Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Update on Debbie Abascal, #9

The doctor just told us that they finished up with Debbie's emergency brain surgery and that they were able to relieve the pressure without having to remove any brain matter.

There's a possibility that they would have to go in and do surgery again if there are any more complications, so the doctors didn't want to get our hopes up too high, but they did say she is stable right now and her family will be able to see her in about an hour.

They will keep her sedated for a long time - probably all night - so that her brain activity and stimulation is minimal and so that her brain can heal from all this trauma.

Please keep praying for her and for her family. And remember, we don't trust in doctors and hospitals and medicine - we trust in God Almighty, the Great Physician and Healer, to take care of Debbie.

Update on Debbie Abascal, #8

The medicine didn't work so they're taking her back in for surgery to try to stop the bleeding and relieve the pressure.

Please pray for the doctors, for her brain, and for her family.

Update on Debbie Abascal, #7

I received a couple of text messages early this morning about Debbie. She has bleeding in her brain which is causing pressure on her brain, and so they've given her some very heavy duty meds to try to stop the bleeding, but they can only give her the meds for so long.

If the meds don't work and the bleeding doesn't stop, she'll have to have surgery again to relieve the pressure because the surgery would be dangerous, but less risky, than letting the pressure continue.

Right now Debbie and her family and the doctors really need our prayers. Pray for the bleeding to stop, pray for peace for Debbie and her family, and pray for wisdom for the doctors.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday night mind purge

I didn't have a chance to write it yesterday, so tonight is my weekly mind purge.

- Wow, last Monday was one of those days where I got a ridiculous amount of tasks done in a few hours. I also got my taxes done that afternoon; seems like I'll be getting nearly $1,700 back. That's gonna be sweet.

- Tuesday was a challenging day. I was really discouraged that day - more discouraged than I had been in a long time. So discouraged that I didn't want to go to staff meeting (which if you know me, is one of my favorite events of the week). I fought through and prayed through, and we ended up having a good meeting, with some good honest discussion and clarification of some important things we needed to clarify in light of everything we're facing as a local church. I left that meeting feeling much better, and refreshed after being around my fellow staff members.

- Walter, Troy, myself, and a couple of our church councilmen, along with another pastor, spent almost the whole day in Juarez. It was a pretty interesting experience, and I think we've got a pretty good insight of what's going on in the Church in Juarez now. God is definitely up to something in the Church in Juarez. Then we came back around 3:30 pm and I quickly got some things ready for our launch team meeting that night. I hope our launch team meetings are something that the team sees as beneficial; I think they are.

- On Thursday, I spent most of the day at the office, except for a 2 hour block around lunch, where I went to First Baptist Church to meet with several other pastors from the El Paso Baptist Association. It was great to be with my fellow Baptist pastors, in historic First Baptist Church, where one of my favorite places in El Paso is - the heritage room of FBC El Paso:

See, if you know me, you know I'm proud to be a Baptist, proud to be a Southern Baptist at that, and proud to be a Texas Baptist, and proud to be an El Paso Baptist. In that heritage room at FBC El Paso, there's a pictorial, chronological history of Baptist history in El Paso. This man below, George W. Baines, Jr., brought the Baptist faith here to our great city:

- Friday was my day off. I rested - all day. I literally spent most of the day on the couch watching a movie, napping, and just letting my body relax after a very tense week.

- After a nice, long day of rest on Friday, I spent most of Saturday working in the yard, cleaning my car, and doing other things that I needed to get done. And boy did I regret that the next morning, because I was so sore. I guess I'm not as young as I used to be. =)

- On Sunday, I went to first service and saw Savannah Reed get baptized. Man, I've been waiting so long for her to be baptized! Then I hung around the cafe during second service and read some in a book, then had a good lunch meeting with some friends, then went to the hospital to visit Debbie Abascal and her family, then went out to the Pryors and spent the rest of the evening there with them, celebrating Leah's birthday.

- And today, well I went into the office for a little, then went and volunteered at Wayside during lunch (which is always fun), then went to the Northeast to check out a couple of things, then went to the office and worked mainly on the ministry plan for the Northeast campus. I'm ALMOST done with it! Woo! Then tonight we had GrowGroup at Troy's and then I came home and started writing this blog.

And now, we're in a whole new week and I'm sure many adventures lay ahead!

Update on Debbie Abascal, #6

In my previous update, I mentioned that there was concern about blood flow and a possibility of that causing a stroke.

Amazingly, she is awake aware so soon after the surgery, and the most recent news is that there was definitely no stroke, and a CAT scan came out fine and revealed that the blood flow is fine and that the problems she is having using her right hand but is probably due to brain swelling from surgery and will probably subside in time.

Right now it's touch and go with her motor skills, and the doctors are keeping a very close eye on her now and in this time of post-op recovery through Wednesday, so she will most likely be in the hospital for several more days.

So praise God because His hand of grace and mercy is clearly on Debbie and the doctors and her family, but let's continue to pray for Debbie, for the doctors, and for Debbie's family a they go through this time.

Update on Debbie Abascal, #5

Debbie went into surgery this morning, and everything went much better than they had anticipated yesterday. They didn't have to sever any arteries or cut off any blood flow to her brain, so there was no stroke and probably won't be any impairment like they were concerned about before.

So the surgery lasted almost 5 hours and went better than they had thought, and of course, her family and friends were overjoyed to hear that.
She's sedated and isn't taking any non-family visitors right now and probably won't for several days, but I'm sure the family would appreciate a visit to the waiting room if you're interested in doing that. They're on the 2nd floor, ICU waiting room.

She's in recovery right now, but I just got a call from someone at the hospital to let me know that prayers are needed concerning the blood flow on her right side as it's not flowing correctly like it was at first after the surgery. They'll be doing some scans and such to figure out what's going on, but this is definitely a prayer need.

Also, please continue to pray against a stroke and keep praying for the family as they go through this time.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Update on Debbie Abascal, #4

So I just got back from visiting with Debbie and her family in the hospital today. She's had such a long "parade" (her term) of visitors that they've had to limit each visit to just about 5 minutes or so each, but somehow I was blessed and was able to come in and spend about 15 minutes or so with her, and what a blessing that was.

I gave her some notes that some of the Del Sol East campus' choir wrote and showed her some pictures of some neighbors of hers that were baptized today, and I think the notes and pics really encouraged her. She looks really good today (she's having what they called a "good day" today), and I think her family is doing much better today.

