Monday, August 31, 2009

It's football season, baby!






Say it with me now,
"Let's Go, Hawks!"

Dawson's first road race




On Sunday morning, Dawson and I got up very early (well, Dawson's usual time) and headed to Corporate Woods for the annual Head for the Cure 5k benefiting brain cancer research (Erin's mom died of brain cancer when she was 13). One of the things about parenting I'd been anticipating during all those long years of waiting was jogging with my child. First with the jogging stroller, maybe later with a bike and possibly even both of us running. So Sunday was an exciting event for me.

Although it was only two weeks, I'd trained pretty hard for the race. I had the goal of breaking 25 minutes while pushing Dawson in his stroller. I was all fired up for the race but the intensity quickly turned to frustration. Those of us with strollers were instructed to start at the back of the pack, which put us behind hundreds and hundreds of walkers, people just walking the 5k for the purpose of giving money to the charity. I'm guessing most of these walkers had never run a race before, based partly upon the fact that they didn't leave the left side open for those who wanted to pass. I tried and tried to get through the crowd, even pushed the stroller on the grass for a bit, but wasn't able to break through the wall of people until after the first mile. It was quite frustrating.

But it was cool to take Dawson to the event. Since I usually need the goal of a race to motivate me to train, I was able to get back into decent shape over the past couple weeks. There was also the advantage of Dawson getting to ride alongside his godbrother, Ryder. In fact, the 5k was Franci's idea to begin with. I spent the 3.1 miles trying to convince her that if she could run a 5k, she could do the KC Half Marathon in mid-October.

Even though it took 45 minutes to complete the race, I was able to get back home, shower and get to PRMS before 10:00 on Sunday morning. Sunday night, Erin and I went to the New Theatre Restaurant to eat lots of good food and watch a great showing of The Sound of Music. With usual church activities packed into the middle of the day, Sunday was quite a long day.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Watch / Read this and try not to cry...

Iowa High School Football experienced a first tonight; ESPN was covering the season opener for Applington-Parkersburg High School. Hopefully, espn.com will have the highlights. In the meantime, watch this video and read this article. I LOVE the forgiveness found in this story, I believe it greatly honors Jesus.



Entire article

Article on the game, including ESPN highlights

ESPN News right after the shooting

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Where We're At

Over the summer, we did surveys to find out where we are as a church in relation to each of our 5 Disciplines. Here's the comprehensive results of those surveys.

Worshipping God

How long have you been a part of Trinity Family?
0-6 months – 22%
6 months – 1 year – 11%
1-2 years – 14%
2 years + – 53%

Were you a part of a Church before TFC?
Y - 80% N – 20%

How often do you attend Sunday worship?
Less than once a month – 11%
1 Sunday per month – 3%
2-3 Sundays per month – 21%
Usually 4 Sundays per month – 65%
When you miss worship, what’s your primary reason for doing so?
Sick, out of town, other commitments, work, life, sick kids, human condition, not make it a priority, laziness, family

What aspects of worship help you best focus upon God?Worship music is huge and the message is key, lots and lots of music, familiar music, communion time, stories in the message, dim lights, scripture during music and communion, stillness, confession, reflective music, meditation time, prayer, Donnie, sermon, intimacy of worship, reading scripture out loud
Are there any aspects of our Sunday morning worship that distracts you from God?
Trying too hard, kids in service, babies, not knowing a few songs in a row – I start to tune out, being back with the kids a lot, no, not at all, if it becomes a show, not being in the right mindset, too much standing, not taking focus off myself, leaders talking too much, too spread out in seating, technical difficulties, clapping, background graphics like the cross one

Do you have any suggestions for helping us better focus upon God during worship?
Getting people involved in the sermon, longer music time, prayer prep, share life stories, interactive readings, real life application of scripture

How often do you engage in the SOAP readings?
Less than once a week – 68%
Once per week – 4%
2-4 times per week – 21%
5+ times per week – 7%

On a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the highest), at what level do the SOAP readings help you grow closer to God?
1 – 30%
2 – 10%
3 – 30%
4 – 10%
5 – 20%

What practices of Trinity Family do you find the most enriching?
- SOAP #6
- Small Groups #3
- Ministry Teams 4
- Worship Music #1
- Communion #4
- Discussion groups after worship #5
- Preaching #2

