Aperture & Christmas Gifts

Amy and I gave ourselves a Nikon D3400 DSLR for Christmas this year and we have been loving it!!!

We’re still learning what “aperture” and “shutter speed” mean, but in the meantime we’re having a ball taking pictures of the kids and whatever else will hold still long enough for us to take a picture of it Smile.

Here’s one of my favorites so far:


Take a look at the way the background is blurry, while the foreground (Luke) is crystal clear. I think that has something to do with the “aperture”, but I’ll let you know when I find out more Smile.

December 22 2016 | Blog | Comments Off on Aperture & Christmas Gifts

Happy Fourth Birthday Luke (2014)

Dear Luke,

1382375_10152328208603373_1625545888_n You are such a joy! When you were born four years ago I never could have imagined how much joy you would bring to my life. I can always count on you for a smile, a kiss, a giggle or a wrestling match. 2013 was such a fun year for you and for our whole family.

We had such a good time with you this last year. You still aren’t a big fan of going to the pool, but you dutifully went every day this summer and sat by your mommy keeping her company J. Even though you weren’t quite big enough for a “Razor” bicycle, you insisted on having one for Christmas because you knew that your brothers each had one and you were not going to be left out. You still get up in the middle of the night and come to our bed, which I complain about a lot but the truth is that I still cherish the opportunity to have my “baby” in bed with us at night…but don’t tell your mother that J.

Luke, I don’t know what the future will hold for you, what kind of career the Lord will lead you to, what kinds of joys or what kinds of sorrows are to come but I do know this: 1) You and I are both great sinners, 2) But Christ is a Great Savior. It is my hope in the years to come to help you see the beauty of the gospel so that you would find Christ to be your true joy.

I love you with all of my heart,


March 31 2014 | Blog | Comments Off on Happy Fourth Birthday Luke (2014)

Happy Eighth Birthday Micah (2014)

Dear Micah,

IMG_4959 Every year when I write this letter I am struck by how much you have grown up in the last 12 months. I am so proud of you and the young man that you are fast becoming. 2013 was a year full of fun and growth for you. You finished the 1st Grade with Mrs. Highberger and had more fun than any 1st Grader should be allowed to have. You learned all about animal habitats, the gold rush and most impressively you began to read A LOT!!! I don’t know if I told you this before, but I didn’t start reading ‘til the 3rd Grade, so you have already surpassed me in some pretty significant way.

2013 has been a great year for our family. Your brothers are getting bigger every day and you have so much fun playing with them. Sometimes I stand outside your bedroom at night just to listen to you tell them stories and play together. We had a lot of fun as a family this year. Mommy took you and your brothers to the pool every day during the summer, we went camping for the first time with Auntie Merri at Lake Tahoe, and we went to Pismo Beach for a few days.

You’re at the age now when many of the experiences that you’re having will turn into powerful memories that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. I’m sure that one of those memories will be of the “Great Buell Fire of 2013”. It was a Sunday night (December 22nd), you and your brothers were already in bed and I was just about to get into bed but something wouldn’t let me go to sleep. I went downstairs to check on the fireplace, but everything was fine downstairs. I went back upstairs to and discovered that we had a fire in the walls of our house that was about to burn the whole house down! I quickly woke up your mother, you and your brothers and we ran out of the house and into the safety of our mini-van.

I doubt that you’ll remember much of that night, but what you will probably remember is many nights spent in hotels and several months spent in a rental home while our home was being rebuilt. Memories are funny that way; they can be slippery things that come to us at the oddest moments and then leave us sometimes never to return again. I think that’s why one of the most common commands in the Bible is to “Remember”. You see, every one of us suffers from some form of spiritual amnesia. It’s not that we try to forget, it’s just that we fail to remember all of what God has done for us.

My prayer for you on your eighth birthday is that God would continually remind you of two things. 1) That you are a great sinner, 2) That Christ is a Great Savior. I don’t know where you’ll be when you read this letter next and I don’t know what kinds of events will have transpired in your life…or in mine…but I do know that these two things will never change and that they will sustain you throughout whatever fires may come in your life.

I Love You with All of My Heart,


January 13 2014 | Blog | Comments Off on Happy Eighth Birthday Micah (2014)

Xbox 360 Family Friendly Dashboard Ads

remont-xbox360A few years ago Amy and I decided to cut out cable from our home, mainly because we didn’t watch it that much and because we wanted to have more direct control over what our kids could watch. We ended up subscribing to a few services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, which have been great! Since I already had an Xbox 360 that has turned into the primary device that we use to consume media, watch movies, listen to music, etc. My only complaint has been the lack of control over the advertisements displayed on the Xbox’s Dashboard.