Now this is the latest update about her: initially they thought her brain surgery would be somewhat simple, that the aneurysm would be like a clump that they could go in and remove, but now they've discovered that the aneurysm has several feeders that have latched onto other blood vessels, so it's a very precarious surgery she will be going through.

The surgery is at 7 am tomorrow morning, and they'll start prepping her at 5 am tomorrow. The surgery take 5 - 7 hours.

Because of the situation, there's a big probability that she will have a small stroke while in surgery, and will probably have some sort of walking impairment on her right side after everything. It could be a minor limp, or it could be a permanent impairment at worst. Her recovery might be quick, like 4 or 5 days, or it might be months. We won't know until they're in there and the surgery is through.

After the surgery, she'll be in a chemically induced sedation and won't be awake until Tuesday morning at the earliest, maybe not even until Wednesday, and afterwards she'll need several days until she can have any non-family visitors.

So as you can see, this is a very sensitive situation and the Abascal family need plenty of prayer and fasting. Pray for Debbie and the doctors during the surgery tomorrow morning, but also be praying for her family over the next few days.

I'll post another update as soon as I find anything else out. In the meanwhile, let's be praying.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Update on Debbie Abascal, #3

I had a chance to go to the hospital to visit Debbie earlier this evening. She was awake and very aware of what was going on; she was slightly groggy but really it seemed like she was herself, like nothing was wrong.

She told me that she woke up on Friday and didn't feel right at all, I think she said she had some heart palpitations and pain in her right arm so she had her husband Manolo bring her to the hospital. They ran some tests and found the aneurysm and so they admitted her.

Like I said in my previous post, they considered two different treatments, but in the end they decided that she'll have to have brain surgery on Monday. I don't know the time yet but as soon as I find out, I'll post an update.

In the meantime, keep her family in your prayers. When I went to the hospital, it was just filled with family and friends and church family and Manolo looked like he was holding up pretty well, and so did most of his family, but their youngest daughter, DJ, looked like she was really having a hard time. I was only there for about 10 minutes, but the whole time I was there, her eyes were red and tears were flowing down her face. I think she's really struggling with this situation and it just broke my heart to see her so sad.

Let's be praying for Debbie, Manolo, their son Tim and daughter Amy, and especially for DJ.

Update on Debbie Abascal, #2

I just got a call from Cheryl Reed, our children's minister, who told me that Debbie's daughter Amy had called her and given her an update.

First, Debbie is awake and quite aware of her situation, and is texting people and welcomes visitors to her. She's in the ICU in room 3, however if you do want to visit her, keep in mind that they only allow 2 visitors at a time so you might have to wait a little while if someone else is in visiting her. Also, the visiting hours are 8:30 am - 1 pm and 3 - 6:30 pm. I think there is also a brief visiting visiting period like 8:30-10 pm or so, but you would need to call Sierra Medical Center at (915) 747-4000 to verify.

Second, the neurosurgeon saw Debbie this morning and told her that there are 2 ways to deal with the aneurysm - brain surgery or another method that is like an angioplasty, but because the aneurysm was quite large, he didn't think the angioplasty-like treatment would be the best way to go, but he was going to talk with a fellow neurosurgeon in Albuquerque about what treatment to go with. If they do end up doing brain surgery, it won't be until Monday.

So that's what I know. I'll keep you updated whenever I find anything else out. Keep praying!

Update on Debbie Abascal

Last night I received a text message from a friend telling me that Debbie Abascal was in the ICU at Sierra Medical Center, and that she had a brain aneurysm. I called the hospital and all they could tell me was that yes, she was there and that she was in very serious but stable condition.

This morning, a friend of mine emailed me to let me know they had called Debbie and spoke to her, and this is the update they emailed me:

Ariel: Joy just spoke to her a few minutes ago & this is the status update we received...she woke up with a headache & had numbness on her arm, once at the hospital they found a mass 8 mm in size, behind her left eye, and after an MRI, the doctors discovered it in fact was an aneurysm. We will join you in praying for the family. The staff & family are waiting for the best neurosurgeon in El Paso to give them a course of action.

As far as I know, that's her status. I'll be going down to the hospital today to visit her and get an update. When I find something out, I'll be sure to post status updates here.

What I do know is that we need to keep praying for Debbie, her husband Manolo, and her kids Tim, Amy, and DJ. So please join me in praying for God to be at work in this situation, that His will be done, that He be merciful to Debbie and her family, and that His grace would abound in this situation.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Five - Inherited Character Traits

Today's Friday Five - Five character traits I inherited or learned from my parents.

1. Generosity - If there is one thing that can be said about my parents (and their parents at that), it's that they have lived generous lives. They've never been financially rich, but they've always been rich in good deeds. They would help others even when our family was in need ourselves, because they always knew that in some cases there were others who were in more need than we are. I think that attitude of generosity is something that's spread down to all my brothers and I.

2. Caring heart - This kind of goes hand in hand with generosity, but my parents really, truly care about people. They show that in so many different ways, like by being generous. The way they have cared about people has been a great example to myself and my brothers about how to care for the people in our lives.

3. Growing Intellect - My parents have always challenged us to get a good education and to never stop learning. They did what most of their family members didn't do - get a college education - and it was never really an option for us to not get a college education. They didn't force us, but it was just an idea we never entertained in our home, and I'm glad that they always encouraged us to go to college.

4. Confidence - I'm confident; not in myself, but in the fact that I was raised well and that God has given me many talents and the ability to grow in them. I'm confident not in myself, that I'm some big hot shot - but I remember who I am (a Martinez), and whose I am (God's). That humble confidence is something my parents ingrained in me. I never want to bring shame to my identity as a Martinez or my identity as a follower of Christ.

5. Perseverance - So if there was ever a couple who persevered through tough times, it was my parents. Whether it was living off of expired food and government issue powered milk and powdered eggs, or my mom having to sell her wedding ring to be able to buy a water heater, they persevered through some difficult situations and always taught my brothers and I to fight on no matter what we face.

What about you - what are some character traits you got from your parents?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wednesday Update

Wednesday means it's time for a Northeast campus update. Here goes ...

- I got a call last Thursday (March 19th) from the person I had approached about being the kids' ministry director to let me know that she had thought and prayed about it and decided to decline the job offer. Of course, that was kind of discouraging, but I really appreciate that she let me know in a timely manner and that she and her husband really discussed it and prayed about it. And I appreciate that they listened to and obeyed the Lord, because it would be a disaster to have someone in that kind of leadership position who is not called to it.

