Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A week of silence

My goal with this blog is to post twice a week, on Monday and on Thursday. You'll notice, if you're closely following, that I didn't post last Monday or Thursday. Why didn't I post? Why the week of silence?

Easy. I didn't have anything to say that I haven't already said. I didn't have anything to say that I wanted the entire world to hear.

Frankly, I don't want to come across as a whiner.

But, the truth is, I'm frustrated. I'm not sure what to do next.

In the meantime, I've been working on staying focused. I've been running consistently, logged 33 miles over the past 2 weeks. If I'm being honest, a few of the things on my list were really put on there for when we moved, but since we haven't moved yet, they're on hold.

I've finished 2 of the books on my list, working on a third.

I also now have two gaming works published. You can find them here and here. The third installment will be available on May 9 here.

I also have a micro-goal for May 2013. I will run each and every day of May, at the very least, one mile. I'd like to top 75 miles for the month, too. This would be my highest mileage of all time for a single month. I hit 68 last year while training for the marathon that I never ran.

Thanks everyone for your encouragement over the past few weeks. We really thought we'd be back in ministry by this point. I honestly felt as if God had called me to the position in Marietta. It was pretty rough when we didn't get the job, but we're pushing forward (expanded the search farther outside the denomination and sent out 22 resume's over the last 2 weeks).

Be blessed!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Only slightly random...

The reading project is going really well. I finished the second of thirty books on Sunday night. The book is Church Unique by Will Mancini. When the new pastor of High Street (Rob) began his ministry, he had the entire staff and board read this book. My mother-in-law had a copy of the book and so it's been in my "to-read" pile for months.

I completely understand why Rob had the entire board and staff read the book, it's a great read for casting vision with your church.

Some of it got a bit wordy at points, but overall, I was glad I read the book. I'm eager to see how that book, and it's method of vision casting can work in a youth ministry. Especially in a church with a well-established vision. All in all, it's worth reading for pastors. Check it out on amazon!


You may not know this, but I've been published! Raging Swan Press is a 3PP (Third Party Publisher) for the Pathfinder Role Playing Game. I contacted Creighton, the publisher, to see if he was looking for any freelance writers and he was looking for someone to do a long project.

I've worked on a few installments of Dungeon Denizens. I don't find this to be a MAJOR outlet for creativity. I mean, there isn't a lot of story (if any) but I think it's a great way to get my foot in the door, and hopefully get an adventure published within the next 16 months.

But, the most recent edition of Dungeon Denizens is going to be released on May 9. If you'd like more information, you can check out Dungeon Denizens EL1 here, or EL 2 here.

The PDFs are only two bucks, and if people buy them, it increases the legitimacy of what we're trying to do and possibly the legitimacy of me as an author/designer increasing my chances at getting an adventure published.


Finally, apologies for this being a day late... I was up late desperately trying to finish that book on Sunday and just didn't have the energy to write last night! Thursday's post will be ON TIME!! (For those of you who are curious, I'm updating on Mondays and Thursdays)

Thursday, April 18, 2013


I imagine that every family has an odd-ball cousin or uncle or nephew or whatever who doesn't quite fit in. Maybe that person smells bad, or doesn't understand normal social conventions, or whatever.

I feel like I'm that odd-ball cousin of the running family. I enjoy running, but I don't really think of myself as part of the "Running Family." I'm sure my runner friends will disagree with that sentiment, they'll say, "You run, you're in the 'family.'"

But seriously, when I'm running on the roads and oncoming traffic gets over to what I consider a safe distance from my body, or slows down to a near-stop to allow me to run next to them, I always give them the "live-long-and-prosper" made famous by Mr. Spock. Yeah, I'm a nerd runner.

I play the drums while I run. Seriously, if you watch me running, quite often I'm playing the drums with my hands/arms while running. It means I'm not streamlined or efficient in my motions, but why do I care?

I'm slow as Moses. I ran my first (and so far only) half-marathon in 2011. I finished in 2:38. That's 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 38 minutes. To me, it felt Herculean. However, to qualify to run the Boston marathon (if you're under 35), you have to post a sub-3:05 time. That means, I'd have to run 13.1 more miles in about 30 minutes to qualify for Boston. I may be the slowest runner of all time.

But, check this out. I'm perfectly okay with that. Seriously, I don't mind being the awkward cousin of the running family.

We all know what happened on Monday. The bombings at the Boston Marathon actually made me sick to my stomach. Knowing that a lot of people try so hard just to qualify to run that marathon, and then to DNF or be injured in a bombing makes me sick.

But here's what I've learned about runners. Don't ever tell us it can't be done. Never.

Some people might see this tragedy, and think, "I would never put myself in that sort of danger."

That's not what runners do. Never, in my whole life, have I wanted to run a marathon more than I have wanted to this week.

Had I been at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night, I would've belted out Sweet Caroline at the top of my lungs, because some things are bigger than sports rivalries.