Of the above list, what would you like to see more of?
In order of popularity:
Small GroupsDiscussion Groups
Music
SOAP

Other ideas: singing at beginning and end of worship, prayer time, singing old time songs, info on small groups, balances, small group discussion

What regular activities do you find draining?
Set up / tear down = hard, serving in kids area too often, set-up / tear-down, set-up/ tear-down, meetings, working with kids,

Connecting with Believers

On a scale of 1-5 (1 being lowest, 5 being highest) how relationally connected are you to others at Trinity Family?
1 -10% 2 -28% 3 -41% 4 21% 5

Are you a part of a small group?
Y 28% N – 72%

Why
It is a way to get to know and grow with others in our church
Need the close walk together
It’s important and I believe small groups are a great tool for community and discipleship
To better get to know Jesus

or why not?
Distance
Split shift work schedule
No child care and finding the right time
Never been invited or offering any information
My small group stopped meeting
Work schedule
The most recent one I was in ended
Haven’t found a good time and my husband doesn’t want to go
Time constraints
I work nights and it’s hard to find a convenient time
Was part of one, now waiting for new group to start
Did a small group bible study, but it is on “break” for the summer. Really got connected to others in the group and feel very grateful for those new connections.
We tried it awhile back and found it was hard to attend with small children. My spouse and I were never able to attend together.
As older person – I’m working a late in life, rethinking, I’m perhaps too “old school” to open up to families raising kids and struggling to make a living
Time
I am new
Work schedule
I’m new to Trinity
Because it disassembled
schedule

If it would help us to better foster relational connections, would you be open to a change in our Sunday morning worship facility?
Y -100% N

If it would help us to better foster relational connections, would you be open to a change in the start time for Sunday morning worship?
Y – 90% N – 10%

Would you be open to a periodic (maybe once a month) community meal after worship?
Y – 100% N

What suggestions would you have for helping the church foster relational development?
(write on back if necessary)
Use of the Liturgy in worship/ don’t make people move around/ Nametage – personally I loathe them but they really are good
The Point Leaders calling or sending personal email to people. Going to them instead of waiting for them to come to you.
I would like us to start having Sunday School. If not individual classes then as a whole church before service.
Maybe keeping an up-to-date list of people’s gifts, talents, experiences to help other’s needs. As well as a list of needs of the community.
More church functions for those who aren’t in small groups. Maybe some more “low-risk” small groups.
If the people who are the visible leaders in the church will be real with others, it will make it easier for others to be real.
Small groups get very connected with one another in the groups – not being a part of a group though, now causes me to see how the church can feel divided into groups – rather than having many small circles that know each other, care, etc. I would really like to see those groups connect with others to develop even more relationships. At an all church meal I still see just those groups talking. What if once a month or so, 2 groups get together and get to know each other – and those continue to rotate so that all groups at least have some connection?
I think you guys do an awesome job! You provide several ways for relationships to build
Bible study for old school Christians, not just newbies
I think you already are addressing the idea with small groups and meals. It will just have to happen by the people in God’s time.
Maybe bring back the preservice fellowship time with coffee and pastries. I love the community atmosphere at the park during potlucks. Good way to meet people genuinely before rushing into a more intimate small group setting.
Less show, more vulnerability, taking a collective look at the various gifts of the Spirit and how they cause us to rely upon each other.
Small groups, one-on-one discipleship, more frequent prayer meetings, discussion groups

Serving Others

Are you on a Ministry Team?
Y – 74% N – 26%

Please explain why or why not.
Too young, wanted to get involved more than just showing up at church, Because I feel it’s part of church – I also get fulfillment from it, to connect to others, because I feel called to work with kids, I love working with kids, I felt a need and decided to pursue it – Love Win, on a 2 month break, to serve God and give back, taking a one year break, I love working with and for the kids, I like to serve others, to give back to the other parents who watch my kids while I’m in church, Have been to TFC only 3 times, because I want to help and serve

Have you participated in a TFC Serves event?
Y - 41% N – 59%
Please explain why or why not.
Parents took us, Because I think it’s important, to serve the community, It’s a great way to serve outside of my circle of influence, I enjoy serving others, they’re a great time to do things together, Because Jesus loves so much we can’t contain it, conflicts with work schedule, work on Friday and Saturday, prior commitments on those dates, Kids had other obligations, other obligations and would need childcare, scheduling, child care, don’t find out about them in time or a scheduling conflict

