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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)

“It is Not Death to Die”

One week ago today my grandmother (MaryBell Walden) left this world and was greeted by the loving embrace of Jesus. I miss Grandma a lot, but this song has been a good reminder to me that “it is not death to die.”

February 15 2013 | Blog | 1 Comment »

“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”

Micah’s Seventh Birthday (2013)

Dear Micah,

I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am of you! Over the course of 2012 it was my privilege to watch you grow in so many ways. You’ve grown much taller; if the charts are right than you will easily pass me up in height when you are a teenager. Your speech has also grown dramatically. At the beginning of the year you were able to say a few basic things but today we are holding full blown conversations together. I have noticed you reasoning things out with me and I’ve been especially blessed by the kind words you so often speak to your brothers.

While much has changed for you in 2012, there is one thing that still remains true. Micah, you Photo Dec 29, 3 27 09 PMare a great sinner but Christ is a great savior. In many ways this is the essence of the unchanging gospel. It is a recognition of who God is as the good Creator and Savior of mankind and who we are as sinners in desperate need of help. I have been so encouraged by your growing understanding of this message in recent months. Just the other day you were telling me all about how Jesus came and died to save us from our sins. While I don’t think you quite understand all of what this means, my greatest prayer for you this year is that you would come to know Jesus in a personal way and be saved to a life of joy in Him.

2012 was full of many memorable events for us as a family. Several of our friends from Mt. Vernon came to visit with us and to take a trip up to Lake Tahoe. You and Cody went down to Grandma and Nana’s houses for a few weeks this summer and had a wonderful time. Nana and Granddaddy took you to Chick-fil-A as many times as they could and Grandma took you to a water park that apparently had an octopus, which you keep telling me about Smile. You had a great time at VBS and have started another year of Awana as a Sparky. Oh, and who could forget your Auntie Apryl who put in a pool this summer that I think we visited at least a couple of times a week.

Every night I come in to your room, kiss your head and pronounce a blessing over you. I say, “The Lord bless you and keep you, may His face shine upon you, be gracious to you and give you peace.” What I want to tell you today, on your birthday, is that the only way that you will ever know this kind of peace is when you come to know the Prince of Peace and His name is Jesus.

I Love You with All My Heart,


January 13 2013 | Blog | 2 Comments »

2013 Resolutions and Goals


Seeing as it’s January 3rd, I guess I’m a little bit late in posting my New Years Resolutions. Fortunately, punctuality is not one of my resolutions this year Smile.

For 2013 I’ve decided to change things up a bit when it comes to resolutions by making a distinction between resolutions and goals for the year. For me, a resolution is something that I’ve resolved to change about myself. Resolutions are mainly about character development. Goals, on the other hand, are more task oriented. They refer to something to be accomplished and marked off of the to-do list. It’s a small distinction, but I think it’s an important one for keeping track of my progress and growth over the course of the year.

So with all of that in mind here are my 2013 Resolutions and Goals:

Resolution #1: I Resolve to Listen More and to Talk Less. I’ve come to realize that I tend to talk a lot. Part of this is due to my personality and I’m sure that part of is due to my occupation, but the simple truth is that I use a lot of words in the course of a day. Using words isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but an even better thing is learning how to listen (especially to my family) and learning how to speak the right kind of words at the right time. I tend to think that using more words is more helpful, but what I’m realizing is that sometimes less truly is more, so over the course of 2013 I want to learn how to listen more and how to talk less.

Resolution #2: I Resolve to Develop the Discipline of Dependent Prayer. Prayer is all about dependence, especially the expression of dependence on God. Since I’ll be entering into my third year of ministry at Cool Community and I’ll be wrapping up my twelfth year of fulltime pastoral ministry in 2013, I believe that this is a great time for me to revisit my utter dependence upon God through the discipline of prayer. Like anything, there is a pattern to ministry and the longer you do it the more natural those rhythms become. I want to take 2013 to fight against the temptation to become lazy or self-reliant in ministry by developing the discipline of dependent prayer.

