My New Blogging Home!

My dear, dear readers:

Thank you so much for your support these past few years.  I feel like each of you has journeyed with me through some of the formative years and experiences of my life, and for that I am deeply thankful.  Quite frankly, this blog would have been nothing without each and every one of you!

And it is with great joy that I announce that I will be blogging from now on through Christianity Today, on a shiny new site that they have created just for me!  I am their first blogger of color, and I’m grateful for their trust, as well as the opportunity to share my family’s story with even more people.

I will keep up this blog with a few posts for the time being, but will probably not add new content in the future.  From now on, please visit my new blog:

Again, thank you and see you on the other side!



A New Season, Same God

Okay, I know, I know – it’s been a long time since I last posted.  But instead of giving my usual litany of tired old excuses (my kids, writer’s block, my house got broken into, etc.), this time, I have a very good reason for not being able to post:

Since I ended my time with Peace Fellowship, Carol and I have been trying to sort out our priorities, both what we felt God wanted for us, as well as what we wanted for our own lives.  Through this, we identified three prayer requests:

First, we hoped that God would place us with a church that really valued reconciliation.  Reconciliation is not just the idea that individuals can be reconciled to God, as amazing as that one facet is.  Reconciliation also has a corporate dimension, that people and even communities can be reconciled to one another.  Because of this, we wanted to be involved with a ministry that was culturally diverse and truly prized reconciliation work, while not compromising on the message of the gospel, which is Christ crucified and resurrected.  This might seem like an easy enough task, but you would be surprised.  Many churches pursue one aspect of reconciliation in lieu of the other, or don’t even believe it is a priority at all.

Our second prayer request was more personal: that we wanted to be closer to our family.  There is a practical aspect to this, that with our fifth child on the way, it would be immensely helpful to have another set of hands nearby to help with the kids.  But it went deeper than this.  We wanted our children to know the rest of our family well, not simply as people that they see once or twice a year, but as people with whom they shared a deep personal connection, as well as a biological one.  So we were hoping that we could find a church that was closer to family, which would limit our search to Chicago, LA, or Seattle.

Our third request was the most pragmatic: that this would all happen soon.  Because the baby is due in the beginning of August, we didn’t have the luxury of time.  We needed everything to come together very promptly so that we would have time to relocate and get situated before the baby’s arrival.  This meant finding a church and selling our house in a period of only one month, before the summer began in earnest – a pretty tall order.

And God have mercy on me, but despite everything that I have seen God do over the past few years of my life, I had my doubts whether God could answer all these requests.  Perhaps one or two, but not all of them, and certainly not in the timeframe required. But this just goes to show how little I truly know about God, because I am so happy and humbled to announce that starting in July, I will be leaving DC to serve as the lead pastor of Rainier Avenue Church (RAC) in Seattle, Washington.  

RAC is located in the Rainier Valley, which has the distinction of being one of the most diverse zip codes of the United States.  And having visited last weekend, I can testify to the truth of that assertion – it is a truly international neighborhood.  RAC also prizes the whole work of reconciliation, both its individual and corporate dimensions.  In fact, their mission statement is “Encouraging everyone in the Rainier Valley and beyond to find wholeness in Jesus Christ”.  And so, prayer request #1: answered.

In addition, Carol’s parents live close to Tacoma, which is not very far away from the church (and also not too close, which is kind of nice too, if you know what I mean).  And so, prayer request #2: answered.

And lastly, the whole timeframe thing – we had one month for everything to come together, and that’s precisely what happened.  The whole process with RAC began a little over a month ago, and finished up just this past week.  We put up our house for sale, and had a contract on it within six days.  This means that we will be moving out of DC at the beginning of June, well before the baby’s arrival in early August.  Prayer request #3: answered.

There are so many thoughts and feelings that are running through my mind and heart right now, it’s hard to express.  I am leaving behind DC, the city where all my children have grown up, and in which I experienced the most formative moments of my entire life.  That is both a little sad and daunting to me, and I’m sure that I will be processing this development a lot over the coming weeks.

