431 Union Street

Last night, as I was driving home... I started thinking about what today was going to look like. I started to anticipate the pain that would come as soon as I watched the clock change from 11:59 to Midnight, starting another day... and realizing that another year had passed. It took 6 years to write my first post about what happened 7 years ago today. After I did that, I realized how freeing it was... I realized the healing power in doing that. So in order to try and heal just a little bit more, and to pay tribute to what is now lost, here I sit. In front of a screen, attempting to put all my thoughts and emotions into so few words. I laid down in bed around 10:30 last night... and watched all 90 minutes tick by on my clock. Instead of trying to sleep, and more so to avoid the nightmares, I laid there praying that this year it wouldn't hurt so much. I looked at pictures of the house from the days that followed the fire. It still seems so surreal. I drove by 431 Union Street this morning, just long enough that I could catch a glimpse of what used to stand there. It's funny, because as each year passes, it gets more real every time I drive by...

I have spent a collective 20 years living in Hope, Indiana. There was a time when I thought I would never return to live here full-time after college... I was wrong. Yet looking back on where I was, where I've been, and where I'm going, I'm thankful for the time I have here... because most likely, it won't be where I live forever. There is one scar from growing up here that hasn't healed completely. December 19th, 2005. That's the day my world came crashing down around me, and had it not been for this small town, I don't know where I would be today. My family lost our home, our belongings, our pets, everything. It was hard to fathom. I stood there at one point listening to someone scream as we watched the fire engulf our home... then I realized the person screaming was ME. It's been seven years since we lost our home, and the 19th this year, was just as hard, if not harder than all the others. This post follows last years', in that it is just a little bit easier to write this one, than it was that one. I write about this for a reason, so that I can be reminded of what matters in life. You see, now that I am in the "real world", the reality of what today means is even clearer. It's not just the cliche "don't take things for granted" or "we are only promised today", but more than that. It's a reminder that it's not about me, or my plans, or my wants. It's about God's plan. God has used this to glorify the Kingdom, in more way than one. God has shown me a lot of things about that day in the last 7 years, most importantly, He has shown me the value of friendship and community. The core of this is carried forward from last year, because it still holds true...

I still can't believe the way people took care of us when we lost everything. People gave us clothing, places to stay, food, money, hugs, and most importantly prayers. There were people who probably had barely enough money for Christmas gifts for their own families, that replaced many of ours. People I didn't know offered money, and condolences. There are so many important people I would love to thank for what they did, but that would take a lifetime. One group of people has always stuck out in my mind when I think about that time in my life...

Before they were husbands, fathers, college graduates, teachers, coaches, adventure-seekers, insurance salesmen, businessmen, and athletic trainers, there were a special group of guys that were all part of a State Championship. Some were players, others fans in the crowd. That day was a special day though, because it was in that moment, that I saw Christ bless some very important people in my life, by helping them to achieve their dream.

A little more than 7 years ago I wrote an article that made the local newspaper. It was entitled "Before they were champions.." Take a look:

Hauser High School's boys' basketball team brought home their first state title this year, bringing a terrific season to a perfect end. Team and fans alike celebrated their happiness together. However, Hauser's team isn't one that is only there for the good times. Before they were champions, they were just a group of great guys, and true friends. On December 19th my family lost our house to a fire. We were able to salvage very little. Four days later, we were there ready to sift through the ruins and rubble and find what could be salvaged. As I got out of my car at the site of my former home, I heard more cars pull in behind me. They were members of Hauser's varsity basketball team. Not only are they state champions, but they are true good-hearted friends. Each one of them left practice, and drove straight to 431 Union Street. Gabe Miller, Blake Roth, Zach Fugate, Bobby Jolliff, Bryce Mize, Justin Baute, Brandon Barker, Nate Long, Seth Baute, Bryan Bailey, and Ben Gearhart approached me with arms wide open and smiles on their faces. At that moment I felt the true meaning of living in a small community. Eleven young men, current and former Hauser basketball players, clad in old clothes and heavy gloves, ready to help me and my sister sift through our childhood. As we sorted through the remains, I was able to laugh and cry with the best friends a kid could ask for. Eleven kids willing to give up a day of Christmas break, to help a family in need. I stopped after about an hour of working and looked around at these 11 guys. Replaying the memories I had with each and every one of them in my house. Late nights playing video games, and all day football games in the yard, it was all very emotional for me. They were my support system, and I saw it as my duty to return the favor. I spent my Saturday supporting Gabe Miller, Blake Roth, Zach Fugate, Bobby Jolliff, Bryce Mize, Justin Baute, and Brandon Barker in their time of need, by sitting in the front row of the cheer block, cheering them on in their quest to be "Living the Dream". The others, Nate Long, Seth Baute, Bryan Bailey, and Ben Gearhart joined me in the sea of black at Conseco Fieldhouse. At the end of the game, with all the excitement buzzing, I stopped and took a moment to thank the Lord. I thanked Him for giving back to the friends that had helped me through a very hard time. The memory I have of watching my best friends win a state championship is enough to fill the void of all the things I lost in the burning of my house. It's an amazing feeling to watch the people who you've spent your entire life with, accomplish something that seemed so impossible, for so long. Congratulations to the 2006 Indiana Class 1A Boy's Basketball State Champs, and thank you for all you have done for me and my family.

