family

How My Family Wishes Me Happy Birthday

When my kids or my wife have a birthday, I stay up the night before until they are in bed and then I hang up streamers and sometimes other decorations in the kitchen and living room. I've been doing it for years because my wife tells me to and because I'm tall enough to do it without any help. It's a neat tradition, to awaken on your birthday and have a festive house just for you. 

Today is my birthday and THIS is what I got...and it proves how much my family understands my sense of humor and how much they love me. I couldn't have smiled any wider!

McCoy Family Update!

After 12+ years pastoring at Doxa Fellowship in Woodstock, Illinois, I've accepted a new job working for Ed Stetzer and his Mission Group. I'll be doing work as a Content Strategist for Mission Group to help develop resources to equip the Church for the mission. Molly and I, along with our four kids, are very excited about this new chapter of life and ministry.

Our plan, God-willing, is to stay in Woodstock for Jack's senior year and to move near Wheaton, Illinois soon after that. My last Sunday at Doxa is this Sunday, October 2nd.

Thanks for your prayers during our time at Doxa and we ask that you might ask God to help us through this transition, for our needs as we hope to stay local for a while longer for the good of our kids, and for our church as we leave.

Elijah Update - 2.2.15

Elijah (14) with his best friend and brother, Daniel (12 this month).

Elijah (14) with his best friend and brother, Daniel (12 this month).

Brief update.

Elijah's hip has been significantly better. Not completely better, but much better than a few weeks ago. He's had other issues, including problems that come and go with his knees, but nothing earth shattering. He's even taken a few swings at the batting cages and he felt better than he expected. Could be a result of taking Celebrex daily. But still doesn't walk around like a healthy kid. 

E has upper and lower GI tomorrow so no food for him today and we are gone much of the day tomorrow for the test (leave early am, 10am test, at home in the afternoon). I have no idea how much we might learn immediately after the test, or if we won't learn much until next GI doc appointment. Prayers appreciated. This test is a pretty big deal for our little guy. Praying for answers.

Elijah Update 1.21.15

Previous Updates:  FirstSecondThird, Fourth.

Yesterday we took Elijah back to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Chicago to meet with their rheumatologist at the request of the two main pediatricians there who have been working with Elijah and who have thus far not figured out why he has fluid in his hip.

It was rather revealing, though there is no clear diagnosis yet. What we learned we feel finally gives us some solid direction and seems to finally make some sense out of his current symptoms as well as previous problems. 

Before Rheumatologist - Molly was doing some reading on the Mayo Clinic website on juvenile arthritis and it revealed that when kids have arthritic problems they can have complications that include eye problems and growth problems. We had discussed with his hospital doctors that a year ago Elijah had a pretty bad but treatable eye problem that happened for no apparent reason and we've been concerned about his growth for years. Some of you know he's been going to various specialists the last few months to figure out why he hasn't been growing much the last few years. This made us more eager to see the rheumatologist.

Rheumatologist Appointment - A younger doctor came in to get the whole story and to give him a preliminary test of his joints and mobility and all that. It took some time. Then she went to discuss with the main rheumatologist. That took some time. Both doctors then entered and here's what we got.

Everything is Linked - While she didn't want to jump to a diagnosis without more tests, she fully believes the growth issue, eye issue, hip, and other ongoing unexplained aches and pains are all related. What's most important is finding out if this is from a possible intestinal problem or juvenile arthritis problem. 

Arthritis - She called his hip issue "arthritis." I said, "So it is arthritis?" She said in the broadest definition it certainly is, though it might not be because of a more comprehensive and serious arthritis problem. Any joint inflammation like this is arthritis and a lot of people can have an isolated bout with something like it, often is caused by other health problems. The issue now is finding out the origin of the hip problem to see if it's directly or indirectly an arthritis problem. 

Next Tests - We are thankful that the next tests she wants has been on the schedule for a few weeks. Because of his very slow growth he's seen multiple doctors, and most recently a gastroenterologist. He has already scheduled an upper and a lower GI scope to see if there are any abnormalities or signs of intestinal diseases or problems that would cause slower growth. Some blood tests and a stool sample seem to show inflammation, and that could either be coincidental, from the hip inflammation, or something GI related. So the rheumatologist would have requested these tests if not already on the schedule.