What are some ways you enjoy serving others? Helping them with problems, making people feel less stressed and that someone cares, helping them with house work, I love to feed people – preparing or serving meals to people is a great way to serve them, helping them move, teaching and sharing what I have, anyway I can, being creative and taking and listening, hospitality – bible study – talking and listening, speaking – mentoring – teaching, being able to help where there is a need or a void, just helping, I like watching kids and making meals, Anyway I am needed, providing meals, helping kids, providing meals, socializing, cooking, cleaning, babysitting.
What is the best part about serving other people?Seeming them smile and knowing you are really making a difference for them, knowing they couldn’t do it without my help, the joy, meeting a need for someone else and loving on them in a tangible way, someone else’s life is made better or easier for awhile, the way some people react, knowing I helped someone or gave someone a different picture of God, being the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, making a difference, the unexpected that God allows to happen, seeing them smile, knowing it makes them happy, the fulfillment of watching the difference you have made, knowing that you’re helping, seeing the appreciation on their faces, seeing them smile
What’s the hardest about serving other people?
Time constraints, finding the time, time, someone else’s life is made better or easier for awhile, giving up my time or sometimes my money when I already feel limited with both, being interrupted, sometimes it’s awkward and sometimes it conflicts with schedules, remembering to help myself before helping others, coming up with ideas and the time, making it not about me and my image, breaking out of comfort zone and time constraints, being put in uncomfortable situations or environments, having the tools, nothing really – it does get in the way sometimes – but it’s okay, not knowing whether what you’re doing is helping, finding and making the time, setting aside time, the time

What’s one way TFC could better serve the community around us? helping people deal with everyday emotional problems, food drive, once a month TFC serves events, branch out to visible community events – the natural gathering of people at these events would allow for a possible large gathering, maybe see if we could help the kids in our community like the program for the inner city kids, we could do a clothing and food giveaway over a month – this was done in my previous church and helped to open up to the community

Giving Sacrificially

Do you give regularly to the ministry of Trinity Family?Y – 68% N – 32%

Do you give regularly to another ministry?
Y – 34% N – 66%What is your primary reason for giving? Yes
Help others, being God’s hands, because I love God and it’s the thing I want to do, What I do as a Christian, it is right, to be obedient to the call, to help directly without a bureaucracy soaking up a higher percentage, help the church, church home, because we recognize that others have more need than we do and we want to help others, to help other people of the church, to make life better for the less fortunate, take care of my church, it’s what God calls us to do, biblical command, it makes me feel good to know I’m being obedient to God and helping others, God has been good to us and we want to give back through the church, I know it’s what God asks of us – but it has also become a way of life – something I learned from my parents, to serve others in need, that more good can come from what we’ve been given, way of showing obedience and love to God, “supposed to” – working on changing that attitude J, “trust me in this and I will open the windows of heaven and pour out my blessings” – Malachi 3:10, I want to be a generous person, to serve God in love, thanks

No
Literally living paycheck to paycheck – we are continuously in the red to survive, feel I should but have no extra money – or at least it seems that way, so others are taken care of, a call to give, wanting to help, to bless others (gives to ministry other than TFC)

What do you believe is a person’s primary reason for not giving?
Yes
Selfishness / unorganization, greed or not knowing, selfishness, swamped with debt, seeking securing in saving, not enough or a bad case of “mine,” Don’t think they can, financial strain – wanting to hold onto their money for their own wants and needs, because they think it’s there’s or they think they can’t afford it, first leap is very tough, they think they cannot afford it, assumed lack of fianc├ęs and “sickness of the mind,” feel like they cannot afford it, thinking they cannot afford it, worry and need for personal gratification, being afraid of not being able to take care of themselves – not being in control, fear, not understanding that they can’t afford not to, money is “tight” / consequences of prior spending, feel like they can’t afford it, fear, afraid that they won’t have enough, being blind to blessings already received, feeling overwhelmed and cultural pressures

No
Greed, don’t feel like they have enough, rather spend on self, being disorganized, feel family and pay bills first, selfishness or faith issues, not believing they can afford it and being new to the church, financial stress, feeling insecure about needs being met, many excuses, not having the money, not having money,