But what I find deeply comforting is that in this new season, even though the city and the church might be brand new for me, the God who goes with me is exactly the same.  He is the same God who got us through Carol’s cancer, and protected Jonathan in the womb.  He’s the same God who gave me all my wonderful children, and two of them after doctors told we could have no more.  He’s the same God who carried me and my family through innumerable difficult moments of the past few years: break-in and thefts, personal and career setbacks, and various meteorological phenomenon (Snowmaggedon, Frankenstorm, Polar Vortex, etc). And as long as that God is with me…I’m good.  Or as it says in the opening verse of Psalm 27:

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
    so why should I tremble?

As I said, I am sure that I will be writing more reflections and thoughts on this transition over the next few weeks.  But for now, I am excited about this new season of life, but also thankful for all of you. Many of you have prayed and supported me and my family for years, throughout this entire process, and for that I am deeply grateful for you all.

Now, if any of you would like to help me pack, I’d be even MORE grateful still.

The End of Many Chapters

I have so much to announce that it’s hard to know where to begin!  But given that I will be talking mostly about endings, perhaps I should just start at the beginning:

First, after serving as Interim Pastor of Peace Fellowship Church for almost two years, my time with that community has finally come to a close. They (hopefully!) will be closing in on a lead pastor this month, which means that I will have served my role, which was to help the church get through this period of transition.

It was only two years, but MAN – what a two years!  It was my privilege and honor to serve that beloved community, and I pray that they would continue to do God’s Kingdom work, east of the Anacostia River.

But this also means that at the end of April, I will officially be unemployed.  And with that, I could use your help: if you know of any ministry opportunities that I might be well suited for, please let me know.  I am open to anything really, but primarily opportunities in the Seattle and Los Angeles area, where we have family – or even in DC as well, since we are already here.  I can provide a CV and references and all that, but if you have been following this blog for any length of time, you probably have a very solid sense of who I am!

I also want announce that I have submitted my final manuscript for my book!  From here, it goes on to several rounds of editing, all before being published this time next year.  While this is obviously not the end of the process, it does mark the end of another long season of my life, which is my journey to getting published.

Three years ago, I had NO thoughts of becoming a writer (then again, 15 years ago, I had NO thoughts of becoming a pastor either – funny how God works).  It was only on a whim that I asked a few friends how one goes about publishing a book, and then put together a few truly terrible sample chapters for a proposal.  That proposal, along with its many revisions, was rejected nearly twenty times over three years, until finally getting picked up a few months ago.

And so when I submitted the manuscript yesterday morning, it felt in many ways like handing in a final paper for class, or even a dissertation for a doctorate – at 67,000 words, it’s much closer to the latter than the former.  I felt satisfied, but at the same time, exhausted.

With so many chapters of my life drawing to a close simultaneously, I have to admit that I feel a bit at a loss.  For the past five years, my life has focused on planting the Riverside, trying to get published, and pastoring Peace Fellowship.  Now all of these endeavors are complete, in one way or another, and I don’t know what I am supposed to be doing with myself.  What does a person do after going through the most terrifying, chaotic, and exciting season of his entire life?

To make this transition even more difficult to process are the practical concerns that we have to address now.  Not only do I feel emotionally adrift, but I am going to be unemployed with no concrete sense of what I am going to do next, all while Carol is pregnant with our fifth child.  These demands impose a sense of urgency to this season, that I cannot simply sit back and reflect upon the past few years, but have to keep pressing forward so that I can provide for my family, and make that cheddar (where in the world does that expression come from?!).

In some way, this makes me think of the people of Israel, when they were finally entering into the Promised Land and came to the banks of the Jordan River.  The river was impossible to cross at that time because it was at full flood.  And after wandering around in the desert for generations, this development must have been quite a discouragement to them, to have to face yet another barrier to entering into the Promised Land.

But of course, this situation also should have seemed more than a little familiar to them, to be standing in front of a body of water which separated them from what God had planned.  This is exactly the situation they faced when they left Egypt, the Red Sea in front of them, and the army of the pharaoh behind.  In fact, as similar as these two instances were, their circumstances by the Jordan were easier than in Egypt.  And so the memory of what God had done in the past should have given them encouragement for what they faced in their present, because they had seen God deliver them from nearly the exact same circumstances.