IF the GI scopes are positive (show a problem) the rheumatologist is confident the GI issue is the culprit and responsible for the other problems. IF the GI scopes are negative she believes the arthritis issue may be the central problem and that will require more tests as to exactly what the issue is. She explained an example of a kid with an arthritis problem that when finally diagnosed and treated resulted in a massive upswing in his growth. We would love to see something like that! 

For Now - The rheumatologist has prescribed a powerful anti-inflammatory. No PE until we figure something out. He couldn't do it anyway. He isn't using a walker anymore and his limp is nearly gone. His range of motion is almost back to normal, but I don't think he could jump or run. Certainly no quick starts or stops or side-to-side motions that put much pressure on the hip.

Schedule - Elijah's GI scopes are scheduled for the first week of February and return visit to the rheumatologist follows on the 17th of February. We should know some immediate results after the GI scopes, but full info won't come until we meet with his GI doctor and then the rheumatologist. 

Sidenote - With all doctors in the room yesterday, Elijah unleashed a massive nosebleed. It was an awesomely bloody mess. 

If there's something I'm missing or a previous issue I haven't updated, please let me know. I'm trying to be as complete as I can. Thanks again for kind words and ongoing prayers for Elijah.

Elijah Update - Tuesday

Wanted to get an update up Monday after arriving home, but just didn't find the time. Here's where things are with our 14 year old son. Check out previous posts for a full day-by-day: First post, Saturday update, and Sunday update.

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Getting Home - We got home midday Monday and immediately discovered we were driving on an almost completely flat tire. A large screw was in our rear left tire and I had to head right back out and add air then make an appointment to fix the tire while Molly napped yesterday. A flat tire after a long drive leads to scary what-could-have-happened thoughts! God in His mercy brought us home safely. And the trip went very quickly, probably 75 minutes. When Danny and I came home on Thursday night to resupply, it took four hours after never going faster than 35mph in blizzard-like conditions. 

Diagnosis - There is still no official diagnosis other than fluid in his hip. The new MRI's didn't reveal anything new that would help a diagnosis. Nothing in the bone or tissue that tell a story. And nothing in the final analysis of the culture from his hip fluid. The growth in his hip fluid culture ended up being described as a contamination, as I explained Sunday

What's Next - We take E back to Shriner's on Thursday (yes, in two days) to see his pediatrician there. We return again next Tuesday to see a rheumatologist. He hasn't seen a rheumatologist yet, but without a clear diagnosis they need to keep trying to figure this out.

Elijah is using a walker and will hopefully return to school on Wednesday. He can get around without the walker, very slowly, but the walker gives him comfort because he's nervous about tweaking it as it's still a sharp pain. He also likes the walker because it will help kids at school give him space so they don't bump him in the hallway.  

Thanks - Thanks again for all your thoughts, prayers, food, and everything else that has been done to help. We are so blessed.

Elijah Update - Sunday

Good news this morning.

Elijah, barring things getting worse in the next 24 hours, is going home tomorrow. It's still a mystery what exactly is wrong. The growth in the culture from his hip is strange. It should only happen in someone with artificial medical things in his body. So they think it must be contamination. But that doesn't change the problem he's having in the first place. New MRIs and other tests show nothing concerning infection, bone issues, etc.

The doctor this morning wants him to see a rheumatologist. It won't happen until after we've left and are done here, but it's probably what's next.  We'll see another pediatrician tomorrow and see what he thinks, but that's most likely. After the two pediatricians see him tomorrow and if he isn't feeling worse, we'll all go home. 

If all goes as planned, E will miss at least 2-3 days of school. Danny will go back Tuesday.

I checked this morning on staying one more night at the Ronald McDonald House and they think it might be possible. I have to check back in a bit to be sure. Sarah and Jack made it home safely last night and was at Doxa this morning. They had a blast on their trip! They will go to school tomorrow and we just might make it home before school is out. 

