Archives For November 2012

Homebrewing for Dummies

Another book that is among those which have made a big impact on me is Homebrewing for Dummies by Marty Nachel. This was the first book on homebrewing I ever got. My friend Scott and I started homebrewing together in 2007 and this was the book that we used to help guide us through those first few beers. My copy is worn and its pages are stained with wort. It may not be the best book on homebrewing, but it was the one that got me into the craft and I still use it as a reference.

Nachel does a great job making the process and ingredients accessible to someone who has never brewed before. He takes the brewer through homebrewing their first kit beer, all the way through to becoming an advanced all-grain brewer. I used this book a lot when I wanted to step up the level of complexity and control in my process. For that, it was an invaluable resource.  Continue Reading…

35 for 35 – Running

November 29, 2012 — 4 Comments
On a Bull

The picture that motivated me to start running…

I’m not an athlete, but over the past few years I have picked up running. It started out as a way to get in shape after I saw myself in that picture of me on the mechanical bull. I was in my early thirties, the prime of my life, but was more out of shape than I’d ever been. Goodbye high metabolism, hello calorie counting and exercise.

What I started out doing can hardly be called running. It was mostly walking, with enough running thrown it to make me feel like I was going to throw up. Over the first three months I experienced a lot of frustration and discouragement. I couldn’t run half a mile without having to stop. However, if I wanted to lose weight I was going to have to diet and exercise. It was a simple as that. So, I kept going. Continue Reading…


Philadelphia holds a special place in my heart. It was the first place that my wife and I moved to where we didn’t have family close by. I’d taken a job as a campus minister with The Coalition for Christian Outreach, partnered with Olivet-Covenant Presbyterian Church. We lived just a couple blocks from the church, right around the corner from the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the city’s Fairmount neighborhood.

Continue Reading…

35 for 35 – Divorce

November 27, 2012 — 6 Comments
Washington DC

Not all the things that have had a hand in shaping who I am are positive things. But that’s generally true about life, isn’t it? Adversity is a great crucible for refining one’s character. There are several crucible moments that have left a lasting impact on me and the divorce of my parents when I was 12 is one of those.

For my generation, the divorce of one’s parents is a common reality. We are more likely to have grandparents who are still married to their first spouse, but parents who are not. When I was 12, a classmate’s parents got divorced. He was sad and unsure about a lot of things, like who he was going to live with and where, whether or not he’d continue to go to school with us, what the custody and visitation arrangement was to be. I remember remarking to friend how lucky I was that my parents weren’t ever going to divorce. I was wrong. Just a few weeks later, my brothers and I were sat down by our parents in the family room.

Continue Reading…

35 for 35 – My Girls

November 26, 2012 — 3 Comments

Sydney and Rylee

I can think of nothing that has had a bigger impact on my life over past 10 years than my girls. Becoming and being a father has done more to mature and change me than I ever thought it could. I know God differently, I know myself more deeply, and I am a better person because of my two girls. I’ve written about them previously, about the kind of father I strive to be for them and the hope that I hold for them. This post is more about what they’ve done for me. Continue Reading…

35 for 35 – The Last Battle

November 25, 2012 — 2 Comments

The Last Battle

“In our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”

C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle is one of my favorite books of all time. It is the final book in the Chronicles of Narnia and if you haven’t read it, you must. I probably should warn you that this post likely contains spoilers, though I don’t think that this book can be spoiled; it is just that good.

To understand why this book makes my list of 35 things that have shaped my life, you must understand the picture of heaven and eternity with which I grew up. I imagined a state of being, “place” would be too strong, that all those who believed in Jesus would ascend to after death or after his return. Our bodies would be resurrected, but in some unknowable glorified state. Eternity would be spent singing and praying to God in his throne room. Whether or not we would recognize people from our temporal lives was uncertain. Even if we did, those relationships would pale in comparison to our relationship with God. They would be unnecessary. Heaven seemed like a big cosmic church service, for all eternity. I didn’t look forward to heaven. My belief in Christ was as much to avoid hell as it was to attain heaven, if not more so. Heaven just seemed a boring way to spend eternity, but hell with its never-ending burning, pain, and torment seemed much, much worse.  Continue Reading…


Students from UArts at Jubilee in Pittsburgh

My first ministry job out of seminary was with The Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO), a campus ministry organization based out of Pittsburgh, PA. I’d just finished a master’s degree in Practical Theology, helped plant a church, and was eager to work full-time in ministry. Just a few weeks before graduation, I was offered a position with the CCO in Philadelphia. The CCO didn’t have a presence in Philly, and I was among their first few hires for the area.

The CCO, like other campus ministry organizations, requires its staff to raise their own financial support for their position. Unlike other campus ministry organizations, however, the CCO partners with local churches to create context out of which campus ministry is undertaken. My position was in partnership with Olivet-Covenant Presbyterian Church, located in Philadelphia’s Fairmount neighborhood.  Continue Reading…

GTA Rep Co

GTA Repertory Company, 1998-99

I earned my undergraduate degree in theatre through the Gainesville Theatre Alliance (GTA). GTA is a unique partnership between Gainesville College, Brenau University, and the local theatre community. It is located in Gainesville, GA, about an hour north of Atlanta. I attended there from 1996-2001, enrolled first at Gainesville College, then transferring to Brenau University.

For me, college was a time during which I shaped and re-shaped my identity multiple times. GTA was a great space in which to do that. The company of actors and technicians functioned like a large ensemble, out of which would spring forth magical productions. During my time there it was always ranked among the top three theater companies in the state, beating out the region’s professional house, The Alliance Theatre, twice. Continue Reading…

35 for 35 – The Cabin

November 22, 2012 — Leave a comment


Little Pigeon River

The Little Pigeon River from the cabin. Photo credit: Hilary P.

The cabin was my first experience with retreat. I grew up in the busy suburbs of Atlanta and the week at the cabin each summer was an intentional slow down. It was a week that seemed to last a month. For a week every summer, I went with my family up to a cabin on the Little Pigeon River in the Great Smokey Mountains just outside Sevierville, TN. The cabin was a rustic, shake-clad dwelling owned by my father’s aunt and uncle. It had wood floors that seemed to produce dirt overnight, a huge screened-in back porch with a tin roof that turned raindrops into drum rolls. My brothers and my cousins Jessie and Hilary and I slept out there on twin beds, the sound of the river or a thunderstorm lulling us to sleep each night. Continue Reading…

Sea of Galilee Boat

One of the most powerful moments in my life was a trip to Israel. I was in college, majoring in acting, and, as good Christian kids often do when they move away from home, I’d walked away from my faith. I’d stopped going to church, reading the Bible, or hanging out with other people who did. I’d picked up the message that God could only be interested in my pursuit of acting if I planned to do some sort of Jesus-theater with it after I graduated. I had horrible images of cheesy Christmas pageants and badly acted Passion plays dancing around in my head. This, despite the fact that I caught the acting bug through church. What I never heard, however, was that perhaps God would want to use my talents outside the church, but still for his renown. So, feeling forced between being a good Christian and a good actor, I chose the latter. I foolishly jettisoned my faith commitments as well. Continue Reading…