Phone Calls…

The year 2013 was not a good year for phone calls:

Dad called early one morning on my way to work and Aunt Mavis passed away….

A few weeks later, mom called and my cousin Pam was gone…

Just a few days later, mom called again and my cousin Bill was gone..

Not too long after that, Derrick called and one of my best friends Danny was gone…

Only a month later, and I got the call that my dad was gone.

Since then, it has only continued. Stephanie called and her uncle Guy was gone…

Since then, I have found out that 2 of my childhood friends have cancer….

Today, we got a call that a family member has had her cancer return.

Why in the world would I ever continue to answer the phone? Why do we continue to watch the news when so many times it is about war, and death, and destruction? Why if God is such a loving God, why does He let this continue? Why does He let his creation continue to move away from Him and move toward more self dependence?

I have pondered these questions all morning long. Why? Why? Why? The answer is simple…

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

But….how can losing my dad be good? But…how can losing so many friends and family members be good?

I don’t claim to have all the answers but a few, I can see now.

When Pam passed away, I was asked to speak at her funeral and I had the opportunity to share the gospel with so many family members that I know are lost. I also learned  how much I meant to Pam and that is priceless.

Just weeks before Bill passed away, he made his peace and the whole family got to be with him for the first time in years.

When Dad passed, I got to stand beside my brother as he spoke at the funeral. Then I had the opportunity to speak and share the gospel to more people than I have ever had the opportunity to. God propped us up and spoke through both my brother and  me and so many people have told my mom how that touched them. Since then he has also spoken at youth events and shared his heart and testimony. I also learned that week just how many lives my dad touched and topped the week off by learning of his salvation experience. For so many years, I had prayed for God to draw him in and that week, I got the peace of knowing my prayers had been answered.

I don’t know the silver lining to each dark cloud but a few things that I do know. God is God and no matter how much I try to control my life, He is in control. He is still God. Regardless of how dark life gets, or how much I miss my dad and the other friends and family that have gone on this year, God is still in control. He is still working all things for His glory, not Keith’s. I didn’t understand why He took us out of youth ministry but He knew that we would not be able to take care of the family and do youth ministry at the same time. I didn’t know why Stephanie was laid off but He made it so that she has been able to do so many things to help sell the house. I didn’t understand why we didn’t fit in at the church we went back to but now God has us at a new church that we love and feel loved at.

I don’t know why cancer has to affect so many people close to us but I do know that nothing is too big for God. I do know that those close to us will come out of this with greater faith and a strong testimony.

God is still in control and He is still working all things for His glory in our lives.

We are still moving forward with where we feel God is leading us. We are still working toward growing our family, selling our home and moving so that we can be closer to family.

We are still trusting God regardless of the phone calls.

Dear God,

As I write this post, I remember how tough of a year 2013 was. Each difficult time, I see You right beside me. Thank You for the blessings of life that You have given me, for those You put in my life to help me when others are gone. Thank You for the amazing wife and family that You have given me to lean on when I felt that I could not stand on my own. Help us to continue to trust You in the coming years.



A new way to pray…

A few weeks ago, Steph had the opportunity to go visit her sister in Nashville the weekend before we would spend a few days with her family on vacation in Pigeon Forge. Her job had taken a difficult turn and it was taking a huge toll on her. She needed a few days away from work and from the stress of everything that we have going on. She spent time in Nashville, got to visit her sister’s AMAZING church, Church at Station Hill and then on Wednesday, she met us in Pigeon Forge.

Before she left for Nashville, the situation at her job grew increasingly worse. My prayer for weeks had been “God fix this, God open another door, God help us.” I was praying for God to fix this in the way that I thought He would fix it. We’ve all done it. We pray for God’s will to be done but we want our desire to be His will. We want what we want, to be what God wants.


How many people have ever prayed for their lottery ticket to have the right numbers? How many people have prayed for that police officer not to turn around when they met him going 15 miles per hour over the limit? How many people have prayed for God to protect them in the difficult situations that we end up in because of bad choices that we make? I can say, I’ve done all of these.

At the end of our vacation, Steph encouraged me to listen to the podcast of the service that she attended at Station Hill. Knowing it was a guest speaker, I was reluctant at first but listened to it anyway. It was a message that changed the way I thought about prayer. It was a new way to pray.