Resolution #3: I Resolve to Say “Yes” to the Right Things…and “No” to Everything Else. I’ve been freshly reminded lately that there is only so much of me. I only have so much time, I only have so much strength (emotional and physical), I only have so much…well you get the picture. One of the dangers of working in a small church is that you feel responsible for everything and in some ways you are, but if you are not careful to say “yes” to the right kinds of things, you’ll spend all of your time and energy working in areas that will not yield the greatest fruit. In 2013 I’m recommitting myself to saying “yes” to the right things, which will inevitably mean saying “no” to everything else.

Goal #1: Lose 20 Pounds by June. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but I’m making it a specific goal to lose 20 pounds by the beginning of June. This will take me down to a really good weight for me and should help with my overall energy level.

Goal #2: Build a wood shed by the end of the summer. This seems a little random, but I love doing projects around the house and with my new-found skills as a handy-man I’ve decided to pick up a bigger than usual project by building a wood shed in the back yard to help keep the wood dry for next winter.

Goal #3: Finish Calvin’s Institutes. This is kind of a carry over from last year, but if I stick my reading plan I should have the rest of volume two of Calvin’s Institutes completed by the end of 2013.

Goal #4: Begin Process of Becoming Ordained by EV Free. This goal is a little bit strange, because I am already an ordained pastor with the Baptist General Conference. However, Cool Community is part of the EV Free Denomination and since I really like what EV Free is doing, I figure it would be a good idea for me to become more formally associated with them by pursuing ordination. I actually have no idea what all this entails, so this goal is only to begin the process of becoming ordained with EV Free although if I end up going through the whole process this year, I’ll consider myself blessed.

Well, that’s it for my New Years Resolutions and Goals. I’ll be checking back in every three months to give an update on how these are going. What are some of your New Years Resolutions and Goals?

January 03 2013 | Blog | Comments Off on 2013 Resolutions and Goals

2012 Resolutions Report Card (4th Quarter)

report-card_thumbI’m still at a loss about where 2012 went, but seeing as December is now over it must be time for my final report card on my 2012 Resolutions.

Overall, I’m actually very pleased with my progress this year. All things considered, I’m going to give myself a B+ for my 2012 Resolutions, here’s why:

1) My first resolution for 2012 was to do a lot more blogging. While I did have a pretty big break in October and November, overall I feel like I’ve been much more faithful to the blog than in years past especially so these last couple of months.

2) My second resolution for 2012 was to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. This is probably the resolution that I’m the most proud of and has contributed the most to my overall quality of life. Before making this resolution I would usually work through lunch thinking that I would get more things done with the extra time. What I didn’t realize was that I was actually making myself more tired by not allowing my brain to rest and my body to get some activity. Exercising for 30 minutes on my lunch break has made me much more productive and healthier at the same time.

3) My third resolution for 2012 was to eat healthier. Well..what can I say? There’s always 2013 Smile

4) My fourth resolution for 2012 was to finish Calvin’s Institutes. While I didn’t finish Calvin’s Institutes this year, I did make significant progress on them and I’m on track to finish both volumes by mid 2013.

5) My fifth resolution for 2012 was to keep up on my journaling. This resolution has kind of morphed into the blogging resolution. I think what I’ve realized is that journaling just isn’t for me, but blogging is something that I can do and that I really enjoy doing.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting my resolutions and my goals for 2013

January 02 2013 | Blog | Comments Off on 2012 Resolutions Report Card (4th Quarter)

2012 Resolutions Report Card (3rd Quarter)

report-card_thumbTechnically, this blog post should have happened at the end of September which is just further evidence of how far behind I am right now Smile. The last 3 1/2 months have been some of the busiest months that I can remember and some of the most productive (although, not necessarily on the resolution front). God has allowed our church to start and complete a number of facility projects that were badly needed, we’ve begun to cast a new vision for our church (more on that in a later post), and we’ve begun a fund-raising campaign to complete three more facility projects (more to come on that as well).

