When The Walls Came Tumbling Down: The Cracks

This is the first post of many in my WTWCTD series. I am hoping to chronicle my struggle with my health and how I’m attempting to push through.

Before I entered into full time ministry I did a lot of time working retail. I worked in everything from grocery stores, book stores, music stores, to movie theaters. One thing I often noticed from time to time was that my feet would hurt a lot. I figured it was bad shoes and being on hard floors for hours upon hours. I tried everything but the pain stayed. I never mentioned it to anyone simply because I assumed they had foot pain as well.

Fast forward to my first church in Virginia. I was summertime and we had just wrapped up Vacation Bible School and I was helping clean up the craft room. As I was leaving I hopped on a step and felt a very sharp pain. I sat on the step and took off my show to massage my now screaming foot. I was scared I had fractured it, but the pain subsided and I went home.

When my wife came home I told her what happened and she told me to got to he dr. I wasn’t in the mood to go to the ER so I went to a clinic near my house that actually did X-rays. The doctor took X-rays and when they got the results told me I needed to go to a specialist. I became concerned and asked what was wrong. The doctor told me he saw some things he wasn’t happy with and I needed to stay off the foot and get a referral to a podiatrist.

So I did.

It didn’t take to long to get a referral to one of the top podiatrist in Roanoke so my wife and I went to the first appointment together knowing they he would have seen the X-rays. As I sit in the office I small man and his student come in. I notice that the Dr looks exactly like Nascar Champion Jeff Gordon. Dr Gordon, as I’ll call him, told me to take my shoes off and walk for him. I did and he asked me to roll up my pant legs he wasted to see my calf muscles. When He saw them he asked me to sit down.

He pointed at my feet and asked me how often that hurt. I told him often and he said you see that your feet are rolling in. I told him yes, but I never really paid attention to them. Her said well your lower legs are shaped like upside down coke bottles. I looked down and sure enough they did.

Again I really never paid attention to these things.

Dr. Gordon told me he thinks I have Charcot Marie Tooth. Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) is a degenerative nerve disease that usually appears in adolescence or early adulthood.Muscle weakness, decreased muscle size, decreased sensation, hammertoes, and high arches are symptoms. Needless to say all of this made sense and to be honest it scared me a bit.

I was then sent to other specialists and it was confirmed that I did in fact have CMT. I went back to Dr. Gordon for a follow up and we discussed the options. He mentioned that my left foot was worse than the right and at this point surgery would be an option. What he would do is basically rebuild the foot with hopes that it would buy me some time.

Time? I remember asking. He said yes I want to keep you out of the wheel chair as long as we can.

So the first surgery was schedules.

to be continued.

Erase Conflict

Over my life I have been guilty of making folks mad. Sometimes I didn’t realize it and others, sadly I knew exactly what I was doing.

As a minister now I find myself a little more grown up in how I think and act. However, in my job I find that it is not all that uncommon that something I said or did has upset someone. What makes things tough is most of the time I’m the last person that knows this and I’m told that “they” are mad at me from someone else.

I have a few way I handle these situations.

  1. I don’t discuss “they” with other people. I simply tell the folks who share that “they” are mad to let them know I have an open door and open phone policy.
  2. If I feel I have offended someone (Church or life) I go to them face to face and have a discussion. This always ends in clarity and a good nights sleep.
  3. When in discussion I never go in on the defense, odds are I have done something and I own my part. this is a quick defuser.
  4. Be willing to resolve the issue and move forward. Relationships don’t need to end over pride.
  5. If the person doesn’t want to talk I simply give space.

I have been blessed to have folks who have forgiven me for my immaturity. In fact one of them is one my best friends in the entire world.

I’m too old and life is too short to worry about things that a phone call or quick visit can handle.

 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Colossians 3:13

The Joy in Failure

I will be the first to admit I don’t like to lose. With that being said I have lost more in life than I have won. When I played sports in school I was always on the team that never won or during PE I was one of the last people to be picked on a team. To be honest it bothered me at times, but over time it was a badge of honor.

Over my life I have been management for companies and now run my farm and am a Pastor of two Churches. I have to admit that I am the happiest in my life than I have ever been.

Yesterday I was giving a huge and I mean huge glass of humility. On the farm we have been raising pigs and our goal was to send off our first three to be processed for meat. Monday we caught the pigs and it seemed like the hard part was done.

I was wrong.

I had my son and a few local friends over to help me load the pigs into the crate we built to take them to their final destination. This should have been easy, but it wasn’t because while I had everything I needed, I didn’t do one important step that would have lead to success. You see in order to get a 350 pound pig into a crate, you can’t just show up with one. You have to place it in front of them for a few days and put food and water in the crate. In essence you are making the crate a false oasis of hope and food. The pig gets used to it and then they go in on their own and boom! you got bacon.