What inspires you to give? Yes
Kids, our great church, knowing it’s going to spread the word, others in need (especially those who give of themselves), my parents example of unwavering faith, knowing it will go directly to a real need, God, stores of need, children in need of basics like food, water, clothing and shelter, the feeling you get by helping out others, poor children in Afghanistan and other places, knowing God will take care of me, obedience to God – that’s what I strive for, stories like the ones shared today, without God’s help I wouldn’t have any income so its by his grace I can earn any money, the feeling of making a difference, It was something I “learned” from my family, inspiring others, seeing the difference a financial gift can make to those in need, knowing God can use money better than I can, the faith and trust that are required / the peace that comes with it!, freedom of not being controlled by money, knowing what it’s like not to have, the cross,

No
To feel and know what God wants me to do, remembering my mother and her faithfulness, how God uses the money, helping others with greater needs than me, other people’s stories, remembering God’s provision which includes us providing for others, following God, knowing it is what God asks of us, when I do give I LOVE the feeling I get, wanting to help, how I was raised
What discourages you from giving?
Yes
Irresponsible adults, not knowing the future, frivolity / squandering what is given / poor stewardship, my husband’s doubt and negative reaction, a need to save for a “rainy day”, my checkbook, fear of not making it financially, feeling like we won’t have enough money at the end of the month, thinking I don’t have the money, concern’s about long term financial stability, tight month, I still don’t “own” a home!, tight finances and non-obvious consequences, “mine disease”, my small paycheck J, my own fears of being in need, temptation – it’s tempting to set it aside for our own security, feeling like gift is misused – or not being able to see results, feel like there’s never enough money, times that feel like God is not providing – my father’s most generous person I know and I still struggle, fear, knowing what it’s like not to have, stress

No
Lack of income, waste / misuse / or having to miss a bill in order to tithe, paying bill and debts first, not enough money, financial strain, paying bills, not knowing, consent from spouse, not knowing how the gift will be used, not budgeting, not knowing where the money goes

How would you define giving that is sacrificial?
Yes
Giving up something I want and giving that money away, not knowing the future, could be saving it but I give it instead, going without in order to give, money your family needs but you give it anyway, giving until it hurts, something that might “feel” like too much, sacrifice, giving when don’t feel like you can or don’t have enough, giving when you think you can’t afford it, forgoing certain luxuries or wants in order to give them and money, giving with love and prayer and faith, just giving to a cause or to something that you KNOW does not directly affect you, when you can’t afford to give whatever it is, having to give up some of the “extra’s” in life to give, giving by faith, giving beyond what you can “afford” or giving til it hurts a little, giving beyond what you can “afford” or giving til it hurts a little, having to give up something I need or enjoy to help someone, you’re giving up doing more for yourself – even ‘responsible’ self acts like savings or getting debt free, a gift that challenges the giver – whether 1% or 50% - something that is intentional, giving even when you think you can’t afford it, surrender involved, any giving, giving even when it “hurts,” giving enough that it impacts me daily,

No
Giving what you don’t have, a blessing that gives back 10-fold, giving first, just looking beyond ourselves, giving even when it hurts, giving of yourself when you may have to change something, giving no matter the feelings – doing it though you don’t know what will happen,
Do you have a story about “God’s Math,” when you gave sacrificially and God provided in unexpected ways?

Just on a regular basis I am always worried about how I will make ends meet – but when I tithe or give first out of each paycheck, God has always provided for me – or given me more than I need.

Growing up parents struggles with money always worked out that when he would sell a car it would bring in income when it was needed.

Many times I have been asked to “sell my field” give up jobs, living arrangements car, people in my life – God always provides, He has been faithful to a promise from Psalms, “Lord, do not let me be disgraced.” My past two years have been surrender and sacrifice and learning to trust God, having nothing, God is my everything. And he is faithful! My life is simple but God’s love is extravagant.

We’ve always been on the back end. We’ve done a few “big gives” only because we got bailed out a few years ago.

When I give I tend to always be able to pay my bills.

No. Except that I have simply “never gone without anything I needed.”

We helped out a homeless family a couple of summers ago I had everything we needed.

We helped out a homeless family not too long ago. It didn’t go very well but we know we did everything God asked us to do. We would do it again in a heartbeat.