We have so many praying, some who have provided help to Sarah and Jack, and many who have offered truckloads of help financial and otherwise to us. You have all been so kind to us. We are thankful to God for you all. 

Danny is taking full advantage of Elijah's physical disadvantages these last few days.

Danny is taking full advantage of Elijah's physical disadvantages these last few days.

The secret room kids can discover at the Ronald McDonald House.

The secret room kids can discover at the Ronald McDonald House.

Elijah getting X-Rays on his first day here.

Elijah getting X-Rays on his first day here.

Elijah this morning with his Dad.

Elijah this morning with his Dad.

Elijah Update - Saturday (1/10)

I'm writing this on a public, hospital computer, so forgive any issues with the post. The system isn't letting me update the previous post so it's easier just to add a new one. 

Elijah has now been given at least one more night here, and maybe a few more. Still up in the air.

E is leaving with Molly by ambulance (sans sirens) to Lurie Children's Hospital today for another set of MRIs. More blood tests are being done as we speak. The fluid culture from his hip is in process and something is growing in it. That means there's something that's in the fluid and the tests should reveal more about the nature of the fluid and how to treat it. He's still on antibiotics, and hopefully they'll find out it's the right sort that treats whatever he has. If not, they'll change it once they know more. 

There's a decent possibility at this point that what they didn't do during the first surgery will be done in the next day or two, which is opening his hip and irrigating/cleaning it out. The doctor this morning thinks that will be helpful, though the new MRIs and cultures and all that will help with that decision. We really hope that isn't necessary, but we'll see. If it happens it will leave him and us here longer.

Pray for the doctors to figure this thing out. For Molly to rest well and that her stay won't aggravate symptoms for her health issues with Chiari that often crop up when sleep is poor and stress is high. 

Pray for my church, Doxa, as I'm not going to be there tomorrow. My buddy, Joey, who has helped in a pinch before has agreed to preach last minute. I just LOVE good guys like him. What a blessing. 

Danny and I are staying at the Ronald McDonald House near Loyola Hospital, which is an amazing resource. It's 20 minutes away. We may only get one more night because others are coming in who have planned this long in advance. Please pray they'll still have a room for us if we need it. I don't want to go home with Molly still here as it's really helpful for Elijah and for Molly to have us here, for E to be able to play with Danny, etc. We don't have the money to stay somewhere else. But everything has been provided as needed so far, so we trust God with whatever comes next. 

Elijah is Hip - Health Update

Physical therapy Friday morning.

Physical therapy Friday morning.

UPDATE Friday Morning (1/9) -

All future updates will start at the top with the oldest updates at the bottom. Right now I'm home with Daniel and Molly is with Elijah at Shriner's Hospital in Chicago. Daniel and I will be likely leaving at some point today to return to the hospital. Looking into a place to stay for the night.

Elijah is eating great and walking. He's on liquid antibiotics while in the hospital and has taken his second dose as of 6am this morning. 

Molly just called and said Elijah won't be coming home today. Tough news, but glad it's because they are trying hard to figure out what's wrong. About a dozen doctors have been in to see him and they are scouring his medical issues and medical history. He's had a few other medical issues in the past, seemingly no major deal at the time, that may mean something according to the doctors. But we don't know yet. So glad to be at a hospital that's known for orthopaedics. 

I've been asked by some why this isn't simply considered toxic (or transient) synovitis. Last I heard, it's possible. But duration of his problem, extent of his pain, his age, and a lack of other tell-tale signs keep the doctors guessing and concerned it's something else. I know that some form of arthritis is being considered, but again, don't know yet. 

As I understand it there is more testing going on with the fluid aspirated from his hip as well as a bunch of smart people trying to make sense out of all this. At this point I'd say we are hopeful this is something simple that will go away with antibiotics or by some other means. So far nothing serious found other than fluid. We are also realistic that the doctors aren't satisfied with a diagnosis and we are prepared that this may go on a while before it's resolved. More when I have it.

SIDE NOTE: The nurses are just in love with Elijah. Apparently he is very cute with adorable eyes. So he has that going for him! :)

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Elijah, pre-procedure.

