HAPPY NEW YEAR – Times, seasons, & other musings…

It’s almost 2023.
I’m feeling (mostly) better. My voice is about 85% ‘back.’ Christmas week has come & gone. I can sense a collective gathering of energy as we prepare to step into the New Year & all that it holds: things we expect, & things we don’t.

Multiple times on Christmas Day I had several  people in a variety of contexts share the same Scripture with me:

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
There is a time for everything, & a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born & a time to die; a time to plant & a time to uproot;
a time to kill & a time to heal; a time to tear down & a time to build;
a time to weep & a time to laugh; a time to mourn & a time to dance.
a time to scatter stones & a time to gather them;
a time to embrace & a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to search & a time to give up; a time to keep & a time to throw away; 
a time to tear & a time to mend; a time to be silent & a time to speak;
a time to love & a time for hate; a time for war & a time for peace.

Over the last week, I’ve been pondering this Scripture & asking God to give me His insight for it at this time, as well as what He’s leading me (& our church) into & towards in 2023…

I’m smiling as I write this – because with all that said:
  • I still DON’T have a clear plan for the whole year.
  • I DON’T completely know or understand how God is working the Ecclesiastes 3 Scripture above into me.
  • I DO know that God has confirmed Joni & I are where we are supposed to be – in Reno, doing what we’re doing, pursuing Him, leading Hillside, & helping to care for our Area Pastors.
  • I DO know that there are ebbs & flows; times & seasons for ALL of God’s purposes in/for/through/around me. And you.
  • I DO know that He is at work – some days it feels like my soul is being roto-tilled, & I’m being jack-hammered at the deepest part of my being… not for punishment, but as a preparation for the new life, new planting, new construction, new creation God is working in me.
  • I DO know that it isn’t pleasant – it hurts, it is uncomfortable, & it is, at times, a struggle.
  • I DO know that whatever God’s  ‘end game’ for this time & season will be GOOD – it will work for my good & for His glory.

I DON’T know exactly what times & seasons you are facing, but I DO know that God is working it for your good & for His glory. Embrace it – whether its a season ending or beginning. Whether you’re going through it with mourning, tears, & pain, or you’re celebrating with shouts of joy & thanksgiving.

I think I’m going to go listen to the Byrds

Happy New Year – & may you make much of Jesus in all you do –
Grace, peace, & many blessings to you

Rosarito, Day 3

We started our morning at the children’s home, with breakfast & devotions. Made a sack lunch & packed up our bags for the transfer to our new ‘home away from home, then made our way out past the “Cliffs of Insanity” to Joseph House. Joseph House is a home in the making, sponsored by Hope Chapel Rosarito – it’s purpose is to provide a safe haven, a place for deported men to stay, live, & be discipled. There are currently 5 men living in the home, & many of them have jobs (a rarity for deportees.) Our tasks for the day were simple:

  • Paint the 2-story front of the house, as well as 1 of the 2-story sides. No ladders, just extension poles. (Light baby blue. It was nice.)
  • Assemble a corner desk – without instructions, & perhaps without all the necessary pieces.
  • Rearrange the home so that the 5 occupants could better live life in it. After all, dudes are dudes & we need help organizing & designing stuff.
  • Clean the kitchen (see above)
  • Dig holes for a fence to establish the Joseph house property boundary. Make the fence. Using only reclaimed wood, scrap metal & nails.

Boom. We did it. Finished all of the projects with the help of some skilled labor (Mario & Alejandro, 2 of the once-baddest-but-now-big-softies-for-Christ-that-I’d-want-walking-with-me-on-any-street-in-the-world type of guys) & a lot of sweat. And sun. It was hard work, & took a lot of ingenuity on the part of Tony Mac, who rigged two extension poles together in order to finish painting one section of the house, & of Janelle, who came up with the idea of hanging out the upstairs windows to paint other parts of the 2nd story. Good times.

