Happy 7th Birthday Cody

19324_10153192859923373_82195321690799149_nDear Cody,

You are such a joy! I watch the way that you play with your brothers, talk with your friends, sing at church, play T-Ball, etc. and there is simply no other word to describe it than joy.

7 years ago the Lord brought you into our lives on a snowy night in Mount Vernon, WA and it has been pure joy to be your Dad ever since then.

2014 was a year filled with joy for you and for our family. We had the best and the busiest summer ever. We did the Weird Animals VBS here at the church and you had a blast, in fact you still enjoy singing the songs from the CD they gave us. You and Micah went to Grandma & Papa’s house and then you went to Nana & Grand Daddy’s house. You had so much fun going to the beach, playing at parks and even going to your first amusement park at Knott’s Berry Farm. Later in the summer we went camping again with all of my family up at Lake Tahoe. You loved kayaking, sitting by the camp fire, swimming in the lake and being together as a family. Of course we did all of our usual summer activities like the Folsom Aquatic Center, swimming at the ALT Pool, summer movies in Roseville and so much more. We bought you and a trampoline and a pool last year, which you and your brothers played in every day!

In the Fall you started 1st Grade with Mrs. Highberger. You love your school so much! Every day you come home and tell me about what you learned and what you did and who you talked with. It is such a joy to watch you grow up!

Christmas was an especially joyful time for us as we went down to see Nana & Grand Daddy in Bakersfield (God’s Country) and than went to see Papa & Grandma at the Beach House.

IMG_0203Just last month we went down to Bakersfield again for Uncle Ryan & Aunty Lisa’s wedding where you and Micah were ring bearers. You looked so handsome in your tuxedos!

Of course the greatest joy of 2014 was when you placed your faith in Christ as your Lord and Savior. Micah had been talking to you for several months about how he had gotten a new heart and how you needed a new heart too, but you told him that you were quite content with the heart you already had. Then one day you marched downstairs and announced to all of us that you had received a new heart. After talking with you some more about the Lord, we could see that something had happened and we rejoiced in your new heart.

Cody, I want you to know that getting a new heart from Jesus is not the end of your relationship with Him, it is really just the beginning. I have been walking with Jesus for more than 33 years now and I have found that the two things that began my relationship with Him are the same two things that have sustained that relationship and continue to increase my joy in him. They are that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior. Today, on your 7th Birthday my prayer is that your joy would increase as mine has, as you press into this relationship with our great Savior.

Never forget that your Daddy loves you with all of his heart,

Andrew Buell

March 28 2015 | Blog | Comments Off on Happy 7th Birthday Cody

Happy Birthday Amy (2015)

IMG_4960Dear Amy,

I was just reading through the letter I wrote you last year. At the time we were only three weeks into a terribly difficult situation at the church and to be honest everything seemed pretty dark. Last year I wrote, “I know that the storm clouds have been very dark recently, but I think that even now we are beginning to see God’s special blessings…” I believe that the rest of 2014 all the way up to the present moment has been a season of God’s special blessing on us and our family. Here are 4 reasons why I believe that’s true:

1) Last year we not only saw Micah come to faith in Christ, but Cody walked downstairs one day and announced to us that he had a new heart J. God has specially blessed us with these precious children and day by day we are seeing them grow in Christ and trust in Christ.

2) It’s been nearly a year since we moved back into our home and every day I walk home from the office to you and the boys I am reminded of what a special blessing it is to love here. Last year we were able to add a pool and a trampoline along with all of the replacement furniture, etc. from the fire. God has specially blessed us with a beautiful house to live in, but you have been the instrument He has used to make this house a home.

3) This has been a special year of blessing at the church as well. We’ve seen many new people join our church and our home group has really begun to come together in a uniquely special way. While the first few months of 2014 were filled with terrific losses of friendships, I believe that the Lord has doubly blessed us this last year with great friends and a uniquely gracious church.

4) Amy, every day I am reminded of God’s marvelous grace in my life when I wake up next to you. You are my soul-mate, my great love and my joy. Every day with you is a special blessing from the Lord.

Toda we get to celebrate another one of your birthdays, but even more than that we get to celebrate another year of God’s special blessing on our marriage, our family and our ministry together.

