Seeing the Kingdom Grow

One of my worst faults is that I am my own worst critic. A long time ago I believed that this was an admirable quality because it made me perfect the things I was working on, whether it was a school assignment, a newspaper report, or some other project.

Now while it is appropriate to strive for excellence in what we set out to do, I have come to realize over the years that being my own worst critic was of a different sort. The reason for this is that I struggled with seeing worth and significance in myself.

For the longest time this is what I felt others told me. That I was not good enough or that I did not matter. My classmates in school, for the most part, treated me as if I did not exist. My colleagues often expressed to me that because I was educated in West Virginia that I did not have the proper credentials to succeed in journalism or the public policy field. As well, the people I loved have refused to return that love, whether it was a step-father who neglected and abused me, an ex-wife who walked away from our marriage, or friends who were not there when I needed them. Continue reading “Seeing the Kingdom Grow”

Loving the Weeds

Before entering ministry, I had the great joy and privilege of being a journalist. For 11 years starting in high school when I was a part-time stringer for the local paper I covered everything a young reporter could cover. I saw the inner workings of the legislative process, the fast-paced nature of NASCAR on a race weekend, the joy of a high school athlete who just won a state title, and the pain caused by the most obscure crimes.

Though I no longer cover a beat with my reporter’s notebook in hand I often find myself reflective of that time in my life. One of the things I have recognized about this time in my life was that it was season of preparation for this life in pastoral ministry. Not only did it give me the tools to communicate and express our mutual hope in Jesus Christ, but it also gave me the tools to look at our communities and world and to see what we often do not see at first glance. Continue reading “Loving the Weeds”

The Gardener Never Gives Up

I’m not much of a gardener. I do not have a green thumb. I do not have a good agricultural sense. In fact, if someone asked me how to produce a good fruit or vegetable my response would not be about how one would grow the desired plant. Instead, I would likely tell them to get up early on a Saturday morning, take some money out of the bank, and head to the nearest farmer’s market. The fruits and vegetables would be there for the picking!

To be honest, Abbi and I did try our hand at growing our own vegetables once. A couple of years ago, in the days before Noah, we decided we wanted a garden. We enlisted the help of some friends who helped us to prepare a plot of land. Now, what we had in mind was a small garden where we could plant a few things. Our friend had a different idea. We ended up with a 30-yard long and 10-yard deep garden.

It was probably too big for two amateur gardeners, but we did our best to produce what vegetables we could. We cleared the weeds and prepared the rows. We planted the seeds and watered the land. We sowed some seed in some good places and some, honestly, in some bad places. Before too long, to my own shock, we ended up with a good crop of three-foot long squash, some tomatoes, and a few beans. Continue reading “The Gardener Never Gives Up”

Laying Down Our Burdens

I think it has dawn on me with this most recent move that our family owns a small library of books. At the same time, I think most of our boxes were nothing but books, whether they were Abbi’s, Noah’s, or my own. Each box had its own collection within them. Books from various fiction authors. Books about the presidents. Books about books in the Bible. Books about Curious George. Books that, to be honest, I don’t think we have even started reading.

Each of these books were placed into boxes of various sizes. The worst of these boxes were these egg crate boxes that were two boxes merged into one. At first, I thought this was a great concept. I could fit more books into the boxes and reduce the number of boxes we would need. I thought this until I had to pick up a filled box. These egg crate boxes were among the heaviest we had, because they were overloaded with books that made it difficult to carry. Continue reading “Laying Down Our Burdens”