An added benefit is that we met a family from the US that just relocated to Rosarito. Jason & Dulce have 3 kids, & the funny part is that Jason went to the same high school theWeez currently attends in the greater Reno-Sparks Metro area. Small. World. Jason is a photographer & videographer working in Baja, & he’s been shooting a bunch of pics for us.

At the end of our work day, we took time to pray for the house & for the men who do (& will) live in it. It was very moving to know that this place is (& will be) a refuge for men who have lost everything… & that they will become men who have found everything again when they find Christ.

We were dead tired (& dirty), so we made our way to our new home, the House of Rest. It is sponsored by Calvary Chapel & is a world-class place, with room for 64 people & some really great features. The best one so far was the SHOWER because I was covered in baby blue paint sprinkles.

Freshly scrubbed, we made our way to Grandma’s House, a Baja restaurant specializing in (wait for it….) food like Grandma used to make. Ate to our hearts content. And with eyes glazing over & people starting to nod off, it was time to go home.

Wrapped up our day with a brief discussion, a song, & prayer, & the promise of PANCAKES & BACON for breakfast in the morning. Another happy thought is that we will be sleeping in & having a rest day. Without a rest day on a trip like this, it would be easy to lose focus, get burned out, & turn into virtual zombies. With the demands of our schedule Friday-Sunday, we can’t afford that, so Thursday is rest day/beach day/buy a poncho day for those that so desire.

And it will be grand. Thank you for praying. It makes a difference.

musings on being thankful in the wee hours… morning or night, I forget which…

I’m up late again. Or really, really early, depending on how you look at it. Either way, bed is something that I find myself anticipating falling into. When I’m sleepy. Now, not so much.

Its not insomnia, its that my brain is in the “on” position; perhaps it got stuck there because I’ve been in research & analysis mode for the last few days. Then after I got home from work & everyone else went to bed, I stayed up to ponder. Think. Plot. Write. I’m on my last paper for class #4 of my masters program (4 classes out of 12, for the souls that are keeping track. Bless thee. But I digress…)

I don’t trust my midnight writing, but I can live with my midnight data analysis… because there’s always an editing & re-editing that happens to clear up any of the dust bunnies left in the papers by my late-night activities.

Done writing, my brain kept going. That’s ok. I will roll through some thankfulness.

I’m thankful for me & my brain. The way I think. How everything somehow ends up looking like a teaching/learning opportunity. That I don’t make snap decisions. Or say everything that is on my mind. Or turn the direction of my life over to the unstable groundhog that wants to drive my life by the seat of my emotions (obscure “Groundhog Day” reference. Just remember, “Don’t drive angry.”)

I’m thankful for the Word that dwells in me richly. For the stabilizing & transforming influence it has upon my tempestuous, out-there thought processes. For the Living Hope that is resident in Christ, the One I can (& do!) put my hopes & dreams in, knowing for sure that I won’t be disappointed.

I’m thankful for my parents – they still love each other, & they live what they believe… loving people in practical ways. Investing their lives in a manner that I hope to emulate, long term.

I’m thankful for my wife, theBean, a woman that I thought I understood, but have only recently realized that I may never fully “get” her… & being 100% comfortable with that. (make that 93%… I’m working on it.)

I’m thankful for my kids. All 3 of them. Pasty, iDoey, & theWeez: a greater 3 have never been found. So different, yet with similarities that evoke memories of those dearest to me. Sometimes I even see myself there.

I’m thankful for friends – without whom the joys of this life wouldn’t be nearly as high, nor the lows so bearable. For listening ears, kind hearts, compassion, & desperate prayers, offered both for & with me.

I’m thankful for a church family that I would love to be a part of, even if I wasn’t the person charged with leading & pastoring the incredible people that have grown from strangers to family.

I could go on; the more I write down ‘thankful thoughts’ the more they rush into my head like a strong, cool, refreshing dip in Tahoe.

But I won’t. Continue that is. It’s late, & I will sleep.

