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The Five Year Itch

Five years ago. That’s the last time I posted something. I wouldn’t be shocked if you got an email notification that I had posted a new blog and you thought to yourself, “why?” I mean, I have been as inconsistent on this as CB Bucknor was in last night’s Nationals and Braves game. But, I’m gonna try again.

To be completely honest, my wife has set the bar for writing. She has been writing consistently now, and in reading what she has to say, I’m encouraged to get back on. For me, writing has always been a sense of release. Ever since I first started counseling back in college, I have been writing off and on again for eight years. Mostly journaling. But it has given me a chance to work through my thoughts and feelings and take an introspective look at my life. Somewhere in the past five years, I put that thinking into other things. Namely running.

Yes, if you have been around me consistently, it’s kind of the only thing I have been talking about. I have become addicted to running.  In fact, addiction is light term for it. I have decided to push myself. My goal was to get myself in good shape by the time I turned 30 (which finally happened last month) and part of that goal was encouraged by training for my first marathon. I ran the Los Angeles Marathon on March 19, exactly one week after I turned 30, and enjoyed every minute of the 4:09 it took me to run it. So much so, that during the run, I decided immediately that I would run another. And probably other anothers after that.

There is something freeing about running. In fact, I have seen my writing take a back seat in the time that I really began pushing myself to run more. I can think through my thoughts for the 30 – 90 minutes I spend running. Never mind the fact that I am also doing something fairly healthy (for cardio, not necessarily my knees), I have loved getting out either on my own, pushing my kids or running with my bride. Right before the marathon, I did my fourth half marathon and found myself with a new P.R. And then almost immediately after the marathon, I ran my first Ultra Ragnar with a team of six amazing people who continue to push me to be a better runner. The Ragnar consisted of almost 200 miles split between six people, running from Huntington Beach to San Diego. Talk about CRAZY!

Needless to say, running has become my fourth passion, behind my Jesus, my family, and my ministry. It’s something that allows me to gather my thoughts, push myself past the limits I thought I had and become a better, healthier person. I run because it feels good. I run because my daughter once told me, when I was about to go out on a run, “Daddy, when I get older, I want to run like you and mommy.”

If the only good thing that comes from running is my kids stay active, and I am around to be active in their life, then it will all have been worth it. But for now, I am also going to write. And I hope you enjoy what I have to say.

The “Cold” War

Well, it finally happened: Addalyn Grace had her first “real” cold. During the onset of teething, she would get congested, stuffy and have a runny nose, but nothing like this before. As new parents, it was heartbreaking. We couldn’t communicate to her, letting her know it will be alright, comforting her in ways you could comfort someone who speaks the same language. We couldn’t tell what was actually hurting her at any specific moment. Her temperature never reached more than 100, so all in all her first cold was a success by many standards. But try telling that to a 7 month old who has been battling the pain of teething and now can’t get comfortable on an ongoing basis.

It was difficult to be a parent and feel so helpless. We knew she was in pain but literally could not do much about it except hold her and give her the occasional dosage of Tylenol. We tried many things to clear her up, but we knew it had to run its course to build up her immunity. The hardest part was seeing her watch us, as mom and dad, wondering why we weren’t helping.

I wonder if sometimes, God feels the same way. It’s not that Addalyn got herself into this mess of a cold. It happens. But sometimes life happens. And we have to figure out how to move past the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a job. Or maybe we received a call from a doctor that it is cancer and treatment needs to start immediately. Sometimes I wonder if our Heavenly Father is trying to comfort us through those tough times, yet our expectations might be like my daughter’s were during her cold: why can’t you just fix it? God is there, comforting. But sometimes, we don’t want comfort. We want things to go back to normal.

The book of Job is an interesting story of a man who had everything. In fact, he had more than everything. He was set. Job had a big family, land, wealth and a career. Yet, it was all taken away, by nothing that he had done. Instead of doing what most of us probably would have done, he continued living a life that was faithful to the Father.

This is how I want to live my life. Instead of looking up and asking, “Why God,” and, “Can’t you fix it,” I want to have authentic faith. I want to know and believe that God is caring for me and accept His comfort. It’s in these trials that God can mold us into the people He dreams we can become.

The Psalmist writes,

“Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the LORD or fully declare his praise?