Aaron, the singles minister there. brought a message that deeply moved me. It was about how God works all things for His good. He talked about how we  need to our desire to be what God has for us knowing that what He has for us is the best thing to bring about His glory.

Wait a minute, doesn’t scripture say  in Psalms 37:4″Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

What about Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

God will give you the desires of your heart, but the key is we have to put what He wants, first. After all, He created us. He wants the best for us.

Jeremiah 29:11″For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

For years, actually for decades, I prayed for God to draw my dad in. I wanted God to save my dad. I asked for God to give me the words that would touch him but I never got them. When my Uncle Gene moved close to my family, I prayed for God to use him to draw my dad in, but it never happened. How amazing was it to know that a complete stranger and not a family member, was the one to lead him to Christ? God answered my prayers, but in the way that brought Him the most glory, not how I asked for.

Now, we were facing a difficult time with Steph’s job. She couldn’t just up and quit because that would put a damper out the plans for the embryo adoption.

So hearing Aaron bring this message about wanting what God wants for us, was like a smack in the face. All this time, I had been praying for our situation, for Steph’s job, for our daily lives, in the way that I wanted God to make them. So right there, in the parking lot of the store that Stephane was in, my prayer changed.

“God give us your best. What you want is what I want. I am going to trust you, completely knowing that You only want the best for us that will bring You the most glory. What may appear to be the best to me may not be the best to bring about Your Glory”

After we returned from vacation, she went in to talk with her boss both of us not having a clue what would happen. God showed up. He answered our prayers in a way that we never saw coming and in a way more incredible that we could have ever imagined. If He has answered our prayer the way that we asked, our situation would be difficult to say the least.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that this was due to the change in our prayers. I gave up telling God how to fix the situation and just told Him that He could do what He wanted, to bring about the best for His Glory. I gave up trying to fix it myself and told Him that we would trust Him.

And He came through for us, just as He said He would!

Dear God,

For most of my  life, I have prayed for things that I wanted. Sure I asked these in Your Name but they were my desires not necessarily Yours. Help me to seek Your desire for our lives. Help me to trust You without fail or doubt. Make my desire, to be to desire what You want to bring about the best for Your Glory. I will trust You and leave the results up to You. Thank You for showing me a new way (for me) to pray!



Since June, Steph and I have been going wide open. We are doing everything that we can to move into the next chapter of life that we both feel God is moving us toward. We are selling our home and moving closer to my mom to be able to help her out while at the same time still being able to be about the same distance from her parents. At the same time we are doing this, we are also taking the next step to growing our family through embryo adoption. While we are working towards both of these goals, we still have to maintain our lives, our jobs, our relationships with our friends and families and we have a house to keep spotless before we leave every morning.

To say we have a lot of irons in the fire  would be a huge understatement.

In meeting with our realtor a few months ago when we began this process, the one thing that she said that stood out in my mind was put your best foot forward. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Make your entry way memorable and appealing. That one point has been my focus on the house since just about the day that she said it. Steph has focused on reducing the amount of stuff we had in the house, cleaning, and having a yard sale to reduce our unneeded stuff, but curb appeal has been mine.

Since that day, I have almost totally refinished the front of our house. I have cleaned and painted the porch. I have cleaned and painted the mailbox. I have trimmed the shrubs. We have put out flowers. All of this to make our house stand out, to make someone want to be here, to make someone want, to want to come back.

I think the point our realtor made not only applies to the house that we live in, but to God’s house as well. You see, since we left youth ministry in May, Steph and I have been “unsettled” at church. After my dad passed away, we joined back at a church we were members of previously because we don’t know how long we will be in the area and we needed to be at a church where people knew us, they cared about us and we could be loved on during this period of our lives. We have also had the opportunity to be at other churches with friends and family.

All of the churches, including the one that we are members of need to take a lesson from our realtor.

“You only get one chance to make a first impression. Put your best foot forward!”

All of the churches that we have been to have one thing in common. They all miss the mark. Sure there is no perfect church. Sure you can’t please all of the people all of the time but what is the goal? What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to fill seats or fill heaven? Are you trying to make a budget or make a difference?

So many authors, pastors, counselors and consultants are all writing about the decline of the church today. I want to be positive. I want to be different. I want to see a change in the churches that we are at regardless of their size or worship style. That being said, here is where I think the churches that we have been to can “make a better first impression.”