I may never actually Run for Boston, meaning, qualify for the Boston Marathon. But, for the rest of my life, I'll be Running for Boston, because I'll never give up. As my good friend Dave said, "we can't live in fear or it allows the bad people to win."

So, keep running.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The week that was, but I wish wasn't

I can't lie about this, part of the reason I started writing this blog, made a list of books to read and things to do, is that I'm so frustrated with where my life is right now.

If you had asked me a year ago where my life would be right now, this was not it. This was nowhere near what I expected in my life. I can't overstate that enough.

So, I've spent the past 10 months trying to "right the ship," if you will. I've been trying to get things back into a place where I want them. I spent three months unemployed, but still drawing a salary, so I didn't do much. I sent my resume to every single Nazarene youth pastor opening I saw.

The next five have been spent working at a restaurant as a cook. I hate it. I thought I'd be there for a few weeks because surely I wouldn't be stuck in this place so long. Boy, that wasn't even close to correct.

So, a few weeks ago, things started to line up. We got an interview nailed down, and everything seemed like it was going to happen. I felt like God was finally bringing us out of this place. God had finally decided that it was time to move on from here.

I know a lot of people get excited when they have interviews and they think "this is it!" I had taken four interviews prior to this most recent one, I didn't feel that way about any of them. I was so sure that this was it, I was preparing the restaurant for my departure. Holly was preparing her employer for her departure. We even discussed timing plans with the in-laws regarding how/when we were going to move. I started collecting some boxes from work.

This wasn't all just fantasy, I promise. Every communication from the church we were heading to made it seem like the interview was just a formality. We were in. They even took our opinion on what color to paint a couple rooms in the parsonage.

We went for the interview and on Saturday night, after the interview, Holly and I talked, after talking with our hosts. We looked at each other and said, "this is it."

Well, it wasn't. Not by a long shot. Dreams were crushed. Plans were stopped. And now... nothing. I don't know what's next. Everyone likes to ask that, after a crushed soul, "What's next, Alex?"

The truth is, I have no idea. I literally have no idea what we're going to do next. Keep looking for a ministry position? Go into management at the restaurant I'm in (They're dying to have me do that)? Go back to school and get my MDiv? Go back to school and start a whole new career?

I have no idea what's next. Most of those are exclusive. If I do one, I can't do the rest. God says, "Ask, Seek, Knock."

I've asked. I mean, I've asked. I've begged and begged and begged. I've cried tears of desperation. I've asked everyone I know for advice. I've asked God for guidance and direction. I've asked. Over and over and over.

We've sought. I'm not sure I can even begin to count how many places I've sent my resume. I've sent it far and wide (as close as the NWO District, as far as Washington State). We've had interviews with churches on both sides of the country (literally: San Diego and Maryland). We've even discussed an over-seas opportunity at one point. Every single youth pastor opening that I've even been given wind of, I've contacted. More often than not, I'm getting no response. That's not figurative, it's literal, no response. I've sought.

I've knocked. Every single door I can think of, I've knocked. Career change? Knock knock. Youth pastor openings? Knock knock. Senior pastor? Knock knock. Discipleship pastor? Knock knock. Young adult pastor? Knock knock. Military chaplain? Knock knock. Military officer (non-chaplain)? Knock knock. I've never experienced something like this before. Every door we've knocked on, none have opened. The ones that seemed to be open have been shut in our faces.

I'm bone weary.

I'm completely exhausted.

I'm confused.

I'm doubting.

I'm questioning.

I'm broken.

I'm sad.

I'm angry.

I'm weak.

I'm hurting.

I'm at the end of my rope.

And here's where the cliches come in, "when you're at the end of your rope..."

"God gives rest to the weary..."

"God gives strength to the weak..."

"When one door closes..."

In my experience over the past ten months, none of that seems to be true. Every door that I've pursued has closed. Every window that I've pursued has been closed. Every small glimmer of light has gone dark.

I really thought this was it. I thought I was going to begin writing about starting a new ministry, moving to a new place, meeting new friends. Instead... none of that.

Last week was a complete bust. I didn't read anything. I didn't run a single mile.

This week will be different. I've got a list of things to do, going to turn it around, make something happen.

Be blessed, friends. Continue to pray for us as we continue to struggle through this time of Exile.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Book #1 - The Hobbit

I set out to finish 30 new books before I turned 30 years old next August. To start my adventure, I read a book about... an adventure.

Holly and I fell in love with the Lord of the Rings trilogy; in fact i twas one of the things in our lives that we shared before we dated and have fallen in love with the extended editions through our marriage (we actually took the entire series on our honeymoon with us and watched the trilogy that week).

When The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey came out, we put it at the top of our "Must see list." Once we saw the movie, Holly took to rereading the book (she had read it before).

She absolutely insisted that I read it, and so I made it the first book I read on my list! I read the book in the shadow of the movie, which is something I generally try to avoid doing. However, I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy in college, and really struggled with Tolkein's writing. I just couldn't get into the flow of his style. He was a genius, no questions asked; but I really had trouble hanging with it.