Like parents who want to comfort their sick child on the road to recovery, so God also wants to comfort us in our trials. We must pursue God with the faith of a child.

“Baby” Steps

Well, Addalyn is now mobile! At 7 months old, she is saying a few words (DaDa was the first one!) and now she is moving around. A couple weeks ago, she began pulling herself up in her crib. Little did we know that would be the beginning of what I am sure is the end!

It is crazy to think that just seven months ago, we were bringing her home from the hospital. She was so tiny and couldn’t even support herself. Now, she is beginning to see the world in a new light. She is working on touching everything she can get her hands on. She is realizing that Max (our dog) is there for her to terrorize; and he accepts that fate.

Addalyn can’t stand staying still for even a moment. She begins to get antsy whenever she is confined to our arms. She loves anything that we have. It might be an iPhone one second, but the moment we take interest in something else, her attention wanes on that first device.

I am learning a lot about being a parent, specifically a Father. The first time we took Addalyn to get her shots, my heart literally broke when she started crying. Of course, as parents, you know that this temporary pain is going to help your child. But when she started crying, I almost couldn’t take it. As soon as the nurse was done, I gobbled her up in my arms and let her take solace in my chest.

I’m beginning to understand more and more the love God has for His children. I would absolutely give my life for my daughter. I want to see her succeed and have all the best plans for her. But there will come a point when she will make her own decisions. Some of those decisions have already begun. Her insistence on grabbing at anything and everything has led to more than a couple bumps and bruises. I am trying to balance protecting her and letting her learn on her own, but being there to comfort her.

We have had a hectic past few months. From moving back to California, to moving into our own place and settling in at our respective jobs, it has been a transition that has taken some time. Addalyn is beginning to get comfortable in her environment and has adjusted well to mom and dad working full time jobs. My prayer is that she grows into a beautiful woman after God’s heart. In the meantime, I get to watch her taking baby steps.


A New Year…A New Journey

My goal for this year, and the years to come, is to become better at writing regularly. For various reasons, I have fallen behind in keeping up with this blog.

This past year has brought to my wife and I a bundle of joy. Addalyn Grace Henderson was born November 2, 2011 at 10:08 am. She is a beautiful baby girl who has brought much joy and tiredness to me and her mother. The process of welcoming her into this world was challenging. On October 30, I took Kirsty to the hospital because she was experiencing difficulty breathing. We knew that breathing troubles are fairly normal during pregnancy, with the little one taking over mom’s entire inside. Yet, this one seemed different. While in the ER, the doctors performed a battery of tests to find out that Kirsty had developed two blood clots in her lungs. This caused the doctors some worry, since it was so late in the pregnancy. They admitted us immediately, with the hope that we could make it until 39 weeks (at this point, we were 37 and 3).

Talk about scary. Call it naiveté, call it arrogance, but my first thought, while the tests were being taken, was that this is not going to be anything. I have grown up, knock on wood, without any real major illness or death in my family. I have known all of my grandparents and great grandparents and currently still have 3 of my grandparents in my life. So, while we were sitting, waiting for the doctor’s to give us the news, my thought was, perhaps my wife will be fine and she’ll just have to deal with breathing issues until Addalyn decided to make her appearance into this world.

So, when the doctor gave us the news, my heart dropped. Now I was dealing with the first big issue in my life that I had absolutely no control over. We went over the process, the procedure and possible outcomes. In the 15 minutes the doctor was updating us on what happens next, I felt like everything was happening in slow motion. My head was spinning and I began to have difficulty catching my breath. I knew I wanted to stay strong in front of my wife, but I couldn’t handle what was being said. In the next hour or so, I made the calls to my in-laws and to my parents. I broke down completely during those phone calls. I finally was able to make a call to our chairman of elders and he immediately came down to the hospital to support us.

Kirsty was strong throughout the entire thing. We were admitted that night and it wasn’t until Tuesday, Nov 1, in the early afternoon, the doctors began to worry again. Addalyn’s breathing had slowed down tremendously and they were worried that it would keep happening again. The doctors decided to monitor her every 30 minutes to an hour and within those instances, her breathing continued to drop. They decided the best course of action was to induce labor in order to care for mom and baby separately.