1 – Whatever you do, from the time the doors are unlocked until the time the last person leaves, “Do it well!” I cannot stress this enough. Do it well. If you are a church called to be traditional, do it well. If you want to be the most contemporary church and blow the roof off of the place with your worship music, do it well. Check out your building and grounds. Are they inviting and taken care of? Examine your service. Video it if you can and pick it apart. Ask yourself this question, if I was not a leader in this church, would I come here? Do I feel welcome walking in the doors or isolated because I am new here? Do I know where I need to be? Where can I ask for help? Where do I take my children to for their services? Who are these people in front of me and around me? How can I fit in here?

2 – “Be inviting” – This past Sunday, we went to one of the largest churches in Alabama. The pastor made a point to let us know that they have 25 campuses across the state and they are in 7 prisons systems in the state also.  They are reaching people across the state but how many people left the building yesterday not knowing or connecting with another person sitting around them? A comment was made by one of the members we were visiting with said its a very friendly church but you won’t know the people in front of or behind you and they may not even speak to you. Sadly, this is a HUGE problem common among mega churches that we have been to. “Oh but we have small groups that’s where you get to know people” How many people will go to a small group where they know no one and no one from the church that they just attended even spoke to them? I’m guessing the number is very small. If you are not going to be open and inviting IN  the church, how am I supposed to feel welcome in your home?

3 – “Technology is a blessing and a curse” –  I love technology. I love the lights and the music, screens and graphics but sometimes too much is too much. We went to the church of one of the most popular speakers and popular worship leaders in the country today and left knowing we would never return. Sure almost every popular church has a worship band, screens, graphics and great music and those are great tools that God has given churches today but He also gave you a volume button. Use it. Control it. Don’t set the volume level so high that you can feel it in the back. Consider that new Christian sitting in the middle in the only seat left because it was in front of a speaker. Video is great for those in the back but that 2 story camera crane that keeps swinging wide over the crowd, yeah that’s a HUGE distraction that takes your mind off of why you are there. Video clips are a great way to add to the message and to help others tell their story. This weekend we saw a video of a girl and how God connected her to others. It was amazing, but she might not have been able to tell her story in front of thousands of people.

4 – “Keep your message on the message” – Pastors bring a message every week. These men of God pray about and study for what God has laid on their heart to bring to those under their care. Often these messages have stories of how their lives have been impacted and tie into the message. I have done this almost every time. Its one thing to tell a story and throw in a message, but its another to bring a message and tell how your life has been affected. How this simple point applies to your own life. Too many times, the story has been the focus, not the message. The attention span of an adult is maybe 30 minutes. This is even less for a youth. Don’t spend that short amount of time telling stories and tales but instead tell the story with a point and focus that point toward a life change.

5 – “Connect and Check Up” – Everyone wants to belong. In high school I was in the marching band, drama club, beta club, art club, etc. Later, I was in a truck club that went to truck shows together. In church, I have been in youth groups, college and career groups, leadership groups, tech groups, etc. We all want to belong. We all want to be part of a group that is not idle but moving and doing something. We all want to be connected. Help those unconnected people become part of your church, your group, your life. We all want to be missed. Make an effort to know who is connected to you and know when they are not there. Most of all, check on those you are connected to, not just when they are out. Ask them what is going on in their lives. Share your life with them. Make them feel special and when you need it the most, they will make you feel the same.

6 – “Focus” – With so many pulls on our lives today, I have lost focus. Every minute of every day in the past few weeks has been on the embryo transfer, getting the house ready to sale, worrying about mom, work, and spending time with Steph. My walk with Christ has taken a hit. My passion for youth has taken a big hit. My life with Steph has taken a hit. Fortunately, I have an amazing wife who keeps me in check. I have realized that the house will be ready when its ready. Its more important for me, to spend time with her. Each night now we have taken up walking together to get in better shape. I don’t walk with her for that reason as much as I enjoy that period of the day where we both get away from cell phones, tv, internet, working on the house, etc. For that point in time, we have time together. We walk and talk and I miss it when we can’t. We focus on each other for that period of time. God wants that too! Don’t let the business of church, take away from the reason we are a church. Don’t let the vision statement of the church get in the way the statement that Christ made in John 3:16. We serve a jealous God. Anything that we put in front of Him will not last. I heard it put best just a few weeks ago from a friend of mine who is a great man of God. He resigned from his positions at church because “church work was taking the place of the work of the church” He was so busy doing things at church that he was not ministering to those around him.