The Hobbit didn't give me any of those problems. It was a fantastic read, and helped to flesh out more of the world I've come to love so much. It's also gotten me super-excited for the next couple of Hobbit movies.

One book down, Twenty-nine to go!

Monday, April 8, 2013

It just started raining

Happy Monday! This is a small piece I wrote a number of months ago. I imagine it's relatively self-explanatory. I'm posting it as a sort of "ode to vulnerability." I suppose it's unfinished (hence the ellipsis at the end), and I imagine it will remain unfinished for the rest of history. I won't spend any more time detailing it, because I don't think it needs to be quantified today, with nearly 9 months of hindsight since writing it.

Take time today to reflect on where you've been in your life.


It's June 16, 2012 and it just started raining. It is raining metaphorically and literally. I was informed today that my position was being eliminated at High Street.

I'm not being fired, I'm a casualty of the economic realities of this decade. 

Unfortunately, that doesn't make me feel any better.

I suppose it's normal to run a gamut of emotions when you're faced with this situation, I've gone from disbelief to sadness to anger to disappointment and back again.

I don't believe this is happening to me. I don't understand why it's happening now. Despite the insistence that I didn't do anything to cause this to happen, I can't help but feel that there is something I could have done to prevent this. If only I were a better pastor, this wouldn't have happened. 

I'm sad. I really love ministry at high street, I love my students. I absolutely wanted the chance to see some of my students graduate. I can't believe that I'm going to miss the rest of their experiences through high school. I'm sad because I was so excited to work with an awesome pastor like Rob. That won't be happening now. I won't get any of that. Instead, I'm being forced out of a door, and there don't seem to be any doors open to me at this point.

I'm angry for a great many reasons. I'm positive that anger is an appropriate and healthy thing. I'm angry at the people who have asked me to leave. I'm angry at their decision. I'm angry that this is happening t me, at this time in my life. I don't suppose there is ever a good time, but this feels like the worst time. 

I'm disappointed, I really wanted to finish what I started...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Out of Exile

I've made no secret that the past nine months haven't been very fun for me. I've openly questioned "why?" I've been miserable in many ways. I've definitely had to work on my anger with a few individuals and was intensely challenged by a sermon my friend Rob on forgiveness regarding my feelings toward those individuals.

Another of my friends, Israel, was telling me a few weeks ago how he read through the book of Jeremiah during our pastoral interim. He was drawing the parallels for me to his experience with that of the Israelites/Judahites during the Babylonian Exile. I took his recommendation of the book of Jeremiah as a hint that perhaps I should read that book during my own "Exile" from active, full-time vocational ministry.

I started reading the book a few weeks ago, taking it nice and slow so as to take enough time to really digest what I have been reading and to focus on the Word, not just read it to say I've read it.

So, I've drawn some parallels of my own based on the weeping prophet.

First, this has undeniably been a time of exile for me. It's been incredibly difficult. It's been full of tears. It's been full of questioning. it's been extremely frustrating. I've felt abandoned, discouraged and broken at different times over the past months. I did not, however, feel like I was being prepared for this time in my life. Perhaps I wasn't paying attention, but I don't ever feel like God was getting me ready for such a time as this. Again, maybe I just wasn't paying attention, wasn't willing to learn.

The second major revelation for me happened in the fifteenth chapter, right at the end when God finally says to the people "I will save you from..." This was incredibly for me, because it was the promise that accompanied the Exile. The people were being punished (I haven't figured out if I was being punished, or being winnowed through this period), but God was quick to tell them that he wasn't abandoning them. He would save them. He would bring them through.

What a powerful word from the Lord. I'm leaning, in these days, on God to bring me through to the end of this period. I've felt for a few weeks now that this period of my life is drawing to a close. I believe that something is going to happen soon and God is finally readying me for this time to be over. In my selfishness, I can't wait. I'm ready to get back in the saddle and get back to work for the Kingdom.

Most of the people who are reading this are friends of mine, people who have known me for years and have been praying for my family and me during this time. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for the prayers and support over the past months. It's meant a lot to us. Continue to pray for us in the days to come, please!

Monday, April 1, 2013

I prayed for someone new

On March 13, white smoke poured from the Sistine Chapel, announcing to the world that there was a new Bishop of Rome in the Roman Catholic Church. On that day, Pope Francis came into being and has taken the church by storm (in some regards).

It's gotten me thinking about some things, however. First, I don't understand the high level of animosity that many Nazarenes (and evangelicals, in general) hold toward the Roman Catholic church. It's as if there is a lingering feeling of disdain left over from the Reformation.

But, I find the new Pope's spirit to be invigorating. He's humble, focused on evangelizing, and saying all the right things. I'm proud to be a prayer-partner for a man of God. I hope that he's able to bring the Roman Catholic Church into a new era focused on reaching the lost; helping the poor; and proclaiming the truth that Jesus is the way to heaven.

On a marginally related note, if I were elected pope (which I can't be, I meet neither of the two conditions), I'd choose the name Patrick.

On a completely unrelated note:

The Astros are in first place! Crazy talk!