Posted by tom | Sep 8, 2006

We just closed on 1844 Cloverleaf Rd. Now its time to get the excavator on the property. Hoping to have ground-breaking next week! Check out some of Theresa's thoughts on life in Mt. Joy.

FYI: Been reading The Danger of Raising Nice Kids by Tim Smith: The Parent's Coach. Lots of good material to apply as we enter this new phase of our life. More on it later, as we walk through some of the helpful exercises. For those of you in similar life situations, we'd encourage you to take a look at another helpful InterVarsity Press (IVP) resource.

Nice Kids Cover

So what's life like

Posted by tom | Sep 7, 2006

in Mount Joy? Now that we've been here for 6 weeks and school has begun, I thought I'd share some random thoughts for anyone who may be interested :)

We live in a rural area in the sense that there's a lot of farmland and not a lot of businesses. But we have neighbors (though we each have about .5 acre of land) and shopping is less than 5 miles away. The closest business is actually about .2 mile up the road



Posted by tom | Sep 3, 2006

My mother [Tom] finds Persuasion a good film to regular fall asleep to, what are your thoughts on it after watching it this eveing Theresa?

It's ok. I'd watch it again once I forget what happens, that takes about 3 weeks :-) Well I must go to bed darling.

From Tom: Maybe we'll get more tomorrow, even some on Horatio Hornblower as Mr. Eliot was played by the same actor as . . .


A Soul Search:

Posted by tom | Sep 3, 2006

Finding Your True Calling is not a great quest today, but instead a grindingly slow, morbid reflection on how we're living where we're stuck and hope that we might be found (or the non-reflective busy-ness of those who throw themselves into their vocation or family aren't even on camera) So let's sit back and make it easier by wallowing w/Bob (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) in Lost in Translation?

Here's some thoughts:


BIC Blogs

Posted by tom | Aug 26, 2006

Check it out . . . we're part of the BIC Blogs family :-)

This aggregator is designed to gather the musings, declarations, confusions, questions, photos and all other such randomness that is posted on blogs maintained by Brethren in Christ church members and attenders. This is also for ministry and/or local church blogs that are directly affiliated with the BIC denomination.

Fascinating idea and now that I've posted this, it will go to BIC Blogs. Looking forward to getting to know members over the next several days, weeks, months, years, millennia . . .

1844 Guestbook

Posted by tom | Aug 20, 2006
Arthur & Patrick from IVCF-CMU Undergrad give a site walk-thru and receive a vision of the future. Hope to have them back for a campout and some time on the Ginder (Theresa's) Family farm just over the hill. Who will be the next visitor from 'da Burgh?

Waiting for the

Posted by tom | Aug 14, 2006

re-appraisal. Hope to wrap-up the mortgage aspect and start building by early September. In other news:

1. On Saturday, had a great time w/friends from Grove City College: passed along E.T. (to Jen and Randy), feasted on crepes (thank-you Becky), cooled off poolside w/Hawaiian shaved ice (thank-you Arlan and Marcy)

2. Continue to become part of the family of God at Elizabethtown Brethren-in-Christ as last night we partied w/the Followers Fellowship Group over homemade vanilla, peach, and ginger ice cream (29 kids w/parents in tow). We had a number of conversations regarding services/physicians in the area to address Eden's health concerns and our pioneering work among faculty in South Central PA.

3. Move to the Ginders on Monday, August 21

4. Hayley and Ellen start at Donegal Springs Elementary School on August 28.

Stop Test-Driving Your

Posted by tom | Aug 11, 2006

Girlfriend. Men in relationships (and seeking relationships), consider this piece. As Theresa and I enjoy a decade of marriage, we return again and again to the many of the tag-lines highlighted this piece . . .


On Monday

Posted by tom | Jul 30, 2006

we're receiving the building permit for our property and our first direct mail delivery.

In other news, we've been blessed by the family Sunday School Class offered by Greg's home congregation, Elizabethtown Brethren-in-Christ In addition, Baby Eden fell asleep in the nursery this morning, very much an expression of the grace of God as she has cried in nursery so much that we have had to pick her up during the Sunday service most every week of the past several months. We're mostly settled into Tom's parents house, only a few runs to the storage unit for various 'necessities.'

