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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.

Subscribe to the blog newsletter HERE to stay in the loop with an occasional email from me (not enough to be annoying).

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

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

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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…..

Subscribe to the blog newsletter HERE to stay in the loop with an occasional email from me (not enough to be annoying).

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

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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My ‘One Word’ for 2021 (updated)

Toward the end of 2020 I wrote about my One Word for 2021.

BE

That’s it…Just BE!

I was shocked and thrilled to learn that my wife, Cailey, also discovered the same word for her in the next year! So for Christmas I got her these wall letters to place in our living room as a daily reminder for both of us.

In the midst of multiple life changes, a surgery, and COVID-related hardships, however, this ‘Just BE’ only became a reality on our wall during the last week of June, 2021. And it’s timing is perfect. I love it. I do my quiet reflections in the morning at our kitchen table and I can see this directly across from me while I think about the day ahead of me.

Here are a few things I’m being challenged in half way through this crazy year.

  • Just BE in the moment.
  • Just BE calm and breathe.
  • Just BE still.
  • Just BE positive.
  • Just BE grateful.
  • Just BE intentional.

Do you have a One Word for 2021? What is it? Do you need to take time this week to revisit it and reflect on how it needs to shape the second half of the year for you?

Subscribe to the blog newsletter HERE to stay in the loop with an occasional email from me (not enough to be annoying).

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

What If Pike’s Peak Disappeared?

God’s love for you and I is more consistent, guaranteed, and tangible than it is for mountains and hills to be in their same place each morning.

Our family lived in Colorado Springs for a couple years. The front range was majestic. And Pike’s Peak could be seen virtually from any location in town. Residents could count on it being there.

And yet, scripture tells us that it’s more likely for Pike’s Peak to disappear than it is for God’s love for us to cease.

Rest in that truth today. And if you are finding it hard to believe, take that to God. Be honest with Him. He only has warm, open arms for you.

Be blessed.

Subscribe to the blog newsletter HERE to stay in the loop with an occasional email from me (not enough to be annoying).

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

I Lost My Job Today

Yesterday was Monday, but it was my Friday. I lost a job yesterday. The wave of emotions was mixed. In the 30+ years that I’ve been in the workforce this is the first time I’ve actually been ‘let go.’ It was also the main (largest) source of income for our family. Pride and providence are key themes here. God would rather I not be prideful in a job or position. And providing for our family’s needs is ultimately his job, not mine. Yes, I must work. But I shouldn’t worry about if our needs will be met according to my efforts.

Now, I also co-pastor a Missional Community (a faith family) with my amazing wife in Yakima, WA. And I work very part-time at a local grocery store. So, it’s not like I’m unemployed. But it was a pretty significant loss.

This morning I didn’t need to get up at 4:30am for work. I awoke at 9:39am, focusing on my health as I head into this new season. And in my coffee time with Jesus he led me to the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6. Between this and other readings my wife shared with me came this encouragement and direction.

Jesus reminded me that I’m to practice all of these, not only focus on just one. Praying all the time isn’t very effective if I’m not going to listen. And spending all my time searching only goes so far if I’m not spending time with God and in his written word.

I’m in a new season. And God has blessed me with incredible peace that he is here with me and his plan will be revealed soon.

What is God reassuring you in this season?

Dear Hurting Pastor

This letter is dedicated to every church pastor who has ever felt burned out, been in a ‘funk’ and could not get out, lost the respect of your staff or board, or simply had the passion of your calling to ministry fade away.  

Dear Lead Pastor,

I’m sorry.  I’m sorry for all the 1:00 a.m. phone calls that took you away from you family too often.  I’m sorry about all the ridiculous expectations the church placed on you for so many years. Having to appear at every single event throughout the year.  Making yourself available 24/7 to EVERYONE for absolutely ANYTHING.  I’m sorry for all those anonymous I’m displeased with your leadership notes you found under your office door on Mondays.  I’m sorry you didn’t receive THANK YOUs and HUGS more often for the compassion you poured into people.  I’m so very sorry that your kids witnessed an unpleasant, un-Christlike side of church and ministry while they were growing up.  You probably did not get to witness first hand much of the fruit resulting from your ministry either…I’m sorry for that too.  I’m sorry that no one in your church really knows what it is like being in your shoes.

I’m sorry the church placed you so high up on a pedestal that it seemed impossible to ever step down.  You should have never been put there.  That position is reserved for Jesus.  He’s the only one who deserves to be there…who can withstand the pressures that exist there…and the only one the church needs to see up there.

In those empty, dry, and lonely seasons…I’m sorry no one in the church offered loving accountability to you.  They should have given you a paid and structured Sabbatical.  Offering to provide you with the right counseling, or even find you a mentor.  Now that would have been helpful.  I’m sorry that did not happen.

Pastor, mostly I am sorry that ministry work has put a bad taste in your mouth for the church.  As someone who has experienced this with a handful of friends who were pastors, allow me to encourage you.  The church is made up of flawed people, therefore, it is flawed.  That’s just the way it is going to be until Christ returns.  Pastors do not have direct control over the health of their church congregations, staff, and boards.  But WE DO have 100% control of our own personal health and leadership.

hurtingpastor blog

Have you left the ministry?  Or, have you been thinking about stepping out but haven’t quite taken the plunge yet?

Please hear me on this.  If there is ANY amount of calling left on your life, stick with it…BUT make some changes.  Take charge of leading by example.  Be intentional about resting and recharging once a week.  Empower others (staff and volunteers) to share the burden of hospital visits, speaking/teaching at small group gatherings and Bible studies, and even leading some team meetings.  And for the love of all that is good and meaningful in the world, please find a mentor!  Someone OUTSIDE of your church who is spiritually mature and will speak truth into you as a leader, husband, and father.

If the Lord has truly called you to ministry and others around you affirm that calling, then be obedient.  The church desperately needs healthy pastors.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.  – Galatians 6:9

Blessings!