Last week Microsoft started advertising for the latest Zombie shoot ‘em up, which convinced me that I had to find a way to filter out the images that I didn’t want my kids watching. After a lot of research, I finally found a forums post that spelled out exactly what I needed to do to get more kid friendly advertisements.

Since, I haven’t found any place else on the web that spells out these steps quite so specifically, I decided to create a post that families can reference in order to make the necessary changes so here you go:

1) On the console, scroll over to the “Settings” page.

2) Under setting click on “Privacy” and under “Privacy” click on “Change Settings”

3) Click on “Customize” and than go down to “Content”

4) Choose “Select Programming” and change the selection to “Family”

5) Finally, back out of the options by pressing “B” and hit “Save & Exit”.

If you did this correctly, you should begin seeing advertisements for “Angry Birds” instead of “The Walking Dead” Smile

July 10 2013 | Blog | 1 Comment »

Happy Third Birthday Luke (2013)

IMG_2398Dear Luke,

It’s hard for me to believe that three years ago today I got to hold my third little boy for the first time. A lot has changed since then. You were born in Mount Vernon, WA but you’ve lived almost your whole life in Cool, CA. In 2010 your Birthday was four days before Easter, but today your birthday happens to fall on Easter Sunday.

Over these last three years you have developed into quite the young man. I like to call you my “little monkey” because you love to climb everything that you can get your hands onto. Honestly, we find you in the strangest places sometimes Smile.

Most recently we have seen your speech develop dramatically. To be honest, we were getting kind of nervous for the last few months but just this last week you have simply exploded with new words and new ways of getting your point across. This has been much to the relief of your mother and I and to our great joy to finally be able to talk with you a little bit. You see, mommy and I understand how important communication is. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the “communication” (Word) of God. My prayer for you this Birthday is that God would open your ears and help you to understand how exceedingly precious His Son (Jesus Christ) is and that He would loose your tongue to worship Him for the rest of your life. Luke, I love you with all of my heart and I can’t wait to see what God is going to do with you in the years to come.

‘Til Sin is Bitter Christ will not be Sweet,


March 31 2013 | Blog | Comments Off on Happy Third Birthday Luke (2013)

Happy Fifth Birthday Cody (2013)

Dear Cody,

IMG_2492This last year has been full of big changes for your little heart and I’m so proud of the way that you’ve handled them. In September you started going to pre-school two days a week, which was a huge change since you had never really been away from mommy and me. Then in January you began attending Northside’s Prep-K program everyday of the week! It took a few weeks to get used to this new schedule, but you’ve adjusted very well and you love your new teachers Mrs. Harvey and Mrs. McComb.

I think that the one thing that has stood out to me the most about your time in school is how easily you have made friends. Cody, you are a very likable little boy. You have a naturally sweet disposition and a very tender, loving heart. I’m convinced that these personality traits will serve you very well in the years to come. But my real hope is that God will take these traits and use them for His glory and your good.

Now the only way that God will be able to use these things in your life is if you come to understand two profound truths: 1) That you are a great sinner, 2) That Christ is a Great Savior. Your mommy and I came to understand these things when we were quite young and my prayer for you on your fifth birthday is that you too would come to believe the gospel. Cody, I pray that God would open the eyes of your heart and let you understand how great your need of Christ is and how much He loves you. I pray that you would see the love of God in the Father giving His Son’s life to make you His own. Son, do not delay in trusting in Christ! Run to Him for your salvation, for your joy, for your meaning and for life. I love you more than you will ever know.

‘Til Sin is Bitter Christ Will not be Sweet,


March 28 2013 | Blog | Comments Off on Happy Fifth Birthday Cody (2013)

Happy Birthday Amy (2013)

533203_10151178591413373_1929163754_nDear Amy,

As I look back over our last year together I can’t really think of anything that stands out as a major change for our family. We didn’t have any big moves in 2012 (thank goodness). Our children have continued to grow and flourish here at the church and at Northside School. We did add a dog and somehow we’ve inherited another cat, but in the grand scheme of things those are rather trivial matters…So on the whole I’d say that 2012 has pretty much been a quiet year for the Buell family and that makes my heart glad.

When I look back on the common, quiet, everyday events of this last year together I’m overwhelmed with thankfulness for another year that I’ve got to spend with the love of my life doing the common, quiet things that contribute to our life together. I’ve come to realize more and more that life is not made up of big moments that change our course (although there are some of those), but small, quiet moments that cumulatively make up the character of our life together. That’s why my heart is so glad looking back on this last year of life together. It’s been full of small, precious, tender moments that have refined, sharpened, and crafted our life together. It may seem strange but I’d rather watch TV with you on the couch than pretty much anything else in the world because it’s part of our life together and I have to tell you that life with you is nothing but pure joy.

