Category Archives: Family Life

Crusty old rollers.

Planting Update, Spring 2016

Elise and I have owned our condo in Fleming Island for almost eight years, 1 and we’ve always been juuuuust about to paint. When we moved back last November, we decided we were really going to do it. Nearly five months later, we have two bedrooms and two bathrooms painted. 2 I suppose I should post a few photos—perhaps when it’s light out.

As we were working on our bedroom earlier this week I thought to myself, I really thought we’d be further along than this by now. I was thinking of the big picture (more of the condo painted by this date) and of the room I was in (it was after lunch and we hadn’t started rolling yet).

That’s the story of our church plant. It’s a lot more like painting our bedroom than I understood a year and a half ago. See, the reason it was taking so long to see any real difference in the room is that we had much, much more prep work to do than I accounted for. And all of that prep work took far longer than I had estimated. I really want to be in the “rolling paint on the wall phase” of planting—the one where suddenly people are streaming to weekly worship, people are coming to know the Lord Jesus right and left, our church is making a difference in our community. I believe that stage is coming. I believe there will be visible fruit of our labor, and that it will be really visible fruit.

But the prep work is taking longer than I thought. And I know if that if we don’t get all those edges taped up, and all the furniture moved out, and two coats around the edges even up at those 11-foot ceilings, and all those other little detail things done now, we will regret it later. What’s left as a result of our work would be less satisfactory if we didn’t do those things.

So we’re continuing to prep. Specifically, we’re pouring into the work of recruiting for and developing our leadership team, so that when there is growth, we will have the capacity to fold in new people and help disciple them into disciple-makers in Green Cove Springs.

Image from: Alex Rubystone used under the terms of the Creative Commons license.


  1. of course for three of those years we didn’t live in it

  2. Mostly. We’ve some work to do on the baseboards and other moulding.

Patterns and Reversal

I have two or three circuits of habit I take when walking Rori (or MrH for that matter) and this afternoon when Rori asked to go out I took one the usual—a loop comprised of Kenyon, 68th, Pearl, and 67th. I have always traversed that path counter-clockwise; I don’t know why.

Today I went clockwise and it felt like a completely different walk. It was refreshing. I saw things I do not usually see. There is, I’m sure, a lesson there for Christians and their congregations.

There are some things I will really miss about this neighborhood. The alleyways. Every house (for better or worse) being different. The proximity and tranquility of the river. The number of people walking by in the course of a day.

Marywood: Funny How Things Are

Just over three years ago, Elise and I had our own little retreat at Marywood. We did some thinking and praying and listening and talking. We checked in with each other about our marriage. We talked about long term plans. We probably talked about how we were feeling with our little Mango Mango due to be born in six short months.

I’m at Marywood for a few days for a NAMS retreat. I remembered that Elise and I had taken those 24 or so hours for ourselves before, but in the instant I drove through a bend in the road I relived significant portions of that weekend.

Knowing that my ministry position at the time was just not a good longterm fit, I spent hours thinking about planting a church. I couldn’t figure out where or how. Green Cove Springs made sense—we lived nearby. But who would go with me?

I even mocked up a budget. Could I do IT or A/V consulting to support the work? Could I do enough that Elise could leave her job and stay home with our child(ren)? Where would I find clients? Would my old church family hire me with some regular consulting hours?

I didn’t know God was moving, unseen, preparing to change everything. A year later, all our talk at our retreat seemed hilarious. A full-time pastor of a “settled” congregation 700 miles away, church planting seemed like a part of my distant even though we’d never planted. “Us? Church planters? Think about how crazy we almost were!”

One year ago, the idea of not being in Woodbridge seemed crazy.

But here we are, back in Florida. Planting a church in Green Cove Springs (we still don’t know who exactly is going to follow us). I’m doing IT and A/V consulting part-time to support the work (I still don’t know where I’m going to find enough clients). I continue doing technology and communications work for IWS (who hired me as a summer temp in 2007, remember). Although it’s not enough for Elise to stay home, it turns out we moved back to Florida in part for her to pursue a job and not be a stay-at-home mom right now.

As I came around that bend in the driveway, I relived what seemed like that whole retreat. Poring over that pad of paper with numbers. Wondering if God could use me to plant a church. Afraid.

I’m still wondering a lot of things. I’m afraid sometimes. I definitely feel like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. But uncertainty is apparently no longer a significant factor in our decision-making process.

It’s funny how things are.

I got home from a Nats/Braves game a few minutes ago and immediately called Rori downstairs (who knows what she was doing upstairs) and took her for a walk. We got back inside and I started to try to figure out what I was going to do for a late dinner. She interrupted, growling at me for her own dinner (she’d eaten her, uh, breakfast, while I was at the game). I dutifully filled her bowl with kibble and returned to my search for a suitable supper of my own. She ran into the living room and laid down.

It wasn’t that she wanted to eat, but rather the option of eating that was important.

Empty Playground

MRH doing "experiments" with dirt and mulch, August 2014
MRH doing “experiments” with dirt and mulch, August 2014
MRH climbing on the playground
MRH climbing on the playground, July 2014.

Rori and I passed by the neighborhood playground on our walk this afternoon. It was empty (and with the fairly cool weather, I really wonder where all the kids were). Even though I drive right by the same playground every time I leave the house, for some reason the combination of walking and its emptiness today hit me pretty hard. I really miss my little Micah Moo, my Micah Man, Mister H.

I remember looking at the playground before Micah was born and anticipating the day we could explore it together. My memory of feeling that anticipation is clearer and stronger than the memory of our first visit there. I remember seeing him go down the slide for the first time (with a big person, and then his first time alone). I remember my trepidation at seeing him clamber up the steps without holding anybody’s hand. I remember seeing my son panicked for the very first time when he looked to where he thought I was as he came around the corner during his explorations, and I wasn’t where he expected. I thought about him sitting in my lap in the big boy swing just last week on our last day before he left for Florida.