This fall Addy asked us if she could play soccer.

Jen and I were both footballers in our youth, but we haven’t pushed her towards it.  Addy was a part of a developmental league last year- which meant that she learned some basic skills but never competed against other teams or even scrimmaged.

This year she played on a first and second grade team in Colonial Baptist’s sports league.  (For what it is worth, we’ve had a great time with them and have been nothing but impressed with what they do.)  Addy turned 6 in late June as she started first grade and played this season against other first graders as well as 2nd graders who are close to turning eight.  Suffice it to say that she is one of the smaller and least experienced kids on the field.  Which, as a dad, I think is good for her.

Addy’s coaches did a great job balancing having fun with learning how to play.  They were encouraging, supportive and instructive.  Addy got to be a part of a team and loved to cheer for others when she was on the sidelines.  She played all over the field, but seemed to enjoy being the goalkeeper the most- despite the anxiety this caused her mom and dad.  She did well though and didn’t surrender a goal the whole year.

Here are a few shots of our girl in action:

Addy has already asked us if she can play in the spring session.  Sounds good to me.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted.  Honestly, I’ve been so busy at work that the idea of doing any more writing, creating or communicating when I get home hasn’t seemed very appealing.  Now that I’m close to catching my breath, I want to get back to blogging.

I plan on sharing some happenings from the past couple of months- but in honor of the calendar, I’m posting this first.

Here’s a confession: I’m a fan of vampires.  Actually, I should say I’m a fan of stories about vampires since I don’t believe they really exist.

Now, please don’t lump me in with the rest of the folks who got sucked up in the Twilight phenomenon.  I’ve been reading about vampires since I pinched my mom’s Anne Rice novels from one of her many overflowing bookcases over 25 years ago.

I realize that it may seem odd to some that a person who tries to center his life around following Jesus enjoys this kind of thing.  However, I find that tales about vampires often inspire me to think deeply about faith.  Here are a few reasons why:

  • Many of these tales include direct discussions about God, Jesus, eternity, sin, faith, etc.
  • Vampires struggle with stewarding their power.  Some see their “gifts” as an advantage to be exercised for their own gain & pleasure.  Others see their power as a dangerous thing and occasionally steward it for the good of others.
  • And then there’s the issue of immortality.  We may think we’d like to live forever here, but most old vampires find themselves weary from the centuries.   Would we choose immortality  if it meant we were separated from those we love who couldn’t live forever?
  • The offer to become a vampire reminds me a lot of the first temptation.  Would you like to be a god?  To have special knowledge?  Great power?
  • Then there’s the blood thing.  For a vampire to live in its curse, something must die.  Smacks of the OT sacrificial system, no?

I guess I see these mythical creatures as exaggerations of the human condition.  Of course, I could be over thinking all of this.  Anyway, let’s get to the title of this post.

Due to Twilight’s success- and the flood of cheesy copies by those who seek to cash in on it- vampires have become synonymous these days with teenage angst.  Which is a shame.

So for those of you interested in vampires, but not in a shirtless Taylor Lautner, I offer you a more interesting and significantly less WB styled alternative:  Abraham Lincoln- Vampire Hunter.

Author Seth Grahame-Smith writes alternative history that paints our 16th president as an early American “Buffy” and suggests that our Civil War may have ultimately been motivated by conflicts between vampires who wanted to keep slaves as an easy food source and those who felt called to protect their human “brethren”.

The result may not be accurate, but is entertaining.

You can get a small taste here:

And if you happen to like the Twilight books, I’ve got no quarrel with you.  I’ve read 3 of the 4 novels and have enjoyed them for the most part.  Can’t say the same for the movies.

Ever wondered:

“Is it just me?”

“Am I doing this faith thing wrong?”

“Is God real in my life?”

“Should I just give up?”

If so, you aren’t alone.

Right now our faith community is wrestling with these kinds of questions.

This past Sunday we queried, “Is it normal to fluctuate between faith and doubt?”

To have moments where we commit ourselves fully to God only to later wonder if He’s even there?

To act so courageously in faith one time, and fail in fear the next?

To be convinced one day, and conflicted another?

Good questions all.

If you’re interested in the conversation, you can listen in HERE.

….Money.

Right?

If there’s a part of a church gathering that can get weird in a hurry or make us cringe a bit, it’s the offering.  Yet most faiths practice some element of giving to God.  Why?  Is it helpful?  Optional?  Vital? Does what we do with our tangible stuff really impact our souls and relationships with a God who already owns everything anyway?

Over the course of 5 weeks our faith community sought some clarity about the back-story of offerings and the role they should play in our lives with God.  Beyond discussing what God wants FROM us, we processed offerings in light of what God wants FOR us.

So, if you’re interested in learning more- or just want to hear a church talk about money without the inevitable sales pitch or stewardship campaign, listen in.