I love you with all of my heart,

Andrew Buell

March 21 2015 | Blog | Comments Off on Happy Birthday Amy (2015)

Our Latest Bundle of Joy…

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August 30 2014 | Blog | Comments Off on Our Latest Bundle of Joy…

5 Lessons I Learned from a Pastor’s Betrayal (Part 1)

sad-man One of the pitfalls of our instantaneous digital age is the temptation to write about experiences immediately, rather than allowing yourself to marinate in them and to invest the necessary time to allow God to work them deep into your heart.  In March of this year I and my church experienced an unprecedented betrayal from a man who was a member of our church and had served as a pastor at another local church. It’s only now, some five months later, that enough time has passed where I sense the clarity of mind to really evaluate these experiences and to talk about what I’ve learned.

In 2012 I was introduced to a local pastor named Jack [I’ve chosen to change the names of Jack & his wife for the purposes of this series of posts]. Jack was having a very difficult time at his church, so I befriended him and did what I could to offer help / counsel as he worked through the issues there. Eventually Jack’s church closed and he and his wife (Jenny) began attending Cool Community Church. At first Jack seemed like a gift from God. He was a capable preacher, he was helpful during hospital visitations and was always available. Over the course of 2013 our families became very close, spending a lot of time together every week, sharing meals, etc. Jack and I even shared a room together at the 2013 Shepherds’ Conference and enjoyed many late night conversations about the Lord and about the ministry.

Towards the end of 2013 I started to notice some odd things in their family. They always seemed to be in financial distress, yet Jack claimed that he made a fantastic salary as an insurance salesman. There were other lingering questions, but never enough to make me suspect any duplicity on their part. I simply assumed that they were going through a rough patch as a family and that they would eventually pull out of it.

My naiveté was revealed in March of 2014 when I discovered that Jack had stolen my identity, opened up credit cards in my name and begun making charges on them. Through the course of a lengthy investigation I also discovered that he had committed insurance fraud against some of our dearest friends in the church, posing to be an insurance salesman by taking their money but never issuing insurance (it turns out Jack did not have an license to sell insurance). By God’s grace that was the extent of the damage at our church, but upon further investigation we found another church who’s members had been defrauded of tens of thousands of dollars and one other church that had members defrauded of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

We immediately entered into a process of church discipline with Jack and begged him to repent, but after many meetings and a lot of legwork on my part (culminating in a trip to the California Secretary of State’s Office) it became clear that despite his words Jack was absolutely committed to the darkness of his sin, so we warned the church, removed him from membership and contacted the other local churches in our area to warn them about him.

My greatest concern through this whole process was for the church body. It was clear that a wolf had been amongst us, but it wasn’t clear what the extent of the damage was and to tell you the truth I was quite scared.

There are at least five big lessons that the Lord has taught me through this experience, which I plan on writing about in coming weeks. But, if there was only one lesson that I could share with you about this journey it would be this: God is faithful. Even in the darkest valleys, even through the deepest betrayals, God remains faithful. The faithfulness of God was a rock in the midst of a hurricane that went on for months. It sustained me, upheld me and was my greatest comfort and encouragement to do what was right.

Five months later it is becoming increasingly clear that the Lord has seen us through all of these events without any lasting repercussions. In fact, I believe that our church is much stronger today than it would have been if we had not gone through this. We baptized 16 people this last Sunday at the river, our nursery is nearly overflowing, we just received 7 new members into our fellowship and our next membership class has more than 20 people signed up already!

Hebrews 6:17-18 – “…when God desires to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us…”

August 25 2014 | Betrayed | Comments Off on 5 Lessons I Learned from a Pastor’s Betrayal (Part 1)

“No Good Thing Does He Withhold…”

Back in 2010 my wife and I had to make a difficult decision about our house in Mount Vernon, WA (I blogged about it in the post “Trusting God When It’s Hard”). We had been trying to sell it as we prepared to move to Cool, but despite lowering the price as far as we could no one was biting. Fortunately, the Lord provided an alternative and we entered the world of property management and rentals. By God’s grace we’ve had a pretty good experience these last four years but last April we decided it was time to try to sell the house again.

I contacted a realtor friend of mine, filled out the proper paperwork, talked with our current tenants and got the house listed at a competitive price. All that was left was for the right person to come along and make us an offer. April came and went, May came and went, June came and went and as you can imagine July has come and is almost gone and we’re still waiting.

I was praying about our house this morning when the Lord reminded me of a passage that I hadn’t thought about for a long time. Psalm 84:11 says, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” As I remembered that passage my prayer life changed dramatically as I began to thank God for not selling our house yet, which is an admittedly strange prayer so let me explain a little. Psalm 84:11 tells us that God does not withhold anything good from His children. In other words, if I haven’t received something that I’m asking for it’s because that thing would not be good for me right now. So I am left with a remarkable confidence that whatever God does and whenever He does it, it will be good and right because He does not withhold good things from those who are His.