Because I forgot this step, I failed. Not my son and friends, I failed due to an oversite that I should have had in place. Needless to say we regrouped and have rescheduled. Currently the crate is set up to make the oasis I mentioned before. This would fix the issues I caused yesterday.

I’ll be honest to write of such a failure is painful. I beat myself up most of the evening, but this morning I remembered that as over the years of farming and ministry I have made mistakes. The key however is I learned from them. I know I will fail and I also know I will succeed too.

I had to voices pop in my head as I was beating myself up. The first was my old theater boss Mr. Mckay. He was a good man, who would often say, “Moving forward”. I can still hear him saying that to me and others when we needed to possibly try something different.

The other voice was my old chaplain mentor who would say,” feel bad for 30 seconds, move on and learn.”

Both voices were true gifts from Jesus as I sit on my porch kinda paying attention to my seminary class, with a sense of peace.

I will, moving forward, take the wins and the losses as opportunities to get better and be able to teach my kids to be better people.

Hopefully next entry will be one where I share the pigs are gone, but if I fail again, at least I’m still learning.

Until next time… and thank God there’s always a next time

Ash Wednesday Thoughts

I am what one would call a denominational mutt. I grew up Baptist, Preach in a Methodist Charge, but I relate to the Mennonite way of life. When I grew up Baptist I never paid much attention to Ash Wednesday, but later in life I did.

It is the beginning of Lent and basically paved the road to Easter. It’s a time of preparation and getting your act together spiritually. However, most folks tend to “painfully” give up chocolate, TV, or social media. I tend to get annoyed at this.

I tend to focus on tweaking areas in my life I may have lost control of and slow down. This year I am going to focus more on eliminating the toxic from my life and focus on the blessings God has given me. I will also spend more time being present with family and friends. This is a time where i evaluate if I’m being real in all areas of my life. I’m not trying to come across as a hipster, but i never want to see myself just going through the motions. i want to make sure I’m literally practicing what i preach. Sometimes this can be painful, but when done right, very freeing.

I feel that these additions will help me as I strive to be a better follower of Jesus. I don’t see Lent as a Christian New Year’s Resolution, but a time of real reflection and change.

We will see if I have grown after the coming days…

“Lent is a time of going very deeply into ourselves… What is it that stands between us and God? Between us and our brothers and sisters? Between us and life, the life of the Spirit? Whatever it is, let us relentlessly tear it out, without a moment’s hesitation.” Catherine Doherty

If You Give

I have always believed that if you freely give then you’re attached to nothing.

Years ago my wife and i decided to share what God has blessed up with. We felt led by God to never be hoarders or stingy with anything. What we found is a freedom to enjoy life with no attachments. we love our family and our farm, but if we have extra, there is no greater joy than to simply share.

We don’t say this to make ourselves look good, but with the hope that someone would be encouraged to become generous with your time and resources.

until next time!

Take Me to Your Leader!?!

One of the realities of my life is that on top of all that I have going on is that I’m also a seminary (Preacher School) student. What this mean is that every Thursday I get up a 4:30am to drive 2 hours and 20 minutes one way to school.

What I want to stress before I continue is that this is something I truly enjoy. I love the drive and I love sitting in a class with my peers and just talk.

Ok back to the topic at hand.

On my drives I normally don’t listen to music. I have a system that on the way up I listen to sermons and leadership podcasts. I may start adding audiobooks soon. On the way home I listen to some music, but mostly wrestling podcasts.

This week I was listening to the Carey Nieuwhoff (Newhoff) leadership podcast and his guest was Donald Miller. I am a huge fan of Miller as he is the author of Blue Like Jazz, Searching For God Knows What, and my personal favorite Through Painted Deserts. Miller has since turned his attentions to helping leaders and business become better through his Storybrand Marketing Brand.

In their conversation Donald mentioned to Carey something along the lines that business leaders would be more profitable if they lead like Pastors. This may not have been the full context as it was early, and I assure you I don’t think I’m a good businessman, but I am a Pastor so this peaked my interest.

So I listened and took the points to heart as how I can become better at my calling.