Becoming "legal aliens" in Lancaster

Posted by tom | Jul 25, 2006

On Tueday, we successfully waded through all the paperwork and enrolled Hayley & Ellen in Donegal Springs Elementary School for the fall! In addition the postmaster visited our property over lunch and gave us permission to place our mailbox. Last night Theresa's dad installed the mailbox, we should be able to start receiving mail tomorrow! Hope to be able to pick-up Milanof-Schock library cards on Friday morning. Turns out its One of the Best Small Libraries in America. We just found our first lost items in our storage unit -- special thanks to Alan, Carl, Eunice, and Jay for their great job packing! Praise God for the answers to prayers for the 'little concerns of life' which seem to become so big in our eyes.

Packing . . . moving

Posted by tom | Jul 18, 2006

We're in the packing . . . moving frenzy. Special thanks to Heather, Kristen, Melissa, Serina for helping w/the girls. Way to pack boxes (Amy, Amy, Jean, Maggie, and Nicole)! Loved the meal Lydia. Rob and Josh -- way to dismantle the boxspring and carry it out the front door. So much easier than when a few good men bent it up the stairwell :-) Alan, we very much appreciated your walk-thru packing assessment.



Posted by tom | Jul 8, 2006

Please share w/us your favorite memories from our time w/you in 'da Burgh!

July 21

Posted by tom | Jul 5, 2006
That's the move date. Please pray for us as we're in the process of packing, wrapping up loose ends in 'da Burgh, and charting our path of transition, which will involve living w/our parents for the next several months and making connections with faculty at campuses in South Central PA.

Site updates, before your very eyes

Posted by tom | Jun 24, 2006

Click here to enter the site and explore links, pics, and so much more as we walk with Christ as a family in ministry. Check out a report on faculty camp.

Family Medical Updates from today

Posted by tom | May 23, 2006

Good report from Eden's Ear-Nose-Throat (ENT) evaluation this morning. The tubes in her ears are functioning well, fluid is not interfering w/her hearing. The ENT is for the first time saying that she may regain hearing in her left ear, because her other neurological symptoms are improving. It is possible that the auditory nerve may recover. Praise God! We meet w/our primary physican at Children's Hospital on Thursday morning, followed by an MRI. We are looking for the MRI to reveal a continued decrease of the actual size of the brain bleed.


Up With Grups . . .

Posted by tom | May 5, 2006

Up With Grups was forwarded to us by Theresa's sister. Happy to report that we don't fit in with

He owns eleven pairs of sneakers, hasn't worn anything but jeans in a year, and won't shut up about the latest Death Cab for Cutie CD. But he is no kid. He is among the ascendant breed of grown-up who has redefined adulthood as we once knew it and killed off the generation gap.

En route to United 93 I visited an Urban Outfitters just for the cross-cultural experience :-) Talk about not fitting in . . . the books, the sneakers, the t-shirts, and the music (it was so loud that the manager couldn't concentrate in her office and had it turned down). I should say that I did appreciate seeing The Giving Tree.

The Juice of Life

Posted by tom | Apr 8, 2006

Check out The Juice of Life written by Tom Long, an IVCF Volunteer who was in the Pittsburgh area when I started on staff. Lots of cool Hawaiian links and if you'd like to know my thoughts on the book check out my on-site review :-)

The best day of my life!

Posted by tom | Mar 24, 2006
Participation in Pittsburgh Urban Christian School's Spring Production prompted Ellen to declare last Friday, The best day of my life! Ellen then pointed out how she enjoyed her preschool production and looks forward to future opportunities. I wish all of you could have been there for the music, concept, and performances. What a blessing the PUCS community, particularly their Kindergarten instructer Mrs. Merryman, has been for Hayley and Ellen as they have grown much in knowledge, confidence and maturity over the past several months.

what yinz doin?

Posted by tom | Mar 19, 2006

We came across in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette this morning. Wish this would have been around a decade ago :-) How about the piece on Pittsburghese? As time allows, we hope to add a category regarding local congregations and the people of God in 'da Burgh. Anyone interested in helping out? Which reminds me, would you join our family in prayer for the work of Kingdom of God in 'da Burgh, prayer requsts hosted at Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation.