- So on Sunday, the 22nd, I had a great time in the afternoon meeting with a couple to talk about them taking the job - after much prayer and thought of course. I hadn't really gotten to know this couple before and I just met the husband that morning, but they were highly recommended and I was amazed at how incredible they are. They're the kind of people I'd want to work with just because I think there would be such good chemistry, so we'd be really good friends.

- I've been working away at some other stuff locally (just for the NE campus) like volunteer service opportunities (aka "jobs"), coming close to finishing a ministry plan (which I think we definitely made progress on thanks the launch team meeting tonight), and enlisting more volunteers, among other things relating to Del Sol Church globally (as a whole).

So here's how you can pray for me and the Northeast campus this week:

1. Pray that whether it's this couple I've approached or someone else on my list, God would bring us a kids' ministry director soon. My list of potential candidates is quickly shrinking, so I really believe God is going to bring us the right person for our kids' director soon.

2. Pray for me, for encouragement. I can't think of a day in the past month or so that I haven't had moments of discouragement that I've had to fight off. Usually I'm able to pray and focus on something else and encourage myself pretty quickly, but Tuesday was a hard, dark day for me. So pray for me that God will encourage me in those times when satan it trying to bring me down.

3. Pray for God to be working even right now at raising up financial partners, and that He will show us where we can make some budget cuts and pare the budget down to just what we need, but still have what we need to have quality experiences that will help move people closer to God.

Thanks so much for your prayers!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday Two

So today, two things happened that reminded me of some very important truths. They weren't earth-shattering epiphanies or brand new revelations, but simple events that reminded of me two profound truths.

First, I've had a very discouraging day today. I mean, it was just a very sad, melancholy, disheartening day for me. Someone picked up on it and asked me what was going on, so I shared with them and they did a wonderful job listening and sharing Biblical advice and let me know they'd be praying for me. I really appreciated that they noticed I was troubled and that they took to the time to talk to me and let me know they'd pray for me. And I know this person will. But the thing is (and this is NOTHING against them), I needed to be prayed over right there on spot.

That got me thinking about all the times I've talked with people who were hurting or troubled and I listened, but didn't pray for them in their moment of distress. I mean, I've been trying to be more caring and pray for people in the moment, but I know that more often than not I've just said I would pray for someone (and really would), but didn't pray for them on the spot. So what I experienced reminded me of the importance of not only lending a caring ear and words of encouragement, but also offering to pray for someone immediately, on the spot - and then praying for them if they let you.

The second lesson came tonight. I went through the rest of the day still pretty discouraged, so I decided to go for a drive and run an errand I needed to get done. The errand was to get a birthday gift for a friend whose birthday is today. As I was driving, I felt so bad but when I got to the store and focused on finding the gift for my friend, I found that I totally forgot my troubles and how sad I was and became happy and excited about how happy and excited my friend will about the gift.

So two simple things happened today that reminded me of two profound truths: pray for someone on the spot if they will allow you, and do something for someone else to encourage yourself out of a self-centered rut.

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." - Ephesians 4:32

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday night mind purge

- I spent all of Monday at the office working. I mean - all day. After working on a bunch of tasks that were really important but dull and unexciting nonetheless, I went home for a little while to read and relax and then met with Josh & Nicki all night to refine the NE campus launch schedule a bit, prune the budget a bit, and talk about some things that we need to get done soon if we want to keep our schedule.

- On Tuesday we didn't have staff meeting so I spent pretty much the whole day at the office again, working on spiritual gifts and personality tests, working on a ministry plan to present to potential financial partners, and then I got to the point where I was ready to read for awhile but instead of doing that at the office, I decided to drive to 'Bucks over in the Northeast and read there instead of just sitting at my office reading. I'm planning on going there once or twice a week so that I can start getting to know the people there and so I can be in the community I'm going to be ministering in.

- After that, I decided to drive up Trans-Mountain to the vista points because I had never done that before and wow - it's BEAUTIFUL up there when you're a mile high! Check out these pics I took with my iPhone:

It's kind of blurry, but if you look to the far left, you can see the elevation sign that says 5,280 feet above sea level.




- Wednesday was another all-day-at-the-office-day except I took an extended lunch break to meet up with a couple of long time friends, Bryan Macias and Jordan Mueller. Man, I just love those guys, and I'm so excited to see how Bryan has really caught a passionate fire for missions work. He's probably gonna try to storm hell with a water pistol some day for the sake of the Gospel - and I think he'll win.

- Thursday I took a half-day off and met a friend for lunch, then went to the office for a couple of hours and mostly worked on the ministry plan I started earlier in the week. Then I came home and spent the evening reading and watching some TV.

- Friday was the first day of Spring. It was also my day off, so I slept in, then went for a long run (and I was pretty sweaty because boy is it getting warm!), did some house cleaning, then cleaned myself up and went to get some lunch. I came home and watched the movie Max Payne (which was pretty weird and not all that good), then got ready for some friends I was having over to play card games. That was a good time - I'm glad I had them over even though it ended up being only girls that showed up.

- For pretty much the whole day on Saturday, I went with our youth bands and my two staff members to a "More than Music" worship through music workshop, which wasn't nearly as practical as I thought it would be, but was very inspirational and challenging. If nothing else, there was great value in doing something together with the purpose of bettering ourselves. Afterwards, I took a few youth and Rick to the North Hills area to look at where we'll most likely be meeting and see some of the community there.

- Every time I go there to the Northeast now, I feel so much like that is where I need to be. It's such an unexplainable feeling. It's like the feeling I have when I go to Mexico. It's like ...this is where I need to be, this is what I was created for.

- I woke up a little late Sunday morning so I just barely made it to the 9:30 am service. After a spring break where we had no activities and I didn't really see anyone all week except for Lydia and Troy at the office, it was good to be back with my Del Sol Church family. It's also kind of hard because every time I've gone to our worship celebrations, I feel like I'm one week closer to not being with them anymore since it's one week closer to the launch of the NE campus. So strange how feelings can be so conflicting.

- Walter really brought it today with a great message on fear. I think that because of the state of our country and especially here on the border with the violence just a few miles away in Mexico, lots of people are afraid. Here are some things God said through Walter that stuck out in my mind:
// Fear is the number one reason that keeps people from obeying and trusting God.
// Fear is always a self-imposed prison.
// Fear makes us live live we serve an impotent God.
// You'll never know God is trustworthy if you don't risk for Him.
// You can't be fear-free if you haven't experienced God's forgiveness.
// Love is the antidote to fear. (1 John 4:18)
// Faith expects the best and moves ahead; fear expects the worst and tries to hide.
// Feelings of fear might not go away, but with faith you can press on.
// The solution to fear is not a principle; it's a person - Jesus Christ.