Even though I’m quite overdue on this report card and on blogging in general, here’s how I’m going to grade myself for the third quarter of 2012.

1) My first resolution for 2012 was to do a lot more blogging. While the first six months 8 months of 2012 were pretty successful in this category, I’m going to have to give myself a “D” for the third quarter. I haven’t posted anything on my blog since September. I’m so ashamed, but hopefully this will motivate me to get back to it.

2) My second resolution was to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. I continue to do well in this area, but I think there’s definitely room for improvement here. I’ve had way too many lunches during the week, which means less walking time. I’m going to give myself a “B-“ for this one.

3) My third resolution for 2012 was to eat healthier. Despite my best intentions, this continues to be a thorn in my side. With the Holidays coming up, I don’t hold out much hope for a passing grade on this one in 2012. On the brighter side, I haven’t gained any weight which I’m thinking as to count for something Smile

4) My fourth resolution was to finish reading through Calvin’s Institutes this year. I continue to make significant progress on this resolution. I don’t believe that I’ll finish the whole thing by the end of 2012, but I have finished volume one and I’m well on my way to finishing volume two sometime in 2013.

5) My fifth resolution was to keep up on my journaling. I think I just need to give up on this one. For some reason I just can’t seem to make journaling stick in my spiritual life. I even bought a brand new journal and a nice shiny pen to get me motivated, but alas they just sit on my desk collecting dust. I’ve been toying with the idea of utilizing the blog as something of a public journal…we’ll see how that turns out.

Despite some of my poorer grades, I’m still going to give myself a “C” if for no other reason than that my self-esteem won’t be able to handle a lower grade Smile.

November 09 2012 | Blog | 1 Comment »

2012 Resolutions Report Card

report-cardI can’t believe that 2012 is already half way over. Amy was just telling me that the stores are already stocking sweatshirts and apparently Hobby Lobby already has its Christmas stuff out! It’s been about 3 months since my last resolutions report card, so I thought this might be a good time to check back in on my New Years resolutions to see how I’ve been doing.

1) My first resolution for 2012 was to do a lot more blogging. I’m happy to report that I’m doing much better in this category. The first few months of the year were kind of stop and go for me and blogging, but I finally feel like I’m getting back into a rhythm, which is a good thing for me. I’d say this resolution deserves a B+.

2) My second resolution was to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. This is one that I’ve been very faithful to all year and I’ve definitely been reaping the benefits of it. Something about a 30 minute walk just before lunch tends to clear my mind and get me ready for the next part of the day. I’ve even started doing this twice a day when it isn’t too hot to go for a walk with the family after dinner. I’ll give this category an A.

3) My third resolution for 2012 was to eat healthier. Since I’m drinking a large McFrappe as I write this, I’m going to give this resolution a D for right now. This would probably be a really good area for me to focus on in the next 3 months Smile.

4) My fourth resolution was to finish reading through Calvin’s Institutes this year. While I’m sure that I won’t finish reading both volumes of The Institutes this year, I am happy to report that I’m almost done with volume 1 and I plan on getting started on volume 2 sometime this month. I’m sure that I won’t be able to finish volume 2 this year, but I think that I might make it a resolution for 2013. I’m going to give myself an A with the qualification that this is a modified resolution.

5) My fifth resolution was to keep up on my journaling. If there’s one area that I think I’m a dismal failure, it’s journaling. I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t seem to get into this habit. I even tried switching to a ministry journal format, but alas even that has not saved me. This area deserves a F right now Sad smile.

Without getting too technical, I’d give myself an overall C+ on my resolutions this year. Hopefully, I can pull it up to a B+ by working on my diet these next three months. At this point, I think all hope is gone for journaling but you never know what might happen.

July 02 2012 | Blog | 2 Comments »

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