July 28 2014 | Blog | 2 Comments »

Happy Birthday Amy (2014)

Just like Cody’s letter yesterday this post is a belated Birthday letter to my precious wife Amy.

Dear Amy,

IMG_4342 I’m almost at a loss for what to say in this letter. These last 3 months have been nothing short of a whirlwind for us between the house fire, moving into the rental, figuring out renters insurance, contractors, masonry, flooring and all of the heart ache of the last three weeks at church. I think the one thing that I want to say the most is that there is no one else in the world that I would want to go through this whirlwind with more than you.

This whole season has reminded me again of the unpredictable nature of our life together. I guess we just never really know what the Lord is going to do next, but through it all He has been with us. He has not left us nor forsaken us and I take a tremendous amount of comfort in the fact that He has given us each one another to walk through the winds and the storms of this life.

This year has been a good reminder to me what Charles Spurgeon said in times of difficulty. Spurgeon said that he had learned that when the storm clouds were the darkest that he should expect a special blessing from the Lord, because when the clouds are darkest that’s when the rain comes. I know that the storm clouds have been very dark recently, but I think that even now we are beginning to see God’s special blessings like Micah coming to faith in Christ, getting a move in date for our practically brand new house, all of our new furniture, etc.

Of course 2013 had a lot more in it than just a house fire and the drama of these last few months. We sent Cody off to Kindergarten with Mrs. Duff. Luke has been speaking more and more. Micah has really begun to thrive in school. Of course our summer vacation, Christmas vacation and all of the events in between were “the best ones ever” :-).

I love you with all of my heart,

Andrew Buell

April 30 2014 | Blog | 1 Comment »

Cody’s 6th Birthday (2014)

Cody’s Birthday was actually March 28th, so this is more of a belated Birthday letter but I thought you might enjoy it.

Dear Cody,

IMG_4373 The speed at which you are growing up never ceases to amaze me! Last year you went to school for the first time and today you’re reading, writing and playing T-Ball. I think I’m starting to understand why everyone keeps telling me to treasure these years, because they are going by faster than I ever imagined they could.

2013 was such a fun year for our family. You graduated from Pre-K in June and spent almost every day of the summer at the pool with Mommy, Micah and Luke. As always, we had the best vacation ever when we went to Pismo Beach for a few days, visited with Grandma and went to the world’s best water park in Fresno! In July we started something new when we went camping for the first time. Fortunately, Auntie Merri went with us and showed us the ropes.

Of course, no history of 2013 would be complete without remembering the “Great Buell Fire of 2013”. On December 22nd God was very kind to us in saving us from a terrible fire that almost destroyed our home. By God’s grace we got out of the house in time and ever since then we have been fixing the house and making it “just perfect” for us to move back into.

I know that when you’re a little boy you tend to think that your Daddy knows everything and is never scared, but to tell you the truth that night scared me pretty bad. I had to find help from my Heavenly Father that night and my deepest prayer for you on your Birthday is that you too would look to your Heavenly Father to save you. Cody, it does not take long to discover that this world is a very scary place. The good news is that there is One who can conquer our fears and His name is Jesus. You see the truth is that while you and I are great sinners who deserve nothing but sadness and fear, Christ is a great Savior who has given us Himself as the answer to our sorrows and fears. As I look forward to another year of life together with you, my prayer is that you would come to know Him, to trust Him and that His perfect love would cast out all your fears.

I Love You with all of My Heart,

Daddy

April 29 2014 | Blog | Comments Off on Cody’s 6th Birthday (2014)

The Cool Buell’s New Wood Shed

For the Buell family a big part of living out in the country is heating our home with a wood burning stove. Here’s a peak at what that meant for our family this year Smile

Working Hard to Split the Wood

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About half of the pine that we need for the year

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Half way done with our new wood shed to store the wood in the pile that Dad created with the splitter.

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Our brand new wood shed created to store the wood that we will be burning this winter.

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The end for which all our wood splitting, stacking, hauling was intended.

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October 30 2013 | Blog | Comments Off on The Cool Buell’s New Wood Shed

Resolutions Report Card (2nd Quarter)

This is about as hot as I’ve ever been here in Cool, which must mean that the year is half way over and we’re now heading towards the Christmas Season…all right Christmas is still almost six months away but it’s so hot right now that I need something to look forward to Smile

In other news, now that the year is half way over it’s time for me to check in on my New Years Resolutions to see what kind of progress I’ve been making:

Resolution #1 – I Resolve to Listen More and Talk Less

I feel like this is an area that I’ve gained some victory in, but I still have a ways to go. Proverbs says that “even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent.” It seems to me like I could gain a lot of wisdom by resolving to speak less and listen more.

