Saturday, June 30, 2007


Here is a list of our summer concerts. Some of you may have no idea what I am talking about, long story short, our church has a great outdoor amphitheater and we hold concerts all summer is called Summerwood. The bands for August 19th are now up in the air because Switchfoot has just been scheduled. This is going to be a great summer.

Books of a friend...

Here are a couple of books written by a friend of mine, Greg Speck. They may be on you bookshelf, but they have been revamped and recovered. I can't wait until January 2008 for the second book here. Maybe Greg will be willing to give me a manuscript so I can hit it early.

June 30...Due Date

This is the day that Keri is supposed to hatch. Nothing so far.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Two Important Things..

First, let me say for the few of you that are reading my blog and waiting for a baby post, this is the first one. The baby is a boy, so far super healthy, and still inside Keri. She is due tomorrow so we are not freaking out, but Keri is more than ready to be 7lbs 6oz lighter. Just can guess too. Let's see how close we come to a correct weight. For the baby that is.

Second...I am happy to be here with Keri in these final days and I would not consider anything else. However, I am sad to be missing my brother's wedding tomorrow. So let me say Bro...I love you and I am sad that I am going to miss your big day, but please remember this one thing for me. Bend a little at the knees, don't lock will want to, but don't. This helps circulation and therefore helps you to not faint. Love you man...have a great day...and a GREAT NIGHT...wink.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Is this funny? I think it is...

Interesting or Ignorable

I was going to blog this earlier this week but thought it was not worth it. Now I realize it is still lame, but worth blogging...mostly because I have not had a post since "weird science guy."
Monday, I went to Del Taco (you can see the Del Taco lady in this picture) and bought a shrimp taco combo. I wanted the medium fry so I up-sized. My total came to $6.66. This was funny for me and my friends, I made a big deal about it. I asked for the manager and tried to get him to cut my price because selling things at $6.66 was not a great thing for me because I was at lunch with the pastors. He just laughed and told me that I had to buy more junk so the price would change...I did because I could not honor Satan with that price. BTW...I paid for the Del Taco experience for 48 hours...if you know what I mean. The next day the high school pastor (JT) and I went out to Potbelly's for lunch. My total was very Godly...$7.77. Then that night I took the wife and boy out to Starbucks. We got 2 tall Frappuccinos and a vanilla milk...the price was $8.88. I don't know what this was all interesting, yet I guess ignorable.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Here I go again...

Monday...possibly the worst day of my life. That's started. Well, I guess it is not the worst day, after all, it is my last class ever. That is until I start my doctoral program. If you have any suggestions, please post them...I would like to get my DR. from a well known school...but I only want the degree, I don't want to do the work. I am sitting at Caribou Coffee...good environment and the free wifi is awesome. You only get an hour of wifi per login...I have been known to log in twice, using an alias like or something like that.
The book and syllabus you see here are the beginning of the end. I am hoping I will get my work done here at Caribou. I better go so I can start reading.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Kentucky Story

This morning was fun...and Owen was awesome in 2nd service. This morning I reminded everyone to be at the Kentucky report this Wednesday to hear the testimonies, watch the videos and see the slides. Remember to show up a little early and get your seat by 6:30...we are going to have a great time.

We should have dvd of the trip for you to purchase. The dvd's will be $5. By putting the dvd in your dvd player you will be able to watch all the videos we show Wednesday, the slide show, and if you pop it in your computer you will find a folder with a ton of digital pics from the trip.

The $5 goes to the junior high technology fund. This fund helps us continue to make these videos, buy the software that we use for the videos, buy the blank dvd's and cd's, and more.

Some of us will get old and forget things like the little details of Kentucky, who was on the trip in 2007 and where did I park my car in the Wal*Mart parking lot? However this DVD will help you remember most of those things. DVD will not be on sale long...once the files are deleted you are out of luck. I tried to work out a deal with Blockbuster but they were not having any of that. Actually the church library does not even want it.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Make That 8:30

The teams will be rady for pickup at 8:30 and they will need dinner.

Due to all the issues...

We are looking at an approximate time of 9pm to pick up students. Just a reminder: We need all the students to help us unload and put stuff away. The mission trip is not over until everything is complete.


This team had a great trip down, great ministry during the week and now on the way home they are getting slowed down left and right.

The trip just would not be a trip without a blowout. They were only stopped for a few minutes; they put the spare tire on (something that had never been in the trailer until junior high made the suggestion). With the spare, the turn around was quick.


All vans are on the road heading to Rockford.