FYI: Sites which we've found helpful at times include

And I nearly forgot to mention, nothing can surpass Rick Sebak and WQED's History Series, with What Makes Pittsburgh Pittsburgh premiering tomorrow at 8pm on WQED/Channel 13. We've found Carnegie Library our source for those we didn't see on 13.

I'm sure others will come to mind. Do you have any suggestions (maybe even your own blog/site) to add?

Separation Anxiety

Posted by tom | Mar 15, 2006

Separation Anxiety: Twins are caught in tug of war as schools, parents debate keeping them together in the classroom caught our eye and that of Hayley & Ellen's kindergarten instructor. We've found it helpful to have them together in preschool and kindergarten. As fraternal twins that get along well but don't need one-another.

Theresa's thoughts:

The article does a fine job of presenting the dilemma, especially for people who may not have thought about it before, but it doesn't offer much in the way of solutions. In fact, it confirms my somewhat relativistic opinion that whether or not you should separate twins in school depends on the individual kids. In our case, I prefer that Hayley and Ellen not be separated, at least not yet. And we've had no indication from either their preschool or kindergarten teachers that it is a problem to have them together. Both teachers have told us that Hayley and Ellen play independently of each other and are not competitive. They also seem to have some friends in common, and some more exclusive friends. At recess they sometimes play together and sometimes play independently. Which all goes to confirm to me that they are growing and developing confidently and securely. And since they've been able to accomplish this while being in the same school class for 2 years, I don't intend to change it.

It surprised me that Minnesota was the only state to allow parents to choose whether or not to separate their twins. I naively assumed that most schools would give the decision making power to the parents, who know their kids the best. And I think the argument that if you allow twins to choose to stay together in class, then other parents are going to want the freedom to choose a buddy for their child is weak. Even having a very close friend is not the same situation as having a twin. And, if two unrelated children are so co-dependent that they can't function in separate classes, there are other issues there that need to be addressed.

I prefer that schools look at the individual twin families and base the decision to separate or keep together on the dynamics between the twins. A blanket policy either to always separate or always keep together does a disservice to the children.

Hayley and Ellen have something to say?

Posted by tom | Feb 6, 2006

"I don't know what I want to say," Hayley.

"I know what I want to say to our website," Ellen. "I want to say . . . should I say something about Barbie? Barbie is a wonderful toy to play with and I have a Barbie room with lots of Barbie stuff. They are so much fun to play with . . . I make Barbie stories. Everytime I go to the Squirrel Hill library I do Barbie on the computer."

"I don't know what I want to say, you pick it," Hayley.

"That's not how its done Hayley," Daddy.

"I like school very much and I love playing with my friends. And I like my Daddy and Mommy, who is on a retreat. But Daddy isn't on a retreat right now. He is watching us. That's all."

Teach, Don't Preach, the Bible

Posted by tom | Dec 21, 2005

The extremists talk about religion - and spew messages of hate. Religious moderates must denounce this bigotry and reclaim Scripture as the shared document of all. When flamethrowers hold up Scripture and say, "It says this," moderates must hold up the same text say, "Yes, but it also says this." The Bible is simply too important to the history of Western civilization - and to vital to its future - to be ceded to one side in the debate over values.

Teach, Don't Preach, the Bible picks up from where the author perceives Yesterday's ruling by a federal judge that intelligent design cannot be taught in biology classes in a Pennsylvania public school district leaves off. The author advocates placing the teaching of the Bible back where it belongs in our schools: not in the science laboratory, but in its proper historical and literary context.

I agree. And I would go further by stating that we should also become familiar with the religious works and understandings which inform other cultures in our world. Why? Because, despite the teachings of our largely agnostic/atheistic educational subculture, the supernatural and the religious matter as the Other in various forms speak through circumstances, family, friendships and shape the frameworks of understanding which guide individuals, subcultures, nations.


Wonderful people . . . the in-laws

Posted by tom | Dec 13, 2005
Wonderful People is a piece on my in-laws (with some focus on Theresa's grandparents, but others with generous inclusion) written by Theresa's brother's spouse Kate. A little exaggerated, but you'll get the real picture Enjoy. We'll be heading to the Ginder hotel after the Grosh hotel in just a few weeks :-)

Halloween/Harvest Party?