Donated $500 and brother and sister-in-law paid off our $1,200 credit card bill to help us pay off our debt.

I have always been able to pay my bills and give to God and others and have extra.

When we gave to 98.9 charity a month or so later I got a phone call from my brother, who makes quite a bit more money than we do and over Christmas we had been telling our family about our Dave Ramsey plan and my brother called me a month or so late and said they had been “called” to give mony to help us out and they wanted to pay off our credit card! They more than doubles the amount we gave away! God is good!

Investing in Future Christ-Followers

1) Were you a part of a church before connecting at TFC?
Yes – 62% No – 38%
2) Do you currently have a close friendship with someone who does not yet know Jesus?
Yes – 88% No - 6%

Why or Why not?
Yes
They are just my friends
Just do
No
Everybody has their own choice

3) Have you invited an unchurched friend or family member to TFC within the past 6 months?
Yes – 69% No – 31%

Why or Why not?
To experience the great atmosphere
Because I know this person seeks acceptance and this would be a great place for her
I thought they might enjoy it
Not enough
Because I want them to experience this sanctuary because they have questions

No
Scared to
I’m new within the past 6 months

4) Do you feel comfortable inviting an unchurched friend to TFC’s Sunday morning worship?
Yes – 88% No – 12%

Why or Why not?
Because I want them to find Jesus as I have
I just wanted to say that TFC is the definition of Christ-follower. Church isn’t all about the great service put on every Sunday, it is about being in relationship with Christ as well. This is one of those places you can go where you can be real and there is grace given. Thanks for being AWESOME!
I know it won’t be uncomfortable for them
I know that we won’t isolate them but sometimes I worry that some “Christian colloquialism” will slip out by someone up front that will be misunderstood.
I feel they will be received well and will feel comfortable with the atmosphere of worship.
Because you don’t have to “be” anything, you can just be you

No
Afraid of rejection
I’m usually comfortable presenting something unless I know everything about it. I don’t know everything about Christ.
TFC seems open and quite unassuming

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Big Mouth

Sometimes I wish I could just be a vanilla preacher; preaching about how to "accept Jesus and improve your life." I can't though, because God keeps leading me to much more difficult places. Yesterday was one of the most difficult sermons I've ever preached. In a single sermon, I addressed abortion and violence. I had a knot in my stomach all week as I prepared, it wound up even tighter as I preached and it's still lodged in my insides. It was difficult but I've gotta be faithful to where God is leading.

You can listen or read the sermon here.

After pouring my heart out on Sunday morning, I received this amazing message on Sunday evening:
"Donnie, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the message today. My husband and I were talking afterwards about how refreshing it was to hear someone talk on the topics of abortion and violence the way you did. We both grew up in churches that would rather stand on the streets and hold signs of judgement rather than actually do anything physically to help someone dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. The message on violence was also "right on" for lack of better words. I never thought I would actually hear a preacher in church talk on the topic of violence the way you did. Most of the churches (and Christians) I've experienced approach the subject quite differently, and do tend to forgot that our enemies are God's creation and we ought to value their lives as much as we value our own, if not more. Hearing you speak on these subjects today reminded me why I want to be a Christian. Even if there are many doubts and questions I have about the bible, God, Jesus, etc, I know that I want to be the type of person you described and challenged us to be this morning."

I wish I could take credit for being a great speaker but it's the Holy Spirit moving in and through me.

Conversation = Discipleship

After more than half a year of considering it and several months of discussing and observing it with Shane, last Sunday we finally launched our conversation groups. To say they went well would be putting it mildly. We'd hoped for about 50% participation from the congregation but at least 90% of everyone in worship stayed for the conversation.
Two factors likely contributed to the high amount of participation: 1) The topic of conversation laid out in my message and 2) the novelty this being our first Sunday of conversations. I'm guessing we won't always have such a high participation but I'm hoping we could stay over 70%.

Here are the things I'm hoping come out of this change in structure:
1) Discipleship - this is the main reason we're doing this. These conversations are a way to "bring the message to life and people together." Though it may be a great way of encountering new ideas, not a lot of life change happens in listening to someone give a monologue. Life change is more likely to happen within the context of conversation and relationships. As we've been saying for awhile now, TFC is moving toward a more conversational approach in her ministry.
2) Relationships - according to this summer's surveys, only 27% of our congregation is in small group. While I believe small groups still result in a deeper level of community than our conversation groups can, they're a big step in the right direction.
3) Momentum - we're in serious need of some positive momentum right now as a church. A positive and refreshing change might bring that about.
4) Retention - People stick around a church because of relationships and we've now made the step from "be in worship" to "get to know people" a very, very short step.

