I Miss My Kids

Our family just ended a week’s vacation.  My wife and I saw it as a vacation  not only from work and from home but from our kids as well.  This was the first time in our six years of marriage that we did not have at least one kid with us for more than one overnight.  My parents took our two kids and two of my brother’s three kids (my youngest brother is there as well) to Camp Calumet for the week.

So my wife and I enjoyed some down time in Vermont.

Monday we celebrated our six year anniversary with dinner at Table 24 and we saw the movie Inception (which was awesome by the way).  Tuesday we went to Burlington, Vermont and had lunch at Al’s French Frys and took a walk up and down Church Street.  Wednesday we took a tour of the Ben and Jerry’s Factory, and Cabot Cheese Farm.  Thursday we hung around the house and started to prepare ourselves for our trip home, we took a tour of the Wilson Castle and awaited our kids arrival home.  Friday (today) we are headed back to our home.

It has been wonderful to reconnect with my wife — kidless.  We have talked about a lot of things that we usually don’t get to talk about because usually we are dealing with one thing or another with our kids.  Another reason we don’t have “adult” conversations is because we are so consumed with day to day life that we don’t have time to talk with one another, or we forget what we have to say to one another because something comes up.

These conversations have been great.  They also are going to lead to some major changes in our lives over the next six to eight months.  I won’t go into detail about them now but I will blog about them soon.

Even though we have enjoyed our time together we missed our kids.  We missed cuddling with them, we missed talking with them we missed how we experience what they are experiencing.  We missed so much about them and we are glad that they are home with us again.

But it warms my heart to have parents who care about their grandchildren so much that they take them out into the woods to camp for a week.  I was never really lucky enough to get to know my grandparents or my cousins that well because of I lived in Vermont and they lived in Pennsylvania.  I am glad that my kids get to know their grandparents and cousins on trips like this.  Thank you mom and dad.

Six Years

 

Today I will be married for six years (Happy Anniversary Honey!!).  It has been an adventure that’s for sure.  Here are six things we have experienced as a couple over the last six years…..

1.  We have lived in seven different locations and three different states

2.  We have two wonderful children

  • They are the joy of our lives

3.  We both have had major surgery

  • My wife had an emergency c-section . for the birth of our first son.  Three days later my appendix ruptured.

4.  Four years of seminary

  • I was in graduate school full time, I worked part time, and helped with the kids and the house work
  • My wife took the brunt of most of the parenting and house worked and worked full time

5.  Graduation of seminary, my 30th birthday, the call process and my ordination (all within four months).

  • This was a nerve wracking time for both of us.  I had a wonderful 30th birthday party/graduation party.
  • We went through a process where we experienced tons of paperwork, seven  interviews, thousands of miles traveled and finally settled in a job, community and home that we love.

6.  Continued love

  • I can honestly say that I love my wife more now than I did when we first got married.  So much happened our first years of marriage sometimes it seems like a blurr.  We are finally on track to a life we both have dreamed of and we are very happy.  Sure there are bumps in the road, but those bumps tend to only bring us closer together.

So what do the next six years have in store for us?

I don’t know.  I would hate to guess because six years ago I never even heard of Baldwinsville, NY much less thought I was going to live there!!  All I know is that as long as I have my wife and my kids there is nothing I can’t face in my life.  They are the most important thing to me, yes even more important than Facebook.

Here is a list of things that I would love to have happen over the next six years:

I have a list of 100 things that I want to do before I die, I hope that I can accomplish more of them.  I would foresee us having one perhaps two more children.  I would love to finally start a band of some sort.  I would love to get into pet therapy.  I would love to have at least 3 months salary in my savings account.  I plan on supporting my children in all the activities that they are interested in.  Finally, I would love to keep blogging and be the host of an active online community surrounded in faith.

What do you see happening in your life over the next six years?

Success

Most people want to succeed, but whose version of “success” are you trying to achieve?  How do you measure your success?  How do you know when you’ve really accomplished something in your life?

Success on other people’s terms may only mean frustration for you.  If we measure our success by goals that others think worthwhile or if we try and measure success by own personal standards, we will wind up in trouble.