Throughout this entire ordeal, Kirsty had been put on blood thinners in order to shrink the clots. The hope was that by holding out until week 39, the clots would be small enough or even gone, that the doctors could proceed with normal delivery. However, because they moved faster than anyone anticipated, we ended up delivering while on thinners. Addalyn Grace was born a healthy baby girl and mom did well throughout the delivery. She wasn’t able to use an epidermal, which made the delivery that much more difficult. It wasn’t until after Addalyn was born that we experienced the worst part about this entire journey.

Because she was on blood thinners, after delivery, Kirsty began bleeding tremendously. She developed a couple hematoma which required three separate surgeries. You always take for granted the birthing process and life in general until the doctors ask you to sign a piece of paper that exonerates them from any wrongdoing in case she died on the operating table. That is when it became so real to me, that I nearly lost it.

By this time, my parents and in-laws were out here with us. It was great having a support system, but it didn’t change the fact that I was terrified. My wife was losing a lot of blood. Just in the first few days, she had to have 2 separate blood transfusions. The worst part about it, is after the first two surgeries, she began to feel better. At one point, she showered and got dressed, had the tubes taken out of her body and began moving around, only to be slowly placed back on everything she was to begin with.

It was in those moments that we were both the most frustrated. I could see it in her eyes, the pain she was not only physically experiencing, but also the emotional pain of getting so close, yet being so far away from full healing. It was in those moments I felt the most helpless. I was supposed to be the protector, the provider. Yet, I could not heal her. It was something we had to just go to God with.

This was not something that was easy for me to do. To sit back, and wait for God to intervene was a hard pill to swallow. It suddenly became clear that was all we had left. So, we prayed. And so did a number of our 1000 + Facebook friends. And our home churches. It was a humbling thing to see and experience. We received cards and phone calls from people all over the United States letting us know Kirsty was in their prayers. It became clear that if we were going to survive this, we had to let God take full control.

Three surgeries, three blood transfusions and 12 days later, we left the hospital. It didn’t all end once we left, but the worst was over. It took a few more weeks just for Kirsty to feel remotely better and adjust to moving around again. It took even longer than that  for her to get to back to her usual routines.

We are not out of the woodwork yet. She is still on blood thinners and in all likelihood will be for the next year or so. She is slowly but surely able to get back into the groove of things she used to do on a regular basis. In time, she’ll be back.

I thank God everyday for the minutes I get to spend with my wife and daughter. I know that there was a time when my faith was shaken through this ordeal. I know that God still worked his miracle, regardless of that shaken faith. Through this journey, God has found it possible to give me perspective on my relationship with Him. I needed Him the most during this time, but it took the completion of this journey for me to realize that.

God is bigger than anything we can ever imagine. This year, I plan to live that out.


Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani.

These were the words uttered by the Christ while He breathed His last breath on the cross. It’s amazing to hear those words coming from the Savior of the World. Surely He had to have known that this would be required of Him. To give His last breath in death on a lowly cross was the ultimate reality that He would have suredly known. Jesus spent His entire time on Earth in ministry seeking and saving the Lost. The Gospel message, the Good News, would be brought to all Jews and eventually Gentiles, because of His life. It was the ultimate sacrifice. And yet, He cried out to the Father, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!” He had been abandoned by God the Father. Left to die a painful and inglorious death. This was supposed to be the shining moment in Christ’s ministry. This was supposed to be the time when all peoples knew Jesus was who He said He was. Instead, He was abandoned by God.

I had to let these words sink in to my heart this past week. My wife and I made the trek and stepped out on faith a year and a half ago to travel out to Arizona for ministry. Sometimes it’s easy to forget about the journey when the roadblock is in your way. Immediately you think about how to get past it. You think about backtracking and taking a different route. That’s natural. I was driving down the street the other day, putting out signs for our church, when Ray Rd. was blocked off near Recker Rd. This wasn’t unusual. There is a lot of roadwork in the city of Gilbert. But instead of remembering why I took the path I did (which was to put out signs) I immediately thought about how I was going to get around the construction. So, I planned out my new route. I was going to go south on Recker Rd. and then go west on Williams Field so that way I could get back home. But this caused me to completely neglect the reason I hit the construction in the first place. I became so wrapped up in creating a new route that I forgot to finish the task at hand. I saw the obstacle and lost sight of the goal. The journey became less important because of the roadblock ahead.