Thank you God for Your provisions for me – I can truly say that what I have, where I am, who I’m with… Your lot for my life… has fallen to me in pleasant places.

Life is beautiful.

Day 2 musings… – Columbus, OH – Connection 2011

Day 2 – Columbus
This has been a very rich experience for me – every meeting, every interaction has been full of significance & meaning. As I’ve looked back on the day to try to “sum up,” I find that my words are inadequate to do justice to describe it & will probably leave . So, here I go with some musings…

From the messages –
• Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good; He came to make dead people alive.
• In the context of 1Kings 17 & Acts 20 – if/when you come across death, hug it – the life that is in you, by the power of the Holy Spirit, will bring life… For the same Spirit of God that raised Christ from the dead is alive in you, & gives life to you…(Romans 8:11)
• Bitterness, unforgiveness & resentment from past hurts are deadly, spreading poison, barrenness, disunity, & isolation – with the ultimate result a lack of fruitfulness & sensitivity. The only way these can be truly dealt with is with true humility & repentance.
o Isaiah 58:8,9; Isaiah 1:18,19; Matthew 11:28-30; John 7:37-39
• On the heels of repentance, God calls us to hunger & thirst for righteousness, & for the work of the Holy Spirit in, through, & around our lives
o To determine to repent, forgive, to be healed
o To see God work physical miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit
o To release to the church signs & wonders that point to Jesus Christ

I met for lunch with Jan von Wille, a friend & pastor from Germany – we spent several hours catching up over food & coffee – talking through the commonality of experience we have, albeit in different contexts. I came away feeling refreshed & encouraged, like 2 parts of my life that haven’t been ‘connected’ in a long time had come together. There’s a piece of me & my heart in Germany, & when I’m gone from there too long, I really feel it. Here’s to hopefully being there again this November for the Foursquare Deutschland pastorenfortbildung (Pastors training/strengthening/conference.)

In the afternoon, I had the privilege of being a part of a ‘task force’ that is specifically strategizing how to help the Foursquare church (local, division, district, etc.) find ways to reach, train, empower the next generation – over the next months, we’ll be offering up practical suggestions & steps to help do this, looking 3-5 years into the future. Good times.

The highlight of my day happened on accident – right after the task force meeting, I had to make a run for the facilities… unfortunately, there was no restroom. So, I had to make my way down a couple of escalators & search, (increasingly frantically, I might add. And BTW: that isn’t the highlight.)

In my search, I ran into my friend Jason D. – he is a dear friend that I haven’t seen in several years; his wife, Alyse, is theWeez’s namesake – they were a part of our church & youth group leadership team in Carson City, & they now live in South Carolina.

They’re at convention working in the ‘exhibit hall’ – serving as sponsors of a booth that is helping raise money for kids in Nepal – they’ve been active in missions in India, & have a heart for the kind of life & ministry that meets practical, tangible needs, as well as presents the gospel Good News in a way that makes sense to where people are.

I spent more time than they had, just listening, talking, & well, looking with disbelief at these two. More times than I can tell you, I’ve wanted nothing more than to be able to see these guys again… I feel very rich to have the relationships, friendships, & community that I do in Reno; I realized today that my heart has longed for the reconnection of the very old & dear friendship of these dear people.

Still can’t quite believe it. Feeling thankful. Alive. Joyful.

Thank You…

I was going through my notepads today, gathering all the notes for our next series we’re doing at church. Turns out I’ve written in 6 different notepads over the last month, intending each time, no doubt, to make THIS pad the one I’d use for the rest of my notations, thoughts, impressions, etc. I don’t know why it is so difficult for me to keep myself confined to 1 notepad; its not like I don’t have one in the binder that I carry everywhere with me in my trusty & oh-so-masculine European Man Bag. Its just that inspiration strikes & life happens at the most interesting times.