Elijah, pre-procedure.

Original Update Thursday Night (1/8)- Thanks for all who saw updates on Twitter and Facebook about Elijah today and who have shared thoughts and prayers. Here's a late night update on how we got to this point. 

Elijah has had hip pain for about 11 days. At different points he could barely walk and has had two sets of xrays, MRI, two sets of blood tests and then our first visit to a specialist today because he's not getting better. The only diagnosis so far is fluid in his hip joint area. After a few doctors consulted together today they decided Elijah needed a hip aspiration to remove and test the fluid for infection, bacteria, etc. There was an expectation that the hip would also need to be opened up and "cleaned out" as well as a possible bone biopsy. This came as a complete surprise to us this morning. All of our conversations revolved around multiple days at the hospital, a possible picc line for antibiotics, a home nurse, and therapy/recovery. 

In surgery a few hours later the fluid was partially drained. Tests showed no infection or bacteria, at least upon first check. Good news! So good (and unexpected) that the surgeon decided not to clean out the joint or do a biopsy. Huge relief. The problem is he still finds the fluid buildup as a mystery. So does the battery of docs working on this. 

Elijah is starting antibiotics tonight and physical therapy in the morning. We think he'll be able to come home tomorrow (Friday) but nothing is certain. Molly is staying with him tonight and I brought Danny (11) home with me. It was the most dangerous drive I've taken in my life after several inches of snow today, 35+mph wind, and severe drifts. We saw two cars ditch themselves in the last 10 miles. Unreal & terrifying.

Danny and I will have to drive back tomorrow and hopefully bring E and Molly home. We are still very concerned because they can't find a cause to this thing. Maybe it will eventually take care of itself. Maybe the docs will figure something out. I'm too tired to guess what might happen next. Thanks for your prayers. Appreciate all of you.

Jesus Storybook Bible Sale

Goldeneye

I have seen some interesting things while at the doctor before on x-rays, MRIs, etc. I've never seen this. Elijah (13) has something wrong with his eye. Red, irritated, not pink eye. Dye was put in his eye to check for a scratch yesterday. This photo has no filters or adjustments. Dye and a blue light to check it. Awesome.

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The Wedding Vows | 20 Years Later

Wedding cake

Today my wife and I are celebrating 20 years of marriage. I could write the obligatory post or FB update on how amazing she is and how undeserving I am and how I'm glad we get to go on this journey together and I hope we get 20 more years on this journey. I believe those things and could easily say them and mean them.

I could talk about how much joy I still have when I see her or hear her voice. But we've both come to realize that after 10 years those things were easy to say, but after 20 there's a whole lot of other things in our lives that won't allow me to write something trite because 20 years of marriage isn't easy. It's been very hard. The fun of the first 10 years disappeared a bit in the light of other developments. We often say to each other, remember when we used to make up corny songs or give each other silly nicknames? Of course we remember, but we don't do that nearly as much now. We still do some of that, but they have mostly disappeared in the light of other developments.

In the second 10 years of marriage God has made sure we understand things about ourselves we didn't wish to learn. He has brought us into and maybe never-in-this-body out of certain kinds of suffering. He has shown us how fragile life is with our marriage, our kids, our continuing struggle with selfishness and heart idols. So on this our 20th anniversary, we want to share some thoughts about marriage, mostly for my younger married and not yet married readers. We often think about you with a bit of envy that we can't go back to the time when marriage was easy and a daily adventure. It really was easy in comparison with what has come to us. And we know our experience won't be common to all, or the timing of what we have learned, but we hope others find it helpful as we have found it helpful to meditate on our marriage and share these things with you.

What I offer below isn't some well crafted, well edited article. It's my anniversary morning thoughts, unplanned beyond the time it took to write it. We talked as I wrote, and this post accurately relays how we feel. This is what 20 years of marriage vows have meant to us, though we could obviously say much more. And we hope to convey that we aren't complaining. We can't talk about the vows without mentioning the hard part of the vows. It's not pretty or easy, but it's good.