We've got some challenges, too:
1) Preaching- I'll have to keep my messages shorter than I'm used to. I've also got to change my approach; rather than leading people toward a final ending point, I'm leading toward a continued conversation.
2) Service length - we're going to work hard to keep the service to one hour. Usually, this shouldn't be too difficult. When we have special events like a child baptism however, we'll have to figure out a way to streamline everything. One way we'll be doing this is I'm no longer making announcements - at all (unless they're massively important). "Check your weekly, sign up for our email list" is going to become my weekly spiel.
3) Space - This is the huge one. While it's wonderful for worship, the PRMS auditorium isn't structured well for conversation groups. We're working on ideas, though.
4) Creativity - we don't want to get stuck in a rut in our approach. So we've got some ideas of different ways we can begin and facilitation our conversations.

Finally, on a funny note, Willow Creek Church (the Willow Creek Church) just announced they're going to this exact same format. While I'd like to thing that means we're an early adapter, it more likely means that Willow Creek has become slow to innovate. Or maybe Shane is the early adapter and in adapting his idea, we're semi-early adapters.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Journey

Here's an honest story of someone on the journey of faith but still just not sure what to make of everything. This is Erin and my good friend, Franci. Even though she's a friend, I let occassionally let her know that the main reason I'm friends with her is because she lets me hang out with her son (our godson) Ryder.
We shared this video in worship a few weeks ago. I really appreciate the honesty here. We have to be committed to letting people take their time on their journey toward faith.

Thanks to David Brush for putting together the video.




Franci from David Brush on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Some R and R

You may have noticed that it's been awhile since I've posted anything. Well, there's a good reason for that, I spent the last two weeks on vacation. It was a much needed vacation. When I went to record the vacation days spent, I realized that I had enough days left over from last fiscal year to cover these past two weeks (our fiscal year begins July 1). That's likely one of the reasons I needed a vacation so badly. To be very honest, I've spent the last two months feeling like I'm wandering around in an exhausted, blind fog. By the end of the first week of R and R however, that fog had pretty much lifted.

We spent most of the time at my parent's farm in Southeast Iowa. My mom loved having Dawson around and gladly took care of him when she wasn't working. This allowed me to do things like help dad pick sweet corn, cruise around the farm on the four wheeler, sleep in and continue working on the 1200 page Rise and Fall of the Third Reich that I've been reading most of this year.



When we weren't hanging out in the middle of Iowa cornfields, we were hanging out in the middle of Chicago skyscrapers. While Dawson stayed with Grandma and Grandpa, we snuck over to Chicago for three days. Since we'd been to Chicago in 05, we bypassed the touristy parts like the museums and spent our time shopping (Erin did the shopping), walking and eating in the various windy city neighborhoods and relaxing in the parks along the lakefront. Spome of our explorations took us to Wriggleyville, Old Town, Bucktown, Lincoln Park, Little Italy, Grant Park and Millennium Park. Strolling through quit old neighborhoods with their classic homes, huge trees and cool breezes while still in sight of the downtown skyline was a refreshing experience.

I did miss out on a chance to experience history, however. On Thursday morning, we were having breakfast at this nice little place near our hotel and discussing our trip home when the impulse to stay a bit longer and catch an afternoon White Sox game at "the Cell" entered my mind. I decided against it however, because we were anxious to get home and see Dawson. It was amazing how much we missed him. Well, that afternoon at "the Cell", Mark Buehrle decided to throw the 18th perfect game in MLB history. Bummer for me.

Last Wednesday afternoon was also a highlight of the two weeks. I spent that afternoon sitting in a lawn chair, just inside the shade of the barn, with just my bible, a pen and a journal. It was a wonderful time to catch up with an old Friend whose voice and direction I've had a hard time hearing lately. Those hours also went a long way to bring me back where I need to be as a leader and Christ-follower.

We took some great pictures but I'm too lazy to post them. You can see them here.