- For the first time in a LONG time, I didn't go to lunch with anyone after our worship celebrations. I came home, had lunch, and took a brief nap. Then at 4 pm I had a meeting with an incredible couple to ask them to pray about the wife becoming our kids' ministry director for the NE campus. I had just met these people a couple of weeks ago but I've seen them for awhile and they have an incredible reputation because of how they've served at DSC. They were highly recommended by several people who know them well and who I trust, so that's why I decided to approach them even though I didn't know them. Let me know just say WOW - these people are amazing.

- The more I get to know people at Del Sol's East campus, the more amazed I am at our volunteers. I can't imagine how much money we would pay out each month if we paid all these volunteers what their work is worth. I'm just guessing, but I'm sure we would pay a couple of million dollars a year if they were paid workers instead of volunteers. Man, I'm so amazed and humbled by and grateful for our volunteers. They're just about the greatest people in the world, I think.

The new Subway commercial.

So when I first saw this commercial, I thought it was SO stupid. Not good, funny stupid like Family Guy - just stupid, annoying stupid.

And since then ...my opinion hasn't changed. I still really do not like this commercial!

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dm96LIwsc6g

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The F word.


Look at that word. Think on it for a minute. Take it in.

What kind of thoughts and emotions does that word bring?

Here, I'll write it again: FAILURE.

How do you feel when you read that? Angry? Scared? Nervous? Worried? Do you try not to even think about that? Why do you think you feel the way you do when you think of failure? What is is that scares us so much, that makes us so nervous and apprehensive about failure?

I have a theory about it. I think it's pride. I think we're so concerned about embarrassing ourselves or making a fool of ourselves, that we're afraid to fail. What if I try something, and I'm confident that it will succeed, and then I fail? What will others think of me? What will I think of myself?

Those are reasonable concerns, aren't they? I mean, what if you take a big risk, where maybe lots of money is involved, or a reputation might be on the line, or where the fate of many people is involved? Surely we should be concerned about all that right?

I would say, probably not.

See I'm in a place in my life right now with this Del Sol Church Northeast campus, where I've got it all on the line. Among other things, I'm dealing with over $150,000 of resources, several staff member's immediate futures, their family's immediate futures, and soon I'll have dozens of volunteers who I will be responsible for. Additionally, Del Sol Church and Pastor Walter have an incredible reputation locally and even statewide of being willing to do whatever it takes for the Gospel, and so that reputation of Del Sol Church as a whole also rests on my shoulders.

So you can see, if there's anyone who should be worried about failing and losing money and permanently ruining a reputation and hurting many people, it should be me. But yet, I'm not really worried about failure. It's not that I'm unaware of the weight of it all; I am fully aware of what's at stake, but I'm just not afraid of what might happen if I fail. Actually, I've embraced failure as a good thing.

"A good thing!?" you say.

Yeah - a good thing. You see, first of all, the fear of failure is a pride issue. It is essentially an issue of how I will look to everyone else - and that's pride at its fullest. And since I'm not my own, but God's - then it's not really about me, is it? So when it comes to failure, there's really no reason to be afraid of how I might look.

But secondly, failure is an opportunity - an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to better yourself. Risk and failure, and learning and growth, go hand in hand with each other. Failure is also an opportunity for the Church to shine, and to show what God's grace truly is.

So what do I think of when I see the word "failure"? I think positively, and I think of how great God is and how I can trust Him fully, and I'm not afraid at all. If I fail, I can shake it off and step up and learn from it. If I fail, that doesn't make me a failure.

Either way, in my mind, I win if I succeed and I win if I fail. And much more than me winning is that succeed or fail - God wins.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Five - Songs

Happy first day of Spring!

Today's Friday Five - five songs I didn't like at first but now I do like quite a bit:

1. "King of Wonders" by Compassion Art

2. "Once Again" by Fusebox

3. "Just Dance" by Lady Gaga

4. "Song of Hope" by the Robbie Seay Band

5. The filet-o-fish song on that McDonald's commercial. =)

What about you - what are some songs you didn't like at first that now you do like?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A little known fact about me.

I'm EXTREMELY fascinated by and interested the assassination of President Kennedy. I mean, you have NO idea how captivating it is to me. I've been to the book depository, I took a picture from the window next to the window where Oswald supposedly shot Kennedy (I'm sneaky - you're not supposed to take pics there), I've stood on the grassy knoll and analyzed the view of where the motorcade was, and I've stood on the exact spots where President Kennedy was when he was shot.

I've done quite a bit of research (though not nearly as much as many who have spent decades researching it) and I am fully convinced that Lee Harvey Oswald was not the shooter. And if I'm wrong and he was, he was DEFINITELY not alone.

AND ...it was definitely covered up by the government. I mean, this is stuff anybody could see with just the slightest bit of research, I think.

So when I came across this blog (thanks, Marko) and saw this post about the 12 possible JFK assassins, I thought it was pretty interesting. Check it out, if you want to.

And as a side note, here are some pics from my trip to Dallas in the summer of 2007 when I went to Dealey Plaza (the JFK shooting site):

Just about where the first shot hit Kennedy.
Just about where the first shot hit President Kennedy.

View from the window next to Oswald's perch.
View from the window next to Oswald's perch.

The window from which Oswald supposedly shot Kennedy.
The window from which Oswald supposedly shot Kennedy. You can see that the window is half open.

The book depository.
The book depository.

The X marks the spot of the second shot.
The X marks the spot of the second shot - the kill shot.

The famous grassy knoll.
The famous grassy knoll.

View from the grassy knoll.
View from the grassy knoll.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wednesday Update

Wednesday means it's time for a Northeast campus update. Here goes ...

- I met with David Vela from North Point Church and Hugo Garcia from Cornerstone Fellowship, both of whom are pastors in the Northeast. You can read about my meeting with them here, but I just want to say that I really appreciate their openness, their hospitality, and their willingness to work with us and help us succeed. I like guys like them and guys like Greg Hunt from Paseo Christian Church and Buck Zengerle from Healing Place Church El Paso. These guys have told me they want our campus to succeed and that when we win, they win. I would say that it goes both ways - when they win, we win, because it's all about the Gospel and the Kingdom of God!