1. To Have And To Hold From This Day Forward

Having and holding each other felt pretty doggone good 20 years ago. I remember as a young unmarried man thinking of how amazing it would be to be married one day and holding a woman who loves me at any moment of any day that I'd like to hold her. And now 20 years later we hold each other less often than we did, but still a lot. Some days, right in the middle of the day, we will go lay in the bed for a bit and hold each other and talk about whatever. It still is a joy, though we find ourselves thinking of something that needs to get done and move on.

In a bigger sense, we 20 years later have still only each other to have, and each other to hold. There is no one else, and we love that. And we are still each other's best friend. What we started in only having and holding each other has continued. And we look forward to more days, weeks, months, and years of only holding one another. 

In the last 10 years, we didn't just get the pleasure of having and holding each other. We had to, often because there was little else in this life given to us by God to cling to. We still had each other. We held each other when under attack from gossips, when Molly had both of her brain surgeries, when horrible things happened to our children, when the things of this world and the messengers of Satan pushed us, we fell into the arms of God and each other. And we're still here.

It isn't good for man to be alone, and at times in ministry and in various times and places, it's been very lonely. I remember many days and nights, from early on to two days ago, where something in me needed to hold someone and she was there. By God's magnificent grace He has provided me with a beautiful, godly, loving wife...to have and to hold. And we move forward.

2. For Better, For Worse

We've had remarkable "better" times. I know a lot of married people who seem to love each other very much. Good on them. But I can't think of anyone who has more fun being married than me and Molly. It's a trip. And "better" times are just grand, when the bills are paid and the basement isn't flooding and the kids are getting good grades and there aren't any cavities. When times are good we sing together and enjoy each other's company. We forgive each other quickly and enjoy each others idiosyncrasies. We make time to hang out and talk, to get alone, to spend time around others. But anyone can endure the better times.

Especially during the last 10 of our 20 years the "worse" times have been pretty bad. Some very bad. Some things we've been through are still too painful to describe in a post like this, so I won't. Many of my readers already know some significant "worse" times through my blogging during and after Molly's brain surgeries. We haven't had it as bad as many others, and we've had it worse than many others. But comparison isn't the point and isn't how we think of our marriage. This is our road. It's our marriage. 

We've had to preach the gospel to each other a lot. In worse times the gospel can get lost. God has given us each other to put someone there day by day to speak of the cross and peace and grace and love and forgiveness when one of us is distracted by the worse of our own sinfulness or the bad things that happen to us. Our stresses tend to bleed into each others lives because we are one, but we endure together. Sometimes the one not suffering gets angry or bitter and the one who is suffering is suffering well and reminds the other of how Jesus suffered for us and the gospel breaks us of our bitterness. 

I had no idea what "worse" would look like in marriage. We were both naive. We thought we took the high and happy road by being fully committed to covenantal love for one another, and that would lead to a ton of better and little worse. Experiencially, it didn't. Though we've never even discussed divorce since we see it as a non-option, it doesn't take the breaking of a marriage apart for a married couple to be broken. Still God, through giving us one another, makes those "worse" time, as bad as they are, really a "better" time because He is there with us, and we are there with each other. 

3. For Richer, For Poorer

We've never appeared on the "richer" side of things for the American middle class context. My income has always been lower than to provide all the things we generally believe we need as Americans. After all this time our kids haven't gotten braces and don't have money for college.  The last 5-6 cars have been free or almost free, by necessity. Our last three homes have been parsonages or missionary housing, free of charge, and we have never owned a home or townhouse. Nearly everyone our age and life stage is driving something newer and better. Everyone's house is bigger. Everyone's retirement account is fuller. Probably not completely fair, but the feeling is there and mostly accurate. 

Mol sad

But 20 years of marriage has taught us that a bigger house doesn't make for a happy home. A nicer car often means a bigger car payment which we don't have. We aren't living for retirement, because we realize real rest is coming on That Day. Sure, we'd like a new BMW or Suburban to drive. Really we would. But being married and having four amazing kids and keeping things simple is a kind of riches to us.

