As many of you know making wedding plans and the actual events were a part of our busy summer.  My wife had been saying for almost a year that she would like to have a professional photographer take pictures of our three kids before the weddings.  Before each of their senior years in high school we had this done.  Our family make-up was on the verge of changing.  One last portrait would capture our kids as young adults. That all sounded great.

Well, as many of you know life gets rather busy as you plan for a wedding, in our case, two weddings. There are things to purchase, deposits to be made, and things begin to add up.  The calendar becomes consumed with showers, meetings, dress shopping, reservations to be made, deadlines to meet, and after a while the great idea is no longer on the list.  It is not even in the memory bank, at least not in our memory bank.

Little did my wife and I know, one of our kids had remembered.  He talked with his siblings about an idea. The idea became a plan, and the plan became a reality.  Get together with a professional photographer and have the pictures taken.  Mom and dad had no idea that they were doing this.  This happened three months ago.

Three weeks ago our three kids surprised us with pictures.  This was something that they did for us that we will never forget.  The pictures are fabulous!  I am not biased (hear the sarcasm), but they are beautiful kids – inside and out!

Surprises, most of the time I like them.  This is certainly one of those times.  Thanks K, A, & M.

You know, God often surprises us.  I have often prayed that He surprise me.  Every day that God blesses me with is filled with the constants – His presence & His provisions.  There are also those surprises, those things that I never expected.  I like the constants and I certainly like the surprises.

Father, thank You for those things that I know will always be there and thank you for the surprises!  As each new day rolls out help me to be ready for whatever it is that You have for me.  I can’t wait!


Blogs, iPads, & Smartphones

This morning one of my co-workers shared a recent discovery that he made related to the use of technology.  He shared a couple of ideas of how his discovery could be used in our church.  I was impressed and confused all at the same time.  That’s okay, he knew what he was talking about.  He can lead me through it.

If you arrived to this blog via a QR Code, you already know more than me!  This is one of the many avenues of technology that we are trying to use in order to reach, educate, and equip people..

Let me say right up front, I am glad that I work with two guys that know a lot more about technology than I do.  The technology that is available to us is amazing.  I am blown away by all the advancements that we’ve seen, especially in recent years.  There are times that I have absolutely no idea what my co-workers are talking about.  I listen and wonder.  Questions come to my mind, but I don’t even know how or what to ask.  My glossy eyed look probably indicates to them, “He doesn’t have a clue what we’re talking about.”  That would be correct. In spite of my lack of understanding, their ideas and understanding of technology excites me.  Even though I may not understand all the in’s and out’s, I know that technology opens doors, allowing us to make connections with each other, as well as, the world that we are a part of.

With the arrival of the iPad I began to wonder how our church could incorporate a greater use of technology in what we were already offering.  We already have video, projection screens, computers, iPads, the Bible on our smartphone, and a few other pieces of technology being used.  What more could we do? Are there other things that we could use?  What might be more effective ways to use what we already have?

My simple and limited evaluation is this –  we are only skimming the surface in our use of technology within this church.  I believe  the technology that we have available to us will open doors for us to make connections with children, students, and adults.  Through these connections more will be reached with the Gospel and believers will be strengthened in their walk of faith.

We may have incorporated some technology into our church, to reach people, to educate people, and to equip, but there is much more that is available. Let’s continue to look for more and more ways that we can use technology.  The innovations in technology are coming at an alarming speed, which means we will have more and more opportunities to enhance all that we do within our church.

If you are attending one of our services this Sunday look for a QR Code in our bulletin.  You see, I’m learning about technology and the lingo as well!


A Summer Like No Other

It has been a while since my last blog.  There has been a lot that has happened over the past two months.

The summer of 2011 will go down in my memory bank as one that I will never forget.  It will stand out as the summer of all summers.  Even though the temperatures would still indicate it is still summer, the break is over.  School has started, vacations are over, the college students are back (check out the lines in the stores and traffic on the streets), summer break is history.

As I reflect back on this summer here is a quick summary of what the Stiles family experienced.

*Two weddings (Katie and Matt both were married, within five weeks of each other, both occasions were beautiful)  *In between the two weddings my mom shattered her NEW knee and had to have a NEW knee inserted  *Two weeks of vacation (not really vacation getting the weddings all finalized was the focus)  *Three weeks of summer camp  *Packing boxes & moving kids (and this is still going on)  *Our two car garage becoming a large storage unit for 7 young adults  *Our dining room resembled a wedding supply store and a warehouse for bridal shower gifts  *The garage wasn’t large enough for everything so two rooms in the basement became storage units  *Two TIRED parents who loved sharing all of this with their kids and are extremely grateful to have all of them nearby

My wife and I feel blessed to have experienced this summer with our kids, seeing our family grow (welcome Clay and Emily), a little less in the bank account, but that’s okay.  I think about my family of five becoming a family of seven there is much that runs through my mind, too much to write.  Let me simply say, I am proud of my family and grateful to God for sharing these people with me.

What a summer!  One that I know we will never forget and are grateful to have experienced.  We now have the nine months to catch our breath!:)  Who knows what the summer of 2012 will bring.  Oh yeah, we will celebrate 30 years of marriage!  I can’t wait.