Our Day in Hershey

This morning, the final day of our post-Easter family sabbath time, we left Lancaster and stopped in Hershey, PA on our way home. We went to ZooAmerica and Hershey’s Chocolate World.

After a couple of very warm days (with 80-degree temperatures) it was a much cooler day (in the 50s). It was also fairly windy. As we got closer to home, we actually hit a wintry mix of precipitation.

Amazingly enough, we came away from Chocolate World without any chocolate! The kids were pretty tired by the time we left (well into nap time), which cut our visit short. But we did share a Hershey’s S’mores Sundae (except for Sarah who wasn’t a fan).

Overall, it was a nice getaway. The kids handled the trip pretty well. While we could have gotten more rest/sleep at night, it wasn’t too bad (the kids usually sleep extremely at home). Ethan did well (again) sleeping in his own big bed (surrounded by a barrier of pillows) but while Sarah would go to sleep in a crib, she didn’t like waking up there during the night. We are hoping her transition back to her own crib goes smoothly tonight!

Here are some photos from today …

Post-Easter Family Sabbath Time

Easter is a busy time for pastors, of course, and it’s an especially busy time for a family with two pastors and two kids. So, we’re taking a mini-vacation after Easter for some much-needed Sabbath time.

We arrived in Lancaster, PA yesterday and will head back home tomorrow. On our way here, we reached another milestone in the process of adopting Sarah. We met with our caseworker for the third and final time. Once Sarah has been with us six months (April 24), we’ll be able to file for the finalization of Sarah’s adoption (at which time her name will legally become “Sarah”). However, we don’t know when finalization will actually take place (probably in a few months).

So far, it’s been a relaxing time — spending a little time at the playground, splashing in the pool (first time with Sarah), and eating out. Well, eating out is not always relaxing with two kids under 3, especially at Carrabba’s. Carraba’s is a nice Italian restaurant, but we were placed at a small table (so everything was accessible to both kids) and all four of us were given silverware, including two forks and a large steak knife. Ethan found the first two and after Sarah pulled one out, we figured we should get rid of the knives! Besides that, it was great!

You can tell our kids are pastors’ kids. On the way to visit/tour Tom Sturgis Pretzel Bakery (America’s first commercial pretzel bakery), Ethan asked, “Are we going to another church?” 🙂

And sure enough, after visiting Sturgis Pretzels, we walked across the street to look at the historic Lititz Moravian Congregation (Methodism founder, John Wesley, was greatly impacted by the Moravians).

We plan to do a couple fun things in Hershey tomorrow on our way home. In the meantime, here are some photos from our mini-vacation, so far …

24 Hours That Changed the World

During Lent this year, my sermon series focused on the last 24 hours of Jesus’ life, leading up to his crucifixion on the cross. One of the key study resources that I used for this series was Adam Hamilton‘s recent book, 24 Hours That Changed the World.

I enjoyed reading the book personally and will probably go back to it periodically, especially when I want to remember and refocus on what God did for us!

There’s also a small 40 Days of Reflection devotional book to go along with it as well as a DVD (with leaders’ guide) that would be good for small groups (or supplemental resource material).

Easter 2010

Today was our first Easter with Sarah and our third with Ethan (see Easter 2008 and Easter 2009).

We began Resurrection Day in worship. After lunch, we all took naps (when *I* nap, you know we’re tired!). Joleen says the Easter Bunny came while we were asleep, and when the kids got up (at 5:30!), they had fun discovering what was in their Easter baskets and playing with toys till bedtime.

Here are a few photos from the day …

Desperate Preachers 1.0

Desperate preachers pray. Desperate preachers pray a lot. But what do desperate preachers pray?

I once posed a question in an online pastor’s forum/community, asking what they tended to pray in the minutes/hours before preaching. I don’t remember getting a lot of response, so perhaps this topic only interests me. 🙂 But it’s an opportunity to get inside the head of a preacher, at least inside the head of this one (and others who respond).

Last week, when I thought about this topic again, I decided that for the next few weeks (6?), I will try to write down the things I pray during the minutes/hours before I preach. Today was week one.

I’m not really sure where this is headed or what, if anything, this will produce. Maybe I’m just curious. Maybe I’m looking for a way to be more intentional about my prayer life as it relates to preaching.

I’m not really to write a formal “preaching preparation prayer guide,” but it *could* be a helpful framework (or guide) for preachers to take and build on. There’s no right or wrong prayers, necessarily, and like most things, I’m sure it will continue to evolve over the course of time, beyond the next 6 weeks.

Here’s why I think this is important …

When I preached my first sermon (in a preaching class in college, of all places!), I probably spent more time preparing AND praying for that sermon than just about any I’ve ever done. BUT, the reality is, I’m as desperate for God’s help for next week’s sermon as I was for that first one — maybe even more so.

Back then, I *knew* I needed God. Naturally, as I gain experience, the temptation is to rely more on my experience/gifts and less on God. That means I have to be more intentional about my prayer life. And the starting point is to track what I’m praying during the minutes/hours before I preach and look for ways to improve that part of my prayer life.

Another way of looking at this is: How do I get in tune with God before I preach?

So, what do you find yourself often praying during the minutes/hours before you preach?

I invite other preachers to do the same. Then, look for my follow-up post in about 6 weeks or so, and share your findings/learnings.

Sugar Makes Me Happy!

Acouple days ago, we gave Ethan a treat after lunch (a little bit of Easter candy). Ethan doesn’t eat much junk food so he doesn’t get much sugar, normally.

But after his treat, he was too wound up to take his normal 2+ hour nap. He stayed in his room (mostly in his bed, although he ran around a bit, too) for about an hour-and-a-half but never went to sleep. Fortunately, Sarah was able to get her hour-long nap in during this time.

Ethan came downstairs after Sarah woke up, and I said something like, “No more sugar for Ethan,” to which he replied, “Sugar makes me happy!” 😆

I’ve thought about that statement from a discipleship perspective. How easy it is for us to prefer “sugar” over the “food” that helps us get/stay healthy.

Think about your favorite stories and verses in the Bible. Most likely, they’re the more encouraging statements. We certainly need those parts of the story, but what about what those parts that correct and challenge us? We need to hear those words, too.

This has implications for preaching. People need the whole Word of God — the parts that encourage and uplift as well as the parts that cut to the heart, parts that are hard to swallow. A preacher’s (or a parent’s) primary goal is not to make people “happy,” but to help them encounter God in a way that leads to real life change. That happens by speaking the truth in love!

To grow in our walk with God, we need a healthy, balanced diet (not with too much sugar, though, especially for little kids). 🙂