When times have been very tight, we still retell the stories of God providing vans and houses and groceries. Our kids aren't hearing stories of financial achievement, but faith and a God who provides far beyond what we deserve. Our marriage has endured times where we have gone without because we go with God and with each other. We go with the Church who has loved us and given so much for the gospel's sake.

We hope our finances improve and we are able to provide our kids things that we want, and we are working and praying toward that end. But if we can't, we know One who can provide in riches and in poverty. He has proven Himself over and over. And my wife and I remind each other of that as often as we can.

4. In Sickness And Health

In connection to money, we should add here that the plan from early on, like many couples, was to keep Molly home from work during the formative years of our kids until she could work (if she chose to) once they entered school. It was very difficult, but we did it. She was earning almost $30 an hour as a dental hygienist early in our marriage. But we sacrificed for the kids. She worked at home with our kids and I held one or more jobs while full time in school. Then came her diagnosis with Chiari I Malformation resulting in 2 brain surgeries which pretty much eliminated her chance at that career or much of any other career.

She took a job working at a local elementary school with a special needs kid during school hours last year. It messed her up and she had to stop. Still many local friends think she stopped for no particular reason. Truth is, it was devastating to her health. Because she's pretty and always looks happy around others, most don't realize the sickness runs deep and has ongoing effect. Few understand what daily life is like when "health" seems to be a condition that will never describe her adequately again until That Day. 

Molly is "sick," never fully well, always living below the level of those first 20 years of her life and first 10 years of our marriage. Right now, for example, she wakes up every day wondering if she will have that particular headache that puts her down for a full day of vomiting and out of commission for anything else. And it's all a result of something no doctor is able to change. 

Both of us have suffered varying levels of depression and anxiety the last 10 years. The last 10 years both Molly and I have lost our ability to sleep well. Sometimes we can't fall asleep. Sometimes we can't stay asleep. Rarely do either of us feel fully rested. 

The first 10 years of our marriage I was in various stages of health, working hard both mentally and physically. After a few fun years of mountain biking and being in amazing shape, I found I had a few disc problems in my upper back. Often one day of exercise messes me up for weeks. Lifting weights has become nearly impossible. The only trip my family took to Disney World, I couldn't ride any coasters with the kids because of extreme pain when both awake and asleep. 

We've had times of health, and times of "sickness." What we have learned along the way is that we get to endure together and help each other in the sick times. I've told Molly many times that as odd as it seems I have found the times of her greatest fear and deepest sickness, namely right before and during her brain surgeries, to be times of great growth for me. She is helpless and needy and I get to serve her. I learned to take care of her household duties as well as do my own work as a pastor. I learned to have someone lean hard on me in times of incredible need, and I enjoyed being there for her. I learned to lean hard on God because I was forced to live beyond my means...which is what I should have been doing all along. 

Sick times have only begun. Our 20 years of marriage have us both about the age of 40, which is still young. We don't feel that young. Times get so bad that Molly will look at me and say, "I sure wish Jesus would hurry up and come back." She means it. And yet being married in sickness and health means we hold each others' hand while waking up another day and working hard for each other, for our kids, and for the sake of the world hearing the gospel. What a joy to have all this pain and endure it together as husband and wife for all this time.

Me mol

5. To Love And To Cherish 

What love meant to us 20 years ago was ridiculous. It meant a lot of awesome physical things (at least for me) and a general vibe of fun and adventure and playfulness and a general attitude of "What's next? Let's go do it!" For Molly it meant security and companionship. It meant sharing life with a best friend and lover. 

Now, 20 years later, love is so much better though at first it doesn't feel like it is. Love early on was all over the place. It was public displays of affection and big toothy grins in photographs. It was weekend trips and events and discovery of wonderful life stuff. We got to explore the world we inhabited and the pleasures of marriage together, and it was exciting. It hasn't stayed quite that way. 