- I met with a couple on Sunday at lunch to talk with them about the wife joining our NE campus staff as kids' ministry director. The husband said he would support his wife whatever she does, and the wife wanted to say "yes" on the spot but knew she needed to pray and talk with her family about it. She called me yesterday and told me she'd let me know by tomorrow what her decision is. Thing is, she'll only be able to work with us for a little over a year, so we'll have to go into it knowing that we have to find another person to work beside her and train under her to take over when she leaves.

- It's spring break this week so I haven't been able to make much progress as far as looking at a couple of alternatives to meet at if Dr. Nixon Elementary doesn't come through, and at talking about some more details of renting the facilities there at Nixon. I've been thinking a lot about it though; I actually dreamt about doing kids ministry there on Monday night and spent most of Tuesday morning thinking about it. It's going to be tricky, but I think it'll be doable. They're offering us rooms adjacent to the cafeteria, but I think it would be much better if we could use classrooms instead.

- So since it's spring break, I've spent a lot of time reading. I went to the only Starbucks in the Northeast yesterday to do some of that reading because I figured I'd rather be there than just sit at the Del Sol offices and read. Yesterday I finished reading "The Volunteer Revolution" by Bill Hybels, kept reading "Courageous Leadership" which is also by Hybels, and started reading "Multi-Site Churches: Guidance for the Movement's Next Generation" by Scott McConnell. And when I finish those, I have a stack of (literally) about 20 other books I need to read through, and about 40 more on my Amazon "to buy later" list.

- On Monday night I met with Josh & Nicki Sattelmeier (two of our staff team members) to talk through the pre-launch timeline some, talk about the budget, and talk about some things we need to work through before our next launch meeting. I definitely think we made some real progress there.

- I spent much of the day today taking spiritual gifts tests and personality tests to help better understand myself and how I lead. I'm going to ask my staff to take some of those tests as well, and then we'll all sit down and talk about our results so we can better understand each other.

- I also started working on a ministry plan today that we can present to potential financial supporters, 'cause we really need God to provide enough to pay for our launch costs.

So here's how you can pray for me and the Northeast campus this week:

1. My sleep cycle has REALLY been off lately. It's been terribly difficult for me to fall asleep before midnight or 1 am, and so it's been really hard to be up as early as I really want/need to be. Because of that, I haven't been able to get down to the office until 10 or even 11 am by the time I wake up, exercise, go running, have breakfast, invest some time in prayer and in the Bible, and then shower up. I'd really like to be in the office by 9 am - that would give me so much more time to get some work done and free up more time later in the day to meet with people, but to do that, I really need to be out of bed by 7 am. So please pray for me to sleep better and to be able to get up at 7 am.

2. Pray that God would clearly show us where He wants us to meet. It really seems like Dr. Nixon is the best location, but it would be SO much better if we could use classrooms instead of the adjacent rooms they're offering. They told me that there's just no way we can use classrooms, but like the old song says ... "God can make a way where there seems to be no way".

3. Pray for Josh, Nicki, and myself as we work on a budget and a ministry plan to present to potential financial supporters, and pray that God would show us who to ask to support our launch. I'd really like to see Him make it rain, but I also know that sometime He guides by what He doesn't provide. So I guess what I'm saying is ask God to provide whatever He's going to provide and to show us how to do what He wants us to do with whatever He gives us.

Thanks SO much for your prayers!

Post Script: If you have about 24 minutes and want to get a really good idea of what we're getting into in being a portable church, check out this awesome video from Oak Leaf Church in Cartersville, Georgia (a suburb just north of Atlanta).

Two random pics from today

I went to Primos coffee shop and restaurant for lunch today, and as I was pulling into the parking lot, I saw this SUV and I thought it was interesting:


I thought it was interesting because it's the same type and color of SUV I drive, AND it has a Del Sol Church sticker on the back window. It was kind of like looking in a mirror, or a mirror backwards, or something. I don't know - I just thought it was interesting.

Also, someone dropped by the office and left about 30 or 40 cabbage plants for us. Apparently they're from some organization that we've never heard of and don't know anybody in that goes around giving cabbage and tomato plants to churches.
It was a nice surprise, but also a very strange surprise. I ended up being given 7 of them to take home:


Monday, March 16, 2009

How did I miss this?

I must be living under a rock. How had I not seen this video before?

I'm not gonna lie - this is a pretty funny kid!

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txqiwrbYGrs

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday night mind purge

- Monday was an interesting day. I had spent the past few days being pretty sick and was just barely starting to feel better on Monday. So I spent most of the day at the office, getting things ready for a trip to Chicago I'm taking the first weekend in April, getting ready for a GrowGroup that night that I was supposed to be leading, and other things I needed to get done.

- After I took awhile getting ready for the GrowGroup, nobody ended up showing up. You'd think I would've been upset, but I wasn't. It's ok, I've just learned to roll with the punches. I'm actually glad because it frees me up to be involved in Troy's GrowGroup, which I had really enjoyed the few times I had been there.

- Tuesday morning I met with the assistant principal at Dr. Nixon Elementary and talked about the possibility of meeting there. You can read more about that and what's up with the Del Sol Church Northeast campus here. After that we had a surprise staff luncheon for Creighton to celebrate his birthday, then staff meeting, and then I worked with Cheryl on making a new list of candidates for kids' ministry director. Oh, and I FINALLY got a project off my back that I had been putting on the back burner since mid-January. It's funny because I offered to take that project on and then kept putting it on the back burner, and now it's done. Whoo! That felt good to finally get that done.

- I spent pretty much all of Wednesday at the office, working to get ready for our first launch team meeting that night and registering Rick, Kristin, and myself for our trip to Chicago for Community Christian Church's upcoming Hitchhiker's Guide to Multi-Site experience. Afterwards, I took my dog to the vet (which was an interesting experience) and then on Wednesday night, we had our first launch team meeting. Let me tell you, I was SO nervous about it, but I hope it went well and that we made some progress.

- On Thursday I had lunch with a couple of new pastor friends of mine from the Northeast. It was a very encouraging time, and I'm looking forward to getting to know them better. After that I went to meet with my accountability partner and then went back and finished some stuff up at the office before going home to read a little bit and then go back to the Del Sol East campus for the Mix. Man, that was a real encouraging and challenging time for those of us there. Then Village Inn with Rick and Kristin until the wee hours of the night as usual.