Good news

The van should be ready to go in little while...This has set part of the team an hour or two behind schedule. We sent part of the team ahead. This jump start might not even separate them by much time as the trailer van travels slower. Anyway, the good news is that the full team will be on the road soon.

We said the team would be ready to be picked up around 7pm. It will be later. I will keep you posted.

Safe but delayed

The team made it safely to the hotel late last night. However, one of the vans is getting checked out in Lexington, KY. The issue seems to be the alternator or regulator or something like that (that is what we are guessing right now). It is currently being looked at by a mechanic and will be given a diagnosis soon. This is a good thing because originally they said the van could not be looked at until noonish.

I tell you this for two reasons...pray that the team is able to get on the road soon and expect a delay in arriving home.

Come back later this morning for more updates.

Friday, June 15, 2007


The vans have left for Winchester, KY where they will be spending the night. One of the vans has stalled but is back up. This is nothing to be concerned about safety wise, but could get inconvenient. Pray that God would allow all the vans to fully function for the rest of the trip home.

On the road

The teams have all left the camp and are at their VBS churches. This is a big step, the students packed and cleaned up everything. All the luggage has been packed up and the trailer was loaded this morning for work projects. After that the work projects turned to cleaning the camp; Kitchen, Bedrooms, Restrooms, Meeting Room, etc... Before they closed up their luggage the students packed their backpacks for the rest of the day, night and for travel tomorrow. After showers, lunch, ans stepping in the vans they are kind of homeless. They will finish their VBS today, send kids home, clean the churches and when the staff everything looks good all the teams meet in the Wal*Mart parking lot. Once all the teams show up they all caravan to the hotel for the night, letting drivers get a good nights sleep and a shower with a little privacy.

The students will be ready for pickup around 7pm Saturday. If you want to get there around that time GREAT! But please understand that students will not be excused until all the unloading and cleaning is complete. If you show up you may be asked to help, which could be fine with the team. Once we are in a good place with all the particulars students will begin calling home.

Parents, please start a load of laundry Saturday night. We have been asked to show up Sunday morning, in our VBS shirts to be prayed for as part of our summer mission team commissioning. We will do this at the beginning of each service Sunday morning. If you cannot be there we understand, but please try and please have a clean VBS shirt on.

Same for Wednesday would be great to see you in your VBS shirts at the Kentucky report night.

And finally I wanted to drop you the final devotional of the week. See you all tomorrow. I will post again if I hear form the team.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Today the students are going to sleep in a bit, probably still waking earlier than they would if they were at home, but as missions trips go they are sleeping in. Today they will:

Drive to the park/creek
Have a baptism ceremony
Head back to camp for a little free time/ clean up time
Do lunch at Pizza Hut
The famous souvenir shopping at Wal*Mart (I think this is today)
Then off to VBS
Dinner Debriefing
Free Time/Camp fire

The little down time is appreciated and the Pizza Hut is a blessing. All the grease and caffeine has been coming to them in limited supply. This is just the boost they need for their little bodies to make it through the rest of the week. Which reminds me of a story, but all I will say it when you are getting a salad at the Pizza Hut buffet try not mixing up the pudding with catalina dressing.

The baptisms this morning will be a really cool experience. We have always done them at the pool at the old camp we stayed at. Last year we went back to the creek, something they did 10 years ago, and it was awesome.
Worship in song
Verbal Challenge (What is baptism and Why do we do it?)
Worship in song
Closing prayer

I know the parents that have students being baptized wish they could be there to see it live. Let me say I am with you this year. I miss being on this trip and today is no exception. The baptism service is one of my favorite moments on this trip. I guess the encouragement to the parents that are missing this is that even though it would be great to be there live and have them do this in the sanctuary, this experience is an amazing one for our kids.

Things to pray for:

Pray for good conversations, with yesterday being the day the Gospel was shared we want to see great connections.

Pray the Pizza Hut will have room for them and the other customers will not get angry at our group or Pizza Hut because of the size of our group.

Pray for kids attitudes. As the week winds down it is easier to get cranky and short with others.

Pray the leaders would continue to lead well and that the students would be great listeners and servants.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Please know that the team will be packing up camp on Friday morning and after lunch they will not return. The printer will get packed up and they will be on their way. So that means that any email you need to send out must be done so before 4pm Thursday...that will be the last time the team will have to print out emails.

A Note From Owen...

Erin phoned in...

