged me, “Why are you allowing others (strangers) to occupy so much of your limited emotional capacity?” Yeah, good question.

You see, all of these examples of mine are choices. Choices for action or mindset. Choosing to take the better path is usually more difficult and requires conscious effort. But we CAN do it!

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians‬ ‭4:11-13‬

The apostle Paul wrote this in one of his letters while imprisoned. He had learned to be content because of his past experiences, both of pain and joy. He shares that in every circumstance he has learned the ability to ‘do all things’ in order to live in contentment because of the strength made available to him through Jesus.

Now, you and I don’t always have the ability to change the circumstances around us. But we do have choices regarding how we model walking through them.

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