Dear God,

Thank You for my life. Thank You for those in my life who have made an impact either in church or out of church. Thank You in advance for what You are going to do in our lives when You are ready to use us again. Help us to find the place where You need us in the church, where You want us and where we will call home. Prepare that church for us and open the door that only You can open to us. Help us to do the ministry that You have called us to and help us to…..

Do it well!


Who do you say that I am?

I love it when God just speaks. I love it when He talks so clearly that you almost hear Him audibly. Often I put too many things between God and myself that I make the world a very noisy place, but there are times that I put on my headphones and work, listen to some great tunes and just zone the world away.

Today was one of those days where I was able to block the world out, and hear what God had to say….

It started off as normal. I work in a fast pace environment and then I usually either get a phone call or an email telling me that Stephanie has updated her blog. (She is going through the bible chronologically and blogging her thoughts, check it out at Today she had finished up Exodus and was doing Psalm 90.

The Psalm started out titled “A prayer of Moses the man of God.” That hit me like a 2×4 to the head. Steph was taking the passage in a different awesome direction but God asked me the question, could I take out the name of Moses and put in my name? Could this passage read, “A prayer of Keith the man of God?”

The more that I thought about this and the more that I talked with Steph about it, the more and more I was intrigued by thinking about the question. Then God took me to Mark 8:

27Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?”28So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”29He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”Peter answered and said to Him,“You are the Christ.” Mark 8:27-29 NKJV

So the question then became, what would someone in my circle of friends, family, coworkers and just people that God puts in my path, who would they say that I am? Who is Keith? Does the life that I lead, the example of Christ that I am commanded to be each and every day, what does that say about me?

Then the tables turned. God, again almost audibly, began to ask me, Keith, who do you say that I am?

I am a huge fan of Vertical Church and Meredith Andrews song, “Not for a Moment.” The song is about God never leaving us or forsaking us. It is an incredibly powerful song that I haven’t been able to listen to the past few weeks. As I am still dealing with my grief over the passing of my dad, this song has just been too painful, too sad to listen to….

Until today.

I found a video of Meredith telling the story behind the song. Her and Patrick, the co-writers of the song, were both dealing with tough times in their families. One was dealing with a sibling that wasn’t saved. The other would later deal with the loss of an expected new birth in the family. (Sound familiar?) Meredith asked God point blank, “Where are You in this? We are walking through these trials together. Where are you God?”

She said that God replied to her, “You say that I am Good. You say it over and over and even from the stage that I am Good, but do you believe it now when its hardest to believe it? When you heart is breaking and you feel like your world is falling apart, do you believe that I am still Good because I am, still Good. I am still Who I say I am even in the hard times.”

I never get tired of hearing other people, friends, family and even strangers, tell us that we have an incredible marriage. We do. We work at it every day and we keep Christ in the center, but the past few years have been incredibly hard on me and Steph. Even through it all, 2 miscarriages, another failed IUI, tough financial times, the loss of so many people close to us, and most recently, the passing of my dad, our marriage and our walk with Christ only grows stronger each day.  I have said it before I don’t know how people without Christ in their lives make it through but never in my life, has God been more evident. He has come through in more answered prayers than I could ever count. He has brought people into our lives to help us grieve, and cope, and adjust, and take care of things, and provided for us, and comforted us, and on, and on, and on.

So God’s question today for me was, “Keith, today, right now, as you are in some of the toughest few years of your life, who do you say that I am?”

Dear God;

My answer is simple. You are good. Yes these past few years have seemed dark but you gave me more blessings than I am ever worthy of. You have given me an amazing wife to help comfort me and be a very bright light in the dark times. You have given me an incredible family to be with and love on me through the hardships. You have surrounded us by friends and family to help us make it to the light on the other side. You are showing us the next chapter in our lives. You are going before us. You are preparing a place for us. You love us even when we don’t show it in return or even deserve the love that You are giving us. So my answer God, through it all, You are still Good. Through the tough times, You have never left us once, not for a moment….