So here’s to another year together raising our family, loving each other and living this very quiet, common life that God has so graciously given to us together.

I love you with all of my heart,

Andrew Buell

March 21 2013 | Blog | Comments Off on Happy Birthday Amy (2013)

“O That We May Kiss the Rod”

My Grandmother MaryBell Walden passed away on February 1st after suffering with Alzheimers for a number of years. While Grandma’s passing was not unexpected, it has left a great hole in my heart and has given me much reason to think about her legacy and love for Jesus Christ.

When Jonathan Edwards passed away suddenly his wife Sarah wrote a letter to his oldest daughter in which she wrote:

423021_4908238398156_1405114765_n“What shall I say: A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness that we had him so long. But my God lives; and he has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left to us! We are all given to God: and there I am and love to be. Your ever affectionate mother, Sarah Edwards.”

While MaryBell Walden was not Jonathan Edwards, she has left me and my family with a great “legacy” of following Christ. I’ll be posting more on her in the coming weeks, but right now it seems that Sarah Edwards advice is very appropriate that “we may kiss the rod” and trust in God’s goodness during this season of sorrow.

February 11 2013 | Blog | Comments Off on “O That We May Kiss the Rod”

How to Deal with Holiday Family Tensions

Russel Moore has a great post over on his blog about How to Deal with Holiday Family Tensions. Here’s an excerpt:

We tend to idealize holidays, but human depravity doesn’t go into hibernation between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. One thing that will hit most Christians, sooner or later, are tensions within extended families at holiday time…

Some Christians think their belligerence is actually a sign of holiness. They leave the Christmas table saying, “See, if you’re not being opposed, then you’re not with Christ!” Sometimes, of course, divisions must come. But think of the qualifications Jesus gives for his church’s pastors. They must not be “quarrelsome” and they must be “well thought of by outsiders” (1 Tim. 3:3,7). That’s in the same list as not being a heretic or a drunk…

The Scripture tells us to fear God, to obey the king, and to honor (notice this) everyone (1 Pet. 2:17). If your parents are high-priests in the Church of Satan, they are still your parents. If cousin Betty V. does Jello shots in her car, just to take the edge off the cocaine, well, she still bears the imprint of the God you adore…

Follow the link for some good counsel on How to Deal with Holiday Family Tensions.

November 21 2012 | Blog | Comments Off on How to Deal with Holiday Family Tensions

How Does a “Cool Pastor” Keep His Family Cool?

You can go ahead and file this post in the completely “random” category, but I’m pretty excited about this, so here it goes.

Snoopy-coolI am one of a very select group of men who can honestly call themselves “Cool Pastors”. As far as I know, there are less than 10 men who have ever been able to call themselves “cool pastors” without sounding goofy. The reason that I belong to this elite group of men is because I am the pastor of a Cool Church, Cool Community Church to be precise.

While I do live in a Cool town and shepherd a very Cool flock, the sad truth is that it isn’t always cool in Cool. In fact, sometimes it’s downright hot here. That’s why it’s important for me to keep my family cool, which is what this post is all about.

Now for most people the question of how to keep their family cool isn’t worthy of a blog post, they just turn on the A/C and magically they are kept cool. But, things are different here in the country. Some of the “high fluting” folks in our community have those fancy shmancy A/C units, but the rest of us have to stay cool the old fashioned way with a swamp cooler (by the way, that last sentence was meant to be a joke, almost everyone I know here in Cool has an Air Conditioner).

In my war with the heat, I have found two powerful weapons that have kept my house at under 77 degrees all summer long (even on 102 degree days). The first is what I call my secret weapon, and the second is what I call my super weapon. Here’s the run down:

1) Secret Weapon – It took me over a year to learn this so in the hopes of shortening your learning curve should you ever become as Cool as I here’s the secret. Learn your swamp cooler on over night. It’s true that a swamp cooler can’t do a whole lot of good against a blazing 100 degree sun, but if you’ve got your house down to about 62 degrees over night then it’s got a lot further to go during the day. This has been the single most effective thing that I’ve done to keep cool.

2) Super Weapon – In the worst case scenario, where the secret weapon doesn’t work I pull out my super weapon in a last ditch effort, before I pack up the kids and go to the church sanctuary for an all night movie marathon of Pixar films. The super weapon is ice! I climb up on the roof (where the swamp cooler is at) and put a frozen jug (usually a used milk carton) of water right in the pan. The ice cools the water, which cools the swamp cooler pads, which cools the air being pumped into the house…at least that’s the theory, I haven’t actually had to try this since my secret weapon is so unbelievably AWESOME!!!

Neither of these things do anything to keep rattle snakes away (rattle snakes love to come out when it’s hot), but that’s what I have this for:


July 30 2012 | Blog | 3 Comments »

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