In notepad #3, one that I’d had with me in Germany a couple weeks ago, I found a note that I’d written to myself to make sure that I’d remember something spoken to me by someone at the Foursquare Deutschland conference on November 8… unfortunately, I don’t have a clue who it was that spoke it, just a few lines jotted down in my ‘fast-scribble’:

There’s a picture – its you (Louie) & you have a backpack that is full of a bunch of resources. You’re surrounded by people, & you’re giving away everything you have to all the people; they’re taking it away, & you’re so happy – you’re beaming with joy at being able to give everything away.

And then you’re alone. Happy.

And then Jesus comes to you, gives you a robe, a special set of clothes, & you walk away with Him, close, to spend time together. God is sharing His heart with you in a new & close way.

Take joy in the little things, & you’ll have a new joy in the LORD. Look to the little things, & see joy – new & not obvious things. You will receive joy in he LORD, & He will sustain you.

I don’t know who said this to me, but I am so glad that I had a random notepad with me to write this down, this impression & this picture. I’m encouraged & don’t really know why. I do know that I want to say, “Thank you” to whoever shared this with me. And to give a shout out to ME for not throwing away notepads. Booyah!

Deutschland Travels, Spring 2010 – musings from a long day…

The last couple of days have been something of a blur, which usually happens on the travels home from East to West. My core42 processor in my brain is on the fritz, so I’m trying to set myself up to have a ‘reboot’ week & ease back into life at a rhythm & pace that is healthy for me & others, & also engaging. At some point in the not so distant past, I might have tried to hit the ground running, frantically trying to catch up on & make up for the time out of country over the last 2 weeks; an impossible task. So rather than attempt the impossible (& thereby delay the reboot by denying my own limits & humanity,) I’m trying to take it slow. But steady. And a ‘musings’ post…

Checked in to my United flight #901 on Saturday night, & all was right with the world. Woke up Sunday, & double-checked my check in, only to find that the status of my flight had changed from “On-time scheduled departure” to “Cancelled.” No explanations. Just a phone number. So I called.

Unfortunately, the ‘customer service’ had been outsourced, & communication was tough. In 45 minutes, I learned that there were no other flights on my route on Sunday, (Frankfurt to SF,) & that I’d have to hope to get one on Monday. Tried to get the rep to check other potential routes (to Denver, Chicago, Washington-Dulles, & other United International hubs…), but to no avail. Said she couldn’t do it. Sigh. Booked for Monday, then called theBean to explain what was up & recruit her to do what I couldn’t: spend time on the phone trying to get me on another route &/or a partner airline. And expectantly thanked God in advance for His favor & blessing.

Turns out she was just on her way to bed (the 9 hour difference :) & she was NOT happy about me not coming home for ANOTHER day. So, she took the mission & said she’d get back to me.

About 15 minutes later, myGirl called with a revised itinerary – she got the rep she spoke with to switch me to the #1 United partner in Germany – Lufthansa – on a flight scheduled to leave at the same time THAT day as my original, with a connection to Reno through Denver.

Excellent. And THAT is myBean.

The change in plans (& the knowledge that the FraPort would be crazy,) meant a rushed goodbye to my wonderful hosts, the Dueck’s, & a voyage via u-bahn to the airport. And it was a good thing I got there when I did.

My flight hadn’t been the only one canceled, & about 15 minutes after I arrived in the Lufthansa line, about 400 frantic travelers queued up behind me. The LH desk attendant was great, & confirmed my seat on a flight… but told me that I’d have to make sure to get the specific seat assignment at the gate – As she talked, I pictured myself in the middle of the last row on the plane, squished between Gunther & Hans. Banished that thought from my mind, & thanked God again for favor… & a good seat. Which turned out to be a window seat next to a smallish person. Booyah!

Flight was delayed for 97 minutes (yes, I was counting.) Which meant that about 200 of those on the flight to Denver would miss their connecting flights & have to be rebooked by the United personnel in Denver. I didn’t care… I was coming home.