- Friday was mostly a much-deserved crash day for me. Possibly borderline slothful, but I really needed the rest after a long week of being sick and recovering from being sick. I slept in 'til past noon, cleaned up and went for lunch, then went to go clear something up with my paycheck and then went to the mall real quickly to buy some collared shirts and to buy a gift for a good friend of mine.

- I really don't like going to the mall.

- I slept in again on Saturday, but not so late this time. Then I got up, went for a good, long run, invested a good amount of time in prayer, and then cleaned out my car. I found an orange under the seat from when we went to Phoenix for Dare2Share a couple of weeks ago, and it made me kind of sad thinking about my youth and Stephen and my girls that were back there.

- I'm really having a hard time being away from my youth. It's ...hard. But I know God's called me to the task I'm putting my hand to now and I'm excited about it and ready to see what God's got in store for Del Sol through the Northeast campus launch.

- This morning I woke up feeling so melancholy and kind of sad, but I felt so much better after worshipping with my Del Sol family. After the 9:30 worship celebration, I went to see G-force kids ministry at 11 am, and boy did I enjoy that! It had been SO long since I had worked with kids, and I had almost forgotten how much fun and fulfilling it is to work with kids!

- I was so blown away as I watched out kids' ministry volunteers . Del Sol Church has THE best volunteers in the entire country! Not Willow Creek, not North Point, not Saddleback, not Granger, not North Coast - we do! Right here on the East side of El Paso, Texas, you'll find the most amazing volunteers in the whole country!

- I had a lunch meeting today with a couple to talk about the wife accepting the position of kids' ministry director for the Northeast campus. They told me they'd pray about it and let me know this week, but they all but said yes right there on the spot! She was already talking about plans for the future and kept smiling as she talked about how excited she is about the Northeast campus. I know they haven't said "yes" yet, but I think they will, and so I left that time feeling like a thousand pound weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

- Now that it looks like we've probably got the staff we need, we just need God to provide the money for all this (probably at least $100,000 for launch expenses) and the dozens of volunteers we'll need. No big deal, right? =)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Five - Thoughts from the week

Five thoughts from this week:

1. I like Governor Perry - a LOT. I'm really torn between voting for him again or for Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson for Texas governor in 2010. I respect that like former President Bush, he's a man of integrity and courage and character and conviction, and he's willing to do what's right, even if it's not popular. Like not accepting $555 million of stimulus money to expand unemployment insurance in the greatest state of Texas. I know that's gonna hurt him when campaign time comes along at the end of this year.

2. I met with a couple of pastors in the Northeast who are totally Kingdom-minded and want to see the Del Sol Church Northeast campus succeed. They've been around the Northeast and the El Paso Baptist Association for awhile, so they know what's going on and were a big help. They also told me that now that word has gotten out, some other pastors in the Northeast are criticizing me behind my back because they feel like we're encroaching on their territory. How sad.

3. I LOVE my iPhone. I thought it would be really hard to figure out and didn't know if I would like it when I actually got my own, but in all honesty, I really have no idea how I lived before it! I was raving about it to someone this week and they asked if Jesus would have used an iPhone if they were around in His time. At the risk of being heretical ...yes, I think He would have. =)

4. I became part of a deeply sad situation that someone brought to my attention this week and we're in the process of working through right now. It's so sad how our sinful human nature can cause even the best of us to do things that hurt ourselves and hurt others. I'm praying for God to bring out truth, to cause grace and humility and forgiveness to reign, and for this to end up being an incredible act of restoration for everyone involved. Please pray for me about this, that God will show me how to handle the situation with integrity and in a God-honoring, Biblically sound, wise way.

5. The weather this week has been so strange! It was so warm, then it became cold and rainy, then sunny but cool. Make up your mind, skies of El Paso!

I wish I had HBO ...

Ok, so I'm a BIG fan and supporter of former President Bush and I do think he was one of the greatest Presidents our great country has had - but come on, it's Will Ferrell so you know this is gonna be funny!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wednesday Update

It's Wednesday, so it's time for me to give you an update on what's going on with the Northeast campus launch:

- On Thursday afternoon I met with some people from the El Paso Baptist Association and the Baptist General Convention of Texas to talk about the possibility of them helping fund out launch. They were very encouraging and excited about what we're doing, but are not able to give us any financial support because we're not actually a church plant. That was kind of discouraging, but I know that God's got the money somewhere; we just have to find out where He has it in store for us.

- Yesterday morning I met briefly with the assistant principal of Dr. Nixon Elementary out in the North Hills neighborhood of the Northeast. That is a REALLY nice school and it's got a pretty good setup for having church gatherings there. I was pretty nervous as I was traveling out there because I have never done anything like this before so I didn't know what to expect, but the ladies in the office were SO nice and friendly [and that fact that I took them a couple dozen donuts to snack on didn't hurt either =) ], and the assistant principal, Ms. Aziz was just as friendly.

She took me through the school and showed me around, and she also told me they have had a few churches meet there in the past so they know pretty well what we need and what to expect. I'm still praying about location, but I'm kind of zeroing in on that place because God seems to be opening up the doors for us to meet there.

- I worked with Cheryl, our kids' minister at the Del Sol Church East campus, yesterday to put together another list of potential kids' ministry directors for the Northeast campus team. We've got some great candidates, and I'm praying before I talk with them that God will send me to just the right one because we've only got about a month until the staff are supposed to start their responsibilities if we're going to keep out current launch schedule.

- Tonight I'm meeting with the members of my launch team to pray, think, talk through some details, and see what our next step is from here. Again, it's something I've never done before so I'm kind of nervous - but I'm more confident than nervous because I know God the Son is responsible for His Church, is responsible for this campus, and will lead me as I lead this meeting tonight.

So here's how you can pray for me and for the Northeast campus:

1. Pray for my health. I was SO sick last week and I just barely felt better yesterday, then this morning I work up with a migraine and it's made it hard all day to do my work. I think satan might be attacking me through my health to try to stop our progress.

2. Pray for God to send a kids' ministry director. Not just someone to fill a spot; someone who is called to kids ministry and who will be a great addition to our team. Someone with right character, great chemistry, and the capability to lead a team.

3. Pray for money. If you know anything about me, you know I'm not "all about the benjamins" and I'm not just looking to "make it rain", but we do need money - a LOT of money - to pay for this launch, and I'm just trusting God and waiting on Him to provide.

Thanks for your prayers! You're making a big difference in God's Kingdom by praying for these things.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

This is so me.

I love to smell stuff.