Resolution #2 – I Resolve to Develop the Discipline of Dependent Prayer

I think prayer is an area that we never feel complete mastery over, but hopefully we can sense ourselves growing in over time. That’s definitely been my experience over the last six months. I feel like God has revolutionized my life of prayer but in doing that I’m seeing more and more of how much further I have to go.

Resolution #3 – I Resolve to Say “Yes” to the Right Things…and “No” to Everything Else

The last two weeks of vacation have reminded me of how important this resolution is  and of the fact that I need to do a better job sticking to it.

Goal #1 – Lose 20 Pounds by June

Let’s just say that I still don’t want to talk about it, so I’m going to push this goal back to December and increase it to 25 pounds.

Goal #2 – Build a Wood Shed by the End of the Summer

I’m happy to report that plans are underway for the new woodshed here at the Buell home. I’ve been talking with some friends, collecting ideas and once the heat dies down a little bit I plan on getting started.

Goal #3 – Finish Calvin’s Institutes

With all of the busyness of these last few months this goal has gotten pushed back a little bit, but I still believe that I can finis by the end of the year so I’m going to buckle down and get this done.

Goal #4 – Begin Process of Becoming Ordained by EV Free

I’ve made a lot of progress on this goal! I’m currently reading through five books on the history of EV Free, which is a pre-requisite for ordination. I’ve also begun preliminary work on my thesis paper, although I think that’s going to take a little bit more time because I want to do a thorough job so I’m going to need to find some concentrated time to work on this 40 page paper.

All in all I’d say that I’m very pleased with my progress this year. I definitely have some things to work on, but I’m already seeing evidences of God’s grace in these areas. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish the year out with straight A’s!

July 08 2013 | Blog | Comments Off on Resolutions Report Card (2nd Quarter)

2013 Resolutions Report Card (1st Quarter)

I am astonished to realize that 2013 is already 25% over! Apparently that means it’s time for me to give a report card on how my resolutions and goals have been progressing so this year, so here it is.

Resolution #1 – I Resolve to Listen More and Talk Less

To be honest I’d almost completely forgotten about this resolution so first of all this is a good reminder to pursue to goal. As I look back over the last three months I definitely think that this is an area that I’ve grown in, but I’m convinced that I have a lot further to go. I’m going to give myself a D+ on this one and hope to do a lot better by June.

Resolution #2 – I Resolve to Develop the Discipline of Dependent Prayer

This is one resolution that I have been very pleased to see myself grow in, especially since the beginning of March. God has placed a heavy conviction on my heart about the importance of prayer and by His grace I’ve seen much victory in this arena. I’m going to give myself a B+ on this one.

Resolution #3 – I Resolve to Say “Yes” to the Right Things…and “No” to Everything Else

This is another place where I’ve found great victory, especially since the Shepherds’ Conference in March. By God’s grace I’ve been able to say no to a lot of things and I’ve been much more intentional about turning off the phone and unplugging from my work life in order to spend more intentional time with the family. I do think that I have of growing to do here, but even so I’m going to give myself a B on this one.

Goal #1 – Lose 20 Pounds by June

Well…I’d rather not talk about this one right now Smile. It looks like I’m going to have to get really serious in the next three months if I’m going to meet this goal.

Goal #2 – Build a Wood Shed by the End of the Summer

I just started putting some thought into this goal and I’ve realized that I’m going to need some outside help with the design elements, but I’m still convinced that I’ll be able to make it happen by the end of the summer.

Goal #3 – Finish Calvin’s Institutes

I’m right on track for this one. Hopefully I’ll be finished by the end of the summer.

Goal #4 – Begin Process of Becoming Ordained by EV Free

Technically this goal is already completed because I have already “begun” the process. It looks like the next step is going to be a lot of reading through EV Free’s materials. I’m hoping to use my Tuesday evenings in the summer to finish the reading and hopefully start working on the paper that I need to write.

All in all I’d say that I’m very pleased with my progress this year. I definitely have some things to work on, but I’m already seeing evidences of God’s grace in these areas. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish the year out with straight A’s!

April 01 2013 | Blog | Comments Off on 2013 Resolutions Report Card (1st Quarter)

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