Going through the inconvenience of missing a flight AFTER being on a cramped plane for almost 12 hours is quite the experience. My people watching skills were in effect as I got to observe people from a variety of backgrounds, countries, & cultures in various states of meltdown. The Americans were the best at complaining. Go figure. Loud & often… Go figure.

My rescheduled flight was only 2 hours later than my original flight (thank you Jesus! Again.) So I made my way to the New Belgium Hub for nachos, a stout, & NBA playoff hoops. Nice.

Slept the whole flight. Barely made it through the boarding process before my eyelids crashed together.

TheBean picked me up solo. And we were THAT couple having the reunion in the airport at 11 p.m. You know the ones that I’m talking about.

Thank you all for your prayers in my travels. It was a great trip. And still, it is So good to be in my city. In my home. In my own bed. With my fam. Sigh.

Deutschland Travels, Spring 2010, #1-2

Sunday is a blur. TheBean whisked me away right after church to the airport, & we had the familiar experience of saying our goodbyes. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to them.

Once I was alone in the airport, surrounded by strangers, the familiar travel-brain kicked in. Pay attention to the announcements. Check all the Departure screens. Check them again. Hurry up & wait.

The layover in San Francisco was a robust 4 hours 20 minutes – an unavoidable inconvenience due to United cutting back on a few of their Reno/SF legs. Fortunately, playoff hoops was on, & the Gordon Biersch restaurant was serving…

Finally boarded the plane, & made my way back to my assigned seat, praying all the way. Praying for what, you might ask? For a small human to occupy the seat next to me. With emphasis on the word small. Makes the long eastward bound ‘sleep’ flight that much easier to bear.

Turns out, the flight was 11 hours long, as it was re-routed due to the so-famous-its-INfamous Ash Cloud. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. I did manage to fit in about 7 total hours of sleep, mostly broken into 1 & 2 hour chunks. Better than the alternative, & I shall get good sleep tonight! So say we all!

Tonight, (as well as the week of Saturday, 1 May – 8 May,) I am staying with Eddy & Laura Dueck; he’s the pastor of our sister church in Frankfurt – they just moved into their new home in February after a pretty extensive remodel & reshaping to make the flat ‘reflect’ them. Took a bit to just relax & get settled in… & to get reacquainted with the Dueck’s 3 boys – Taylor 6; Elliot 3; & Max 2. To say that they have an active house would be an understatement. :)

Read a little, & then took a walk through the streets of Bockenheim (think Bistro Sahin, Subway, the White Tower, & the Rewe,) they live only a few blocks away from TPLF. So with our sister church as my North Start point of orientation, I know exactly where I am now. Which means I just may Run Real Fast in the morning. On purpose.

Eddy & Laura put the boys down, & went to a birthday party – meaning I’m the ‘on-call’ sitter. No sooner had they headed out, than #1 son Taylor made his way into the office where I’m writing & hung out with me for a while, sharing the kinds of stories that firstborns everywhere can relate to. Of little brothers. Getting to do things First. Feeling like a grown up at 6.

I DO plan on awakening refreshed in the morning – & will meet with Eddy to discuss my itinerary for the next couple of weeks. Then in the evening at 6 p.m. (meaning Tuesday at 9 a.m. PST,) I’ll be headed to Mainz to visit with Jan & Susanna von WIlle, & the church Jan pastors, enChristo. There shall be barbecue. And interaction & talks. I’m looking forward to it – it’s a great privilege to be able to spend time with people in their town, living life with them, hearing their stories. I love this place & these people.

Reflecting on the value of encouragement, not living self-focused, practicing thankfulness & thanksgiving, & being relentlessly committed to following Christ with everything, in every way. Praying for my family. Blessing the new life in Hillside (New Life = growth & CHANGE if you didn’t know.) Wondering what Jesus will bring my way.