For many people, success is related to money and possessions. When you have money and become rich, you are a success. When you build a big home, you are a success. When you have a nice car, you are a success. When you have many possessions, and you can sit back, take it easy, and enjoy life, you are a success…….. in the eyes of the world.

What if you do not have all of those fancy things?

What if life is more than “whoever has the most toys when they die wins?”

Life in the church is more than coming in with the most amount of money, with the best looking car, with having your life all together.  When looked at from a communal perspective, we are more interested in the needs of our sisters and  brothers, in the heart and lives of our sisters and brothers rather than whats in someone’s bank account.  Many people with eyes pointed to the cross, have a little extra, instead of going out buying someone extravagant, tend to give it away to perhaps improve someone else’s life.

Fulfillment starts within our own heart and our own soul and spreads to other people.  It is only when we start with our own hearts that we can define clear personal values to start to measure our success in life, or dare I say fulfillment in life.  If we do not start with our heart and our connection with God and a larger community of faith, then we are measuring our success by “the world’s” values which may prevent us from recognizing our own significant, personal accomplishments.

God did not create us each as individuals only to have us measure ourselves by someone else’s expectation.  God did not build us up only so we tear ourselves (or others) down but not achieving what other think we “should” be achieving.

We are created to develop to our full potential – in the direction and degree that God leads us too. It is our responsibility, though, to equip ourselves to make wise choices, choices that will help us develop into the individuals that God created us to be, and to live in the community which supports one another.

When we arm ourselves with the power of prayer, with scripture in our hands and God on our hearts and minds, we will know the true meaning of success in our lives.  When we surround ourselves with others, in the body of Christ we will have that support and love to find true success in life.

Camp

It is summer camp time!!  If you have followed my blog at all you know that summer camp is an important part of who I am and my call to ministry.  I spent eight wonderful summers going to Camp Calumet as a kid, I spent another nine fabulous summers as a counselor/senior staff person at Camp Calumet.  Then during some time off from college I spent three years on the year round staff at Calumet.  All very important in my life and I had many life changing experiences at Calumet.  I also have a great group of friends from Calumet as well.

It is no surprise that as a pastor outdoor ministry is high on my priority list.  Five months into my call I recieved a letter from the Bishop’s office asking me to prayerfully consider serving on the Vanderkamp (local Lutheran/Presb camp) board.  After some conversations with colleagues and after some prayer I decided this was something that God was calling me to do.

So I have been serving on the Vanderkamp Board of Directors for about a year and a half, and I really enjoy it.  I am able to help formulate positive camp experiences for youth in our synod.  I also came back recently after directing a confirmation camp at Vanderkamp for youth in our conference.

 

But none of that excites me more than seeing my son excited to start his time in camping ministry.  This past Sunday we dropped of Cheese wiz at camp for his first week as a camper at Vanderkamp.  Now this would not of happened if we were in New England.  As much as I am excited for him to experience Calumet and do the same things that I did when I was a camper/staff person.  Calumet does not allow kids to come to camp until they are eight years old.  Vanderkamp allows kids to come as early as six.

He was counting down the days before he went to camp.  We got there on Sunday and he was ready to go.  In the picture to the right he is holding his bear so he can sleep with it at night.  He packed his drum sticks so he can play in the band, he packed his bathing suit and goggles to go swimming and he was very excited to do some boating.

I had mixed emotions on Sunday.  I was sad because I knew that I was going to miss him.  But I was so excited for him.  I know the lasting impact camp has had on my life and I know that it is going to have a lasting impact on his life as well.

This will be the first of three camp experiences for Cheese wiz.  The next will come at the end of July when my parents will take him and my daughter and my brothers children for a week at Camp Calumet.  Then at the end of August we will take our yearly family vacation with friends at Calumet as well.   Our summer will end Labor Day Weekend when we will be at Calumet for the 90′s staff reunion which I will serve as chaplain.

I hope that my son finds as much joy and excitement as I did in his camping experience.  I hope that he sees God working in the camp and in his life as I did growing up.  Even if he chooses not to be on summer staff at Vanderkamp, Calumet or any of the other camps that are out there, I hope he holds these memories close to his heart, because I will never forget the look of excitement, wonder, and love that were in his eyes after I dropped him off on Sunday.