Just got off the phone with Erin. She told me that the trip has been awesome. There have been teachable moments but that is expected and the trip is still everything we hoped for. Today is the day our teams share the Gospel one on one for the first time. This is something we take very seriously and something we have taken time to practice. Pray for our teachers and all the small groups as this is the reason we go (Matthew 28:19).

Erin also said students have been stepping up left and right…I don’t want to spoil any stories for next Wednesday when we have our report (Please come and bring friends and family - 6:30-8:00 June 20) but it is always encouraging to hear how students like Kayla H. and Corrine H. have been proactive about getting ministry arranged and ready without being asked. I love seeing students step up!

I also heard that David S. was sitting with some VBS kids that did not have any money to put in the offering, so he pulled some money out of his own wallet and gave it to them so they had something to put in the plate as it passed by. It is great catching kids doing cool things.

I hope to have some pics to share with you later tonight or tomorrow. Have a great day parents…know God is doing a great work in and through your kids!

Bonus Links:

Here is Wednesday's devotional for those who have been following along.

Cannot get really close but you can get an idea of where your students are...

Bethanna Baptist Church from the sky

Bulan Community Church from the sky

Cody Bible Church from the sky

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Note From Keri...

Hello to all, this is Keri. Just wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone for being so supportive of Brandon staying home this week. As I experience the aches and pains of the 9th month of pregnancy, I am so thankful that my husband is close by! Along with Brandon, Owen and I are praying for all the kids daily. One of Owen’s new interests is the world globe in our front room. After locating Rockaway Court (our street), we also find Romania and Kenya. These places hold a special place in our heart as our friends the Pickerts and the Dellamaters are currently serving in these countries as missionaries. Today, we added Kentucky to our must find list.

There are so many areas to be covering in prayer. One specific request I have is for the staff and students who are teaching the large group lesson each day. Erin Vesta and I were able to work with the students who volunteered to take on this extra responsibility. They put so much time, effort, and creativity into their lessons and I pray that God will bless their efforts. Student teachers include: Amanda Taylor, Haley Harms, Margaret Larson, Aubrie Sabin, Britta Carlson, Caroline Evans, Brendan Wheeler, April Harding, Ian York, Aneka Culp, Nic Gaudry, Jaime Tuneberg, and Katie Steely.

What missions work are you doing?

I know you all give back to God in different ways but while I know I have an audience of thousands who love students (I am guessing that is why I have had almost 600 hits in 3 days) I wanted to present a missions project that might be close to your heart.

No, it is not a project to raise the final $300 I need for my espresso machine, but just a worth while.

The IL Dept of Children & Family Services (DCFS) is in urgent need of filled backpacks for kids ages 10-18. These are for kids who have been removed from their home for various reasons. In most cases they do not have time to take any items with them, so this is a great opportunity for us to give them something they can call their own as they wait in an office downtown for placement.

Attached is a list of suggested items to pack, and instructions for where to drop them off when full. Backpacks can be new or "gently" used. This list can also be picked up at the Info table on Saturday at borderlands or at the receptionist desk during the week.


More Wal*Mart...

9:00 a.m.
Just got a call from Erin as she was making a Wall*Mart run. Cody Bible Church built new bathrooms in the church and Erin said those took up a significant portion of where the older students met for VBS. So she was out buying a canopy so the teens could meet out in the hot sun. We have not used our canopy for 8 years so we just donated it to someone 2 years ago...bummer!

I needed to talk to the camp director at Calvary Campus to get some information I needed on my end and He just wanted to say thanks for al the kids are doing. He said they are doing a great job.

Just a reminder, if you or a relative want to send your special student a note just send it to with your students name as the subject.

As for today’s devotional thought…just remember sometime we have to dredge through stuff that is not always exciting to get to the stuff God has for us.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Monday through Wednesday are all pretty much the same.
Devos here are todays
Work Projects
Free Time (if time)

Right now the teams are finishing up at their churches for their first day of VBS. Today we should be praying that our students and staff have good conversations with each other, that the leaders are clear about what needs to be tightened up, and that all the teams get the rest they need.


Dinner last night

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Phone Call #2

Just talked to Erin. She said everything is going well, the students have been canvasing for a while now...we usually finish by 5pm (Eastern Time). Then they will head back to camp to eat and debrief their experience.