Yesterday, there was an 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile. A short while after the quake, theBean & I received notice that, as a result of the quake, tsunamis were expected to be hitting various areas of the South Pacific, including Hawaii. Where our 13 year-old theWeez is on vacation with some of her best friends… There were several concerned phone calls we & she received, foretelling doom & gloom. And here we are, in Sparks, Nevada, unable to get through on the phone, let alone do anything to protect our girl.

Being several thousand miles away has its benefits. We prayed. Reminded ourselves that we dedicated Weez to the LORD when she was a baby. That He is our fortress. Our Rock. Our protector. And waited. Watching CNN, wondering what would happen.

Turns out, nothing did. Got a few calls through to theWeez. Talked. Prayed together. Laughed about her times in the sun. She made the Mendive volleyball team.


Got a call from Pasty at 8:30 this a.m. Words a dad never wants to hear. “There’s been an accident.”

Heart in throat. Cell cutting out. Expedition totaled. Ice. T-boned by another car. Mt. Rose Highway. And nothing.

Thinking back to yesterday. Breathe. Breathe. Call cell. Nothing. Text. Waiting. Praying. Reflecting on my Rock. Fortress. Protector.

Call cell. Brief connection. We’re ok. Some headaches. Paramedics are here. Cutting out again. Breathe. Breathe. Pray. Peace.

Text from iDoey. Everyone is mostly ok. Some pains. A couple in the car going to get checked out at the hospital, just in case. Cutting out again. Breathe. Breathe. Wait.

Times like this remind me that this is where my faith has opportunity to grow. To be put into practice. Times that are easy, where everything alls as it should be aren’t stretching. Times where there’s unknown. Temptation to fear. Worry. Panic. Confronted with faith. And the choice to believe that the LORD is in control, in the middle of my unknown.

Breathe. Breathe. Peace.

Everyone checked out ok – bumps & bruises. Soreness & a headache or two. The car is a mess, but its only a car.

God is good. And we’re thankful.

there’s something in my eye…

I’ve been crying a lot. A LOT. Almost at the proverbial “drop of a hat.” Watching my iDoey & Reed High School’s presentation of “White Christmas.” Drinking coffee & thinking of friends. Eating breakfast. (It was a really good egg & sausage burrito.) Playing with my niece Ellie G.

Not sure why this is happening, though I think that I’ve traced the beginning to being in Germany a couple weeks back… I remember feeling overwhelmed & overcome with thankfulness, sitting around the dinner table with Shawn, Matt, & a couple of Russian/Kazakh pastors, wrestling through a couple layers of a language barrier, sharing good food & drink, lots of laughs, & the commonality of relationship with Christ. This commonality makes the most daunting cultural, language, social barrier seem like a mere crack in the floor compared to knowing & being known by Jesus Christ, Lord & Savior. It causes the most cynical part of me, the part scarred & marred by religion, religious-ness, & religiousity to be able to truly speak the words “brother” & “sister…” to the people at my table. And mean it. These words, too seemingly steeped in christian-ese to be able to be spoken except in sarcastic jest, rolled off of my lips as I embraced & was embraced by these precious men & women.

I remember being struck at how truly blessed I am. With theBean. My Pasty. iDoey. theWeez. My family. Friends – real friends.. God’s faithful provision. A church family. A job. Countless resources.

Now it seems I am seeing beauty in things & people that before I may not even have taken notice of a month ago. And its everywhere. And it is TRULY a wonderful life.

Ellie came into my office & saw me crying today – she’s 2, an age where crying only means sad. She ran out into the main office area declaring, “Tay-tay’s CRYing! Tay-tay’s CRYing!” Her mom said, “Ellie! Tay-tay needs a hug!” The precious little one came running back in & lifted up her arms: “Tay-tay! Up!”

I swooped her into my arms & she squeezed me around the neck for what seemed like an hour. Then, she patted me on the back gently, & lovingly said, “It’s ok Tay-tay.” She grabbed my face, looked into my eyes, & yelled, “Tay-tay! DOWN!”