You can find the first teaching conversation in the series HERE and navigate our PODCAST SITE for the rest.  (My apologies for the audio quality on the initial message.  We had a glitch that week.  The sound is greatly improved in subsequent teachings.)

Enjoy!

I’ll confess.

I see myself as an everyguy.

The beauty in this is that it can help keep me grounded and humble.

The potential darkside is that I can assume that everyone is actually a lot like me.

Likes what I like.

Thinks what I think.

Does what I do.

And wouldn’t the world and our relationships be better if that was the case?

Wouldn’t you get along better with the person in the next cubicle, or the neighbor next door, or the person sitting next to you at church if you were more alike?

I don’t think so.

While there’s upside to sharing things in common, there’s also incredible benefit and potential harmony to be found in diversity.

Or to put it this way- when it comes to relationships, identical is not ideal.

That’s the stuff we explored in Week 5 of our U+I=WE series.

You can listen in HERE if you are interested.

What kinds of people are you drawn to?  Like to hang out with?

Chances are your answer can be boiled down to: “people who add something good to my life”.

We need people like that in our lives.

And we need to be those people for others.

Sound good?

Learn more HERE.

Remember when your math teacher taught you value comparisons?  You were given two numbers and asked to decide if the first was greater than, less than or equal to the second.

You were equipped with the following symbols: >, <, =.

Later you’d be given an underscore that could be used to create a hybrid answer but we’ll skip that for now.  No need to get too fancy and show off.

If your math class was anything like mine, we struggled a bit to differentiate between < & >.  That was until our math teacher swooped in with one of those tips that they must teach in math college.

She drew teeth in each  symbol and told us to think of them as alligators- rabid, frenzied reptiles who were desperately craving warm, squirming flesh.

OK so I’m embellishing a bit.  But the point was the same.

The alligator wants to eat the bigger number.  Point its mouth towards the bigger one and you’ll do just fine.

That tip not only works in 4th grade math, but in relationships too.

If we want to get along better with each other, we need to know which way to point the alligator’s mouth.  Are we more important than others?  Or should they come before us?

How will we know the right answer?  In the 2nd teaching of the U+I=WE series, I suggest that we cheat off of Jesus’ paper a bit.

And yeah- I’m pretty sure He’ll be OK with it.

You can listen to the teaching and download the accompanying slides and a 2nd Helpings Sheet HERE.

Happy cheating!

Our church community is walking through a series of learning conversations on relationships.

Not just dating relationships- or married relationships- but human relationships.

We’re simply trying to understand how we can get along better with other people.

And we began with a conversation that I think every teacher should have w/their students BEFORE they dive into a complex topic complete w/equations and theorums.

Intrigued?  Listen in HERE.

When it comes to communication, are you a short and sweet kind of person?  Or do you prefer the long version of the story?

For the sake of full disclosure, I tend to be fairly verbose.  Although at times I force myself to reign it in and be succinct.  This is why I like to update my status online via Twitter instead of Facebook.  Makes me edit myself.

Last Sunday our church community spent some time talking about what we feel called by God to do.

Putting it in a nutshell, I said I think we’re about:

“Building relationships that change things.”

Capturing the essence of a church community or anything else in only five words can make it incredibly portable, but is by necessity incomplete.

So, I developed a longer version of the ethos of Connections Church as well:

“Connections church is a humble, welcoming community of average people who are trying to understand and practice what it means to unreservedly follow Jesus in the midst of everyday life while building deep, authentic relationships with other believers for mutual support, encouragement and accountability and at the same time seeking to be an incarnation of the love, presence and message of Jesus to our world (both locally and globally) with intent of allowing God to work in and through us to unfold His plans, establish His Kingdom and bring glory to Himself.”

Something tells me that this might not only be the longest run on sentence known to man, but that I- and everyone else- will be more likely to remember, repeat and embody the shorter version.

If you’d like to hear more about this, take a listen to this week’s POD CAST.

I know all parents are proud of their kids and most like to gush about them.

I’m no exception.

The other day I was downloading pics from my phone and was reminded of several of Addy’s recent accomplishments and thought I’d share them here.

Addy has been learning to ride her bike without training wheels.  She doesn’t quite have it mastered, but is learning much quicker than I expected.

Here’s a shot of Addy with her principal Mr. Hooper.  Addy received an award for displaying the character trait of “Respect”.  She and other students from the school were honored in an awards ceremony led by a karate world champion.  (Not kidding- could I make that up??)

Not long ago, Addy moved up to an older kids class at church and has started memorizing different Bible verses.  This was the first one she learned.

Like most kids, Addy likes to draw, paint, etc.  Earlier this month one of her pieces was selected by her art teacher for display at an art show at the local mall. Yes- it was every bit as classy as it sounds.

So- our girl is doing well.  We’re incredibly proud of her and are excited about watching her continue to grow and develop.

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