Posted by tom | Nov 3, 2005

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to share my perspective on Halloween w/2 Korean students and in turn they shared some regarding family rituals in their culture. I was encouraged by their testimony regarding followers of Christ who seek to remain faithful to God by rejecting ancestor worship and widespread influence of Confusianism in the culture.

Facing Halloween as a follower of Christ w/young children has been complicated, I confess that my initial reservations emerge from the mass consumerism of the holiday (Note: According to the link below: Today, Americans spend an estimated $6.9 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country's second largest commercial holiday). Secondly, the fantastical nature of the holiday encourages, people to inhabit other worlds and the forms of other people, something that was a pattern in my childhood and now which I reject as I embrace Christ who created, called, and indwells me to be all he has created me to be. Not that we can't use our gifts of creativity and not that we don't play dress up, but it is overdone in the popular culture. Relatedly, the light hearted nature of our treatment of the dark side concerns me. It probably stems from some of the thoughts expressed by C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters regarding not taking the devil/demons seriously as a way to influence a person's (and in our case a wider culture's) engagement w/the really real. Our materialism makes this holiday a time to consume not just candy, but also relationships and images in an unhealthy manner. Note: I think this is a particular issue among young adults who see this as a 'time to party.' We are distanced even further from the reality in which we live by sugar-coating it w/superficial spirituality. This combination of consumerism and materialism has a great forming influence on children and adult alike in our culture.

As a counter-cultural measure our children took part in a Harvest Party which directed attention along a more godly direction, but it did not occur on Halloween. To fill Halloween we went out with friends for dinner and play time at a Chik-Fil-A. Re-inforcing to me that counter-cultural lifestyle is greatly enhanced by community. I was burdened by not participating in one of the only American holidays that invites us to meet our neighbor. I'm still seeking to find more ways to engage our neighbors in conversation in our day-to-day living. If you have some tips, in addition to borrowing lawn tools, talking on your porch, inviting over for a meal, let us know. I would add individualism to the list of consumerism and materialism as the fine sounding arguments that we are warned against in the Scriptures. Hoping to do something w/All Saints Day next year, more on that when I have the time to write again.

For the history and development of Halloween click here. For a slightly different view check out Christianity Today

Redemption Songs

Posted by tom | Nov 2, 2005

Jars of Clay Redemption Songs Old Words, Vibrant Faith* tells the story of Jars of Clay's recent hymnology project. I found the delving into their understanding of blended worship which does not loose sight of musical heritage quite encouraging (note: something which our local congregation, to some degree, also strives for) . . . particularly the link to the Moravianism of my family's past.

But I must admit that although I agree with much of the philosophy behind their endeavor, I connect with the work produced by the Sparks on a much more visceral level. Part of that most probably stems from knowing them, but even more I think Christ brillantly shines forth through their vibrant enthusiasm for Him, His people, and their offering of their gifts/family to His service. This has spilled over into our house, leading our family to join our voices in worship while the CD (or the memory of it) plays at home and in the car.  Note:  Earlier .

What did you [Jars of Clay] learn about the Moravians and John Wesley [in their recent hymnology project]?

The Moravians were selling themselves into slavery so they could be a witness to their masters of God's love and his work. That just blows our mind today. Today's all about freedom and self-discovery. We would never dream of the concept. And they were on a boat with John Wesley to America. These Moravians would come up at the same time every day and sing these hymns in German. And so John Wesley translated them into English. John didn't have a true conversion experience yet. He was romanticized by the idea of being a missionary, but hadn't had a full salvation experience before the Lord. But these Moravians were really pivotal in inspiring him and showing him what devotion is. "God Will Lift Up Your Head" was originally called "Give to the Winds Thy Fears," the first line of the song. And he translated it into English. That was one we found and really liked it. We wrote it once in the blues/gospel tradition, and it just felt like it needed an anthemic feel, so everyone can sing along that this is my battle cry, that God will lift up my head. You can defeat me and enslave me, but at the end of the day God is my help and my refuge.

To God be the glory!

*Originally posted, but no longer available at


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