Category Archives: Family


Wait, we live on the EAST COAST?!

I have always strived to prioritize my life in this way: (1) God, (2) family, (3) ministry. Based on these priorities, my wife and I have longed to be closer to family. And for this reason, we began looking at the possibility of moving away from Coeur d’Alene and closer to family, which currently reside in New York and California (the two extremes!).

Once we began looking, God made it quite clear that He was moving us on. Doors opened, conversations happened, and the house sold. Fast. In fact, we had two offers on the table almost before the “For Sale” sign went up. So now I’m one week away from starting as the High School Pastor at Faith Church in Allentown, Pennsylvania, a short drive from Emily’s parents in Burlington Flats, New York.


This past month has been crazy. Like I said, the house sold faster than anyone (other than God) could have imagined. We also sold a car and appliances like they were the last on earth. At the end of this week, we’re going to move into a beautiful townhouse in a great neighborhood. And I doubted God every step of the way.

Apparently, I have a memory problem. I know God is faithful. He has always been faithful, and I trust that He will continue to be faithful. And yet, my anxiety and fearfulness of the unknown creeps in, probably thanks to the fact that I am human, and I worry about what’s going to happen.


ME: What if we can’t sell the house? We can’t afford a rent and a mortgage at the same time!

GOD: Don’t worry.

ME: What if we don’t break even with the house? We don’t have money to pay the bank!

GOD: Do not fear.

ME: Ok, the house sold. But what if the inspection doesn’t pass? This is an old house!

GOD: Be still and know that I am God. 

ME: Ok, the inspection passed, but there’s still a lot that can go wrong! Ahhh!!!

GOD: I work all things together for your good according to My purpose.

ME: What if what You see as good doesn’t match up with what I see as good?

GOD: Trust Me.


Why do we do that? Why do we constantly forget that God is good and He works ALL things together for good according to His purpose. If I’ve learned anything from this adventure called following Jesus, I have learned this: God is faithful, and I mess up. God is perfect, and I have flaws. God is good, and I need to remember to rest in His grace.

This new adventure is exciting and scary. And I am so glad that I get to follow my Savior through it all!


James Atticus Gardner

It’s been just over two months since James arrived January 27th at 9:22 a.m.  Wow – has it already been that long?  And how has it only been two months?!  In the last eight weeks, my emotions have been all over the map.  With each new day of fatherhood comes a new adventure in trusting God.

James Atticus.jpgIt all started with an adrenaline rush that began when Emily said, “I think my water just broke,” continued when I held James for the first time, all warm and snug in his swaddle, and started to wane as 24 of sleeplessness hit me in the postpartum wing of the hospital.

As we left the hospital, adrenaline turned to fear.  Emily and I are now RESPONSIBLE. Who cleared us to be parents?  I’ll never forget the scary feeling of driving back to the hospital within six hours of leaving because we were worried about him.  I often still find myself listening for our breathing child at night, making sure he’s okay.

Fear is often trumped by joy and excitement.  Our family has grown by one, and I could not imagine a more perfect child.  The last two months have been two of the best and most challenging months of my life.

It truly is a daily adventure.  No knowing what tomorrow will hold for Emily, James, and I. But what’s great is that I can rest in the knowledge that God knows.  And that’s going to have to be good enough for me.

dear emily…

Dear Emily,

It’s Valentine’s Day.  A day that has been wildly commercialized.  It’s a day that people spend a lot of money on chocolate and decorate with pinks and reds that make any room look like the Hallmark Store had a fight with itself.  And lost.

And while there are many who publicly oppose the notion of celebrating such a day that commercializes love, I believe the heart behind the day is pure.

Today gives children an opportunity to express their care for one another through cleverly themed valentine notes at school.  Today gives little girls a chance to tell little boys that they think he’s cute.  Today gives classmates something to look forward to, even if it’s just the candy. Today reminds us that we need to tell our loved ones that they are special.

So I want to take this opportunity, this Valentine’s Day, to let you know how much you mean to me.

Valentines Day

I admire you.  I admire the way you mother our little James.  He is a precious gift from God, and God has graciously given him to us to take care of.  You do this beautifully.  You love him perfectly.  You care for his needs, well, in ways that I physically can’t.  I could not think of a better mom for our James.

I enjoy you.  That is, I enjoy spending time with you.  I enjoy that we are both introverts, and that we can both be content with sitting in silence and have by-you time (you more than me, sometimes).

I look forward to continued primitive roads with you.  Ever since that literal primitive road in rural eastern Washington, I knew life with Emily would be filled with primitive roads.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  We have had many adventures in our short life together, and this will probably not end.  We’ll likely have so many more primitive road experiences, and I love that.  I love that I get to experience them with you.

I appreciate your love.  Your love for me is great, I see that every day.  And I appreciate the way you love me.  I appreciate you letting me sleep (even though I really want to help change diapers in the middle of the night… really!).  I appreciate breakfast in bed once in a while (really, you shouldn’t have!).  I appreciate the way you hug me in the mornings and after I come home from work.  The way you love me is perfect.

V Day

To be honest, the words are not enough.  I love you more than I can express.  I love you more than I ever thought possible.