  1. Love your people. This is a given in that this is the one point that comes easy. When I walk into my churches I truly love each person I see and engage with. I also am like this with my friends and people I encounter. I believe that when people encountered Jesus, He made them feel like they were the most important person in the world. I have met others who do the same, so this has always been my goal. There is nothing more off-putting then someone who asks how you’re doing as they keep walking.
  2. Lead your people. This is something we sadly see too often due to laziness. Many of my “peers” call themselves leaders, yet they never lead. Pastoring is more than social media, coffee shops, and memes quoting dead theologians. It’s actually engagement with a lot of encouragement. People are hungry for direction and as Pastors and leaders we are held accountable to give it.
  3. Produce Content Often. This one is easy, but it’s also the hardest. There are 52 weeks in a year which means there are 52 Sundays that a sermon will be given. In my case there are 52 sermons and I add seasonal Bible Studies as well. So on average not counting vacations or small breaks I preach or teach over 100 times a year. A lot of time needs to go into all of this, so we have to be intentional in what we preach. What I mean is don’t allow personal agenda trickle in. Preach/Teach the truth or if you run a business only share what true, beneficial, and encouraging. You can do all of this through good time and bad.

Like I said the points are from the podcast, but these insights are what is currently swimming in my head. I was inclined to write this down as it may lead to something more, but then again it may not.

Oh Death, Where is Your Sting?

As a minister I am required to do many things, and I love them for the most part. I get the privilege of preaching and teaching the promises of God, perform Baby dedications, Baptize, Marry Couples, and help folks figure life out at times.

There is one part of my calling that I don’t particularly like, and that’s end of life situations and the funerals that follow. Over the past twelve years or more I have done literally close to a hundred funerals. I served as a chaplain in a hospital and dealt with death daily and it NEVER has gotten easier. In my first year as a lead Pastor I did eleven funerals. Sadly four of them were in one month.

So why am I writing about such a grim subject? Well after all of this time dealing with death, I find that I don’t do well with it anymore. In a five year span I lost my Mom, Papa, and Younger Sister all in a tragic sense.

It’s gotten to the point that celebrity deaths seem to put me in a grim mood. This year icons of my childhood have gone on. Betty White, Bob Saget, and today Louie Anderson and Meatloaf. I asked my self this morning as I texted friends about the deaths that happened why does this effect me like it does.

The answer came and to my surprise I am ok with it. Death itself doesn’t bother me as it, pardon the pun is a fact of life. It’s the sudden loss of a person that literally stings. To lose a family member or close friend mean that while on earth I will never be able to hear their voice in person, or eat a holiday meal. Losing so many family members really hits me during times when we would have gathered or if I need to call for advice or to share something funny.

I miss them simply not being.

The celebrity issue is similar. I before being minister I dominantly worked in record stores and movie theaters. So in some way we develop a closeness to certain performers. Betty White was the goofy Golden Girl while Bob Saget was America’s Dad in Full House. These two people were in my living room weekly. So what hit the hardest in these cases is that they were part of my childhood. Did I know them? No, but my sadness of their loss is still real.

I remember when Steve Clark, Def Leppard guitarist, died at a young age. It struck me in a way I now understand. I listened to Pyromania and Hysteria daily and was looking forward to the new CD, which would become Adrenalize. I remember thinking how horrible this was because I would never get to see him play live, and he wouldn’t be on any new cd’s. While some dismissed my emotion it was real.

I try hard t bring that empathy and sympathy to families that I help during these times. Grief is a funny thing as it doesn’t just stop. In some cases it gets worse, I know if I am being honest I still struggle with it myself.

Im my faith I believe that if you trust Jesus as Lord and Savior, there is Heaven. I know I’ll see my loved ones again. This is a great promise, but sometimes I’d like to pick up my phone or hop in my car and see and talk to them now.

This is not a post to preach or bum anyone out. I feel that expressing this will hopefully lead me and/or you to appreciate the lives of those whoa re not here anymore. The life and legacy will thrive if e just remember to pause and remember with laughter or ever a tear.

Just remember and sometimes the sting won’t hurt as bad.

“Death is nature’s way of saying, ‘Your table is ready.’” — Robin Williams


I hate to write introductions, but at the same time I’d feel a bit off if I didn’t write one, so is life. The main purpose for this journal is to put down my thoughts and have a chronicle of my journey. The title “From the Inside” is a Def Leppard song from their RetroActive Cd. Let me give a little disclaimer, that if you listen to the song its about the effects of drugs and alcohol. I do not struggle with ether, I just like the song title.

I choose it as the reminder of this format. I write with one of my best friends on a site where were talk about our love of music, games, wrestling, you see where I’m going here.

This is different.

I may drop some geekdom here once an a while , but this is my place just to free write and just have as my own. In real life I am a Husband and a Dad, we run our own homestead and try to live a simple life. My professional life finds me being a Pastor (don’t be scared).

I hope to write or post something weekly, but if I don’t that’s ok too.

That’s all for now..Until next time.

“Don’t you rob yourself of what you’re feeling; don’t rob yourself of all that you could be.” 
― Dave Matthews Band