With the births of our children in particular, the quick, heated, excited kind of love began to shrink. Actually, it didn't shrink so much as it transformed. Now our sharply directed love for one other became spread out. Anyone who tells you that you can experiencially love your spouse the same before having kids and as you are raising your raise kids isn't telling you the truth. It becomes work. Justin Buzzard has had to write a book about how to Date Your Wife because too often we stop. The first years of marriage was a constant date. Since having children, dating has has to become intentional. And those deep conversations into the night have become conversations into the evening after the kids are in bed and the last household chores have been done and "OH MY look at the time, I have to get up early in the morning for MOPS group." Goodness sakes. 

We thank God for those years of racy love and the millions of kisses and endless hours of playful teasing. That's a part of our love for and cherishing of each other. We thank God for the years of settling in to a deep and abiding love through huge mistakes, hurtful arguments, angry comments, putting off forgiving each other, apathetic stretches, and lulls between moments of kissing each other like we really mean it and don't have something better to do. 

Love has lost some of it's glorious youthful bite, but grown into learning I need to listen to her like her voice is living water poured into me. Love has become seeing gifts I am still learning to discover. Cherishing her has grown into a daily job of staring at her once again, like I did before, thanking God for the years on her face because it's those years of knowing each other deeply that gave her mildly aging face character and tells a thousand stories of her love for me, beyond what I have ever deserved. I've learned that loving and cherishing my wife almost never has to do with what sounds good to me, but learning what sounds good to her and letting her have that to her hearts content and being the one to enjoy supplying it for her. And yet I'm so far from doing that like I should. How much I love her, and how much I have yet to really love her.

5. Until Death Do Us Part

To end this briefly, we haven't gotten there yet. We've known for a long time it can end any day. We've never realized that more than right now. We've been given a 20 year gift and hope to enjoy it longer. But 20 years in we have absolute certainty that we have been given to each other less to have fun and more to work for each other toward that common joy of life eternal. We aren't headed toward a more perfect eternal marriage with each other, but with the Bridegroom who will show us what this momentary marriage was always pointing us to. It took us 20 years for this idea to actually sink in, but in many ways we've only scratched the surface of understanding what forever will look like. But considering the massive pain we've endured and the indescribable joy we've found in 20 years together, eternity is going to be a stunner.

I love you, Molly. Keep walking with me in these broken bodies and with these selfish struggles with sin, hold my hand, and let's stay on this narrow path to something far better than what has been so amazingly good.

Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp

UPDATE 10.30.12: Use coupon code PASTORS and get the hardback book for $4.60 (80% off!).

Tripp book

I watched this video today (below) for Paul David Tripp's new book, Dangerous Calling. I immediately went searching for my wife so she could watch it with me. By the end she was tearing up a bit and then we had a 30 minute conversation about the last 8 1/2 years of pastoral ministry and the struggles and pain we've experienced in our family & relationships. It was very difficult to be this honest, but it was very fruitful.

I'm buying Dangerous Calling right now, as well as the conference DVD's (10 - 25 minutes sessions | grab the free leader's guide and discussion guide). WTS bookstore has great deals for the next 6 days: hardcover $12 (48% off, or 5 for $10 a piece) and conference DVD's $15 (62% off). Kindle is out on October 31st

Dangerous Calling from Crossway on Vimeo.

What Shapes Your Ministry, Pastor?

P77_Paul-Tripp_web

Paul Tripp writes on the 29 things that shape a pastor's ministry. Here are a few that hit me, in the form of questions...

1. What does he really love?
2. What does he despise?
3. What are his hopes, dreams, and fears?
4. Is he committed to his own sanctification?
5. What are the anxieties that have the potential to derail or paralyze him?
11. Does he see pastoral ministry as a community project?
14. What character qualities would his wife and children use to describe him?
17. How robust, consistent, joyful, and vibrant is his devotional life?
19. Does he hold himself to high standards, or is he willing to give way to mediocrity?
25. Is the public pastor a different person from the private husband and dad?
29. How successful has he been in pastoring the congregation that is his family?

You see, it is absolutely vital to remember this: A pastor’s ministry is never just shaped by his knowledge, experience, and skill. It is always also shaped by the true condition of his heart. In fact, if his heart is not in the right place, all of the knowledge and skill can actually function to make him dangerous.

Go read all of Paul Tripp's 29 excellent questions. Be challenged by them, and changed by them.