It’s Valentine’s Day.  A day to stop and reflect on the loves in your life.  I know that today is not the only day to do this, and that expressing love is a daily act in any relationship.  But today, this is how I will say: I love you, my Emily.

the waiting game

For parents, the weeks leading up to birth are stressful.  If you don’t agree, read my post from yesterday.  It will stress you out.  But it’s not only because of the fear of complications, lack of money, and the unknowns associated with birth.  It’s also the WAITING.

In all reality, Emily could pop at any moment now.  True, her due date is not for another 2 1/2 weeks, but we’re officially full-term, so our little guy could decide he’s ready 2 1/2 minutes from now and make his way into the world.  This puts a whole new dimension of feelings into the mix — thoughts of WAITING.

In my perfect world, God would tell me (audibly, of course, because it’s my perfect world) the exact time and day James will arrive, insuring that I have packed the bags properly, planned time off work accordingly, and escaped the need to continuously ask Emily about her recent contractions.  Was that a big one?  How many have you had in the last hour?  I would have no need for WAITING.


But what if waiting has some special purpose?  What if God has designed, in some strange only-God-knows way, waiting to be part of His plan?

Isaiah tells us that when we wait, we will be given strength.

David cries out, Wait on the Lord!

James instructs to be patient and wait for the return of Jesus.

Paul tells the Romans, “We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5, NIV).

In my eyes, waiting and suffering are synonymous.  To wait is to suffer.  And when we wait, leaning on God’s understanding, we can know that our waiting will lead perseverance, which leads to character, which points to hope.  And our hope is found in God’s love.  AND we don’t have to wait alone.  We have the Holy Spirit, “who has been given to us” on our side.

So when we wait, we continue to develop our faith and trust in our Savior.  When we wait, we acknowledge we are not in control, and we have to look to Jesus.  When we wait, God is glorified.

What are you waiting for?

God: “do you trust me?”

I’m about to be a dad.  Yes, our little James is already here, and he’s been alive for going on nine months, but he’s about to be HERE.  His flailing body, fragile head, and tiny fingers are about to be a reality in my arms.  That scares me poopless.  What if I hold him wrong?  What happens when he cries for hours on end for no apparent reason?  I’ve never even changed a diaper!  How do I know that his delivery will be successful?  Will he be healthy?  What if he has some sort of medical disability?  What if…?  How do I…?  Ahhh!!

Emily and I just got home from another preparing for childbirth class in which we learned all about the complications associated with pain management and the interventions that may need to be taken at anytime during labor.  What happens if James’ cord comes out the wrong way and we have to go into emergency surgery?  Will the nurse anesthetist miss the epidural layer and cause Emily’s heart to stop?  Will our baby suffer from Erb’s palsy?

Not only that, but how are we going to afford another member in our family?  I don’t make all that much as a youth pastor and Emily doesn’t work.  I’m certainly not complaining about what God has blessed us with, but is it going to be enough?  Labor is expensive enough, and then we have diapers and clothes and… college!

Welcome to my world.

These thoughts can be all-consuming.  Every ounce of mental and emotional energy can be wrapped up in the “what if” and the unknown.  It doesn’t have to be about becoming a father or struggling with money.  This world is filled with problems, issues, and fears.  And it’s in times like these in which we need to look to God.

I imagine Aladdin to be an accurate picture of God in my life right now.


He’s looking at me, on His carpet of faith with his hand extended, asking: “Do you trust me?”

And my response has to be a simple “yes.”  And when I do that, I am taking His hand, stepping out in faith, and letting Him guide me and my family on this adventure called life.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I believe that God does.  And I’m far better off placing my hand in His, giving Him my worries, and letting Him guide.

What fears do you need to give to God?  And where do you need to let Him guide? 

Photo credit here.

becoming an expert on my introvert

Becoming an expert on my introvertI’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test three times.  Twice for class, once for fun. You can say I like to learn about myself and how I think.  Each time I’ve taken the test, it usually says the same thing: I function as an introvert, but I have extroverted tendencies.

When it comes to social situations, I’d much rather stay home and watch a movie or spend time staring at my beautiful wife than be thrust into a situation in which I will have to chat-it-up with people I hardly know.  In fact, I try to avoid those situations if possible (which doesn’t quite work with my profession, a youth pastor).  However, when I can, I recharge alone or, preferably, with only my wife.  This works perfectly, because similarities attracted when my wife and I got together, as she is also an introvert.

You would think that two introverts being married is pure bliss, right?  Two people always ready to share alone space together, perfectly content with recharging in silence. However…

Read the rest of this post on Emily’s blog!



i’m back!

Welcome to the newly renovated (previously  Many of you have been faithful to this blog, even when my posts are few and far between.  Thanks for continuing to have faith that someday I will post again!

If you keep up with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you’ll know that life has been a little crazy this summer…  take a look:

  • Emily and I bought a house!
  • We’re pregnant!  James Atticus Gardner is due in February 2014.
  • Our trip to New York was the perfect vacation to get away for a week.
  • Ministry has been great, full, and it continues to develop as I’ve now spent ONE year in my position at CDA Bible Church.  Time flies!

So there you go.  Life has been busy, and life has been good.  I have been blessed to have a summer filled with family, ministry, and change.  As fall is back in full swing, I plan to pay more attention to my blog, and hopefully have some new content for you soon!

[Keep an eye out next week, as I’ll be guest posting on Emily’s blog:]