Monday, March 9, 2009


My favorite character trait of God's is that He is a master restorer. Well, the restoration character trait is a close tie with His faithfulness, but restoration is a barely favorite.

What I mean by restoration is this: God is the master at creatively taking something bad and transforming it into something good. Now usually it's something for our own good, but sometimes it's simply for the good of someone else or for His glory. See, not everything that happens in your life and mine are about us - sometimes God allows things to happen in our lives for someone else's good. That's a tough thing to understand, but it's true.

But again, God is the master at creatively taking something bad and transforming it into something good.

And while there are many great examples of that in the Bible and in history, I'll tell you what that's looked like most recently in my life.

Last summer, in July, my dad was laid off. For the first time in my life, for the first time in his life, for the first time in my mom's life as a wife - he was without a job. This was very unexpected and we really didn't know what to do, especially since we were also trying to bring in some income from our investment property in the Northeast which had been vacant since the previous summer. The news of the lay-off was not good - not at all - and could not have come at a worse time.

Fast-forward to today, 8 months later, and he's still out of a job. Thank God, our home is now being rented and between that and my dad's Social Security income, we're ok. It hasn't been easy at all, and it's not comfortable, but we're ok. We're not starving or lacking by any means. And sure the extra income of him having a job would bring the stress level down - but actually, I don't know if I want him to work full-time anymore.

This is where that restoration thing I was talking about comes in. Ever since my dad lost his job, he's had a lot more time to improve his computer skills, sharpen his musical skills, and most importantly, he's had a LOT more time to just be with my mom. They've always had a solid relationship, but all this time having my dad at home has really helped them strengthen their relationship.

Talk about restoration! Talk about taking bad and making it good! I would much rather scrimp and save and go without and have my parents have more time to just enjoy each other, than have a little extra money but have a dad who is tired after working all day and who doesn't have as much time to enjoy his wife as he does now.

Whatever it is you're facing right now in your life, know that God is good and He is the master at creatively taking the bad and transforming it into something good.

Thanks, God, for taking the difficult situation of my dad losing his job and turning it into a great opportunity for my parents to draw closer to each other.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday night mind purge

- Monday was an interesting day; I took a half day off since I didn't get the previous Friday off, and went into the office after lunch. I did lots of work at the office, working on some documents and stuff that I needed to finish, and ended up being at the office until about 6 pm. I went home quickly, freshened up, then went back to the East campus because we were hosting the El Paso Baptist Association's Executive Board meeting.

I think Walter and Craig and the DSC East campus volunteers did a great job with the music and videos and everything in setting the tone for it to be a Spirit-led meeting, not just another business meeting. We elected a new Director of Missions and I had the opportunity to meet several pastors out in the Northeast. It was a great, great meeting and even though there were only 2 of us there under 40 years old, it was great to be with my Baptist brothers and sisters.

- Tuesday was pretty down. I went out to the Northeast to check out Paseo Church's "the Hub" facility in the Northeast. Man, that place is a dump right now but they've got a great vision and that place is in the right hands with Greg and Steve and the Paseo family. After that I had a quick and encouraging lunch with Greg (Paseo's lead pastor), then rushed back to Del Sol's East campus for our staff meeting. Man, I just love our staff meetings and I love our staff. As a matter of fact, pretty soon I'm going to start writing posts about each of our staff members so you can get a deeper insight into them and what incredible people they are.

In the evening I met with Mark & Candi Pryor to catch up with them and talk about our trip back to Juarez this Wednesday.

- Wednesday I was at the office all morning and I was able to setup some appointments to talk with some principals at a couple of schools in the Northeast, among other things. I also got to meet with Jeremy, my accountability partner, and got some more work done at the office. And then Wednesday night was First Wednesday, our communion service, and the ladies that went to Ghana back in January talked about their experience and Walter talked about why we do good - that it's not just to feel good and pat ourselves on the back, but because of the Gospel.

Afterwards, I was invited to dinner by the Romo family, which was interesting because I had just met them on Sunday. They were so excited and eager to have dinner with me, and they were so encouraging. I really enjoyed the time with them and I think they're gonna be good friends of mine.

- Thursday was a hard day. Not only did I start getting sick on Thursday morning, but I had a somewhat discouraging meeting on Thursday afternoon. By about 4:30 in the afternoon, I was so tired and felt so sick that I had to just go home and take a nap before going to the Mix that evening.

It was kind of cool to be back at the Mix, since I hadn't been with the youth in awhile - and it was great to see so many youth there! There were over 50 people that night; we haven't seen that in awhile, and it definitely created a great ethos. And the band? Man, they were down the chain! After that was Village Inn night with Rick and Kristin, then I got home to my bed and crashed hard.

- I slept in late Friday, showered up and had a late lunch, then met Craig at the AT&T store to get my iPhone. Let me juat say that iPhones are AWESOME! I don't know how humanity survived before the iPhone. I'm still a PC though, not a Mac person. =)

I went back home and then wen to the Del Sol East campus for the kickoff of Celebrate Recovery that night. Man, I could feel the Holy Spirit there and I know God is going to do great things through CR.

- Saturday morning was bad. I felt so physically bad, and it took me about an hour to be able to get out of bed and cleaned up to go to lunch with my parents and my brother who was in town for the weekend. After lunch, I came back home and crashed again and then just laid around most of the night.

When I went to bed, I felt SO terrible and stayed up 'til about 1 am coughing like crazy. I finally took some of my dad's prescription cough medicine with codeine in it, and knocked out.

- This morning was weird. I slept in because I was so tired and went to the 11 am service. That was weird just waking up, going to the worship celebration service, and leaving. That's definitely not something I want to make a habit of. Then lunch, then I went and bought some more medicine and crashed again.

But oh my goodness, the Holy Spirit of God was there in such an incredible way. The band that was here this weekend was so honest and transparent, Walter's message was right on, and the cardboard testimonies and Gospel invitation at the end were so powerful.

I am SO pumped about what God is doing at Del Sol Church!

But He's also doing great things in other churches in El Paso, like Paseo and Abundant Living and Harvest and Life Church.

And God's also working in churches throughout the country like Cornerstone out in Chandler, near Phoenix, or LifeChurch.tv based out of Oklahoma, or Cross Point in Nashville, or NorthRidge Church near Detroit.

And He's working at churches all over this terrestrial ball!