My situation is identical.  After all, it was almost exactly two years ago that I closed down the Riverside, the church plant that I had founded in 2009, after which I had no idea what I was going to do next.  And all of this took place while Carol was pregnant with our fourth child.  But of course, God would make very clear that he did have a plan for me, sending me to Peace Fellowship, and starting a career in writing, both developments that I would have never predicted or planned for myself.

So yes, I am leaving a ministry.  I have no idea what I’m doing next.  And my wife is pregnant with our fifth child.  But I have seen God lead me through nearly this exact same situation before, not two years prior.  So it would be foolish for me to be paralyzed in fear and trepidation now, as foolish as it would have been for the people of Israel to balk at the Jordan River in full flood.  Fear and trepidation are for those who have not seen God work in the way that I have.

So as overwhelming as this all is, I have faith that God will get us through this time, and has a plan for us.  I have seen him do this before, and whatever he has done once, he can surely do again.  But I am equally certain that I have no idea what that plan is.  So although I don’t feel afraid about the future, what I do feel is something closer to curiosity, that I am incredibly curious as to what God has in store for us next for me and my family.

Very curious.


But I am so glad that God is leading us, and that we have friends and family like you by our side.

Why Fundraising is the Worst…and the Best

Thank you to everyone who donated to our health insurance this year!  Here’s an update on where things stand now:

Unfortunately, we haven’t raised enough to afford the same health insurance plan that I had with my denomination for the past four years.  This was initially something of a disappointment.  But the good news is that under the new Affordable Care Act, my family qualifies for a subsidy to purchase health insurance through the health insurance exchanges.  And with that subsidy and your donations combined, we will be able to afford health insurance for the 2014 year!!  So a huge THANK YOU to everyone who gave, it really means so very much to me and my family.  A tax deductible receipt will be mailed out to you before the end of the year.  If you were planning to give but hadn’t found the chance, sorry, you’re too late!  But please, use those funds towards other worthy causes. =) Continue reading “Why Fundraising is the Worst…and the Best”

Why I’m Not Blogging, Part 2

Some of you might remember a post I wrote almost exactly one year ago, where I shared that I was having a hard time blogging because I had been rejected by a few dozen publishers.  Those rejections were not limited to publishers either, as an even greater number of agents had also turned me away, which was particularly frustrating because most publishers won’t even consider you if you don’t have representation. These setbacks obliterated my motivation for writing – in fact, even my emails came out weird and stilted during that time, like the time I started an email to a congregation member with this charming salutation:

“Hey!  Hope you good.” Continue reading “Why I’m Not Blogging, Part 2”

Why Fathers Wear Shorts with Socks and Sandals

I was riding my scooter down K street in Washington D.C., when I caught a glimpse of myself in the enormous glass doors of what passes for skyscrapers in this city.  I did not like what I saw:

Gray socks pulled up past my ankles.

Leather slip on shoes.

And plaid cargo shorts.

I hadn’t dressed like this on purpose, as a kind of ironic hipster fashion statement.  Had it been, I would have worn suspenders to complete the look.  No, this was just the way I had chosen to go out that afternoon.  And a stunning realization hit me like a ton of bricks, a realization that had been years in the making – I had officially become my father.  Because this is exactly how he dressed when I was a kid. Continue reading “Why Fathers Wear Shorts with Socks and Sandals”

Patterns and Depression, Ebenezers and the Cross

I’ve been pondering an idea that came to mind over this past week, that so much of modern life is geared around taking little bits of information and forging a larger idea or principle from it.  Think about the myriad ways in which we do this.  The legal profession uses this principle liberally, taking small pieces of evidence, and weaving them together to try to paint a picture or person in a particular light.  Academics from every field also do the same.  Business, particularly the markets, is very much tied to this idea as well, where every little factor from a company’s situation, from the health of the founder to the supply of rare metals, is boiled down to a simple choice: buy or sell. Continue reading “Patterns and Depression, Ebenezers and the Cross”