Today's schedule is a little different from the rest of the week. Everyone woke up early (probably 6:30/7:30). Did devotions, ate breakfast, cleaned up, packed up (they take all the VBS stuff for the week today), drove to their church, attended service, ate lunch, canvased (door to door passing out VBS flyers), dive home, eat dinner, debrief the day/review tomorrow/pray and worship, maybe a few minutes free time (30-60), then off to bed by 9ish.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Safely in Kentucky

Just got word from the team. They arrived a bit later than they had thought but they are there. They have bad cell service at the camp so they got settled in before they called. I will be placing a few posts tomorrow as well as a few of the pics I took this morning. I won't be posting everything, just enough to key you in on how things are going. Here is another reminder...Invite all your friends and family to the June 20th Kentucky Report. We will be in the borderlands room that night from 6:30-8:00. Save the date!!!!

Here is the pic I took this morning...the "360"...I just edited all the pics together, click it. Talk to you all tomorrow.

Kentucky early morning launch...

I want to thank all the parents for sticking around and praying with the team. This means a lot to me and to our ministry. I am just posting this to let you know you have the right page to come back to so you can find out how the trip is going. I would love it if you would leave comments for the posts. You do not need to do it every time but it would be great if you would do it a couple times. This lets me know you are actually coming out here. If I only have four or five people coming and checking this out they we will know it is not worth our time. But if we see that a significant portion of out 66 families are checking this out then we will know it it a value to you and your families (friends, grandparents, siblings, etc). You will see the word "comments" at the bottom of each story, just click it post a comment, you can choose anonymous for the "Choose an identity" but please leave your real name. An remember to Check back at least once a day, I will do my best at posting what they give me.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


I have been shopping for an espresso machine for about a year now. I knew I did not have any money to buy one but I thought if the day ever came I would at least know what I wanted. I actually bought one a few months ago and returned it. It was a toy and not a very good toy mind you. It was $25 at Wal*mart. I thought why not...I found out why not.

I have a few friends at Starbucks and they might be able to hook me up with an employee discount but I want the best. they have good machines, but I cannot afford the $1200-$1500 automatics that they sell...even with the discount.

However this is the glorious monster I would like to own. I got a few gifts of cash and I was told the most significant portion was specifically for an espresso machine. Currently i do not have the financial backing for what is pictured but I have a great start. This guy is $1000+ but what a machine. Automatic, self cleaning, I think it even has a milk attachment so I never have to froth if I don't want to. The cool thing about this guy is I can get it for even better than the Starbucks discount (see the company perks chart). I have a good friend who is a wholesaler and he knows a guy who sells this beauty wholesale (see how the money things is working out...WHOLESALE!!!!!). I have to take a trip in to Chicago, but if I get a super deal on it it will be totally worth it! I will let you know how it all goes. And no...I will not hook you up with my wholesale connection to don't ask;)

Monday, June 04, 2007

I have GREAT friends!

Today I was truly surprised. A "congratulations, hey you are finally done with school" party was held for me at the Pizza Ranch. I had no idea! I went out to eat with my parents today and they said where do you want to go. I said Pizza Ranch, Keri said it was too far, I said pizza buffet at Happy Joe's, I was told they ate there already, I said Giordano's, they said it would take too long...I WANTED PIZZA but I ws able to give in. Finally I said Potbelly's. This was the winner. They had been there this weekend but my dad said subs sounded good. Keri kept pushing away from the pizza junk...I did not know why, I did not really care but it all came together later in the night.
Anyway, Keri calls me at 4:30 to see if I wanted to do dinner with her parents at the Pizza Ranch and I instantly said yes. But I told her I could not be home until 5:30. I did not know this but she loved that...she knew we could not arrive until 6:00...she was thinking of some way to stall me, but I did it myself. Weird. Anyway, we finally arrive and the place is jam packed and I saw one empty table in the back, so I make my way to it and Keri starts opening the door to the private room. I noticed that the room was dark, closed off and a big sign saying "RESERVED." I said what are you doing...the room is reserved, we can't go in there...I thought she was crazy.
As she opened the door of this very dark room my mother-in-law kind of blocked my way so I had to kind of peek in and I saw a few faces. I am thinking...Keri, you got to shut that door, people are hiding for some surprise party and we are going to ruin it for them. Then the lights came on and a ton of people yelled SURPRISE!!!! And I thought what the heck have we done now...they yelled for the wrong people...then I realized I knew everyone. It was for me and I fell for everything that happened all day long.
Anyway, I am not usually this confused. I just have notthought of graduating from seminary with my masters as a huge deal. I mean I know it's pretty cool, but I also did not expect all the grand celebration. Thanks to everyone for coming and to those who put it together and for making me feel special.

Saturday, June 02, 2007