Man, I'm so excited to see what He's up to and I'm so honored and feel privileged to be a small part of what He's doing at a place called Del Sol Church.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday Five - Five Things I'm Excited About

Today, five things I'm currently excited about:

1. After years of dreaming and months of planning, we finally kicked off Celebrate Recovery at the Del Sol Church East campus tonight! I'm so proud of Bob Cossel and the CR team, and I think God's going to do great things through this ministry.

2. I got an iPhone today! My coolness factor has definitely increased now. =)

3. My brother Adrian is here visiting from Phoenix. It's good to see him again.

4. God is really bringing things together for the Northeast campus. You can check out this post to see an update of what's up.

5. After the trip to Phoenix for the Dare2Share conference last week, I think Troy and I broke through some barriers in our relationship, which is good since we're on the same team and need to be tight.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What's up Wednesday (better late than never)

So I decided to add just a bit more to the structure of my blog. On Fridays I (usually) post a "Friday Five" and on Sundays I usually post a "Sunday Night Mind Purge", so I decided that Wednesdays would become "What's Up Wednesday" - a weekly blog post where I give you an update on what's going on with the upcoming Del Sol Church Northeast Campus launch.

I know what you're thinking: "But Ariel, today is Thursday!"

Yes I know. I didn't have a chance to post an update yesterday, so I'm doing it today. It's my blog, I can do that if I want to. =)

So here's an update on the Northeast campus:

// Our launch date for weekly worship celebrations is Sunday, September 13th; before then we'll have preview services in June, July, and in August. Our first meeting as a launch team will be next Wednesday, March 11th.

// Our first choice for a meeting location is Nolan Richardson Middle School, which is in the North Hills area of the far Northeast. Our second choice is Dr. Nixon Elementary School. Even though our first choice is Richardson, the people at Nixon seem to be bending over backwards for us, so I wonder if God's doing something there. I've got an appointment to meet with the principal of Nixon on Tuesday morning.

// Last Wednesday (the 4th), the El Paso Baptist Association's church planting committee met and approved a recommendation to help fund our campus. On Monday the 9th,
we hosted the EPBA's Executive Board meeting at the DSC East campus and I was introduced as the NE campus pastor.

// After the Exec. Board Meeting on Monday night, I had several pastors from the Northeast come up and encourage me about the work we're doing. That's good because I was concerned that there might be some territorialism, but it seems like we have at least 3 pastors with us now. Praise God for that!

// You should also know that the staff and church council here at the East campus is learning with us about what it means to be a multi-site church and though they have many questions (which is understandable and very good), they're on board and fully supporting our work. After all, we're one church but we just happen to meet in 2 locations, right? =)

Here are some ways you can pray for the Northeast campus this week:

1. Pray for my meeting with the principal at Nixon Elementary on Tuesday morning and m
ore than anything, pray that God will show us where to meet and give us favor and open doors with the school administration and school district officials.

2. Pray for me as I'm meeting today with some people from the local and statewide Baptist conventions to talk about their financial support for our campus.

3. Pray for me as I seek to meet with more pastors to let them know what we're doing and see how we might be able to partner with other churches out in the Northeast.

4. Pray for God to bring to our team a Kids' Ministry Director. We don't want just someone who likes kids, but someone who is called to kids' ministry so please pray for this urgent need.

So clearly, God is doing some great things as far as the NE campus is concerned and even though we have so much more to think through and prepare for, I just wanted to give you an update on what's going on and invite you to celebrate with me how God is paving the way for our launch this fall.

To God be the glory!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hopefully Thursday ...

... I'll finally get one of these:


Ahh iPhone ...you will soon be mine.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

That's enough.

I just got back from a trip to ....Phoenix...., where we went with our youth to the Dare2Share evangelism conference. What a trip! I haven’t been too involved with our youth lately, and I’ve missed that. Really, I can’t remember the last time I’ve had so much fun!

But as we drew near to the parking lot at the East campus and we said our goodbyes, I became kind of sad. We parked, everyone got out and parents arrived and everybody started heading back to their respective homes. While the last of them were heading out, I went in to lock up the office (which I had opened up earlier so some of them could use the restroom and throw away some trash). When I walked out, all our youth were gone.

I got in my car, turned on my iPod, and the song “Fearless” by Building 429 came on via the amazing shuffle feature of my iPod.

And I started crying.

You see, this was my last youth trip.


…it’s still setting in.

So I cried most of the way home. I miss youth ministry, and I really miss my youth. I missed being at “the Mix” the past couple of Thursdays, and I’ve hardly been able to spend any time with my youth lately, because my job now requires me to spend most of my time at the office or meeting with adults in networking meetings. As the weeks go on, I am less and less able to be with my youth – which is totally understandable and reasonable – but it doesn’t make it any easier.

Thinking about the near future and how in just a few months, I will be totally separate from any youth activities …well, it’s hard. Really hard. Don’t get me wrong, I am SOpumped about the Northeast campus and I don’t at all doubt my calling, but that doesn’t mean it’s not terribly difficult saying goodbye. Often, it feels like my heart is being torn out of my chest.

Going into it, I knew that this was my last trip with my youth and I made a decision going in that I would not let that fact loom over me and spoil the weekend. And I know I’m not leaving; I’m being sent – but it’s still being sent away. And it’s still painful and incredibly awkward for me.

So in these last few months before I fully transition out and say goodbye as we launch the Northeast campus, I’m cherishing EVERY moment. Every hug, every conversation, every laugh – EVERYTHING.

As we were at the conference and I saw my youth worshiping; as we walked the streets of Phoenix collecting cans for the Phoenix Rescue Mission; as I shared a room with Troy, Jeff, Mitch, and Stephen; as we stopped for a quick dinner in Las Cruces and I listened to the walls of the restaurant filled with the voices of our youth and adults; as we traveled home today and I had the pleasure of hearing my beautiful girls in the back of the SUV singing and laughing away - my heart just welled up with joy in those moments.

I treasure every moment, because I know the remaining ones are few. I know that change is necessary for growth and is part of life, and I’m fully confident that I’m right in the center of the will of my Papa in Heaven, and I have a great peace that passes my comprehension …but still …this is hard. Harder than I think anyone around me understands.

And it’s terribly lonely.

And it’s in these moments that I just remember God is always with me, and He’ll never leave me, and He reigns. He knows what’s best, He only allows what will be for the benefit of His Kingdom, and He loves me more than I can understand – even more than I love my youth.

And all I can do is cry out to God for comfort and solace.

And He reminds me of His presence.

And that’s enough.

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ – Hebrews 13:5, NKJV