This past week has been the toughest week of my life. I literally didn’t sleep most of last week and at times, I questioned why my wife and I were brought out here. I have been told many times that leaders are not molded in the “clean” times. I believe there is a reason scripture refers to human kind as clay and God as the potter. We are messy. It’s in the dirty times when God raises up those to take the mantle of ministry. Ministry has never been about the perfect. Jesus came to save those who are lost. It isn’t the healthy that need a doctor. Instead, it’s the sick.

Throughout this past week, I referenced many times the fact that I thought I was “abandoned.” Jesus’ words on the cross ring in my heart. Through faith, my wife and I made a decision to travel out here. Amidst all this chaos, I had the feeling we were abandoned. I have come to understand these words even more because of our current situation. In the moment of abandonment, God reveals Himself ever more clearly. While we are on the journey, we must keep our eyes on the goal ahead. If we can ever be convinced to backtrack and take a different path, we might lose sight on the work God is doing in our lives. It is through the messy times in our lives when God molds those who stick around, into leaders of the Gospel this world has never seen before.

It’s interesting to take a look at this moment in scripture. Jesus, on the cross, breathing His last breaths. All the while, when Jesus was crying out to God in Matthew 27:46, I believe God was crying back, “I am still here! You were made for this moment.” The journey is what makes us into the ministers God needs in this world. The question is, will we backtrack or will we figure out how to get past the roadblock without losing sight of the goal?

We are all servants.

This past Saturday night, my wife and I went out to celebrate the birthday of one of her former co-workers. As we walked down Mill Ave., we passed by a group of people I find myself constantly speaking against. We’ve all seen these people before. No matter what walk of life you are from, there is no doubt that you have noticed the “street evangelists.” Now, I am a believer in Christ and a follower through and through. I one day hope to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” from the creator. Yet, I have struggled with the way we are to approach the world as it pertains to spreading the gospel.

I have many times lambasted those that stand on the corners, preaching death and destruction to the “sinful”. You see, I have always thought that we were to take the gospel message, one of love, grace and forgiveness to the masses. There is no way that a word that means “good news” should be wrapped in the idea of “turn or burn.” So that is where I have stood. I had no shame is partaking in conversations with friends about how wrong these people were. How they were missing the point of the gospel. It’s very easy to voice my complaints with those around when most of them feel the same way as me. But last Saturday night struck me differently. I finished my usual complaint to my best friend and went on with the rest of my night.

It wasn’t until I got home that night and read a little of the pamphlet they handed to me that I actually thought about my reaction to them and how I was completely wrong. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily agree that “turn and burn” messages are the best way to reach people, but there is something to be said about standing on a corner and boldly sharing a message. Once again, this would not and has not ever been the way I approach ministry, but it still needs to be said that I was wrong in my approach to these “turn and burn” street preachers.

It’s very humbling for me to be shown something in this way. I will be the first to admit that I usually believe my way of thinking is right. But God continues to amaze and encourage me through situations like these. We are all servants for the creator. Whether it’s in vocational ministry or ministry in our workplace, God has commanded us all to be making disciples as we are going throughout the world (Matthew 28:18-20). A verse that has become an increasing favorite of mine is found in the book of Ephesians. It reads,

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (3:14-19).”

This has become my prayer for my ministry team, Real Life Christian Church and the Church across the world. If someone professes to be a believer, then who am I to judge or verbally attack? It is not my responsibility to demean or detract from someone’s ministry. We have a responsibility to take the gospel to our spheres of influence. It is our responsibility to know our audience and to know the heart of God in the way we bring the message of grace.

Rob Bell has a Nooma video dealing with “Bullhorn Guy.” I admire Rob Bell and appreciate his message. I would admit that we probably fall along the same lines as to our method of ministry and theology. However, I am constantly reminded of the Bullhorn Guys throughout scripture. Most of these guys were prophets who were charged with bringing God’s people (the Jews) back to relationship with Him.

While I’m not a Bullhorn Guy myself, it is clear that I need to check myself when it comes to demeaning another believer. God’s grace transcends all human understanding. If I am to receive that grace, I need to practice it fully.