I am so thankful to this day for those boys, now men. They are still some of my best friends, I have seen 3 of them get married, three are married with kids, 9 have graduated college, 1 has trained sled dogs in Alaska, and 1 of them has become my roommate. These guys have all gone on to do incredible things with their lives. They have continued to be a huge part of my life, and they will never fully comprehend what they mean to me. The other thing is, I can remember so many other people that weren't mentioned in that article because they weren't there that particular day, that should have been added to the list. My dear friend,Nick Long, wasn't able to be there that day, but I remember he came to me later and apologized for being sick. He wanted to be there but needed to rest. Just the fact that he thought there was a reason to apologize meant the world to me.Bryan Fields spent hours searching for my grandfather's 1950 Purdue class ring (pictured below) one of the few things I have left of my Grandfather, and found it amongst all the rubble. The cheerleaders, our neighbors, our friends, our family, the teachers, my soccer team, the coaches, administrators, and coworkers of my parents went above and beyond what anyone could have asked them to do.

Since that day, there are been more people that have come along that deserve to be thanked. My small group, my church, my friends from college, and my coworkers. All of them have brought joy, peace, comfort, refuge, strength, and clarity into my life in a multitude of ways. I am so thankful that God has provided such a core group of people to help me through the bad times, and to celebrate the good.

Today will be difficult, but it will also be a day of healing. Which is something I have been praying about for 7 years, and will continue to pray about for many years to come.  Always Remember, and Never Forget... 431 Union Street.



This morning on my way to work, I was listening to the news and I felt burdened. Burdened by the fact that there was nothing I could do to stop the tragedies that had been taking place in our city, our state, and all over our country. I prayed for the violence to end, for there to be comfort and understanding. I prayed that kids in my community would stop taking their own lives, and start realizing that if they die to self, and are reborn in Christ... they have a reason to live. Throughout the day I have thought about this off and on as I have read the news periodically at work. I didn't think it could get any worse... then I came back from a company Christmas Luncheon to this headline:

"Horror Unfolds at Conn. Elementary School" (Yahoo! News)

Really? An elementary school? Is this what society has become... walking into a school of Kindergarten-Fourth grade students and shooting, as though it were a game? I'm sick to my stomach, my heart aches, and I'm at a loss for what to do. The last number I saw was 18 children dead. Dead. 27 people total. How do the demonic animals that committed these horrendous acts not realize that children are our future. Those kids they killed, were future CEO's, Pastors, Teachers, Husbands, Wives, Mothers, Fathers, Leaders... Their actions not only destroyed and ended lives in a Connecticut community, but damaged the hope we have in humanity across the country. As I sit here, I move from heartbroken to angry. I just want to know what in the hell these people were thinking. Then I am reminded that they weren't. They allowed their lives to be directed by the enemy, by a lost, broken, horrific, falsity that children in an elementary school deserved to die. Instead of keeping children safe, they stripped away their lives. Lives that were too young.

Pray. Pray for the families of the victims, pray for the community, pray for the school staff and the children that survived, pray for elementary schools across the country, pray for our country... but also, pray for the gunmen and their families. Pray that the families of the men that did this can find peace and comfort in Christ, and realization that had their family member found himself basking in the Holy Spirit, this wouldn't have happened. I have faith that the community of Newtown, Connecticut will find healing in the years to come. I have faith in that because of what it says in Psalm 34:18 "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, he rescues those whose spirits are crushed". 

I find my hope in that verse alone. Prayers to all involved, Lord provide comfort and healing in the midst of everything that has happened.

Grace and Peace


Faith like a Child

It's the most wonderfuuuuuulllll tiiiiiiiime of the year!!!! That was me singing, lucky for you, you only had to read it, not hear it. So we are quickly approaching the Christmas season, in fact, for some people, it began a week ago after Thanksgiving ended. I love "The Holidays" as we call them, because they are filled with family, friends, food, fellowship, but most importantly, one Holiday in particular is incredibly vital to my Faith. Christmas. The day that CHRIST was born. Now, you may be wondering why this post is coming so early, it's only December 3rd and it's 70 degrees outside... not really very "Christmasy" (yes, I added a "Y" to make that an adjective, don't judge me!) Here's the thing though, last night really set the tone for the Christmas season for myself, and many others, last night, Community Church of Columbus had their Children's Christmas Program. It was Legen...... wait for it........ DARY. That's right, I said it... it was legendary, and here's why.


The kids in the program were great. To use a bit of alliteration they were absolutely adorable, completely cute, and terrifically thespian (even though 98% of them probably don't know what a Thespian is, for that matter 68% of you are probably "googling" it right now). Honestly, the kids last night, nailed every bit of that program. It was funny, heartwarming, and I'm almost positive that not one kid messed up their lines. However, the thing I liked the most, was seeing how excited they were to participate in a musical that was directly focused on Christ and the importance of the true meaning of Christmas. I have to say, it was exactly what I needed. I often get down-trodden during the winter months. Generally from the end of November to the beginning of March it's dark when I leave the house, and dark when I get home. It can be depressing, especially when all the distractions and pressures of life keep you from focusing on the source of our Joy, God the Father. I'll be honest and completely transparent... I wanted to cry last night. More than once my eyes welled up with tears, ready to unleash the flood gates because it just absolutely overwhelmed me (in a good way) to hear such tiny voices preaching such a HUGE message. It was even more special because these were kids I had taught in Tuesday Connection and Sunday School. Kids that I have gotten to see grow up, even just in the last year. While I was sitting there taking this all in, one scene in particular started... and out fluttered Kate. A little more than a year ago I wrote a blog about Kate called Big Answers Come in Small Packages... Kate is this vibrant, amazing little girl that has been battling cancer most of her life. She has moved me to tears on numerous occasions, but nothing as powerful as last night. Last night, Kate was a ballerina. She came dancing out onto the stage, and was absolutely glowing with excitement. I could tell Kate loved every minute of it, and it made me stop and think. How often do I complain throughout my day, to people, on the phone, on Facebook/Twitter, etc. We complain all the time, and yet, despite eating one too many cookies occasionally, I'm healthy. Yet, sometimes I act like I have the whole world resting on my shoulders... then there's Kate. A little girl that has fought one of the most terrible illnesses known, and yet she's dancing for Jesus. Absolutely loving life. Kate reminded me last night what's important in life, and that in order to truly live... I need to find a way to dance for Jesus each and every day. Just like Kate.


Once again, a big answer came in the form of a small package. The kids reminded me how important it is to focus on Christ, and the joy of His birth during the CHRISTmas season. It brought about the start of a period of restoration, which is something I have been praying for, for quite some time now. I am so thankful for all the kids in our church, and for the staff and youth that helped make last night's performance so special. I am thankful that we have parents in our body that are teaching their children about the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. I am thankful for childlike faith. (Excerpt from Big Answers)  Luke says in chapter 18 verses 16&17-- 16 Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 17 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” If we have faith like a child, if we receive the Kingdom as a child does, we'll inherit it. A child? Someone so small, young, naive, inexperienced at life... no, someone that has yet to be corrupted by this world, someone who still understands the fundamental parts of faith, that isn't bitter at the world yet... someone like Kate.and the rest of the children at CCC. 

Grace and Peace,